What is the Raptor?
The all-new Raptor from Slingshot for 2020 is their new user-friendly big booster, capable of taking you to heights you've never achieved!
According to Slingshot, the Raptor is their dedicated high-performance freestyle/freeride crossover kite, tuned for big boosts, lofty airs, and aggressive performance. We tend to agree with this - it's a five-strut jumping powerhouse! The Raptor, although excellent at jumping, tends to really lean its focus in that direction and forego other styles of kiteboarding - I'll touch more on this later in the review. If you're a Slingshot fan and looking for their easiest to jump big kite, take a look at the new Raptor.
The Wind Range
The Raptor likes to be powered. In fact, the Raptor doesn't really feel like it has a top end. We've flown the 10m in gusts past 30 and certainly felt powered, but not out of control. If you're underpowered, the Raptor certainly can keep you going upwind . I didn't think that the Raptor sat too far forward or back - it's in the right spot for the power it needs to deliver, as it's truly a dedicated big-jumper. If you're looking for a kite to take you out in the lightest of winds on a foil, this is certainly not the kite for you. The five-strut platform feels solid in the sky, not really ideal for light winds. If you're in the 180-190lb range, grab a 10m for those 20+ knot days to launch some massive jumps.
Bar Pressure and Feel
The Raptor has what I would describe as moderate bar pressure. Not light, and not heavy. Somewhere in the realm of "I know where the kite is, but I don't notice the bar pressure" territory. It turns a bit slower than something like the new Rally GT, but I don't feel that this is a bad thing. When you're jumping big, you want something that is going to behave and not react at the flick of the wrist - the Raptor does precisely this. It feels smooth and solid in the sky, even in very overpowered conditions.The new segmented wingtip design makes the kite very powerful through the turns. The few loops that I did on the kite were very powerful and smooth - no surging or crazy reactions when forcing the kite through the window quickly.
This is the Raptor's forte - massive jumps done easy. I've touched on this earlier in the review, but we'll get a bit more into the specifics of how the kite jumps. First off, the kite is very predictable through the air. Massive gusts are eaten up quite easily by the Raptor, making for smoother and more confident sends of the kite. It yanks you skyward quite smoothly but with a good amount of power. Once aloft, the kite is very predictable and easily steered to one direction or another. The bar feedback is perfect to completely trust the position of the kite. The hangtime of the Raptor is exceptional. Think of the other big jumpers out there - the Raptor is on par (or better) in terms of hangtime. On the way down, the Raptor is yet again smooth and predictable. It doesn't drop you from the sky without warning, forcing top loops or anything - you can just remain sheeted in and fly the kite back and forth a little bit and the Raptor will slowly bring you back to reality on the water.
The Raptor isn't really all that well-suited for kitesurfing in waves. The solid 5-strut design and powerful open canopy doesn't exactly create the best setup for tossing buckets down the line. If you're waveriding, you'll want to find something like the SST to best suit your needs.
The new Raptor actually makes for a pretty decent freestyle kite. It definitely unhooks better than the Rally did, but not as well as something like the Rally GT or especially the RPM. It's stable and predictable enough to learn basic freestyle stuff, and sure does loop with plenty of power!
This is the sleeper category for the Raptor. I think that a beginner would enjoy the Raptor for their first few years of kiteboarding. It's predictable, has plenty of power, goes upwind well, relaunches instantly, and easily jumps big! As a beginner, one of the most rewarding things is learning how to jump - having a kite that jumps and hangs easily will make those first few boosts that much better!
The 2020 Slingshot Raptor is going to be hard to beat in the jumping category. It's easy, stable, and powerful design affords the novice the ability to launch massive jumps with confidence. Be sure to find a size that will allow you to be well-powered and you'll find yourself high above the water with a massive smile. Who knows, maybe you'll be King of the Air one day?! Or, at least top the Woo leaderboard..
An avid kiteboarder and mountain biker, Nathan Patterson is a staple on the phones here at MACkite. He joined the team in 2012 and with him came a wealth of kiteboarding knowledge and experience. Since then, Nathan has been helping customers on the phone day in and day out. Most recently, he has led the charge here in electric bike and electric skateboard knowledge. If you have questions, Nathan probably has the answers and if he doesn't, you can bet he'll find them.