We’ve had a lot of requests for a video on my favorite boots and the difference between boots and straps. The truth is kiteboarding is a diverse sport and what works for one person might not be best for another. Boots and straps have their place and are here to stay. It’s funny, in the early days, the first kiteboarders were actually wearing wakeboarding boots and building features. Just check out films like Auotofocus with Andre Philip and Jason Slezac. Or google Lou Wainman from the early 2000’s. Those guys were doing some amazing things with primitive gear. Some time after, footstraps became king and for good reason. Kites used to be dangerous and lacked any depower. Being able to ditch your board was essential for newer riders. This is where it gets funny. Sometime around 2011, we saw a huge resurgence with booted pro riders yet shops were hesitant to let new riders use anything but footstraps. Sometimes, trends need time to catch up. With modern gear being so safe and easy to use any kiteboarder with the ability to fly their kite with one hand could use boots now. That said, there are trade offs and benefits to each connection system. I’ll break all that down in this video and share what my favorite boots are.
Who should use them and why?
If you are just starting out, you should use footstraps. They are easier to get in and out of. It’s easier to ride upwind in them and the crashes are much more mellow. You can even just kick the board away while falling. Most important is after a crash, you don’t have a board creating resistance in the water. Sometimes, it's difficult for people who lack kite control and core strength to roll around and orient themselves after a crash.
They are also fun! I don’t use them often personally but when I do, I always enjoy them. You are more flexible for one! That means grabs are much easier and you can really tweak things out. Its also nice to just hop in and out of the board on the beach. You can do fun things like beach starts where you jump and put your board on or do old school tricks like board offs if thats your thing.
If you like to do kiteloops, sometimes the falls can be really rough. It’s not fun having a board locked to your feet when you take a hard fall like that. Being able to kick the board away on these tricks is also nice.
Boots will be more familiar to people crossing over from other board sports like snowboarding or wakeboarding. You get more ankle support and a locked in feeling on the board. They allow you to do more powered tricks and hold down more power in general. If you are looking to hit features or ramps, they are essential. I wouldn’t want a foot to come out on the middle of a rail!
If you are coming over from snowboarding like many kiteboarders, it might be tempting to get a pair of boots right away. I would recommend waiting a few months while you learn your kite first. It will save a lot of frustration while you get that part out of the way. That said, if you are a high level wakeboarder, you could get away with using boots really quickly. You would just want to spend a few sessions body dragging and mastering your kite first.
They do make some people feel more comfortable trying tricks too. Not feeling like your feet are going to come out of the board inspires a lot of confidence! Especially if you are unhooking or keeping the kite low.
Who should be using boots
There is a funny stigma with boots but frankly if it's something you want to do you should! Boots are really fun, I almost exclusively use them myself because of all the benefits. Now, bear in mind, there are some trade offs and they are not for everyone. You do lose some flexibility. It’s more difficult to get upwind for inexperienced riders and crashing can hurt more if you don’t know how to do it right.
If it’s your first season, footstraps are a good idea. If you have been snowboarding or wakeboarding for a while spend a couple months in straps while you figure out the kite and cross right back over. Boots make kiteboarding feel more like a boardsport. You can recreate the feeling of snowboarding or wakeboarding if you use them. They allow you to have more control over your edge and they allow you to ride more powered. More importantly, if you are going for powered tricks, they keep you locked in and let you land with more power.
Now, if you're just casually freeriding, doing a jump here or there boots might not be much of an interest to you. Grabs are easier without them, crashing is easier and getting upwind is easier. The biggest issue with boots pertaining to newer riders is that they are more difficult to get into and out of.
The choice is up to you on this one. They aren’t for everyone but if you happen to be a snowboarder or wakeboarder or you want to treat kiteboarding like one of those sports, then you should absolutely use them.
Vadatek makes some awesome step in bindings
My favorite booots
I’ll break down my favorite boots starting with the pair I'm using now. Currently, Vadatek is my favorite boot to date for a ton of reasons. They solve a lot of the issues that come along with standard boots. They are a step in the system so if you are new, you don’t have to worry about flying the kite while strapping in. You can just slide in your toe and stomp down your heel. If you crash, they are easy to get out of. Just like snowboarding boots, you can pull the release back and get your feet out of the board.
Some other pros for these boots are they are very light. Something great for travel. It’s easier to stack boards in the car and commute when you don’t have boots attached to the board. On the beach, it's nice having boots to walk around in. Whether I'm riding somewhere with rocks & shells or if I have to walk out into sketchy water to get my board on. Being able to step in solves a lot of problems and saves me from walking on sharp objects or being cold and having to deal with neo booties.
On the water I like that they have a bit of flex to them. I can get more grabs and they are comfortable. Lastly, the system to connect to the board is easy and gives you plenty of stance options. I like that there is only the screw and the washer. Honestly I lose lots of hardware on trips so it’s not not having a ton of parts.
The LFKs are a go to for me
LFK from Liquid Force
Next up are the Liquid Force LKS. I’ve been using these on and off for a couple of years. They have a medium flex for grabs after they break in. The System is easy enough to get in as well.
These are the most comfortable boots I’ve used too. They just fit my feet really well and I feel secure in the board. The system that attaches them to the board is also not bad. They do have a few parts that need to line up but that's standard for most wakeboots nowadays.
If you want something lightweight, with good flex and durability, these are a good option. And one of my personal recommendations.
These boots just look good.
So the KTVS from slingshot have been my go to boot for wakeboarding the past couple years. I have also used them on my kite. If you want durability these are indestructible. I’ve been using them daily in the summer for a couple years and they still are not even broken in! These are not as flexible as my other boots so you do need to be more flexible for grabs. They are the most secure feeling boots and the best looking boots I’ve had. The system too attached to the board also has a couple of parts that need to line up. Included some size specific washers. The Straps on these look great but they do need to be wet or you’ll never get them on.
If durability and style are your things, these are the best choice. They will last forever and always look good. These are also on my list of personal recommendations and something I’ll keep using for wakeboarding. My only compaint is they are heavy and you have to use their custom hardware.
Aside from these boots I'm currently using, I’ve used a lot of others from Ronix, to kite specific like Cabrinha and North Fix boots. I found that outside of Liquid Force and Slingshot, wakeboarding boots never seem to last as long. I have no idea why. As for their other brands. I’ve not used the H3 or Fix boots all that much but they are nice. They are more flexible for kiteboarding and lightweight. They also have really simple connection systems.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into his career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to share the stoke & help people put the boarding into their kiteboarding. Get outside and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays