This is Pat and Aaron with MACkiteboarding.com talking today about some kite and wing materials. We've got five different materials that have become the industry standard, and a bunch of different companies are using them. They are Dacron, Penta TX or SLS, Aluula, Ho'okipa, and N-Weave.
Dacron's been the industry standard. It's a polyester weave with a melamine resin to cure it and give it strength and rigidity. It comes in around 160-170 grams per square meter. I found this info online, so take it with a grain of salt. I also got some info from Kevin Wade and Peter Stiewe at Eleveight, as well as the guys from the Kitesurf 365 podcast, Colin and Adrian, and those are all good resources.
We are seeing Penta TX mostly in Duotone's SLS kite line, though Eleveight is also using it as part of their Plus Series. Duotone is using it in their struts and leading edge, where Eleveight is just using it in the struts and using the Ho'okipa material in their leading edge. At 144 gm2, Penta TX is lighter than Dacron.
Ocean Rodeo was the main developer of Aluula. It kicked off the use of lightweight fabric material in the industry. It made a big difference and everyone else has hopped on that train and developed their own idea of it. Aluula is definitely the lightest weight material per square meter that we have out of all of them. The first gen was around 100 gm2, and now they're saying it's coming in around that 85 gm2 mark. The big difference between the Aluula and the Penta TX and Dacron is that, instead of a polyester material, the weave is actually a Dyneema line. Then they sandwich the Dyneema weave with a proprietary resin, and that's what makes Aluula the lightest weight material on the market.
There's a kind of a catch-22 with it though. It's a little bit difficult for companies to work with, and that's why you're not seeing a ton of kite brands hop on. It's hard to develop with and hard to work with, which leads to the other negative side of it. Since you're using a lot more stitching to hold that fabric in place, that's adding to the weight, which you're not necessarily seeing when you're just looking at the grams per square meter. You need to look at the actual finished weight.
Starboard and Airush worked on developing Ho'okipa with the Challenge Sailcloth Factory. It comes in around 120 gm2. Like Aluula, it is a Dyneema weave fabric, but it's a little bit tighter of a weave. Because of that, they're using less resin in the finishing process, so it's not a sandwich resin like Aluula. It's just on the inside of the material and the Dyneema is on the outside of that fabric, so it's a little bit more abrasion resistant than Aluula. It's a little more user-friendly and a little bit easier to repair and develop with, kite-wise. It's a lot easier for them to work with, stitch it together, and actually develop a product around it.
N-Weave comes in between Aluula and Ho'okipa, around 102 gm2. It was developed by North Technology Group, so it's their own proprietary blend of fabrics and materials. Once again, they are using that Dyneema fabric, but with a different resin than Challenge is using with the Ho'okipa material.
So the heaviest is Dacron and the lightest is Aluula. If you want to break it down differently, Penta TX is 20 percent lighter than traditional Dacron, Ho'okipa is 30 percent lighter weight, N-Weave is 40 percent lighter, and Aluula is 50 percent lighter weight.
What's the Benefit? Is It Worth It?
As the end user, you have to decide what you are looking for performance-wise and how much are you willing to spend above traditional Dacron to get that. With all these newer fabrics, you are getting a stiffer platform as well as a weight reduction. If you're looking to do light wind foiling, you're looking for the lightest thing you can keep in the air in the least amount of wind possible. I fly a 10 meter Ocean Rodeo Roam, and it'll hang there in eight knots. They almost sit up there like a foil kite will in extremely light winds. It's pretty impressive to see what an inflatable kite can do with Aluula material if you don't want to get into a foil kite.
Material Tech Details
- Brands: Industry Standard
- Construction: woven polyester with melanin resin
- Weight: 170-160 grams/sq M
Material: Penta TX
- Brands: Duotone & Eleveight
- Construction: Woven polyester with a polyurethane resin
- Weight: 144 grams/sq M 20% lighter
- Brands: Airush & Eleveight
- Construction: Woven Dyneema with an internal laminate
- Weight: 120 grams/ sq M 30% lighter
- Brands: North
- Construction: UPE fiber with resin
- Weight: 102 grams/ sq M 40% lighter
- Brands: Ocean Rodeo, Duotone
- Construction: Looser woven Dyneema with a sandwich resin construction
- Weight: 85 grams/ sq M 50% lighter
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