Welcome to Kiteboarding
We hope your life is nothing but windy from here on out. In the event this is your first kiteboarding gear, we’ve put together this informational guide to help you get started. Taking kiteboarding lessons is a must for learning this sport.
Let’s started: There are 3 components needed to get you on the water:
- Bar and lines
If at any point throughout this process you have questions that are unanswered, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at email@example.com or contact our support line at 800-622-4655.
Here we'll talk about everything that comes with a new kiteboarding package.
- First up is the kite. Regardless of which kite brand you choose, it's going to come in a handy little backpack of some sort. It's either going to side open or top open, and inside you'll see your brand new kite. It's usually going to be wrapped up in a little bundle; that's how it comes straight from the manufacturer. You will probably also have a little repair kit on the inside with some extra bladder tape.
- Regardless of your brand, you're going to have a control bar with your lines attached and your end floats. The next piece is your kite pump. On the outside of your bag, you will typically have a spot to put your kite pump, and then your control bar usually goes on the other side.
- All packages will include a board of some sort, and you're going to have a footstrap set as well as fins.
- Your harness will have a back plate, and around the front the velcro straps come together, along with your spreader bar.
- The impact vest is designed for neutral buoyancy. It is not a Coast Guard approved vest, but you get impact protection, buoyancy, and added warmth out of an impact vest.
Now that we've covered everything that's going to come in your kiteboarding package, make sure to go online and book your kiteboarding lesson. Thanks for flying with MACkite; we hope to see you on the water!
As most brands use a universal bar platform (4 lines of equal length), you don’t need to pair the same brand kite with bar. There are exceptions though, so check our compatibility guide below which will show the inflation system, pigtail configuration, and recommended bar and line format for each of our brands.
|Brand||High Y / Low V||Loop / Knot (Kite Point of View)|
|Airush||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Cabrinha||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Duotone||High Y||Loop Steering Lines, Knot Center Lines|
|Eleveight||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|F-one||Depends on kite model||Knot Steering Lines and Center Lines|
|Flysurfer||High Y||Knot Steering Lines and Center Lines|
|Naish||Low V||Loop Steering Lines, Knot Center Lines|
|North||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Ocean Rodeo||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Ozone||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Reedin||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
|Slingshot||Low V||Knot Steering lines, Loop Center lines|
Now it’s time to get your board ready to rip. We recommend assembling the straps first. An easy way to determine your stance is to center your board in front of you on the ground and hop onto it with an active stance (knees bent, toes pointed out). That’ll give you an approximation of where you feel naturally comfortable. Make sure you match up the left and right straps with pads. You’ll want to mount your handle next, then fins. You’ll attach your fins with the slope pointed inwards.
You can generally use different brand straps with boards, but again consult our compatibility chart for strap spacing, handle and fin spacing, and whether the handle is included with you the straps or board.
Board / Strap Compatibility
|Brand||Binding Board Spacing||Handle Spacing|
|Duotone||7'' / Slinder track||7 inch|
|Liquid Force||8 inch|
Let’s move on to the harness, which connects you to the kite. Make sure to try this on for a proper fit before hitting the water. If you’re going to be using it with a wetsuit and/or vest we recommend trying it on with those on as well. It should be form-fitting but comfortable. You’ll also want to attach your safety leash to your harness, which is often included with the control bar.
For more information, make sure to visit our knowledge center where we delve deeper into the differences between harness types.
We're going to talk about the must-haves, some stuff that is nice to have, especially in the event of something going wrong, and what you should keep your eyes on when you're out there to make sure you have the best experience possible.
Must-Have Safety Gear
My number one piece of kiteboarding safety equipment is probably my wetsuit. Not only is it going to add a little bit of buoyancy and impact protection, but it's also going to do a good job of keeping you warm in the event of something going wrong. Here in Michigan, if I go down when I'm pier-length out and it's a little earlier or later in the season, I really need to have an appropriate wetsuit to do that swim in. Hypothermia is a real thing, and you always want to wear a wetsuit that will allow you to survive the swim in from the furthest point out. Wind directions can shift or you can get wrapped up in your gear, and then it can take you a little bit of time to recover and get back in. Being properly suited is really important.
Be sure to remember your booties, gloves, and beanie or hoodie as well. Those are places that shed a lot of warmth, so be mindful of that for every session and plan for the worst. It also results in a more comfortable session when I've got my long sleeve on, even in the summer. It's a bit of extra warmth on those long days, plus I don't need to put sunscreen on those places, so that's an added perk.
My second piece of safety equipment that I recommend for kitesurfing is the flotation vest. Like the wetsuit, there are a couple different benefits. You get that added flotation. While a lot of brands don't have a Coast Guard certified vest because of the certification process and the cost that goes along with that, they still have good buoyancy. They also offer impact protection, as well as a little bit of core warmth. I would be lying if I said I always wore my vest, but on those heavy wind, big wave days, I'm always appreciative that I have it in my car and ready to go.
You'll generally want to get one with a kiteboarding-specific cut. It's a little thinner at the bottom to accommodate your harness, and then it has more padding at the top. One of my favorites is the Mystic Block vest because that is a high kiteboarding cut. It works really well when you have your harness on. The fit will vary a little bit depending on whether you're wearing a seat, waist, or shorts harness, so bear that in mind when you're picking yours out. Since it's really important to get that right, we offer a large selection and a flexible return policy.
With any piece of safety equipment, you want something that feels comfortable and that you trust because that's going to encourage you to wear it. Growing up, my parents used to get me really dorky bike helmets that didn't quite fit right, so the moment they looked away I would take it off because I didn't enjoy wearing it. So make sure that your safety equipment is comfortable and something you vibe with. A nice thing about getting bright colors is that it's always easy to point out to friends or family who you are on the water, plus high visibility is always nice if you find yourself in a rescue situation, but be sure to inject a little personality into it so you feel comfortable wearing it.
Always make sure your harness has a hook knife. I have never had to use mine, but there are certain pieces of equipment where that one out of a thousand times that you need to use it, it is going to be the piece of equipment that potentially saves your life. So always make sure that you have that with you and can locate it quickly if you need to chop your lines. Occasionally inspect it to make sure there's no rust. Like a kid playing a quick draw Western game, you want to be able to reach exactly for that hook knife and pull it out quickly, so really memorize where it is. If you do need it, you generally won't have a second to delay while you fumble around and try to remember which pouch you left it in.
Safety leashes are a pretty common accessory, and everybody should ride with one. It allows you to fully deploy your kite and flag out to a single line. Without a safety leash, you can still deploy it, but then it's bon voyage to your kite. You generally can recover it, but it's just smart to have that safety leash, as well as courteous to other riders and boaters in the area who won't have to dodge your runaway kite and potentially get caught up in its lines.
I pull my safety release all the time, whether I find myself landing a bad trick, or all of a sudden the wind gets a little strange with a storm front, or I'm just using a landing technique and I want to get it down safely. So just make sure you have your leash. Generally, it's not something you forget to bring, but my little trick is that I get one that's colorful and vibes with my outfit, so it's always there and it's an easy callout when I look at my equipment. I can say, "Oh yeah, perfect. There's the bright pink safety leash- I'm good to go."
Nice-to-Have Safety Gear
A helmet could be important to think about, though it's not as commonly used. This is going to vary by where you're kiting. If you're in an area where there's a lot of debris or rocks along the shoreline, it's good to have in the event you wipe out and get pulled into something. The general rule is, if it's kind of a sketchy launch or land, or there's debris, it's not a bad idea to have a helmet because it's going to protect you in case you have a little kitemare.
Another important piece of gear to have can be safety sunglasses. We're getting a lot of UV exposure out there with the sun hitting the water and shining back. That's a lot of wear and tear on the eyes, so if you want to age gracefully, it's a nice accessory to have. You also know you're going to wipe out and get splashed in the eyes, especially when foiling or winging. If that foil pops up, that can stop it from hitting you, so that can be an additional protective piece of gear.
Earplugs can be nice. Eardrum injuries can happen in kiteboarding when people jump and land with their ear flat on the water. That kind of pressure can cause damage there. It's not something that happens a lot, but it's something to be mindful of if you're going through the checklist of things that you're willing to risk versus things you just won't tolerate.
I almost shudder to mention this because they have such a checkered past, but the board leash can be a nice accessory. Modern board leashes like the EEL retractable leash spool out and create quite a bit of distance between you and your board if you do fall, and then you can retract that and get back to your board. Leashes of old didn't have that feature, so sometimes you would catch an edge, your board would submerge, and you would loop your kite and go flying. This essentially created a rubber band effect, where all of a sudden that released and went rocketing back at you. That's part of the origin of the impact vest, which we now call flotation vests, and helmets in kiteboarding. You really did need protection to survive the impact from that, or at least keep your head in one piece. I'm grateful that the technology has evolved, and I do think it's a pretty viable option for people in this day and age. With that said, I do think you shouldn't use it to get around being able to body drag back to your board; that's an important skill to have. But if you just want the ease-of-use when there's a mean current or waves so you can get back to your board as quickly as possible, that's a great option.
If you're a new rider, you may want to look at something like the Ocean Rodeo Go Joe. It's an inflatable tube that you put between your handle hole and your footstrap. It'll cause your board to flip upright, and then it acts as a little sail so your board will carry itself downwind so you don't need to body drag upwind. You also will be able to see it, versus the classic "upside-down in the waves and that thing is gone". I can't tell you how many times I've lost a board and had to send my kite when I'm in the water so I can get about 10 feet up and try to scan the horizon for it. The Go Joe, even though it looks a little kooky, is a great solution to that problem.
When you go for a session, it's important to be mindful and plan for the worst. Decide what your allowances for risk are, and what you don't want to play around with. On a calm day, I probably won't throw a vest on, but on a gnarly day where there are big waves and I'm not sure how much I want to swim in, I'm going to throw on a vest. It's really great for peace of mind. If I go to a rocky area and I'm traversing the shore to get down to the water, I might throw on a helmet because I could loop my kite around something and go flying. I want to live to kite another day. Get in the habit of being comfortable with your safety gear. Love your safety gear, get fun colors, get good fits, and check in on it to make sure you always know where it's at and what condition it's in. Maybe even have a few spare pieces.
Always live to kite another day. I think that's a great mindset to have, and then you'll have a whole lifelong love of kiting.