By Evan Mavridoglou
Most of you reading this article either have already purchased kitesurfing gear or will be going through the process sooner than later. Let’s be honest – this isn’t the easiest decision you ever made.
Choosing your kitesurfing gear is as much of an emotional choice as a factual one. With dozens of kite and board manufacturers offering an overwhelming amount of models, features, and innovations, your decision is even more complicated than you might have originally thought.
After nine years of selling kitesurfing gear to both consumers and retailers worldwide, we have observed a few common mistakes that we would like you to avoid:
1. What a professional rider uses isn’t necessarily the right gear for you. Many customers are looking at what the top kiters ride and they try to replicate the same gear combination. While this might be the “coolest” gear out there, it might not work for your personal style, skill level, local conditions, and riding habits.
2. Don’t buy kites and boards blindly. If you are just starting, consider purchasing the same gear that you have learned with. You will be more confident with the features and you will progress faster. If you are an experienced kiter, try to demo the equipment before you buy it. Feeling the bar features, how it fits in your hands, the length of the depower line, and the depower system while you kite will give you all the data you need to decide if it is the right setup for you. A kite’s stability, turning speed, jumping and upwind performance, how it behaves in your local conditions, how it relaunches, etc. can only be tested and not described.
3. Don’t go cheap with your wetsuit and harness. We have this rule with our customers and we are really passionate about it: The gear closest to your body is at least as important as your kites and boards. Your wetsuit and harness are critical to your ride. While not necessary everywhere in North America, when you need a wetsuit, it has to keep you warm and needs to be as flexible as necessary for your riding style. Your harness is probably the most important link between your body and your kite. If your harness underperforms your kite session will be miserable.
4. Don’t save your budget on safety equipment. Helmets and impact vests are very important for your safety and will keep your body together when you push your limits.
5. Your old windsurfing or wakeboarding gear won’t cut it. A kitesurfing-specific harness is designed to deal with very specific forces coming from a kite. Also, kitesurfing-specific harnesses have special features to prevent the spreader bar from riding up and offer additional range of motion. Similarly, wakeboarding vests are not designed to work with kitesurfing harnesses and the ones that could work with a seat harness might be too bulky and restrictive.
Evan Mavridoglou is the owner of Live2kite Kiteshop and School in Greenbrae, California.