Sizes Available: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m
Sizes Tested: 8, 11m
Committing to overpowered airs and megaloops in gusty conditions demands an unwavering trust in your kite. Our iconic premier 5-strut kite, delivers incredible top-end control and allows you to hold down more power than any other kite per square metre. Big jumps. Big hang time. Big wind range. This kite was designed to rocket you upwind fast, with effortless steering, extreme boosting and hangtime guaranteed to take your breath away. Tested by nature, proven on the podium. The Orbit has your back when the rules of gravity don’t apply. For 2021 we’ve modified the bridle for a more playful feel, and further improved the stability, while maintaining the kite’s high-end performance and kiteloop recovery. We’ve also strategically replaced the heavy dacron with lighter weight reinforcement material, so the kite feels even lighter and more responsive.
Visit for more info: www.northkb.com/en/products/kites/orbit-big-air-freeride
North’s performance freeride big air machine is back for a second season with some subtle but quite effective refinements that amplify this kite’s big boosting potential to take you to the moon. The Orbit features a 5-strut medium to slightly higher aspect canopy with a flat arc in the center and sweptback wingtips. This year the wingtips used significantly less Dacron and the trailing edge uses double ripstop with small soft foam battens to help with its leading edge stability. The Orbit features a ton of precision construction details like Technoforce D2 fabric and Kevlar gussets at the struts, all items which contribute to the Orbit’s rigid structure that is meant to yield stable performance when loaded up with extra power. The Orbit comes with the large diameter bayonet-style inflation valve that requires no nozzle on the end of your standard pump hose for a quick and easy pump up. To deflate you just unscrew the bayonet insert for a quick and easy roll-up. The Orbit uses a single setting fixed bridle with an attachment point that ends in a larks head loop while the wingtip bridle ends in a knot. There are two wingtip attachment points for dialing in bar pressure; the stock setting is closest to the trailing edge and that was our favored setting.
Compared to last year’s Orbit, the small adjustments to its airframe seemed to have lightened up the kite’s build a bit and contribute to its slightly crisper turning response and faster turning. The Orbit with its 5-strut layout still keeps the wing rigid under high loads and when ridden overpowered for maximum lift, makes it more dependable through gusts. In terms of bar pressure, the Orbit lands in the middle of the road, neither light nor heavy, with fairly progressive power across the sheeting. The Orbit doesn’t have infinite depower at the end of its stroke, but that is not the point of a kite that is supposed to push big air limits. The steering arc is a little bit wider and the steering response feels a bit faster and more agile which adds significant improvements to setting up perfect big air sends. The lifting power you get on jumps is impressive and gets exponentially more explosive if you dare to hold down more power. The canopy yields excellent hangtime for long lofty airs and the steering improvements help keep the kite in position for soft landings. Much like last year’s model, despite its low-end grunt and heavy lifting power, it flies upwind quite well with its forward flying position which is important when you spend most of your session sending big downwind boosts. With its agile but intuitive steering and power delivery combined with its generous lifting capabilities, the Orbit is one of your top options in the performance freeride category that will help you reach the upper limits of your big air game.
North’s Navigator control bar is back for its second year with an upgraded color scheme. Last year it featured a red handgrip on the left, but this year the bar gets green on the right. This is an adjustable length bar (38-43cm, 45-50cm or 50-55cm) that you can swap effective bar lengths by pulling out a cassette at the bottom of each bar end and flipping it over. The center lines end in knots and the outside lines end in larks head loops, with connection points receiving clear green/red color-coding. The attachment pigtails can be swapped to reverse the polarity of the kook-proof connections to fit other brands and there are three tuning knots inside the floats to adjust the overall tuning of the kite by just pulling the bar end cassettes out and moving knots. The lines are 22m (12m + 10m extension) long. The Navigator features single centerline safety depower that runs through the plastic-coated throw line and routes cleanly down through the quick release to a D-ring in the center of the chicken loop. The quick-release handle is a good size and this year has been swapped to a transparent red. The push away mechanism is clean and the reset is super slick with the click system that allows you to insert the chicken loop back into place without moving the quick release gate. This ”˜single-action reload’ feature was one of our favorites because it features a really clean ”˜click’ when the loop is reset into position. The quick release also features an effortless system for swapping out the size of your chicken loop, by simply rolling a rubber clip out of position and then pushing the loop in and twisting to disconnect it from the release body. You can swap from the stock freeride loop to the smaller surf/rope slider hook quite easily.
The plastic-coated throw/power line slides through the bar smoothly and offers longevity, yet doesn’t feature adjustable length throw. The power system uses an above the bar cam cleat with a power tuning handle that features an infused bungee and soft spongy toggle that is easy to grab and stays within reach. The Navigator offers fairly obvious color-coding with plastic-coated leader lines that feature red and green color-coding. There is a North logo on the center insert of the bar to indicate when you are holding the bar the correct way, which is helpful for those awkward moments. The bar grip is smooth on the bottom with a rubbery stamped grip on the top and a subtle triangular/ergonomic rise on the top that tapers towards the center of the bar. The Navigator features integrated floats attached to the padded bar ends and retractable bungees for stowing your lines when not in use. The Navigator bar scores high marks for balancing a ton of really well thought out and functional design features in a medium weight package that is as durable as it is comfortable and easy to use.
Visit for more info on the bar: www.northkb.com/en/products/control-system/navigator-control-system
Want to view all our 2021 Freeride Gear Reviews in one convenient digital guide? Get the latest product intel on 2021 kites, boards, bars, foils, wings and accessories bundled up in one nice and tidy 178-page digital package HERE. If you’re already a subscriber, log into your account to view our 2021 Freeride Gear Review Guide.