Sizes Available: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13m
Sizes Tested: 10m
While surfing, you want your kite to be as invisible as possible. Having a kite that can quickly power and depower are the keys to fluid board control. And there is no better feeling than the moment when your kite ‘drifts’ effortlessly down the line as you absolutely tear apart the wave on your surfboard.
This is the Drifter. The world’s most iconic surf kite that innovated the concept of drift stability. A term widely used by other brands but rarely duplicated.
Visit for more info: www.cabrinha.com/products/01-drifter
The Drifter is back with its impressive name-sake characteristic (drift) but with new front bridle attachment points that give the kite much more range and versatility. With smooth bar dynamics and light to medium bar pressure, the Drifter offers the control and power that will help you dominate the surf in all conditions.
Inflation Valve: Bayonette valve / no hose attachment required
Flying Line Attachments: Center bridle: Larks head / Wingtip bridle: Knots
Centerline Split: Low-V
Front Bridle Options: Dual settings
Design and Features
The Drifter sports a 3-strut airframe with a leading edge that falls on the narrower side and an overall canopy that is medium aspect with fairly boxy wingtips. The Drifter comes with Cabrinha’s 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. The wingtips use a little bit of Dacron that transitions into a lighter grade Dacron and four hard battens dispersed across the trailing edge. The front bridle gives you two adjustment options (offshore is on the outside of the leading edge, onshore is on the inside) and uses a single pulley to change the angle of attack with an attachment pigtail that ends in a larks head. The wingtip offers two attachment points for adjusting between ‘lighter steering impulse/increased depower travel’ or with the farther forward setting B, ‘direct steering/shorter depower travel.’ The factory setting is A, closer to the end of the wingtip.
The Drifter used to occupy the middle ground of the surf kite category with grunty power, light to medium bar pressure, solid steering and excellent drift. This year the Drifter gets some new front bridle attachment settings that basically convert the Drifter into two different kites depending on whether you are set up to the onshore or offshore settings. Noticeably different from other dual option bridle arrangements, the onshore settings attaches the bridle to the inside of the leading edge, while the offshore settings move the bridle towards the outboard side of the leading edge. With the kite set to onshore, we immediately noticed an increase in bar pressure that put it at about medium resistance, with the kite tending to sit a little deeper in the window. In onshore mode, the kite seemed to have a little more heavy pulling power that might have just a little more drift. While the steering response was the same, it seemed to have a little bit wider of a turning arc. Swapping over to the offshore setting, we noted a shift to lighter bar pressure and a tendency to fly farther forward in the window, which helped in going upwind. The power delivery across the throw became a bit more progressive, with seemingly more depower in the canopy at the end of the bar throw. The turning arc seemed a hair tighter than the onshore setting and it felt as if there was more angle of attack movement across the bar throw.
These felt like bigger than normal changes between the two settings that effectively catapults the Drifter into a new category that spans the two different approaches to surf kites, at least as much as a single kite can. If we had to guess, the old single setting Drifter existed somewhere in the middle, but the two new modes give it clear characteristics that will excel in the offshore and onshore wave riding setups. The offshore settings with its progressive sheeting and depower may appeal more to general freeride kiters and those that like to play around with foilboarding on the light days, so the new Drifter may have a bigger audience than it did before. Regardless of the changes, hardened Drifter fans will still find crisp steering dynamics, intuitive and comfortable bar pressure with the design’s trademark drift that has put this kite at the top of the surf kite podium year after year.
Featured Control Bar
The Overdrive Quickloop 1X Trimlight is fresh off a redesign from last year, combining the benefits of an adjustable length bar with a much lighter chassis. The Overdrive comes with a low V in the center lines and the Trimlight system above the bar uses a power tuning cleat with a bungee built into the spectra line to keep the excess slack from getting in the way. The center lines end in knots and the outside lines end in a larks head loop. The kite safety system depowers along a single centerline safety depower that runs down the PVC-coated throw line, through the bar and out through the center of the quick release, for a cleanly routed safety system that is well designed and highlights safety. The quick release features a red push-away handle along with a hand swivel that doubles as a travel guard. When you push on the quick release it remains cocked open, waiting for a reset. If you’re trying to reset in the water, since the gate remains open, you just stick the end of the chicken loop back in and shift the release so it slides back down. The center of the bar is aluminum and features a Cabrinha logo etched into the metal on one side so that the rider can tell when the bar is being held the correct way. The chicken finger is a molded plastic piece and is removable with an Allen screw for those that are doing freestyle. The bar ends feature integrated molded foam floats, ample space for cleanly wrapping your lines and a bungee for keeping your lines cleanly stowed. The adjustable bar length system can be changed on the beach by pulling out a plastic insert from the bottom of the bar end and rotating it to change the effective length of the bar. When you pull out the insert, you also get three knots to adjust the length of the outside lines. This feature is easy to use and creates a smaller, cleaner and lighter bar end.
The ergonomics of the bar grip feature asymmetrical bumps that nestle between your fingers with firm EVA that has the right balance between plush comfort and firmness with small textured indentations. The rubbery bumps on the top make the bar feel grippy, so it feels like your hand is pretty well planted on this nice comfy grip. Overall, the Trimlight 1x has evolved into a streamlined design with lower weight while keeping a key mix of functional and safety-oriented features for a very comfortable but versatile control experience.
Visit for more info on the bar: www.cabrinha.com/collections/bars/products/overdrive-1x-with-trimlite
With over 112 products reviewed, get the digital version of our 2021 Gear Review Guide that puts all the latest products reviews in one easy to access and searchable guide. Want a low-v bar with a durable PVC coated throw line and soft padded bar ends? Use our guide to stay on top of gear developments and find the exact piece of equipment to match your style.
*Already a subscriber or purchased our 2021 Gear Review Guide in the fall? Your guide has been updated to our latest version in your Tkb library. Log into your account to read the latest reviews.