Sizes Available: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14m
Sizes Tested: 8m
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 meter. 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 2022 we’ve made small refinements to the bridle, so the Orbit retains its light steering impulse, stability, high-end performance and kiteloop recovery. We’ve also further reduced the weight of the kite with new lighter weight bladders across more sizes, so the kite feels even lighter and more responsive in all conditions.
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This year the Orbit has received some performance upgrades that we noticed from the moment we started our first upwind tack and became more apparent as we launched into big lofty airs. The airframe boasts a super stable canopy that handles high loads, but also allows for super nimble steering and precision bar feel that make the Orbit feel extra capable for surgical big air strikes that raise the bar to another level. Oh, and you might have heard, Marc Jacobs won the King of The Air on the 2021 Orbit which accompanies Jesse Richman’s win in 2020, putting the Orbit at the top of the big air game.
Inflation Valve: Bayonet valve / no attachment required
Attachments: Center bridle: Lark’s head loop / Wingtip bridle: Knots (reversible)
Centerline Split: Low-V
Front Bridle Options: Single setting / fixed with no pulleys
Design and Features
Purpose-built kites for big air typically rely upon a 5-strut airframe that can handle a ton of power while still offering precise handling for perfectly targeted sends. With a 2-stage arc in the leading edge and a canopy that stays on the medium side of high-aspect, the Orbit has a plenty of lifting surface that the rider can harness for accelerative thrust without feeling too punchy or uncontrollable. The rigging process on the Orbit starts with the high-flow bayonet valve that keeps the pump hose locked to the kite during pumping and doesn’t require any proprietary nozzle. With five struts to inflate, the Orbit utilizes generously-sized distribution hoses that’ll get you on and off the water faster. Upon pack-up you unscrew the bayonet valve for a super quick deflation and fold job.
The Orbit uses Dacron sparingly in the wingtips with lighter grade Dacron along the trailing edge and a series of foam battens to help stabilize the trailing edge. The wingtip struts get tip guards to protect from catching lines or bridles and the front bridle uses a single setting cascade that is fixed and doesn’t use and sliders to moderate the angle of attack. The front bridle attachment pigtails end in lark’s head loops and the wingtip attachment points end in a knot, but both pigtails are reversible so you can match the Orbit to any control bar you like. The wingtip offers you two attachment points to tune the bar pressure with the stock setting coming fixed to the attachment closest to the tip end.
One of the first things we noticed about this year’s Orbit was the noticeable change to the bar feel. Where the previous Orbit bar pressure rang in at a solid medium, this year the Orbit’s bar feedback feels a little bit lighter and easier on your arms without sacrificing steering or feedback impulses. With key changes in weight reduction lying in lighter bladders in both the medium and larger sizes as well as bridle improvements that improve steering and precision bar feeling in all the sizes, there are some clear improvements that make this year’s Orbit one step closer to perfection. The steering felt a little bit more crisp with slightly faster steering response that resulted in canopy reactions that seemed more active than last year’s kite. The steering arc remains fairly tight for a big air dedicated frame which means you can combine the kite’s gutsy pulling power with kiteloops without the fear that the Orbit won’t pull through the end of the loop with some vertical relief to stomp the landing. While big air kites are meant to be ridden in their high-end with tons of power stacked into the 5-strut airframe, the Orbit still delivers lifty jumps and feels manageable for down-loops and other maneuvers without having to ride OP’d like the next Marc Jacobs.
The power delivery along the bar’s throw feels fairly progressive with a bit more tension as you approach fully sheeted in, but it doesn’t require pro-level kite tuning to get good flying performance out of the canopy. When it came to sending big airs, it was really easy to find the sweet spot in the kite’s trajectory to get some really tall jumps. With the 5-strut frame holding every ounce of additional pressure, we could transfer lateral pull into vertical launch without losing power and the transfer gave us confidence to keep pushing the limit. The Orbit’s airframe also delivered in the hangtime department with good float that kept us at apex reasonably well while the bar feedback gave us confidence on kite placement, and with that awareness, we were able to engineer soft landings on bigger jumps.
While the Orbit hasn’t been known for its extreme depower at the end of the bar throw like you might find in a surf kite, it does seem like the new bridle positioning offers you a little extra relief when you need the Orbit to lay off on the heavy pulling. With its affinity for generating power on the move and its greater comfort in the forward part of the window, the Orbit isn’t a hydrofoil kite, but it does have just the right amount of user-friendly and intuitive steering and power control to fit the need of the general freeride kiter looking for a good upwind machine that will allow them to push themselves to the next level.
Looking back at the evolution of the Orbit, this year’s tweaks tune up the agility of the kite while keeping the bar feeling both comfortable and predictable. With a lift profile that’s as aggressive as you want it to be, the Orbit feels incredibly versatile across not only extreme riding for big air and kitelooping, but also in the general freeride category. With two King of the Air titles and a name that’s intended to send you out of this world, this kite has a growing following in the big air realm that won’t be disappointed.
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