Selecting the Proper Snowkite Equipment
Snow Kiting is the latest winter sport. Large highly controllable foil kites are used to blast kite pilots along with just the power of the wind! The ‘Big air’ jumps that boarders and skiers are pulling under the power and security of power kites are simply breath taking.
Snow Kiting is a lot easier to learn than kiteboarding on the water! It is easy to stand on snow, which makes the whole process easier! It also takes a lot less wind to drive a board across snow than it does across water. The whole learning experience is lot less daunting as you need much less power and wind to get you moving.
Finally, holding an edge in snow is much easier than in water making up wind progress much easier to master.
All you need is snow and a power kite and you can turn a cold winter’s day into a blistering, adrenaline soaked experience!
Unlike your normal trip to the snow covered resorts, you won’t need to worry about lift passes, being overtaken by aggressive skiers/boarders on the slopes or being taken out at the knees by a newbie on an ice patch. You don’t even need mountains, an area free from obstructions and with a healthy covering of snow are all you need. Well that, and the following knowledge.
Selecting the Proper Snow Kite
Most all power kites designed for land use fall under the characteristics of a Foil. To Snow Kite you will want a foil type kite since it is completely soft in structure and cannot be damaged easily when the kite is slammed into the ground. Foils are also capable of reverse launching which is very important for re-launching these kites from the snow
Foils are soft kites that have no hard frame and are controlled with two or four lines. Think if a more controllable and highly aerodynamic parachute.
Leading edge inflatable(LEI)kites are fragile and prone to puncturing on land/snow. LEI kites also do not relaunch off the snow and will just slide on the snow causing abrasion damage to the kite. It is also more difficult to set-up as you have to inflate. It is also more difficult to land the LEI kites.
- Durability – with no air bladders to puncture or spars to break, well-made foils can be almost indestructible. Beginners or occasional fliers, this can be a big plus!
- Packability – they pack up small, often into a their own backpack! This means you can take a kite with you wherever you go.
- Four line foils can be easily relaunched from most crashes without a helper.
- Ease of Set-Up – Foils are the easiest to set-up and launch. No bladders to inflate, no spars, and the lines can even stay attached. Simplicity at its best!
- Choosing the Proper Size-The most popular size for most winds and and terrain is the 5.0 square meter size.
- 5.0 sq. meters – is ideal for the medium winds of 14-20mph.
- 3.5 sq. meters – will work in higher winds, over 18mph
- 7.0-10.0 sq. meters – will be the preferred size for lighter 10-15mph winds
Static vs. De-Powering Foils – Know the Difference
Recent advancements in technology have brought us foil kites that are capable of de-powering(often called “sheeting”) Foils with de-powering systems are far superior to “static” quad line kites for many reasons. De-powering foils have a control bar that has a hole drilled in the middle to allow the center lines to pass through the control bar and into your harness. This allows the control bar to “float” on the center lines and takes all the pull off your arms and grip and into the harness. Pushing the bar away from you decreases power. Pulling the bar towards you increases power. Not all quad lines are capable of de-powering it is an integrated design of the control bar and the kite.
- Much greater wind range the kite will comfortable fly in as you decide how much power you want by adjusting the de-power strap.
- Safer – you can de-power the kite with a simple flick of the wrist to avoid being overpowered.
- The smoothest power delivery – Moving the bar is like having shocks to absorb the variable wind speeds/gusts.There is NO advantage to having a static quad line kite over a de-powering quad line kite other than the static kites are far more affordable in price. Our de-powering foils include the Ozone Frenzy & Apex IV kite and many more. Check out our selection of de-powering foils in our snowkiting section.
Where Will You Be Riding?
The snow kite size you use will depends on the surface. Snow Kiting on hard packed snow or ice takes a lot less power than deeper powder conditions. The best snow kiting is generally on a frozen lake as you have unobstructed wind flow and you know there is nothing under the snow like branches or rocks.
Kite Snowboard or Skies
You can snow kite with either skis or a snowboard; which you choose will depend on your own preferences. Skis have the advantage of giving you a more forward facing body position and can also be easier when it comes to self-launching your kite. A snowboard may feel more natural to you as a board rider if you don’t have an existing preference.
You can use your existing snowboard or skis, however, there’s growing availability of kite specific boards, such as the Cabrinha Snowboard.
The biggest factor dictating your choice will be what riding you’re going to be doing; wake-style freestyle, cross-country with the odd boost or looking to kite up mountains and freeride back down. The deeper you get into any of these disciplines the more you’ll start choosing equipment to deliver on specific performance characteristics. Equally if you’re going to be lucky enough to be getting a lot of powder days you need to look at a slightly wider and longer base to improve your ride.
Consider Your Skill Level
The next consideration is your skill level. Also consider your athletic ability. The larger the kite the more power it generates and more demanding it is for you physically. If you are just getting started, the best choice is the smallest kite that will produce enough power to move. It is essential not to be overpowered, not just because it’s obviously safer but, less power is easier to manage. No one kite will cover the entire wind range, so start with a smaller kite and then get a larger kite later.
Consider Your Weight
You should also consider your size. The bigger you are, the more sail you will need to pull you around. If you are over 180 lbs, you should be looking at 5.0 sq. meter kites to start with. Under that you can go with a 3.5 to start with.
Getting Started – The Fast Track Trainer Kite package below will get you started. One kite with loads of power and it’s a quad line kite with a control bar, Complete with the bar, lines, and kite backpack, it’s only $259.895!
For the best in performance, price, and safety we highly suggest one of our Snow Kite Packages! Featuring De-powering Kites from HQ and Ozone, kite harness, and a FREE Snow Kite instructional DVD!