Learning Snowkiting

Snowkiting for many will be a natural progression from snowboarding. Hey, you’ve already got the board so you’re halfway to trying out this new extreme sport.

But where to, and how to, progress from this point?

There are places to learn and clubs to join, but below are a few simple facts that might help. But before that here’s a fabulous teaser from mwiemarkus which highlights the surrealism of this wonderful sport…

This isn’t a sport restricted to snowboarders – skiers cross over just as easily.

But back to the question of how to start…

Besides taking instruction, any snowkiter would advise you to watch as many videos as possible and pester other snowkiters with questions. Make sure you understand what and why people wipe out. You can teach yourself but you must take advantage of the videos that are out there. There are some really good ones like:

  • Real kiteboarding: Zero to Hero
  • How to Snowkite: Vol. 1, The Basics
  • Kiteboarding 101 and 102

While you are doing this you will no doubt be consumed with the desire to buy your own kite. So what sort of kite are you looking for?

Money obviously comes into consideration – how much have you got and what is your budget going to be – and as that is obviously up to you, I will give you some rough outlines of what you should be looking at.

You should start with a small kite, 4 – 6 m. Some people go even smaller to a Trainer kite (less than 5 m) but you can skip this phase in the interests of saving some money. Many people choose to skip the enxt phase too, the 4 – 6m kite, buy an intermediate kite and thus save some money. It’s been done before and it can certainly be done again – but be aware that your road from Zero to Hero will be a lot more painful!

A foil kite is a good way to start as they are stable and tough – very forgiving when you crash them and easy to set up and take down. They use ram air to inflate the kite and keep it filled as its flying. And since they will be crashed very regularly when you begin, then HQ is a good brand to look at as they make low-cost quality kites. The advantage of a kite of this size (4 – 6m) is that you can fly it in low winds – between 7 – 10 knots which allows you to learn about the kite and how it works without being seriously yarded, but yet it is big enough to use in stronger winds (12 – 18 knots) which you cannot do with a Trainer kite. To be even more specific, an HQ Apex I 5m depower kite is a steady, reliable kite to learn on and can cost anywhere from $100-$400. The de-power allows more rider control at very little extra cost.

Equally there is nothing wrong with buying a secondhand kite to start with – saving your money for the next one. A good place to start looking is on vari0us snowkite forums such as:

  • Snowkiting.com
  • Kiteforum.com
  • powerkiteforums.com

Now that you have the kite you need something to harness the power. Some kites come with handles, and some with a control bar and “chickenloop”. If yours is the latter, then you will most definitely want a harness and the starting price on these is $75 and upwards.

Fear not – there are alternatives. Perhaps you already have a simple rock climbing harness? Averaging about $30, this type of harness won’t provide the comfort or “un-hooked” riding ability of purpose-made kiting harnesses but they’re perfectly adequate at the entry level attachment point.

Once you get more advanced you can look into Ozone kites and Peter Lynn as well. And finally, as you reach hero status, you might want to consider an LEI (leading edge inflateable) kite. They are geared for water use but can also be used on land. But I’m jumping the gun here… let[s get back to basics.

I know I’ve already said that you can use your current skiing equipment, whether snowboard or skis, when snowkiting,but you aught to be aware that your board, or skis, will get dinged, so if your equipment is expensive, go to the beginning-of-the-season-ski-sales where last years’ hire-equipment is being sold off seriously cheaply (in France anyway) or even carboot sales where you can always pick up a board for a song.

And last but not least – the safety angle. Remember our article way back last season about helmets and the need or otherwise for them? You ARE going to crash when learning to snowkite, and the chances are you’re going to crash over and over again. So don’t be an idiot and don’t save pennies when it comes to your future. Invest in a decent helmet – priority number one. This could cost you anywhere between $40 – $125. You’re also going to need goggles as you will only be snowkiting in windy conditions. You will probably already have goggles but if not they will set you back somewhere between $20 – $80,  and, if you’re learning in icy conditions, you should invest in some crash pads, knees and elbows, that you can put under your winter gear. It is recommended because if you crash on ice it will be like crashing into concrete. Crash pads cost about $20 – $40.

I don’t know if you’ve been doing your sums as you’ve read through this article, but getting started in snowkiting shouldn’t cost you more than $300. And after that, you’re all set and ready to fly and with no further costs – not even ski passes. For $300 you get immediate satisfaction and a few bumps and bruises! And your first kite will never be a waste of money – it can always be brought out and used in high wind conditions.

When taking your first ‘steps’ on your snowkite, particularly if you are using an intermediate kite, it is adviseable to start in very low wind – 10-15 mph and work your way up from there. ALWAYS KEEP THE KITE ABOVE YOUR HEAD!

Plus, always know where your kite is and know what your safety releases are and how to use them instinctively and you should be fine… and one day you, too, will be doing this…

… kindly brought to us by ActionSportsWorld. However, again I’m jumping the gun. If this is your first season you will spend a lot of time dreaming of doing this! But don’t despair … you will be one day.