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Kitesurfing Equipment for Beginners: Your Ultimate Guide

Just getting started with kitesurfing? You’re in for a treat! But before you can jump in, it’s crucial to get the right gear. As a novice, it can be a bit overwhelming – there’s a lot to consider.

The right equipment can make or break your kitesurfing experience. It’s not just about performance, it’s also about safety. I’ll guide you through the basics of what you need and why, so you can make informed decisions.

Essential Kitesurfing Equipment

As we delve deeper into the depths of kitesurfing, let’s focus our attention on the cornerstone of a successful surfing session. The gear, of course! It’s where the magic happens, turning gusts of wind into electrifying rides on the waves. Here’s a quick rundown of the vitals:

Kite

The kitesurfing kite is undoubtedly the flagship piece of kitesurfing gear. When you’re starting out, the style of kite you choose can drastically alter your learning curve. Leading edge inflatable kites, known as LEIs, are a top choice for beginners. They’re robust, easy to control and, importantly, they offer excellent water relaunch capabilities.

We at Hunstanton Watersports use the Reach Kite by North in our kitesurfing school. It’s a great kite, and the size you’ll want to use depends on different factors, including your skill level, an individual’s body weight, and the wind speed on that day. There are many options for Kites out there. We find the North Reach a great all rounder, whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced kitesurfer like myself. I have been kitesurfing for over 15 years and can go out on the North Reach and have a really enjoyable session. They are not specifically aimed at complete beginners. The water relaunch capabilities and upwind riding characteristics are superb. Top marks for the North Reach.

credit to Northkb.com

Board

Below the kite, we find the trusty board. Kitesurfing utilises a range of board styles, from twintips to surfboards and the burgeoning trend of hydrofoil. For a novice, a larger board offers greater stability whilst getting the hang of the controls. Width is particularly important here; a wider board will allow for easier starts and help maintain balance whilst you find your sea legs.

There are 3 types of boards: twintips, surfboards, and foilboards. All offer a different style of kitesurfing. Here at Hunstanton Watersports we use twintips on our kitesurfing lessons as they are bidirectional boards – which means it doesn’t matter which way the board is facing, this is more forgiving for beginners. I would say 85-90% of kitesurfers are using twintip kiteboards.

We’re big fans of North and Duotone – their boards are high quality, durable, and look great. You can see the range of Duotone twintips here.

Control Bar and Lines

Moving on, our hands meet with the control bar. This unassuming piece of equipment governs kite manoeuvres and your overall ride. It’s all down to the bar. Beginners would do well to opt for a bar with an easy-to-use quick release safety system and features cues to indicate the correct holding position. Red on the left.

You can grab yourself a control bar from any good watersports retailer, or it’ll come as part of a kitesurfing kit package. I often recommend using the same brand bar and lines as the kite, although some of the modern control bars and lines are interchangeable between different branded kites. I do think it’s good practice to stick with the same brand throughout.

Harness

The harness is what links you, the kitesurfer, to your kite. Two types shine: the waist and seat harnesses. The waist is preferred by many for its enhanced freedom of movement. But, the seat harness, offering additional lower back and seat support, could prove a gentler introduction for beginners. During our beginner lessons, everyone starts off in a seat harness for maximum support.

Bindings/Foot straps and Pads

Finally, your bindings or foot straps & pads deliver the connection between you and your board. The majority of kitesurfing boards use foot straps. These are adjustable and offer a looser fit than traditional wakeboard bindings, providing an easier escape should you wipe out or need to ditch your board. Don’t overlook the comfort factor. After all, nobody wants their fun ruined by cramped, uncomfortable feet. When buying a kiteboard, most will come with a recommended foot strap set up.

Clothing for Kitesurfing

Now that we’ve discussed the technical equipment in-depth, we mustn’t overlook the importance of appropriate clothing. Dress according to the conditions, I always say. It’s not merely about fashion or comfort. It’s directly related to your performance and safety.

Wetsuit

Kitesurfing, like any water sport, requires you to be in the water for prolonged periods, which can be cold and challenging. That’s where a wetsuit comes in handy. Wetsuits are designed to maintain your body temperature, protecting you from hypothermia. Not to mention, they also minimise the risk of abrasions and injuries that can occur during falls.

When choosing a wetsuit for kitesurfing, remember to consider:

  • Fit – You’re looking for a second skin, nothing less, nothing more. A well-fitted wetsuit will also save you from the unpleasant feeling of cold water flushing through.
  • Thickness – influenced by water temperature and weather conditions. Thicker for colder environments, thinner for warmer ones.
  • Type – There are different styles available, such as full suits, which offer full body coverage, and shorties, which are ideal for warmer waters.

There are an abundance of options for wetsuits out there, but we recommend getting something that will last, stand the test of time and general wear and tear.

You can’t go wrong with anything by O’Neill or Mystic. These brands fit well, protect you from the elements, and look awesome. Good options with a range of colours below:

Neoprene Boots

Neoprene Boots or booties complete the ensemble. Trust me when I say that sharp stones, broken shells, or any unexpected underwater debris are the last things you’d want to step on while navigating the water.

These boots provide the much-needed underfoot protection in the shallow waters and during launching or landing. Moreover, they also help maintain warmth for your feet, especially in chilly water conditions.

When choosing your boots:

  • Fit – Again, a snug fit is important, but not too snug that it cuts off your blood circulation.
  • Thickness – Varies based on water temperature. As a rule of thumb, the colder the water, the thicker the boots should be.
  • Sole Type – Hard soles for rocky bottoms and soft soles for sandy bottoms.

So you want something to keep you feet warm as well as protect them from anything sharp on the sea floor and beach. We think quality is worth the investment – cheaper brands tend to use a thinner material meaning you’ll end up with some seriously cold toes after being in the sea for a while.

Our recommendation:

O’Neill Epic 5mm Neoprene Wetsuit Boot

Dry Robe

Do you like getting changed in the cold and wind? No, me neither, which is why a dry robe has become a staple in my gear bag. Waterproof and windproof, you can use it for getting changed in, but also for something as simple as walking the dog in the rain, or for getting back into after you’ve been for a cool dip in the sea.

Two Bare Feet Unisex Changing/Dry Robe

Or if you wanted to go for something a little simpler but just as effective for getting changed in, you can’t go wrong with something like this changing robe poncho:

Safety Gear for Kitesurfing

Moving from the world of comfortable and necessary clothing to delve into safety gear, it’s essential to pay close attention to this section. Safety gear doesn’t only keep you intact during your kitesurfing adventures but also instills an air of confidence as you challenge the wind and waves. There are three key safety gear components for beginners: a helmet, an impact vest, and a leash.

Helmet

Some might shrug it off, but I can’t stress enough: a helmet is crucial for all kitesurfers, especially beginners. The winds and waves can be dangerous, and the surface of the water can be just as hard as concrete when you fall from a height or at speed. Investing in a good quality, water-sports specific helmet could save you from serious head injuries. While shopping, look for options with ear protection — not only does it protect your ears from rough winds and water flow, but it may also help prevent a ruptured eardrum. Though helmets may vary in design and style, safety should never be compromised.

Impact Vest

Next in line is the impact vest, an important piece of gear which helps to protect your chest and back from potential impact injuries. Remember, the environment you are unleashing yourself into is unpredictable and having this added protection can make all the difference. When choosing your vest, ensure it’s specifically designed for kitesurfing. Kitesurfing vests have added flotation but are not full-blown buoyancy aids, allowing you more movement.

There are many brands that do impact/bouyancy vests, we use ones by Typhoon at Hunstanton Watersports. A few other brands include Helly Hansen, Mystic, and O’Neill.

Impact Vest:

Bouyancy Aid

Another must for beginners is the bouyancy aid – this will mean you won’t be messing around swimming when you could just be floating, ready to get up on your board again! Again, at Hunstanton Watersports we use Typhoon bouyancy aids as we know they’re reliable.

Typhoon Bouyancy Aid:

Kitesurfing Line Knife/Hook Knife

A line knife is an essential piece of equipment, in the event of a tangle, lines crossing with other kitesurfers, or the worst situation, around your body or limbs, you may be in the situation where you have to cut free from the immediate danger. Without a good line knife, this can be a dangerous situation.

Something like this Harness Hook Safety-knife will serve you well if you ever get in to any problems:

Accessories for Kitesurfing

Transitioning from safety gear, let’s delve into the other side of the iceberg: kitesurfing accessories. These goodies tend to enhance your overall kitesurfing experience, offering avenues to perfect your skills and enjoy the ride even more.

Kite Pump

A basic yet essential accessory, a kite pump, usually isn’t included with your kite purchase. A slow, wallowing pump experience can dampen the thrill of the ride before it’s even started, so it’s essential to pack in a quality, high-volume pump. Remember, your pump not only inflates your kite but also determines how quickly you commence your surfing adventure.

You just want something that’s going to last, but doesn’t break the bank. Something built for watersports is best. We recommend this:

Changing Mat

Ideal for kitesurfers, paddleboarders, and anyone who doesn’t want to damage their wetsuit when they’re getting changed – an essential after you’ve invested in a good wetsuit. Can also be used on the beach to change out of wet and sandy clothes. You can’t go wrong with something like this:

Waterproof Phone Case

Whether you’re a kitesurfer, paddleboarder, swimmer or otherwise, regularly being around water means there’s a big chance your phone could get wet or dunked, and that could be the end of it.

Keeping your phone safe from accidents is key for staying connected and great for taking photos on the water!

Check out our page on the best waterproof phone cases, but to cut it short, this is our top recommendation:

YOSH Waterproof Phone Pouch

Kitesurfing Board Bag

One accessory I can’t emphasise enough is a kitesurfing board bag. With the numerous trips to the beach, comes the wear and tear on your gear. A durable board bag protects your board from scuffs, dings, and UV damage resulting from direct sunlight. Besides, they’re built with additional compartments to pack in your other kitesurfing essentials.

GPS Watch for Kitesurfing

Let’s talk about something that helps measure your kitesurfing progress, a GPS watch. This high-tech gadget tracks your speed, distance covered, and even jumps. It’s a fun way to maintain a record of your improvement over time.

A lot of the time you can use your phone in a waterproof case, with an app called Kite GPS which will do a great job, but if you’re looking for a watch then the Garmin watches have the best battery and are robust enough to last.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Kitesurfing gear isn’t just about the kite and board. It’s the little extras that can make a world of difference. A high-volume kite pump, a durable board bag, a GPS watch, a trainer kite, and a quality wetsuit – they all play a part in not just upping your game but also making your kitesurfing adventure more enjoyable. Remember, the right gear doesn’t just enhance performance, it also ensures safety and comfort. So don’t skimp on these essential accessories. Now that we’ve got the gear sorted, it’s time to dive into the world of kites. Stay tuned to explore different types of kites in our next section. Happy kitesurfing!

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