Have you already read the Getting Started page? The Getting Started page will answer pretty much most of the questions you’ll have. To start kitesurfing, you’ll need to first determine the size of kite you need. This is mostly dependent on your body weight. There is a wind-chart located below for you to determine your first kite’s size. You’ll actually need a couple kites once you learn to ride in low, medium, and high-strength winds. In Chicago, these winds are 10-15mph (low winds need a large kite), 15-25mph (medium winds need a medium-sized kite) and high winds (+25mph) which require a small kite and are rare wind conditions reserved only for expert kiteboarders.

Beginners should only learn in winds 15mph, or less. Higher winds will amplify the results of a mistake. Therefore, since you should learn in light winds, and light winds are the most common in Chicago (10-15mph), your first kite should be either a larger or medium sized kite. The kite best to learn on would be a medium sized kite with a larger board. The larger board will help keep you afloat with a medium sized kite, and the medium sized kite, in lighter winds, will be easier to control, and will pull you around less, so there is less risk for mistake or injury.

The bolded windrange in the chart represents the kite you’ll need at that body weight. If you weigh more, you need a larger kite. If you weigh less, a smaller kite. You’ll get to use this medium wind kite the most (the most bang for your buck). There’s a wind chart located below for kite selection that will help you select your first kite to make sure you’re getting the right size. There are some comments following the Windrange Chart so be sure to read them all. Also, make sure to read the information about kiteboarding in snow, or on land with a mountainboard if you are planning to do this.

“C” Shape Kite Windranges

Kite Size 180 lb Rider Windrange 130 lb Rider Windrange Kite Flat Surface Area
12 16-28 mph 14-22 mph (12m) 11.6m/13m
14 14-24 mph (14m) 12-20 mph 13.4m/15m
16 12-20 mph 10-17 mph 15.3m
18 10-18 mph 8-13 mph 17.8m
20 9-16 mph 8-10 mph 21.2m

Wind range is highly subjective and based largely on rider weight and skill. The numbers on the kites represent the effective POWER progression of the kites CLOSELY related to actual area.

Just like windsurfing, kites come in different sizes for different windspeeds and rider weights, so if you want to ride every windy day, you have to buy a couple kites to cover all the wind situations so you can ride in any winds. Most kitesurfers have 2-3 kites to cover all situations. A LARGE KITE for lighter summer winds, and a SMALLER KITE for higher winds during spring and fall.

Your first kite should be the summer kite, since those are lighter winds: better to learn in and more common to Chicago

In Chicago, we typically get 12-15 mph winds during the warm kiting summer months and have the occasional 15-25 days. Because of this, you will most likely use your summer kite the majority of the time. You may want this to be the first kite you purchase since you’ll get the most use out of it. For example, locals ride a 16-20m kite most of the time during the summer.

Chicago’s Spring and Fall season brings higher winds. The frequent wind range during the spring and fall is much higher, frequently hitting the 20-25, even 30+ mph range. For the same 175 lb rider, a 2 kite quiver would consist of a 12m and a Fuel 16m to cover 90% of the season’s wind range.

The IDEAL KITE QUIVER for the +175lb (or heavier) rider would be the 12, 16, and 20. Three kites covering 12mph to 30mph.

For a rider of 200lbs, the windranges for the next smaller kite would apply. For example, a 200 lb rider would use a 20m kite, or larger, for 10-18mph winds.

For someone 150lbs, an average of the two windranges for the 175 and 130lbs riders would apply. For example, a 20m kite for 150lb rider would be roughly 7-14mph

The upper portion of the windrange for each kite is for experts only.

Land Kiteboarding

Snow kiting and land kiting are growing and will probably be more popular than kitesurfing on the water, one day. Basically, all you need to know is that for any conditions, you will be typically using one kite-size smaller on land than you would on water. For ice-riding, you only need a very small kite and can even use a B-2 or B-3 trainer with ice-skates. However, if you were to go kitesnowboarding in a field with packed snow, and would typically use your largest kite for that day’s windspeeds on water, you would use your middle-sized kite for the snow. On deep powder, you would probably use the same size kite as water since deep powder will create a lot of drag on your board.

You can use either the Slingshot or the Guerilla on land and in winter. However, the Guerilla kite will be a better option due to the characteristics of the kite. Keep these points in mind:

Some differences between Kitesurfing and Kitesnowboarding
  • Speeds are higher in kite snowboarding
  • Landings are harder in kite snowboarding (boost, but be sure about the landing!)
  • The same exact setup for the bar and lines works
  • Start standing up, not sitting or laying down
  • Use one size smaller kite for packed snow (or two) than that day’s conditions on water
  • Use a foil, not an inflatable. Inflatables are more succeptible to puncture on ice, or land, from glass, rock and other hard objects. Inflatables will not re-launch easily if LE down. You need a bump in the snow/ice to get it to flip on its back, otherwise it keeps sliding (the bump isn’t good for the bladder, either)
  • Deeper the powder, the more similar to water so use same size kite as on water for that day due to more drag
  • Wear a safety helmet and pads!
  • Use thin gloves with a waterproof shell
  • Layer, you’ll get hot and sweaty quick!
  • Use a 4 line foil since you can solo land using the brake lines to back the kite down from the air and let it sit, TE down, while you rest for the next session. You can anchor the kite using a screw, or something, to detach and relax for a while after solo landing and solo launch is easier, too.
  • Cold hands do not like pumping up an inflatable. Use a foil that self inflates for easier setup.
  • The more packed the snow, the more you can lean back and edge easily and ride upwind. Foils are more efficient in handling gusts, too.