Getting Started with Snowkiting
Selecting a Kite for the Snow:
Types, Designs, Brands, Models, Sizes,
What to ride and Where to ride
Types of Kites used for Snow-Kiting
Standard Foils (fixed-bridals)
Closed-Cell Foils (Hybrids: Example: HQ Mattrixx)
Choosing a kite size
Where to Ride
Kite Brands Models and Pricing
New to Kite sports? If you have not yet mastered the basic kite skills,
be sure to visit these pages: Beginners, Faq's
Kites: Types used for the Snow-kiting
1. Standard Fixed-Bridal Foil Kites
Example: HQ Scout
Foils are designed for Land based sports.
No pump required.
Foils can still fly well even with a small rip or hole.
Examples of standard foil kites: HQ Scout II
Traditional foil kites that are rigged with 3-lines on a control bar. The kite mainly flys using the kites 2 front lines that connect to the outer ends of the Control bar. The Back lines ( aka brake lines / Back lines / Rear Lines ) are mostly slack while the Kite is flying.
The brake line / aka back line(s) Adds 2 advantages:
Firstly, they allow the kite to be easily "reversed" relaunched quick and easily off the ground after a nose first crash.
The brake line(s) are also used as a safety kill switch. Just release the bar, and the brake line(s) tighten up causing the kite "over-sheet" lose power, and fall to the ground.
2. Sheetable ( aka Depowerable ) Foils:
Examples: HQ Montana VII and HQ Apex III / IV
The ultimate kite design for most Snow-Kiters.
All of the benefits of a foil:
instant inflate, no pump needed, greater durability, small pack down size
Plus the full sheeting (instant depower) ability and the advantages of an inflatable!
The Snow-Kiter gets the best of both worlds! The wind range on these kites allows one kite to handle the wind range of atleast 2 standard foils. These kites are amazing.
To learn more about them, visit our new "Sheetable Foil Kites" page.
Large usable wind range ( rore range than a Standard / fixed Bridal Foil Kite)
durability for land use.
You'll pay more for a sheetable kite, but also have a kite that will cover the wind range of 2 standard foils.
3. Sheetable Closed-Cell Foil-Kites
( Water Relaunchable / Amphibious )
Example: HQ Mattrixx and Neo
These are Sheetable-foil kites, but rather than the common "open-cell"
they use "closed-cells" with one-way air-intake-valves along the leading (front) edge
that allows the air flow-in and become trapped inside.
The kites inflate and stay inflated from only the wind natually flowing in.
No Air-pump needed. When used on the water, the trapped air allows the kite float , and thus become "Water-Relaunchable".
4. Inflatable Kites ( also called: Tube kites, SLE, Bow )
Examples: Best-TS, Best-Kahoona-V5, Zian-Aquila, Zian-Kima
Inflatable kites were designed for the water but also work well on the snow.
Kite companies have been making their inflatables kites: tougher in the right places, easier to relaunch, more de-powerable, and safer.
The majority of snow-kiters use foil kites, but some prefer their inflatables for both water and snow.
(+) Excellent wind range.
(+) Kiteboarders already own one.
(+) Line configuration is simple compared to foil kites.
(+) Rigid Air Frame adds stability
(-) They need a good amount of internal air pressure to keep their shape.
(-) You'll need to carry an air-pump.
(-) Mass. An inflatable kite is always full of air. Open-cell Foils are the opposite since they self-deflate when on the ground.
In short: Ideal for the water, and also be fun on the snow.
Understanding Line configurations
Inflatable Kite and "Sheetable" foil-kites
All Inflatable Kites are Sheetable
Some Foil kites are Sheetable, and other foil kites are Not.
Having 4-line, does NOT mean that a kite is sheetable.
Think of "Sheet-ability" like a sailboat sail that can adjust the angle of the sail
to the wind. ( Trimming the sail ).
Speaking for the moment about "Sheet-able" kites ( foils and inflatable types )
connected to the kites front which is called its "Leading edge" (LE)
The Front lines from the kite pass through a hole in the center of the Control-bar
and terminate into the "trim-loop" ( aka Chicken-Loop) that hooks directly to your body via your harness.
connect to the outer ends of the Control-Bar.
The back lines ( on a sheetable kite) are also called "Steering lines" or "Brake Lines".
When pulling on "one side" of your Control-bar. (the right side for example),
the right line pulls tighter, and creates more drag on the right wing-tip slowing it down.The kite then rotates around that point, causing your kite to steer ( turn ) to the right.
IF.. "Both" Back-Lines are pulled and tighten at the same time...
You will be slowing down the kite equally on both sides. ( called Braking).
Initially you will feel more power from your kite. If you continue to pull both back lines, your kite will reach a point in which its angle to the wind is excessive, and it will cause your kite to stall and lose power.
Inflatable kite fliers like to call it "back stalling" because it causes the kite to
slow down, stop, and then go into reverse.
IF you see your kite or someone else's kite not wanting to launch, not wanting to climb in the sky, or appearing to want to fly back-wards... you'll now understand that it's mostly due to too much back line tension. ( too much brake) The problem is normally NOT the kite, but rather the fault of the kites owner not having the kite tuned (adjusted ) properly.
Your back-lines should have some slack when flying normally.
Too tight ( braking) and your kite will lose lift and stall.
Too loose, and your steering will be sloppy or non-effective.
As you sheet-out (slacken the back lines), you allow the kite to open more.
Sheet-out for less-power.
Sometimes people find that sheeting-out has the opposite effect than what's
IF.... your kite is powered well and trimmed properly to the wind,
it will lose power when you sheet out.
IF.. you at first had your kite set-up with too much back line tension
( causing it to stall / lose power ),
when you try to sheet-out, you are essentially letting off the brakes, and
allowing your kite to gain "lift". This WILL create power.
Kites , windsurfers, and Sailboats are NOT like cars.
In a car, foot off the gas.. less power ( EVERY TIME ).
Foot to the floor.. max power ( EVERY TIME ).
With a kite, there is a point of diminishing returns.
If you're lines are slack.
Pull in and you get more power.
Pull in too much and you lose the power and lift ( Stall ).
That's the basics, but there is more to it than described above.
You can learn more about Sheeting, lift, drag, angle of attack, or you can
learn to feel it. We strongly recommend that you learn it from both sides.
Practice and feel, and also understand how and why it works ( to some degree).
The beauty of a sheetable ( depowerable ) kite is when you get hit by a strong wind gust, and want to spill off some of the power. You just allow your control-bar to slide out a few inches / away from your body.
Sheetable foils and Inflatables function in the same way:
Bar-In = Sheeting In = More power or if excessive can cause Stall.
Bar-Out = Sheeting-Out = Depower / Less Power.
Steering with a Control Bar is the same regardless if it's a 2, 3, or 4 line kite,
Just like a mountan-bike...., or Left Left
Right Right: Pull Right and the kite Turns Right. ,
Left Left: Pull Left, and the kite Turns Left.
The Kite size used for the snow varies considerably! On a day with 15 knots of wind, people can be Snow-Kiting with kites ranging from 3m to 13m!
Considerations / Factors
Wind Speed: as measured with a wind meter / anemometer.
Air Density: affected by altitude, Temperature, and Humidity
Snow Conditions: Icy and slick, hard-packed, slushy, powder or deep powder.
Rider Weight and strength: From 50 lb kids to 250 lb giants.
There's a kite for everyone.
Type/ Design of Kite: High vs Low aspect design, Standard foil, or Sheetable.
Rider Skill: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Rider Style and Goals: Cruiser, technical rider, to big air junkies.