Getting Started with Snowkiting
Selecting a Kite for the Snow:
Types, Designs, Brands, Models, Sizes,
What to ride and Where to ride
Video: Interview with HQ Kite Designer: Tom Bourdeau
Kites: Types used for Snow-kiting
Choosing a kite size
Where to Ride
Snow kite Lessons
Snow-Kiting Video: HQ 2013
Kites - Kite Brands Models and Pricing
Kites: Types used for the Snow-kiting.
1. Standard / non-sheetable Foil Kites:
Example: HQ Scout II
Foils are designed for Land based sports.
No pump required.
The Foils will still fly well even with a small tear 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, design / durability for land use, The holy grail for snow kiters.
You'll pay more for these kites but also get one kite that will cover the wind range of 2
3. Sheetable Closed-Cell Foil-Kites
( Water Relaunchable / Amphibious )
Example: HQ NEO and Matrixx
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-V2, and Kahoona V4 / V5
Inflatable Kites were Designed for the water but also proven on the snow!
The Inflatable kite was designed for the water but recently 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 chose foil kites, but some prefer their inflatables for both Snow and/or Water use.
(+) Excellent wind range.
(+) Kiteboarders (water) already own them,
(-) Will not fly with a leak.
You'll need to carry an air-pump.
(-)Not designed to handle multiple strikes on solid ground,
(-) Carrying a large air-pump
(-) Mass. The kite is always full of air. Foils are the opposit. They self-deflate when on the ground.
Inflatbles: Ideal kite design for the water, and can be fun on the snow.
Inflatable Kite and "Sheetable" foil-kite
Inflatable Kites are All Sheetable
Foil Kites: Some are Standard ( none-sheetable) and others are "Sheetable" Designs.
On All sheetable ( inflatables and foil ) Kites
connected to the kites Leading edge (LE)
pass through a hole in the center of the control bar
and terminate into the "trim-loop" ( aka Chicken-Loop) that hooks directly to you
via your harness.
connect to the outer ends of the Control-Bar.
The back lines are also called "Steering lines" or " Brake Lines".
When pulling on one side of the bar. ( the right side for example ),
the right line pulls tighter, and creates more drag on the right wing-tip.
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 would "initially" feel more power from your kite,
but as you continue to pull both line, the kite will reach a point in which its angle to the wind is excessive, and would cause the kite to stall and lose power.
Some people describe this as "back stall".
IF you see your kite not wanting to launch or flying forward,
or seemingly wanting to fly in reverse, ( back-stalling ) you'll now understand why!.
The problem is normally NOT the kite, but the kites owner having it tuned (adjusted ) wrong!
Your back-lines should have some slack.
Too tight and your kite will lose lift and stall.
Too loose, and your steering will be sloppy or none-affective.
If the back-lines are loose / slack,
the back of the kite is allowed to open ( to breathe )
having the effect of reducing the power in your kite. " de-power" ( also called "sheeting out" )
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,
just slide the control bar a few inches out / away from your body.
The 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.... Right Right, or Left Left
Pull Right and the kite Turns Right.
Pull Left, and the kite Turns Left
Steering when the kite is
facing downward, Upward, or with the lines twisted.
It's the same. Only 2 options. Pull right, or Pull Left but always steer it like a mountain bike
with 1 arm in, and the other arm out.
Selecting a Kite Size:
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!
The factors that influence the kite size chosen include:
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 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.
Cruising on the flats.
A great example of the mellower side of the sport with Andrew McKendry and Family.
Wanna Fly? Pushing the limits for maximum airtime...
"I was able to ride with my snowboard, man, this sport is a pure drug...
I've been windsurfing for 16 years and now, I only think about Kiting!"
- Pierre Couture / Canada
IF you have Zero previous kite experience...
We recommend starting out with a "Trainer Kite"
Small entry level Snow kite:
3m to 5m range Good for the stronger winds in normal snow conditions or on lighter days with hard packed conditions.
Medium Size Snow Kite:
6m to 9m
Medium " Sheetable Foil" One Kite for variety of riders and conditions would be around 7.5m
or Medium "Inflatable Kite" 9m or 11m or so.
Large Snow kite:
10m to 14m or larger for light winds.
For those serious about the sport who want to be fully powered-up and boosting high lofty jumps in all conditions.
Many Snow-Kiters eventually end up with 2 kites.
Examples: Inflatables 9m + 13m, or 7m +11m, or a foil kites: 7.5m + 10m
It you're going to split the purchase and get one kite now. Get the smaller kite first!
**** These are approximate sizes. The actual size or sizes you choose will depend on Weight, snow conditions, local winds, experience level etc. specific Brand and Model.
We're always happy to help... just ask! : )
Contact Us Also see the "How to" page for info on kite set-up and flying.
Locations to Snow Kite. Where to ride?
The best locations are wide open mountain passes, and frozen snow covered lakes, at high elevations where the wind can blow freely with minimal obstructions. Tall Trees, large Buildings and houses can all block the flow of wind and force it to become gusty and shifty. Ideally you are looking for wind that is consistent as possible in it direction and strength.
Currently some of the well known US kite spots are:
Lake Dillon, Summit County Colorado
Skyline, Near SLC Utah
Georgetown Lake, Montana
The best locations are still waiting to be discovered.
Lessons are always a good idea, and a great way to avoid save time and money. Snow-Kiting is super easy to learn with a couple of lessons from a certified instructor. Like any sport, you can learn via the school of hard knocks, aka "suicide on a string", or you can take a lesson and save yourself a lot of needless frustration.
I still remember the 1st time I tried snowboarding, crash... crash... crash. The 2nd attempt was with an instructor and friend who told me to drag my knuckles. The crashing stopped, and in about 5 minutes, and I was riding and doing surface 360's down the hill pivoting off my knuckles planted in the snow.
I'm sure at the time, I was thinking to myself ...
" You dummy, why didn't you take a lesson the 1st time!"
For many reading this, you already have the boarding skills, and mainly need need to learn about:
Wind and kites.
Launching, Landing, re-launching,
safety kite leash, riding angles, going "up-wind",
using a harness, hooking in to the trim-loop vs fixed loop,
emergency and self rescue,
Transitions, jumping, Kite etiquette, choosing the right gear, etc.
The best way to begin, just like other kite-sports, is to begin with a trainer kite.
Use the info on the instructional DVD, and on our "How-To" page, and then progress
Using a harness, riding on the snow, and using larger more powerful kites.
It's a bit long, but a side from a few quirky scenes, it's worth it and will have you
amped up for snow season!
Click play, and then the full-screen symbol in the lower right corner.
Foil Kites: (Details for each brand model, sizes, prices )
Not sure which kite is for you?
We're here and happy to help if we can. Contact Us