Tips About Buying Kiteboarding Gear
Buying kiteboarding gear is a significant endeavour. It is quite expensive. However, unlike golf, once you have the gear, it doesn’t cost you money for each session. So, the upfront cost can be steep, but when averaged out over years of enjoyment, the stung hurts less. If you’ve already been looking around online, you’re probably feeling some analysis paralysis. There are plenty of opinions on which type of kites and gear is superior. Kite brand preference is very subjective. It is no different than asking someone what the best make of automobile is. Ask 5 kiters what kite to buy and they’ll give you 8 opinions.
The truth is that most (not all) kite companies copy each other and that most gear from all brands is made in a small handful of factories in southeast Asia. These days, most brands have very quality kiteboarding gear for sale. There is no such thing as a “best kite”. The best kite is the one flown by the best rider. It comes down to skill and familiarity with your gear to decide what is the “best kite” for you.
Halifax Kitesurfing teaches on and sells Gaastra kiteboarding gear. Gaastra is headquartered in Germany and has existed in the kiteboarding and windsurfing scene for many years. They’re a well-established brand.
Their website is here: https://ga-kiteboarding.com/
Here are a few thoughts that I would like to share on the subject of buying kiteboarding gear:
Starting with a 1-kite quiver is fine. The most common wind conditions in Nova Scotia suitable for kiteboarding are 10-18 knots of wind. This is arguably the most common wind range on the planet. So, this is the wind range that you should buy for. Kite size selection depends on a number of factors but the most obvious ones are:
Your height and weight.
Age and general athletic prowess.
What type of board you want to focus on (Kiteboarding, strapless kitesurfing, snowkiting, foiling, land boarding, etc)?
Where you typically ride and where you hope to vacation for kiteboarding.
If you’re able, the best way to start is with a 2-kite quiver. The smart thing to do is to space your kites out 3-4 meters from each other. For example, someone might buy a 14-meter / 11-meter quiver. The idea is that the 14m is used in lighter winds and then when its top end wind-range is reached, the 10-meter kite becomes suitable.
Golfers have matching sets of irons for consistency and familiarity. They need to know that when they drop down to the next club, that the gap in distance will be consistent. It is the same with kiteboarding kites. For example, one kite brand’s 12-meter kite does not automatically have the same amount of power as another brand’s 12-meter kite. So, if you mix and match with say a 14-meter and an 11-meter kite from different brands, you likely won’t have the proper overlap. It doesn’t cost anymore to have a matching quiver of kites, so why mix and match? It’s not worth saving $50 and having mixed brands of kites.
Another reason to have a consistent quiver is so that you can share 1 control bar between both kites (control bars are at least $550 new). If you have mismatching kites, you may need to adapt your bar each time you switch kites. On top of that, each kite brand’s safety release is developed for use with their particular kites. So, your safety release may be function optimally if you’re mixing brands.
Matching quivers are easier to re-sell.
Learning to kitesurf in Nova Scotia can be challenging. A few of the things against you are waves, fog, fickle wind, large tidal swings and dynamic weather fronts. As you take lessons, you’ll quickly realize the complexities of learning this sport. As you eventually finish your lessons and move on to become an independent kiter, you will probably have many questions – maybe even years later. Questions about different types of boards, learning new tricks, trying new kiteboarding spots, where to vacation, etc. We develop friendships with most of our clients and offer ongoing support. There is tremendous value in being able to text me anytime and get a response.
We live here and kite all the time so we’re intimately familiar with the local kitesurfing scene. If you take lessons and buy gear from us, you’ll get access to that ongoing support and friendship of the business. I’ve kited in over 40 countries and have over 10 years of experience in the sport. I’ve competed on the world tour and been featured in over 25 kitesurfing magazine articles. I’m happy to share my wealth of knowledge with people that support our business. If you don’t support Halifax Kitesurfing through lessons and gear, you’re not going to get any help down the road. You wouldn’t buy a car from Toyota and then turn around and ask the Mazda dealership for help next year. No one works for free.
On that note, leading edge bladders from most other kite companies will cost you about $200 by the time they land at your doorstep. In the meantime, you’re stuck waiting without a working kite. When the bladder does arrive, they’re not easy to install without some prior experience. I want our clients to have working gear and to be out promoting our business and the sport. When you need a new bladder or some support, we’ll help you out. Our bladders sell for approximately $80 and we will even show you how to install them. If you’re lucky, you may even get a loaner kite in the meantime. Consider the value or having someone in your corner versus buying elsewhere without ongoing support.
I often buy gear back in 1-2 years and offer excellent pricing on upgrading your quiver. If you’re a Gaastra rider (the brand we deal), you’ll have an opportunity to keep your gear fresh, if you choose. Also, if a year down the road, you decide that you want an 11-meter instead of a 10-meter, we may be able to help you out with that.
Case and point, you’re buying support and ongoing value if you support us.
We’re able to beat any price from other kiteboarding brands or shops for comparable gear.
If you’re looking at some gear in the USA or elsewhere online, please consider these things:
The current exchange rate is brutal. Multiple whatever the USD price is by 1.35 to get Canadian dollars. This is a huge difference. For example, that $600 USD boards actually costs $815 Canadian (plus shipping, plus HST at the border, plus brokerage fees).
Often, you’ll see an ad offering a new kite for $799 or something. Usually, that is for a size 5-meter kite. When you bump it up to the 12-meter that you’re actually looking for, watch the price double or triple.
Be aware that when you order kite gear from the US, you will have to pay 15% HST at the border and on top of that, other fees for customs brokers that are likely to be about $75 or more (on top of the HST and shipping).
Shipping will likely cost $100 or much more – as boards aren’t small. The shipping will be in USD also, so you can multiply that by 1.35 too.
Don’t call looking for help or advice down the line if you shop elsewhere.
Think about replacement parts and service.
Is it worth saving $200 to buy some gear on Kijiji that you aren’t sure about and won’t have any support with?
It’s in both of our best interests that you end up on quality gear that is bested suited for your needs. It wouldn’t make sense for me to sell you something that isn’t suitable for you. That would be bad for business and referrals. We live here and ride here. Buying from Halifax Kitesurfing takes the pressure off you to make a wise decision (often on limited knowledge). Know that we care about your progression in the sport and want to see satisfied customers.
Mark and the team at Halifax Kitesurfing