Kite flying is a fantastically basic sport. For all types of kite flying the principles are simple and, for most, so is the equipment needed. You can get away with sparing little thought for specialized equipment when flying many types of single-line or small dual-line kite. Even flying a power kite does not necessitate the buying of a whole load of extra equipment, but when you get into applied sports such as buggying and surfing, you will need some extra gear, mainly to keep you safe. High speeds of both the kite and the flyer are involved, so the peripheral equipment becomes as vital as a paddle is to a canoe.
Recreational kiting clothing
You can wear what you like for sports kiting, but in particular it is recommended that you wear some good-quality, 100% UV-graded sunglasses as you spend a lot of time looking up! Thin gloves can be a good idea too if you are playing about with sharp lines. For more strenuous forms of kite flying, it’s a good idea to cover your arms and legs in case you get dragged about wearing knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and impact shorts is a smart idea.
Recreational kiting equipment
Although not essential, it is useful to have with you some of the following items: an anemometer (wind speed gauge) for judging wind speed, a stake to peg your kite lines to the ground, a knife in case you need to cut your lines for any reason, and a towel to dry off your equipment before packing it away. it is also a good idea to bring spares of equipment such as spars, lines, and even some sailcloth, as well as tape for repairs. If you are very organized you could even bring some flags to delineate the area in which you intend to fly your kite, to warn passers-by.
Power kiting clothing
If you are playing about on land, make sure you wear protective clothing (long sleeves, elbow and knee pads, gloves as a minimum), including a helmet. if in water, always wear a flotation jacket and, again, a helmet. Wetsuits are pretty obligatory if you are in the water anywhere in the UK and northern Europe as it’s freezing and don’t let anyone tell you any different. if you are snowkiting, wrap yourself up in all the gear you would wear for snowboarding and skiing waterproof ski/board pants/thermal leggings (see https://www.leggingsfordays.co.uk/), jacket and gloves, ski socks, goggles/ sunglasses, hat and either ski or board boots.
Power kiting equipment
Harnesses attach the kite to your body, allowing your legs to take some of the strain of the power generated by the kite, whilst still allowing your arms to control it. Used with both the bar and handles, harnesses allow your arms to serve you for many more hours than they could previously. Harnesses are a brilliant idea, but beware they are only for the competent. It is not particularly funny being dragged along attached to a rampant power kite. It happens, even to the experts, but, with experience, they know how to get out of the situation quickly.
Harnesses will either attach round your bum, legs and waist (seat harnesses), or simply around your waist (hip or waist harnesses). Waist harnesses are suitable for advanced riders, but are not so comfortable for beginners. This is because waist harnesses end up around the armpits if you spend too long with the kite very high in the sky, as a beginner does. When spending your time riding, as an advanced surfer does, the kite will be much lower to the ground and therefore will not pull the harness directly up too much. if you decide to change from a seat to a waist harness, bear in mind your centre of gravity will alter and you will have to adjust your riding position to compensate.
All kite harnesses are made from tough nylon and polyester, with non-stretch adjustment straps and all should have stainless steel attachment rings and ‘spreader’ or ‘reactor’ bars.
Spreader/reactor bars sit across the front of the harness and attach to the kite with either a hook (spreader bar) or a roller (reactor bar). Added useful features are a handle at the back so that the flyer can be held down, padding so that the flyer is comfortable, and occasionally a knife pocket complete with knife just in case all your other safety features fail (highly unlikely).
The top-end harnesses are worth the extra money. What you lose financially you gain many times over in comfort and longevity. These harnesses are made to fit men, women and children individually, using tough neoprene, protective back supports and essential load dispersion systems so that the full force of the kite’s pull is not focused on one particular part of your body.