14 Kiteboarding Essentials and How Much They Cost

When it comes to kiteboarding, even beginners are looking at investing several thousand dollars into the sport to get all of the gear essential for both learning and advancing in the sport. Kiteboarding gear is not just for the kiteboarding itself—you also need gear to ensure comfort and safety on the water.

So, what are the essentials of kiteboarding, and how much do they cost? The price of essential gear for starting in kiteboarding ranges from roughly $1,800-3,000 depending on gear quality. Here is a list of the gear you will need: 

  • Kiteboarding kite(s)
  • Kiteboard(s)
  • Safety harness
  • Control Bar
  • Flying lines
  • Flotation vest
  • Wetsuit
  • Eye protection
  • Sunscreen
  • Travel gear bag
  • Safety Leash
  • Pump
  • Anemometer
  • Emergency whistle

Kiteboarding is not the cheapest sport to get involved in, but it can be one of the most rewarding once it is learned. Read on to find out more about kiteboarding and what essential gear you will need to get started. 

Kiteboarding Kites

One of the most crucial pieces of equipment you’ll need for kiteboarding is the kiteboarding kite itself. There are several different primary designs of kites used in kiteboarding that give different advantages and disadvantages to the kiteboarder. 

Here are a few of the different types of kites available for kiteboarding:

  • Bow kites: Bow kites are a kiteboarding kite design that was introduced in the 2000s in an attempt to make kiteboarding less dangerous and easier to get into for laypeople. Bow kites are a versatile kite that works well in a wide range of wind speeds. These kites are suitable for beginners to become familiar with several different kiteboarding styles. 
  • Hybrid bow kites: Hybrid bow kites are similar to traditional bow kites, except that they are more comfortable to ride unhooked and have a quicker reaction time on the water than other types of kiteboarding kites. Because they offer several performance upgrades to a regular bow kite, hybrid bow kites tend to be a bit more expensive. 
  • C kites: C kites are one of the earlier varieties of kiteboarding kites, and these kites are associated with many accidents in the early days of the sport due to their difficulty, and only experienced kiteboarders tend to use them these days. C kites have one of the smallest wind ranges of any kiteboarding kite style. 
  • Hybrid C kites: Hybrid C kites are considered a good option for more experienced kiteboarders who want to avoid some of the more considerable disadvantages of a traditional C kite design, such as bad upwind drive and weak depower. Hybrid C kites are more responsive and easier to maneuver, making them a terrific choice for free riders and those who enjoy unhooked kiteboarding. 
  • Delta kites: Delta kites are known for their D shape, which is where their name comes from. While these kites can be somewhat easy to invert accidentally, they are otherwise designed for a variety of kiteboarding experience levels. Delta kites are especially useful for kitesurfing. 
  • Foil kites: Foil kites can be one of the hardest kiteboarding kites to launch, relaunch, or land, but its ability to go either upwind or downwind makes it a popular model for racing kiteboards. Launching a foil kite can be especially tricky, making this kite the domain of experienced kiteboarders only. 

(Source: Kiteboarding St. Petersburg)

Most kiteboarding kites run between $150 and $500, depending on the quality of the kite. Most kites designated as training kites can be found on the lower end of the price spectrum. While these kites may not be as flashy as some of the more expensive kites, they’re perfect for a beginner who is not wanting to invest thousands of dollars into the hobby all at once. 

Amazon carries several of the kite shapes

Kiteboards

Other than the kite itself, a kiteboard is the other piece of equipment you literally can’t do kiteboarding without. Kiteboards may seem similar to wakeboards in function and design, but there are several key differences, such as a kiteboard’s ability to allow a kiteboarder upwind movement. Kiteboards run from approximately $600 to $900. (Source: Action Sports Maui)

Like kiteboarding kites, kiteboards come in several different designs that are geared towards different styles of riding. Here are the basic styles of kiteboard you’re likely to run into: 

  • Twin tip kiteboards: Twin tip kiteboards are similar in design to a traditional wakeboard, and feature two fins on the underside of the board for cutting through the surface of the water. Twin-tips also usually have some type of contouring for hydrodynamics to increase the speed of the board in the water. 
  • Light wind kiteboards: Light wind kiteboards are a rectangular kiteboard, and because they have an extra lift, they are especially popular with more heavy-framed riders. Light wind kiteboards are generally more expensive than twin tip kiteboards. 
  • Wave kiteboards: Wave kiteboards more closely resemble surfboards than wakeboards, and these boards can often be used independently of the kiteboarding kite as a surfboard. The main design feature that differentiates wave kiteboards or kitesurfing boards from a traditional surfboard is their slightly smaller size. 
  • Foil boards: Foil boards are the preferred board choice of racing kiteboarders, as no other type of kiteboard is as fast or responsive. While they can be somewhat difficult to ride in comparison with other kiteboard types such as twin tips, what they lack in user-friendliness they make up in pure speed. 

(Source: Surfer Today)

For a beginner who is just getting into kiteboarding, the best option is to go with a board that can be maneuvered with little experience and can be used in a variety of different boarding options. More expensive, specialized kiteboards can come later down the line when you’ve invested time into the hobby as well as money. 

Click here to see all Amazon Boards and Kites

Kiteboarding Safety Harness

A kiteboarding safety harness is a crucial piece of gear for controlling your kiteboarding kite and also for being able to ride the kiteboard comfortably. The advantage of safety harnesses in kiteboarding is that they transfer all of the force of the pulling kite from your hands and arms to the center of your body, which is both safer and easier on the wrists. Most kiteboarding harnesses run between $100 and $300. 

There are several different kinds of kiteboarding harnesses available:

  • Seat harnesses: Seat harnesses are preferred even among experienced kiteboarders because they offer a very low center of gravity, which translates into a more comfortable ride. 
  • Waist harnesses: Waist harnesses are considered more fashionable than seat harnesses and are also easier to swim in for several hundred meters if necessary. Waist harnesses provide proper back support for those who do not usually unhook from their kite. 
  • Boardshort harnesses: Boardshort harnesses are designed specifically for men and offer a low point of hook-up for the kiteboarding kite without necessitating a “diaper-style” harness design. 
  • Women’s harnesses: Women’s harnesses are designed specifically to conform to the curves of a woman’s body and lack some of the reinforcement and padding used in designs geared towards male kiteboarders that would restrict movement in a female rider.
     
  • Impact harnesses: Impact vests are good safety options for those who want to protect their torso from the impact of hitting the water in case of a kiteboarding crash and are built similarly to a waist harness except with more reinforcement. 

No matter which safety harness design you ultimately go with, the most critical factors to look at when deciding which harness to buy are how well it fits your body type and whether it is comfortable to wear for long periods, especially after getting wet. (Source: Surfer Today)

Control Bar

The control bar is the part of the kiteboard where steering occurs—the control bar and flying lines are used in conjunction to both adjust the kite as well as to maneuver the kiteboard through the water.

In many cases, a control bar comes as part of a kiteboarding kite kit, as with this Prism Tantrum 220 double line kit, but in cases where specialized control bars are sold separately, kiteboarders can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400. 

Flying Line

The flying lines used for kiteboarding kites (Amazon replacement set) versus regular recreational kites are rated for a much higher tensile strength, typically around two hundred pounds. Many kiteboard kites come with plenty of flying line, but replacement line kits are available in case your kiteboarding line becomes tangled, frayed, cut, or broken. Replacement flying line can usually be purchased for less than a hundred dollars. 

Safety Leash

A quick release safety leash in kiteboarding is similar to the safety leash used in surfing—it keeps your kiteboard from being lost if you wipe out. Without a safety leash, you may end up without your kiteboard in the middle of the open ocean. This can not only be a costly problem but potentially a dangerous one as well if you’re also tangled up in wet kite and flying lines. Amazon sells this Oceanus Eel kit, click for prices.

Safety leashes for kiteboards often include a quick-release mechanism so that you can free yourself from the board in dangerous conditions and run around $60 to $100. 

Pump

A watersports air pump is essential for kiteboarding since many kiteboards must be inflated at specific points to maintain their aerodynamics. The pumps used for kiteboarding are the same pumps used for inflating other towable watercraft, such as inner tubes. Manual air pumps are very cheap, usually priced at less than forty dollars. Amazon sells this inexpensive manual pump. I prefer battery powered rechargeable or 12V pumps when possible. I’ve recommended the 12V Outdoor Master Shark and the SereneLife rechargeable pumps in previous iSUP articles.

Wetsuit

Not all kiteboarders will be boarding in temperatures or waters which require a wetsuit, but for those kiteboarders who are riding in anything less than around eighty degrees, a wetsuit becomes an essential piece of gear. Because of the exposure to the wind while wet that a kiteboarder must deal with, it is very easy for kiteboarders to become hypothermic within just a few minutes of exposure. 

The price of a wetsuit can vary wildly according to thickness, linings used, and the quality of the construction materials. Beginner wetsuits can run around $200, while more advanced suits can run up to $500 and more. (Source: Adventure Journal)  Check out our Wetsuit Buyer’s Guide for more.

The quality of the wetsuit you buy will ultimately depend on just how cold the water is where you intend to do the bulk of your kiteboarding. For people kiteboarding in Florida, a wetsuit is going to be much further down the list of essential gear than for someone who is kiteboarding off the coast of Oregon or northern California. 

Eye Protection

Surf glasses don’t just offer protection for your eyes from windburn, insects, and other flying debris—they also help protect your eyes from UV exposure and provide a polarized view that makes seeing on the open water much more comfortable. Check out the Cressi line of polarized floating sunglasses to find the style that best fits you.

Sunglasses can run anywhere from twenty to several hundred dollars, depending on the manufacturer. The best thing about surf glasses is that you can use them for a variety of watersports and water-based activities, not just kiteboarding. That makes it a useful piece of gear to invest in. 

Sunscreen

Many people downplay the importance of sunscreen during kiteboarding and other water-based activities, but exposure to UV light on the open water is much more intense than on land due to the sunlight bouncing off the surface of the water, hitting the kiteboarder from below as well as from above. 

A bottle of sunscreen runs anywhere from ten to twenty dollars, depending on the size and the features. For example, some sunscreens are waterproof, while others incorporate suntan lotion as well as sunscreen. 

Travel Gear Bag

A travel gear bag is essential when you’re kiteboarding simply because of all of the gear you’ll end up taking with you that is too small to be carried on its own—things like water bottles, wallets, sunscreen, and other items that can be packed together for easier toting. A travel gear bag will run between twenty and a hundred dollars depending on the size of the bag and the quality of the construction. The Grayne line of bags can be viewed at this link on Amazon.

Flotation Vest

flotation vest or life jacket (full Amazon listings) is an essential part of your gear for any watersport, especially a physical sport like kiteboarding, where the chances of being struck unconscious during operation of the kiteboard are significantly higher than with some other watersports. The overwhelming majority of fatalities in watersports involve a person not wearing a life jacket or flotation device.

Flotation vests are especially important when kiteboarding in oceanic waters since turbulent surf can shove and tumble a downed kiteboarder beneath the waves otherwise, increasing the chance of both becoming tangled in the flying lines and of drowning.  

Anemometer

An anemometer (Amazon full catalog) is a device that is used to gauge wind speed, and these devices are essential for kiteboarders to know precisely what kites to use and which boards are best suited for the weather conditions. Anemometers are more critical for kiteboard racers and other advanced kiteboarders than beginners, but they are still a useful device for any kiteboarder to own. Amazon has its own review with best choices for different uses.

Anemometers range in precision and auxiliary features and can cost anywhere from $80 to $400. This makes them one of the more expensive investments you can make in a kiteboarding hobby long-term. Using anemometer readings is how more advanced kiteboarders determine which of their kites and boards to use on any given day. 

Emergency Whistle

Emergency whistles are a good idea for anyone participating in watersports to have, especially if they are kiteboarding in an area with a lot of motorboat traffic. You can typically get them for less than twenty dollars.

Once a downed kiteboarder is in the water, their profile is low, and there is a chance that oncoming boat traffic may not see them in time to avoid striking them. Emergency whistles provide an audio cue as well as a visual cue to alert any passerby or boaters to a swimmer in distress.

An emergency whistle can also alert Coast Guard or other swimmers that you have been caught by an undertow or have spotted a hazard, such as a patrolling shark. 

Kiteboarding Is a Huge Financial Investment

Even if you are just starting as a kiteboarder, the gear for getting started can run well over a thousand dollars. For people who aren’t sure about their investment in the sport, renting some kiteboard equipment for practice or using kiteboard equipment through a center offering kiteboarding lessons gives potential kiteboarders a way to get a feel for what styles of kiteboarding they prefer and what kind of equipment they feel most comfortable using without investing a lot of money right off the bat. 

The good news is that kiteboarding equipment is sturdy, and a basic set of equipment will last for years if maintained correctly, so any financial investment you make in the sport of kiteboarding is sure to pay for itself in the end. 


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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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