Whether it’s kitesurfing, landboarding, kite buggying or snowkiting, the trainer kite is where it all begins. Even if you have experience sailing, windsurfing or any other sport- learning to fly a kite is a completely different experience. A trainer kite teaches you the basics of the wind window, or power zone and will teach you the proper power strokes and build your hand/ eye coordination.
Do I Need to Buy a Trainer Kite?
No, not unless you want one to practice with when its not windy enough to kitesurf. They are great fun for the whole family, so if you have the extra money, its a good purchase. A quality trainer kite will cost you between 200-300 dollars but will last 7-10 years even with heavy use.
So if you're wondering about the differences in trainer kites and the inflatable leading edge kites we use for kite surfing, here you go:
- Most trainer kites haveonly 2 or 3 lines. This is a great training tool, but the kite has no depower and does not teach you how to "sheet" the bar.
- Trainer kites are generally smaller (roughly 30% the size of larger power kites). That makes it easy to learn and practice in very low winds
- Trainer kites are simpler. Because you don’t have to worry about a kite harness, depower or trim straps the process is just simpler.
- Trainer kites are cheaper. Let’s assume you’ll spend $600 for a 2 day lesson with a kitesurfing instructor. The majority of that time will be spent having you learning the basics of flying. Now if you get 10 or so hours of practice time in with a trainer kite BEFORE the lesson – you can jump right into the fun stuff without wasting money on the basic exercises. And if you still take the lessons, you will get so much more out of it than going in without the basics. Don’t forget that we also have a buy-back policy where you can trade your trainer kite in for credit towards more gear.
- Trainer kites are more forgiving. If the wind pulls you forward too fast on a 3 meter trainer kite, simply let go of the bar. The kite will depower and then you can collect the trainer kite with the wrist safety leash and relaunch. Now imagine the same thing happening on a 10 meter kitesurfing kite that is harnessed to you. Of course there are safety systems on larger kites but they are not as forgiving if you make an error. Better to start small and add as you go. These two photos show the difference in size between the kites. Which would you rather make your mistakes with?
Trainer kites come in either 2, 3, and 4 line styles. Most trainer type kites are either open or closed cell foils, whereas most of the kites we use in the water for kitesurfing are inflatables. Typically the smaller kites come with just 2 lines and the more powerful kites (over 3m) come with 3 or 4 lines. In terms of flying, a 2-line kite flies basically the same as a 3 or 4-line. The main benefit of a 2-line kite is that there are only 2 lines to deal with, where the main benefits of a 4-line kite include the ability to "sheet" the bar in and out to depower the kite, and relaunch the kite after it crashes.
Trainer kites for kiteboarding typically range in size from 1m to 5m. The bigger the trainer kite, the more powerful it is. Larger kites (3m and up) fly very smoothly and feel more like a kiteboard kite compared to the fast-turning and zippy small kites. Larger power kites which have more power can pull you around a bit and can provide you with even more training. If you are a smaller person (or if it is really windy), you may be able to use the trainer kite in the water for body dragging or in the winter for snowkiting. Typically people who buy a large trainer kite end up getting more use out of it than if they bought a 1m or 2m kite. Kiteboarding Tampa Bay recommends a 3 meter as a good all-around size to begin your training with.
Some trainer kites like the HQ Scout come with a harness loop. This is essentially a loop that goes on the bar so you can fly the kite while wearing a harness. Buying a kiteboard harness progresses your training even further by helping you hooked in. Flying 'hooked in' gets your body and arms in the correct positioning. Many times you'll see people flying a trainer kite and they'll pull the bar over their head instead of the proper position of the bar near the waist. Being hooked in also enables you to fly one-handed which is a must in kiteboarding. If you're planning on getting into kiteboarding, you'll need a harness eventually, so if you're serious about getting into the sport, you're better off buying it when you purchase a trainer kite. Safety Some kites come with a type of wrist leash. With a leash, when you let go of the bar, the kite will drop to the ground, but it will still be attached to you. Without a leash, once you let go of the bar, the kite might travel further downwind and you'll have to chase it down the beach.
Our friends over at HQ Power Kites have come up with the Hydra water relaunchable trainer kite, which comes in two sizes- the Hydra 300 is 3m and the HQ Hydra 350 is 3.5 square meters.
Overall, you can't go wrong with purchasing a trainer kite as it will help you develop the kite control and muscle memory needed to learn to kiteboard.