Whenever I buy a kite, either for myself or for someone else, there are so many factors to consider, and decisions to make! It can be especially tricky if it is their first kite that you are buying, or helping to buy. Kites come in all shapes and sizes, and some have multiple kite lines, which multiplies the choices that you have.
Buying a kite for the first time is like buying a car for the first time – there are just so many things to consider, and some things you may not even know to think about! In this list, we are going to look at the major factors to consider when purchasing a kite.
Wherever you are purchasing your kite(s) from – be it an independent seller, or a brick-and-mortar shop, or ordering it online, you should always check 2 things: the reviews for the seller themselves, and the reviews for the kites that are being sold.
While 2 kites may look similar to each other, they can vary in terms of materials used, and the quality of their construction. Some materials are more durable than others, and some others fly better.
If you are looking to purchase your first kite, here are our recommendations on what to keep an eye out for:
- Kite sail made out of ripstop nylon. Ripstop is a fabric that is woven using a special technique that makes it resistant to tearing and ripping. Nylon is often the material of choice as it is less absorbent than silk, cotton, or paper, which when wet, can lead to tearing.
- If purchasing a kite with spars, look for carbon fiber or fiberglass spars. These may cost a bit more, but are often more durable than bamboo or wooden spars. Bamboo and wooden spars can also absorb water and swell, which may mean that they don’t fit into the pockets of the kite.
- A winder as opposed to a reel is often better at keeping your line tangle- and knot-free.
- If the set comes with a storage bag, sleeve, or case for your kite and accessories, that’s a plus!
Keep in mind that sellers who are looking to make a quick buck may often sell lower-quality kites and accessories at a cheaper price to get bulk sales. By checking reviews for the seller and the kite that you want to purchase, you can ensure that you are not disappointed. Kite performance is also a way to measure the quality of a kite. Do the reviews say that the kite flies well, and is balanced in the air? Is the kite easy to fly, especially when handled by a beginner? How durable is the kite, especially in strong wind conditions?
Ease Of Getting Replacement Parts
It is true that kites are fairly cheap nowadays. However, if you are considering buying a more expensive kite, you should check to see if it is easy to get replacement parts for it. Brick-and-mortar stores and independent sellers generally are staffed or owned by people who are passionate about kites, and it is generally easy to purchase replacement parts from them. Buying a kite online may mean that it is difficult to buy replacement parts.
Why is this important? Serious kite enthusiasts want their customers to enjoy and be successful at kite flying, so they will often try and help you, or give you tips on kite-flying.
Kite retailers, who are passionate and enthusiastic about kite flying and want others to enjoy it too, often have good relationships with kite manufacturers. They often can be a liaison for warranty claims, or are privy to new and exciting products, or can help quickly when there are defects or if your kite needs troubleshooting. If you have broken a very specific part of your kite, more often than not, they are also able to get you the replacement part quickly or tell you if it’s not possible to replace or repair it at all.
Ease Of Assembly
Kites nowadays are often easy to assemble, but there are some kites that can be a bit more difficult if you are not used to putting them together. If you are a beginner, choose a kite that is easy to assemble to prevent frustration.
Some examples of easy-to-assemble kites are:
- Parafoils and/or sled kites – these kites are considered ‘soft kites’ and do not have spars, so all you really need to do is unfurl the sail, ensure your kite line is attached properly and is untangled, and you can launch them!
- Novelty kites – you may need a bit more experience with novelty kites, especially if these are large kites. They often are designed for ease of assembly, and may not have any spars in them at all.
- Delta kites – these modern kites often only need 2-3 spars inserted into the pockets in the sail to be ready to fly. Delta kites also have a bridle in the middle, which makes it easy to attach your kite line to.
You should also consider where you will be attaching your kite line. In kites like the Delta, you simply attach it to the bridle. In more complex kites or kites with multiple lines attached to various points in the sail, it may be difficult to figure it out. You should always check with the seller as to where to attach your kite so as to have an enjoyable time.
Ease Of Flying
Novelty kites are large and colorful, but may not be easy to fly, especially if the kite is bigger than you! Larger kites have a larger surface area, which means that the kite will pull harder. This can be difficult for you to control, especially if you are a beginner.
There are also other kites such as power/traction kites, and stunt kites. These kites are better suited for those with more experience in kite-flying as compared to a beginner. You will want to choose a kite that is suitable for your level of experience. Check out our 8 steps to flying a kite easily here.
Type Of Kite
As mentioned above, there are different types of kites, with varying requirements of experience and skill. Below is a list of types of kites, in order of easiest to fly to most difficult to fly.
Single Line Kites
Single line kites are the easiest to fly. True to the namesake, these types of kites are controlled by a single kite line that you hold on to. There are various styles or designs such as the box kite, Delta, classic diamond, or even parafoils or sled kites that can be controlled by a single kite line.
Keep in mind that the more complex your kite is, the more skill required to fly, but yet the most complex single-line kite requires minimal effort as compared to the other 2 types of kites below. Modern-day kites have been professionally designed for easy launch and flight, so the biggest decision with a single-line kite is often the size, design, and color.
Stunt kites will require more experience and skill to master as compared to single-line kites. Stunt kites are very fast and very responsive and need a light touch. They can smash into the ground at high speeds with a single wrong move. For the beginner, and even the experienced, this can add up to a very expensive learning experience very quickly!
If you do want to try your hand at flying a stunt kite, we recommend that you find your local kite-flying club and have a chat with them for recommendations for a stunt kite that is durable and sturdy. we recommend that a beginner starts with a kite that is as indestructible as possible. You will also want to ensure that when you purchase a stunt kite, that it is inexpensive, and that it comes complete with handles, kite lines, straps, and a carrying bag.
Prism Kites is a brand of kites that we really like. They have been around since 1992, and are considered by some as one of the early pioneers of the stunt and power kite industry. Their kites are fairly priced for the quality and durability. We have seen some of their kites take a nose-dive at full speed with little to no damage at all.
Once you are more confident with handling a stunt kite, you may want to go for a more expensive and high-performance model, especially since you have an idea of what you want from your kite.
Power kites are kites that generate traction, or power. These types of kites are some of the largest and most powerful kites you can buy. They are used to move buggies, people, or other types of craft over terrain such as land, snow, ice, or water.
Some power kites are over 15 feet long, and over 6 feet tall. These are massive. We highly recommend that you start out with a small power kite, and with an instructor or experienced power kite flier with you. Power kite fliers often have several kites in their collection, and can usually show or loan you the first kite they bought.
Power kiting takes approximately the same amount of time to learn as flying a stunt kite, as they require similar skills. If you have had previous experience in stunt kites, your motor skills and knowledge will transfer over to handling power kites – all you need to do is to continue to practice.
Number Of Kite Lines
We’ve covered single-line kites above, and this section is dedicated to dual- and quad-line kites.
Dual- and quad-line kites are fairly new in the world of kites. They have been a massive contribution to stunt kite flying, allowing people to do more and more complicated aerial stunts and displays.
There is a common assumption that one must learn to fly a dual-line kite before one can ‘graduate’ to a quad-line kite. This isn’t always correct, since quad-line kites handle differently from dual-line kites.
With dual-line kites, you have 2 lines and hold each in each hand. You then steer or control your kite by pulling right and left on the lines or handles if they are attached to them. Small dual-line kites often are controlled by finger loops instead of full handles.
With quad-line kites, you no longer just control your kite by pulling right and left on the handles or line. You have the ability to reverse the movement of your kite as well. Quad-line kites have 2 lines on either side of the kite, and you will usually have a pair of handles with the lines attached at the top and bottom of each handle respectively.
If you are looking for ultimate control when flying a kite, we recommend starting with a quad-line kite, even if you haven’t flown a kite before! With a good teacher, a beginner generally can master the basics of handling a quad-line kite within a couple of hours.
If you are looking to purchase a stunt kite for a young child, we recommend that they start their kite-flying experience with a single-line kite instead. This makes it easy for them to understand how to control a kite. Multiple lines require 2 handles, which can be difficult and frustrating for a young child to understand and control.
Size Of Kite
Overly large kites, such as novelty kites, or large Delta kites, can be very fun and challenging to fly. However, they also take up a lot of storage space due to the large amount of sail and kite lines. Large kites need more space both on the ground and in the air for safety reasons. It can also be challenging to set your kite up for launch quickly, and you don’t want to spend half your kite-flying session trying to launch your kite!
Large kites also generate more lift, and can easily pull hard, which can result in injury if there is a sudden gust of wind. These kites also often require some sort of anchor, so that you don’t have to hold on to it all the time.
If you are a beginner, stick with a kite that is no bigger than you, so that you can easily handle it and bring it down quickly in case of an emergency. Once you are confident handling that size, you can easily move on up to the next size!
Kite Tails – Yes Or No?
Kite tails can be added for decoration but usually are not necessary. Kite tails help to keep the kite stable in the air, and with a brand new kite, you may not need a kite tail. Kite tails are often eye-catching, and more seasoned fliers will display line art, especially at festivals, in lieu of a kite tail.
If you have purchased a kite online, a tail may come as part of the package. We recommend you read this article on why a kite needs a tail to determine if you should add that tail to your kite or not. More often than not, a brand new kite will not need a tail. We also recommend that you keep ribbons or material in your kite flying kit, in case you ever need to make a tail to help balance your kite.
Spool/Handle Versus Winder
The tool that is used to contain and let out kite line is should be one of your major considerations. This is because it is something that you will be holding for a good portion of the time spent on kite-flying.
If you are buying for a child between 5 years to 12 years old, we recommend a spool or handle where the kite line is wound around a center reel. These spools or handles are usually easy to hold on to, and children can easily let out the kite line as well as reel it in.
For teenagers and older, we recommend a winder. Winders keep the kite line in a circular case (in blue section in the above picture), and the kite line is reeled in or let out via a winder mechanism (the yellow knob in the above picture), which is around the middle of the winder which is where you hold on to it. Winders are not recommended for younger children, as they may not understand how to use it, or may not have the dexterity to use it, or they may get their fingers accidentally caught in the winding mechanism. We like winders because it is compact and keeps kite line neatly away, preventing tangles and knots.
Kites generally start from $15 on Amazon. When purchasing online, the package will usually include kite line on a spool or handle. More expensive kites starting from $25 may include kite tails that may or may not be detachable. It is recommended that you start with an inexpensive kite within your budget so that you can get a feel for it.
If you are purchasing a kite for a child, it is recommended that you start with a cheaper kite, especially for children who may either lose interest in kite-flying, or wreck it on accident after a couple of flights.
Before purchasing any kite, make sure it is what you want, and if you don’t know what you want, we recommend joining online forums to ask around, as many people often have had multiple kites throughout the years and will be able to give you recommendations and suggestions on which kite you should get.
If you are buying from a local kite store, ask them if they have a demo kite that you can try out, or if they will be demonstrating the kites. When possible, try out several different types of kites to see which you enjoy flying the most. The staff can also give you advice and tips on the kites.
Alternatively, if there is a local group of kite-fliers, your local kite store would also be able to point you in their direction. Try and meet up with them to get more information on their kites, so that you can make an informed decision. We hope that you will enjoy kite-flying as much as we do!