Now after you learned to control a trainer kite and feel the power a kite can generate, it's time to step up. There are several different designs of inflatable kites, and can be confusing trying to get your first kite. 1st why inflatable kites? Couple reasons. They hold the shape where as a foil kite's bridal holds the shape. In our prarie gusty conditions, with on/off/on/off wind, large foil kites is not the best option here, but they can be used. Foil kites need constant wind thru the cells to hold the shape. If wind dies off for brief time the foil will not hold shape and collapse in on itself, and begin to fall. Then when a gust hits the kite, it may not fully take shape and cause kite looping action or bridal could tangle up. Inflatable kites holds the framing of the kite. So in the same situation, the kite will just begin to fall (hindenburg) and when gust hits, you depower (sheet out with the bar) and regain control. Another reason is if/when an inflatable kite tomahawks on the water, it floats to relaunch. Foils soak up water like a sponge and you will end up swiming with the kite to shore. Another is you can fly these inflateable kites on water, land, and snowkite. No need buy extra kites/quivers for land/snow. The down side of inflatable kites is leaks. Always inspect your leading edge for rips and tears and slow deflation. Caution tomahawking inflate kites on the ground (try not to at all costs-within safety means) because a stick, twig, or rock could rip/cut/tear/pop your leading edge.
You will need a 'quiver' of kites to cover our wide wind range. Beginning out you should be looking for lighter winds and using a bigger kite. Reason is a bigger sized kite moves slower and in lighter winds kiting is not as dangerous if making mistakes controlling the kite. For our area size to start off with is 12/13/14m kite for 15-20mph range wind. Another size for 2nd kite would be 8/9/10m kite for slightly stronger winds (20-30mph wind). As you progress and get comfortable with these 2 sized kites, then can add a 3rd kite 6m or 7m kite to handle 30-40mph wind range. Another suggestion is gearing up has an initial investment and 'new' kites can range anywhere from $500 to $1500 per kite. Buying used kites is a good idea for newbies for few reasons. 1st is alot less expensive. 2nd, kiting may not be what you thought, and give up trying, so used, cheaper gear wasn't a big loss. You can sell/upgrade later. 3rd, you will crash and tear up your kites learning, even if you try your best to not damage your kites.........you will. Would you rather tear up and repair a $200 used kite learning, or a brand new $800+ kite?
Kite designs that works best for this area are SLE (Supporting Leading Edge) or LE (Leading Edge) bow style kites is what you should be looking for. Stay clear of 'C' style kites. Those do not have alot of depower (there is no bridles on C-kites), and in our area we need alot of depower to allow for gusts and constantly changing wind speeds. C-shape kites are designed for stable ocean winds and for primarily wakestyle tricks (unhooked). C kites is not a beginner kite.
Experienced kiters (locally) generally sell off kites for newer designs every few years. So picking up a locally used kite can be inexpensive and helpful for all. For newbies to get the correct gear at a fraction of the cost, and for experienced kiters to upgrade to newer equipment. If no kites available locally other locations to buy used gear is ebay and ikitesurf.com
Few pre-cautions for buying used gear from different areas. One being since we primarily ride in fresh water and have a grassy launch area our kites are normally cleaner and well taken care of compared to coastal areas. Reason being is the sand, sun, and salt damage on the kite from coastal (beach) areas. If get kites/gear from coastal area 1st thing to do is wash and clean out the kite(s). Rinse out the struts and especially the leading edge of possible sand. What happens is fine sand gets inside the inflatable stuts and leading edge (between the bladder and the kite sleeve) and can cause small holes in the bladders.
One Pump kites
You may hear about one pump kites or octopus systems. To help inflate kites faster, (some kiting spots and people have air compressors) kite manufactures have an option to tie all struts into the leading edge air by the way of small air hoses to each strut. Going with single pump kites compared to normal individual inflate kites is personal preference, but the pros and cons to this is this is as follows.... Con is on normal kites, you inflate each strut individually and then inflate the leading edge, and takes time. Pro for one pump systems is you only need inflate one point (the leading edge valve) and all the struts are also inflated being tied into the leading edge by hoses. Each strut air hose has pinch off connectors. These pinch offs then trap (isolate) air in the leading edge and each strut individually incase of a leak or flat. That is the pro for this system.
The cons are: 1st is more failures to happen with one pump kite. Possible leak in the hose system or pinch off device may not work, or not trap air good enough to isolate air pressure in each strut/leading edge incase there is a leak somewhere in the system. 2nd is bladder repair work. If have a leak, there is more areas that could fail and possibly be more difficult to isolate and find the leak. On regular kites, if a strut is flat, you know its the strut. If one pump kite has a leak, it could be a strut, could be the hose system, could be the leading edge. 3rd con is replacing a leading edge bladder is a mess. If you do need repair or replace the lead edge bladder, could be difficult getting the bladder in correctly without any twists in the bladder. One pump leading edge bladders has an air hose connector for each strut that needs to be attached when inflating and testing. On normal kites (not one pumps) when self repairing leading edge bladders, after you put the bladder in, you half inflate and look, find, and work out any twists in the bladder that may happen. After all the twists are worked out, then you have replaced your leading edge, you are done. On one pump kites, you can not do that due to all the open air hose points for the struts must be put thru each strut location in the kite, and hoses connected (or capped off), then figure out if have twists in the leading edge. If have twists must disconnect all the hoses, pull the bladder out, and start over. So extra time or multiple tries or different techniques is needed to replace one pump leading edge bladders. Reason why I and some avoid one pump kites.