Where to get gear?
1st option and suggested is get gear locally (used gear), because as stated in 'depower kites' section, you will tear up/repair your gear learning. Another reason is kiting is a tad expensive for the initial investment to get started. Also with getting local gear (besides being alot less expensive compared to brand new) we have the correct gear needed for this area, and can show you properly how to pack, rig up, care for, and store your gear. We upgrade every few years as newer products come out, or as we progress. So as you also progress, you can always sell off your used gear, and upgrade (recommended). Kiting is still a very young sport and there will always be newbies or people looking for gear. If obtaining gear locally is not an option, internet has full of locations to search and buy. Ebay is a good location and also is ikitesurf.com
Besides the kite itself, other gear that is needed is a control bar and flying lines. Unlike trainer kites, bars and flying lines do not come with the kites. If you do get a kite with a bar and fly lines this is called 'kite complete'. They are seperated because control bars are mostly interchangeable with other kites, and you can use one bar with multiple size kites. There is few different types of control bars, and safety on them are constantly changing and evolving with future equipment. Careful which control bar you get. It maybe a pulley bar or C-kite bar that may not work with certain LE or SLE (bow) kites. Check with kite manufactures first for what type bar is recommended to be used for specific kites. But typically in the past few years, control bars have narrowed down almost to an industry standard with bow style kites, and typically we run 2 bar sizes with quiver of kites.
Small kites 3m-11m we run 45cm bars.
Large kites 12m-17m+ we run 55cm bars.
Medium size kites (8m-12m) is personal preference on bar size. Some people have a 3rd bar (50cm) for this range. One hint is: if learning and first getting gear on a budget, you can use one bar for all size kites, and suggest small 45cm bar. This reason is so your kites will turn (move) slower so you don't oversteer your kites. If you run a big bar on your entire quiver and it's a small kite day (very windy), you don't want to 'accidentally' oversteer your kite into a power loop. Big bar for big kites is for leverage to help turn the kite faster. Big bar with small kite will turn your kite way to fast.
Fly lines are becoming a standard length as well around 20m long, and typically very strong spectra or dynemma line (around 700lb+ test line). Do not purposely add knots in the flying lines, that could cause weak spot in the line and could break or fail. 3m or 5m extension lines are used for when flying big kites to increase your size of the wind window.
Control bar tuneing is needed, new or used, and should be checked occasionally. Check with manufacture specifications on proper tuneing. But overall, the type of kites we run locally, we tune our bars with all lines at equal length at full power. What we do is wrap all 4kite fly line ends on a bolt head, hook, carabeaner, or whatever to put all fly line ends at one point. Then hold the bar tight (unhooked-chicken loop at the bar) and all lines should be equally tight, and the bar should be at a true 90 degree angle from the lines.
Harnesses are broken down into 2 categories. Waist and Seat harness. This is personal preference really, but most beginners start off with seat harness. Differences are: waist harness spreader bar (the hook on your harness to latch into your kite) may ride up to your chest when riding for long periods. Seat harness helps keep the spreader bar down low for better control and lower center of gravity.
Since kiting primarily is a water sport, it is always a good idea to have protection and floatation which is 'highly encouraged'. When or if your kite goes down and you can not relaunch it for whatever reason (leading edge fail, ripped sail, broken fly line, no wind, etc) and you have to swim to shore, having a lifevest on helps out! Impact vests are to help with body impacts from falls and usually impact vests are not floatation device nor helps you float. But there are some 'surface impact vests' on the market that does both. Normally life vests are tad long, and with a waist harness the life jacket is in the way of the spreader bar. Side note is: if looking in local department stores for life jackets. Female life jackets are shorter then male life jackets to help not get in the way of the spreader bar.
Helmets are 'highly encouraged and recommended'! Remember this is an extreme sport! You don't ride a bicycle without a helmet, or play football without a helmet. Kiteboarding is no different. Board could come up and hit you, you can get rolled on land launching or landing a kite, rocks are not soft, water is not soft either from a high jump or lifted up accidentally by a gust. You never know what will happen, and if an 'OH CRAP' moment does happen, it's to late. Better safe then sorry with a helmet. Now there are several helmets available. You can get water helmets locally like kayak helmets at department or sporting goods stores.
Wetsuit & Drysuits
Divers are not the only ones that wears wet or dry suits. We kite year round (when the lake is not frozen over), and when water temps reach under 70degrees, we start wearing wet or dry suits. Our rule of thumb for spring/fall/winter kiting is: air temp to be around 60degrees or warmer, which happens more then you think. Our wetsuits are kiteboard (windsurf) specific designed; however, you 'can' wear regular diving wetsuits that you can pick up at your local dive stores, or some sporting good stores sometimes carries wetsuits. We're not nuts to be out in hyperthermic water as normal people may think. Normal people think 'lake time' is summer time. Wrong. Kiteboarding is year round and wetsuits, as you know, is for cold water temperatures to help keep you warm in the water. We are toasty warm out on the lake in the spring/fall/winter riding, believe it or not. Well most times we are not actually 'in' the water, we are on top of the surface riding and we do get hot in the wet or drysuits. Most times when put on wetsuit or drysuit gear we get hot, and can't wait to jump in the ice water to cool off.
So what makes a windsurf or kiteboard specific wetsuit? 1st some will have leg velcro cuffs. If they do not, then you can get or make velcro leg straps. This is for when riding, the water will splash up your leg, and if your wetsuit is not leg cuffed, water will push your wetsuit up your legs constantly exposing your skin. 2nd is when you crash, water can enter inside your wetsuit and trickle its way down your legs. With leg cuffs, the water has no where to go and can fill up the wetsuit like water bags around your legs. You can take a break and drain your leg cuffs, but sometimes flying a kite in gusty wind conditions that is tricky, but doable (drop kite on the water when you stand on the shore and dump water out of the legs). Some newer kite/windsurf wetsuits are designed with drain holes along the sides of the legs right above the leg cuffs for this reason. 3rd specific design that is nice, is front entry wetsuits. Reason is, typically we fall back and most wetsuits are rear zipper entry. Ice cold water can sometimes enter thru the rear zipper. Another specific design is with thicker wetsuits for colder water temps, some have added warmth liners in the back and/or the front and/or the hood for wind block. Reason for this is, 99% of the time we are riding heelside, and our backs are to the wind. Cooler wind with a wet, wetsuit will eventually cool off the back of the wetsuit too much, so extra warmth for the back is nice improvements.
Newer designs of drysuits specific for kiting are now being produced. How they differ from normal dry suits is you put on your harness first, then put on the drysuit like a coverall. The design looks like a snowboarder outfit, but the drysuit is a complete one piece suit. Then there is an opening in your drysuit midsection that your kite spreader bar pushes thru to hook into your kite. There is a seal for the spreader bar hook for water to not enter inside your drysuit.
GEAR NOT RECOMMENDED!
Very important that you learn to body drag and do not use a board leash!
Has been alot of accidents or deaths from board leashes that the board will slingshot back and hit you. Google board leash accidents and you can find alot of information what can or could happen.