Here are some snowkiting tips to help make your snow kiting or kiteskiing safer and more enjoyable. We hope some of this information will be a checklist for snow kiting gear and a reminder of things to think about when going snow kiting.
Dress and extras
Dress for snowkiting very lightly. You are putting in a lot of effort and get hot very quickly. Its not like snowboarding where you are sitting for long periods on lifts. Wear light breathable under layers to accommodate sweating.Wear a thin outer shell with vents. In general a snowboarding jacket is a bit too much - heavy and thick, but that would depend on you.
Wear your harness under your jacket if you can its more comfortable with less bunching of clothing layers, and have the jacket unzip from the bottom so the spreader bar hook can stick out.
Wear gloves that are shells because too much insulation will make it difficult to properly and comfortably grip the bar.
Wear a helmet this is a definite must, especially on an icy lake.Snowshoes have been an essential part of snowkiting for me and at times with 3-4 feet of snow below, I could not have set up without them and the energy saving of not trudging through nearly waist deep snow, has meant more kiting for longer.
Padding equipment for your knees, elbows and butt are useful optional extras if you are concerned about falling and will give you peace of mind when kiting on hard snow or icy lake conditions.
Weight your kite down no matter what! Kites on snow or icy lakes will get blown away because of much less friction. They may sometimes look secure but they are not as secure as a kite on a beach or on a grassy area. Weight down your kite - it will save you a running chase in your snowboard boots or more importantly avoid a possible accident.
You may want an ice screw to anchor down you rigged kite bt the chicken loop when setting up on a windy lake. This is more critical if you are rigging and launching alone.
If you're kiting in open areas/farmers fields, fence poles, wooden telephone/electricity poles and trees make useful anchors to anchor your chicken loop to hold your fully rigged kite, if you are kiting alone and self launching. Tie a rope around the pole and use a caribiner or heavy hook of some sort to hook to your chicken loop (heavy duty tie down straps work well). This gives you time to get into your bindings without having your kite get blown away. The same principle as using an ice screw - just a bit cheaper.
Snow kiting Tips: Launching
In general when launching - whether it is a self launch or an assisted launch, I hook in and strap both feet into my snowboard bindings. I sit on the ground using the board as a brake in case of a problem as the kite goes up. Kite skiers generally hook in at their harness and clip into their skis but remain standing either side-on or snowplowing at launch. At all times REMAINING EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS.
Self launching kites is always dangerous and just as dangerous on snow. Launches on snow are always hotter than those on water as there is less drag without water and the kite doesn't always get to the side of the window before it takes off. Be prepared!
Please note these are my launch techniques and observations and are in no way the best or correct ways of Launching - if you have a kite instructor take his/her advice. Destination Kiteboarding cannot be held responsible for damages of any kind for trying the launch techniques explained here.
Snow kiting winds are often more gusty - be prepared and if possible, kite underpowered.
Take off the backs of your bindings. Snowboarding bindings are made for downhill riding. When I first started snowkiting a few years back, I found my thighs were killing me because of my stance. The backs of my bindings forced an angle of my legs that did not feel comfortable. By taking them off, I still had the support and protection of my snowboard boots, but with more maneuverability and a more natural stance similar to kitesurfing.
Other useful Snowkiting Tips
To take this even further - still without the backs of the binding - a rigid hiking boot can also be tried. It is a great loose feeling - but more strenuous riding toeside to dig in without their rigid support of a snowboard boot. Though I never experienced any trouble; it may leave you feeling a bit vulnerable around the ankles and could cause trouble if you had a bad fall.
In deep powder of a foot or more - you will need kites about the same size as you would kiting on water.
A gps has been great fun in the past - and crazy to think that in just a couple hours you can easily cover a good 50kms.
Snowkiting is the best way to exercise your dog! you are stoked to be shredding up snow and your dog will be stoked to be getting the best run of its life!
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