The Ultimate Kiteboarding Packing List: Essential Gear and Tips

We’ve put together a comprehensive packing list to ensure you pack everything you need for a kiteboarding adventure. Just add wind and water!

The full guide below provides detailed information on what you need and why, serving as a perfect reference for packing for your first lessons, a kiting retreat, or anytime you go kiting as an independent rider. But since you will probably want a short checklist more often, let’s start with that!

For detailed explanations of each item, please refer to the full blog.

If you have questions or would like to purchase Nobile or Ozone gear, send us a message. YogaSlackers offers discounts on our kiteboarding retreats with kiteboarding gear purchases.

Quick Packing List

Beach Must-Haves
Protection from the elements
Kiting Wear
  • Sun shirt
  • Long tights or wetsuit
  • Very thin-soled water shoes
Food & Hydration
  • Water bottle and/or water bladders
  • Electrolytes
  • Snacks
Vehicle & After Kiting Equipment
Camera Gear
  • Camera
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra memory cards
  • Camera holder
Personal Gear
  • Helmet with a visor
  • Impact vest or flotation device (50n)
  • Harness with kite leash, back handle, and line knife
  • Water-resistant watch
Kite Gear
  • Boards
  • Kites
  • Pump
  • Bars & lines
Spare Parts
  • Repair kit
  • Extra safety leash
  • Extra lines
Safety & Communications

Prepare well, stay safe, and enjoy the thrill of kiteboarding!

Essential Gear

As you pack, start by ensuring you have everything for a comfortable beach day. Remember, your practices or lessons will last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, which means a lot of sun exposure. So, start by packing clothing and accessories to protect you from the wind and sun.

This list covers your packing essentials from head to toe. We use this same strategy when packing all our bags.

Beach Must-Haves

  • Swimsuit and/or board shorts

    Choose a swimsuit or board shorts that are comfortable and designed for active water sports. For kiteboarding, it’s best to opt for gear that provides freedom of movement and quick-drying material. Board shorts are often preferred for their durability and length, which can help prevent rashes from the harness.

  • Flip flops or sandals

    Ensure these are quick-drying and slip-resistant. If you plan on going on a boat trip and want to improve your chances of being allowed to keep your flip-flops on, make sure they have non-marking soles.

  • Quick-drying towels

    We bring at least two. One to use at the beach and one for rinsing off and/or to cover the vehicle seat if we don't feel like changing out of our wet clothes.

  • Change of clothes

    It's also a good idea to bring a jacket. After being in the water all day, your body temperature can drop, making it harder to handle the air conditioning in restaurants, grocery stores, and even the car. A jacket will help keep you warm and comfortable. Make it a wind-proof jacket if you run cold.

Protection from the Elements

  • Wide Brim Hat

    A wide brim hat will help protect your head and neck from direct sunlight. We really like Tilley Hats becuase they are durable AND they offer a lifetime warranty.

  • Sunglasses with a String

    Ensure any sunglasses you use provide UV protection and are polarized. On clear days, with good polarization, you'll be amazed by the animal sightings! So far, we have seen turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, and fish while kiting, making you feel like part of nature. No shark sightings yet! Ombraz Sunglasses tick all the boxes for us.

  • Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

    This type of sun protection doesn't run into your eyes and stays on for a long time! While you will look a little funky, the color helps you notice which parts you left unattended and can also help you point out which friend forgot to slather up. Use it on your face, neck, lips, and the back of your hands.

  • Lip Balm with UVA & UVB Protection

    While it's common to slather the zinc oxide sunscreen zinc all over your face and lips, you might prefer a more refined option. Consider bringing a separate lip balm with SPF for more convenience. We like JTree Organics Mountain Mint.

  • Mosquito Repellent

    In tropical climates, especially when the wind dies off or in wind-sheltered locations, mosquitoes can become a major issue. Carrying mosquito spray is essential. You may also want to bring incense or coils to create a mosquito-free zone around your packing, snack, or relaxation area. Incense can be particularly effective in keeping mosquitoes at bay and serves as a reminder to relax in stressful situations.

    To Deet or not to Deet? Our preference is to have both a Deet-free repellent and a concentrated Deet repellent for when the Deet-free doesn't work! Just make sure to keep it away from technical clothing and kite gear.

Kiting Wear

  • Sun Shirt, Rash Guard, or Wetsuit Top

    Sunblock alone will not protect you from a sunburn for the amount of time you will be exposed to the sun. Bring a comfortable sun shirt, rash guard, or wetsuit top! How well you manage your sun exposure will highly determine if you will be able to kite again tomorrow and the next day.

  • Long Tights or Wetsuit

    Wearing tights or a wetsuit helps reduce the need for sunblock and provides protection from scrapes and abrasions. During body dragging exercises, you might scrape against underwater hazards such as rocks, coral, or marine life. A wetsuit or protective pants can shield your skin from these, ensuring a more comfortable experience. We are making this list thinking of warm weather, if you are kiting in cold climates, size your wetsuit accordingly and consider any clothing you will need before/after to stay warm and cozy. Such as a beanie and warm poncho.

  • Very Thin-Soled Water Shoes

    Essential for the first classes (Discovery), which will be on land or in shallow water. These classes focus on flying the kite, and water shoes provide necessary protection for your feet against hot sand, sharp objects, rocks, and other underwater hazards. They are also great for those of us who get grossed out by algae and seagrass. Thin-soled water shoes are best, as thick ones will interfere with your board handling skills.

  • Hair Bands

    If you have long hair, consider packing extra hair bands to keep it securely contained. Braiding your hair or styling it in a way that fits comfortably under a hat and helmet will help manage tangles and keep your hair out of your face and gear.

Food & Hydration

  • Water Bottle or Water Bladder

    You may want to consider adding a water bladder to your impact vest or personal flotation device. That way, you can drink up while kiting and extend your time in the water.

  • Electrolytes

    Make sure to bring electrolytes that you know your stomach will tolerate. Stick to brands and flavors you are familiar with and avoid experimenting with new ones while traveling. You'll have plenty of new tastes and experiences on-site, so it's best to rely on something you know works for you.

  • Snacks

    As you will see throughout this blog, kiting is very gear-intensive. So, pack snacks and even some food for after your ride. This way, you can save money on eating out and have more cash available for more gear!

Camera Gear

  • Waterproof Action Camera

    Does it even count as kiteboarding if you didn't document it? We use the Insta360 X4 Action Camera and the DJI Mini 3 Pro to document our kiting trips. It enhances the experience and serves as a valuable tool to check and improve your form.

  • Extra Memory Cards

    Always carry extra memory cards to ensure you don't run out of storage space during your adventures.

  • Extra Batteries

    Bring additional batteries to keep your equipment powered up for longer sessions.

  • Camera Holder

    We are currently testing the RUIGPRO Waist Belt Mount Strap + Adjustable Selfie Stick harness for our Insta360 camera. We'll share our feedback on it soon.

After Kiting Gear

These are our beach essentials when traveling by vehicle for a beach trip. It is basically ways to keep our vehicle dry and free of sand.

  • A Way to Contain Sand

    We use a large sand-free mat behind our van to manage sand effectively. This way, we can place things down without worrying about bringing the entire beach home!

  • A Way to Contain Wet Items

    We utilize several plastic bins. One small bin is dedicated to shoes, which are usually sandy even after rinsing. We use another bin for wet items and a third for items that didn’t get wet. If additional space for wet storage is needed, we move the dry items directly into the car and use the third bin for more wet stuff.

    When flying, we bring with us three ultra-large dry bags. We like to use the 65L Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag because they are durable and easy to handle. We bring one dry bag to store our personal gear and one to store clothing and an 8L dry bag to store sandy gear, usually our water shoes.

    If you plan to hike somewhere, consider the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Backpack with Adjustable Harness instead.

  • Wetsuit Changing Mat

    We have a changing mat that Sam’s mom made by upcycling bird seed bags. Once we are sand-free, we step onto the mat and remove our layers or wetsuit, ensuring they don’t get sandy. Since the mats are waterproof, we can close them to contain any residual water and sand (it’s inevitable). If you're interested in one, send us $15 along with your shipping address! Alternatively, you can purchase a standard one from an online retailer.

  • Rinse Kit and Toiletry Bag

    There's nothing more fabulous than heading home feeling totally clean after a long day of kiteboarding. The Rinse Kit contains enough water for a quick rinse for six people! That is as long as you know how to take 15-second showers. We keep it on the back of our van, along with some face soap and biodegradable soap. That way, we can remove our sunblock mask before heading home.

  • Lip Balm & Hand Salve

    Don’t know about you, but we dry up with sun and salt exposure. After our quick rinse, we enjoy putting on lip balm, lotion, and hand salve. Joshua Tree Organic Healing Salve is a lifesaver. It keeps our hands soft while preserving any calluses we may have formed, thus protecting us from blisters in the future. Their Healing Mint Lip Balm is the only lip balm we use.

Kiting Specific Gear

Renting vs Buying?

Before we get into your kiting specific packing list, there’s something you will need to consider: when it is better to rent gear versus owning your own gear.

One of the primary benefits of renting kiteboarding gear is the flexibility it offers. If you’re new to the sport and not yet sure about committing fully, renting is a great option. It allows you to test the waters without making a significant investment in equipment. Additionally, renting eliminates the hassle of traveling with heavy and bulky gear. When you rent, you can simply pick up your equipment at your destination, saving you the trouble and expense of transporting it yourself. This convenience is particularly valuable for those who travel frequently or are just starting to explore different kiteboarding spots. The biggest benefit of renting is not having to deal with wet and sandy gear! The biggest drawback? Cost and time. The cost that could be put into purchasing your own gear, and the time constraints around going to rent and returning gear. Plus, gear rentals may not be available if it’s high season, so be sure to book ahead.

Owning your own kiteboarding gear comes with its own set of advantages, particularly in terms of customization and consistency. When you own your gear, you can ensure it fits your body perfectly, which can make a significant difference in your comfort and performance on the water. Having consistent access to your own equipment also enhances your learning experience, as you become more familiar with the nuances of your specific gear. This familiarity can help you progress more quickly and enjoy your kiteboarding sessions to the fullest. Additionally, owning your gear means you always have it available, ready to use whenever the wind conditions are right, without needing to rely on rental availability. Want to kite for 4 hours? You can, and you can do so without calculating how much each session is costing you. The drawback? You will need to calculate the upfront cost of purchasing your own gear in addition to transportation and storage needs. Plus, you will need to deal with washing and drying your gear after each session—the biggest pain of ‘growing up’ as a kiter.

Personal Kite Gear

While you can certainly rent all the necessary gear, investing in your own personal equipment can be a wise decision once you know you’ll be kiteboarding often. We suggest you start by owning your own helmet, impact vest, harness, and watch. This means you only need to rent a kite, bars, and boards.

  • Helmet

    A helmet is an essential piece of personal safety equipment for kiteboarding. According to the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO), a suitable kiteboarding helmet must be water-safe and allow water to escape. This means the helmet should be designed specifically for water sports, ensuring it doesn't become waterlogged and heavy. Additionally, it should feature proper drainage to prevent water from accumulating inside. It’s important to note that not all helmets designed for water sports are appropriate for kiteboarding. For example, many wakeboarding helmets, while designed for impact protection, often lack the necessary drainage and buoyancy features required for kiting. Make sure the helmet fits well to ensure maximum safety and comfort on the water. If your helmet does not have a sun rim, use a visor under the helmet—as we do—to shield you from the sun and to shed water away from your eyes.

  • Impact Vest or Flotation Device

    An impact vest or flotation device is crucial for kiteboarding, providing safety and buoyancy. It is recommended that both beginners and experienced kiteboarders wear a flotation device with at least 50 Newtons (approximately 50n) of buoyancy. This ensures you remain afloat even if you become exhausted or injured, providing an added layer of safety regardless of your swimming ability.

    Even strong swimmers will benefit from wearing a flotation device, as it helps conserve energy and provides support in turbulent waters. Beginners, in particular, should start with a flotation device because it offers more buoyancy and reassurance while learning to navigate the kite and board. As your skills and confidence grow, you may choose to graduate to an impact vest.

    Impact vests offer less buoyancy than flotation devices but provide additional protection against impacts. They are designed to absorb shock and protect your ribs and torso from hard falls, making them an ideal choice for advanced kiteboarders who are pushing their limits and spending more time jumping. There are also collapsible flotation solutions you can add to your impact vest to give you more options in an emergency situation (eg Rest Tube). Investing in your own impact vest or flotation device will ensure it fits well and is comfortable, which is essential for your safety and performance on the water.

  • Harness

    The harness is a critical piece of equipment in kiteboarding, as it attaches you to the kite and is where you will feel the kite pull, not on your arms. The harness distributes the kite's force across your body, allowing you to control the kite with greater ease and less strain.

There are two main types of harnesses to consider: seat harnesses and waist harnesses. Each has its advantages and is suited to different styles and levels of kiteboarding.

  • Seat Harness: This type of harness offers more support and stability, making it ideal for beginners or riders who prefer a lower hook point. The harness wraps around your hips and includes leg straps, which help distribute the pull of the kite evenly across your lower body. This can be particularly beneficial for those with back issues or who find waist harnesses uncomfortable. The added security of a seat harness can also make learning to kiteboard feel safer and more controlled.

  • Waist Harness: A waist harness sits higher on your torso and allows for greater freedom of movement. It’s favored by more advanced kiteboarders who engage in freestyle or wave riding. The higher hook point provides more leverage and makes it easier to perform some tricks and maneuvers. Waist harnesses also tend to be lighter and less restrictive, allowing for a more dynamic riding experience. Given the differences, it’s wise to rent or try both types of harnesses before making a purchase. This way, you can decide which one best suits your comfort and riding style.

By understanding the function and features of both seat and waist harnesses, as well as the critical safety components, you can make an informed decision on the best harness for your kiteboarding adventures.

Essential Harness Features: Regardless of the type of harness you choose, there are several essential features that every kiteboarding harness should include:

  • Kite Leash: A kite leash is a vital safety device that connects you to the kite. It ensures that if the safety mechanism is released, the kite will not drift away. This not only prevents loss of the kite but also enhances safety by depowering the kite and reducing the risk of accidents. An appropriate kite leash will have a quick release system to separate you from the kite completely in case of an emergency.

  • Back Handle: A back handle on the harness allows someone to grab you, whether for instructional purposes or in case of an emergency. It’s an important feature for added safety and control.

  • Line Knife: A line knife is an essential safety tool that should always be attached to your harness. In rare but critical situations where lines become tangled or pose a danger, the knife allows you to quickly and safely cut the lines. Additionally, it can be used to cut fishing lines or even untangle really knotted beach hair.
  • Watch

    A watch or timing device is more than just a luxury item for kiteboarders; it can significantly enhance your training and overall experience. Devices like the Woo, Garmin, or Apple Watch are excellent for tracking various aspects of your kiteboarding sessions, including your speed, upwind travel, and jumps. Trust us, reviewing your stats after training is part of the fun and can be incredibly motivating.

  • Garmin InReach: Sam uses Garmin InReach, a robust device that offers more than just basic tracking. The InReach provides GPS navigation and two-way satellite communication, making it invaluable for remote kiteboarding locations where safety and navigation are critical. It also features an SOS function, allowing you to call for help in case of an emergency.

  • Garmin Watch and Hoolan: Raquel uses a Garmin Forerunner 475 Watch paired with the Hoolan App. The Garmin Watch is known for its durability, water resistance, long battery life, and comprehensive tracking features. The Hoolan adds an extra layer of functionality, offering additional metrics and an intuitive interface for reviewing performance data. We may eventually upgrade to two InReach systems, but we’ll speak more on that on Safety & Communication.

Board, Kites & Bars

  • Board

    It's beneficial to test a few boards before committing to a purchase, especially since true beginners will use a different board than intermediate and independent riders. As a beginner, you'll start with a larger, more stable board designed to make learning easier. As you progress, you'll likely want to switch to a smaller, more agile board that suits your developing skills. The large board is great to keep around as it allows you to ride on light wind days.

    Before investing in your own board, take the time to rent and try out different types. This will give you a better understanding of what suits your riding style and skill level. Waiting to figure out what board you like can save you from making an early purchase that you'll quickly outgrow.

    We enjoy traveling to kiting destinations and dislike paying extra for luggage, so we invested in Nobile Split Boards. These boards fit into standard luggage without tools, making air travel and car trips much easier.

  • Kites, Pump & Bar

    Finding the right kite is a nuanced process that depends on several factors including wind speed, rider weight, and individual riding style. As a beginner, your lessons will include board and kite rental, so you don’t need to worry about selecting the correct kite until you become an independent rider, but it is good to know about the gear you will be using. Kites range from 1 to 19 square meters. A simple calculation to determine the size kite to use for a given wind speed is:

    Kite Size = Weight (kg) / Wind speed (kn) x 2.5

    While wind speed can be calculated with an anemometer, most of us rely on apps to determine wind speed. WindyApp, WindGuru, and iKitesurf are good apps and websites to check out. WindyApp even gives you the option to input your weight and suggest which kite size to use.

    As a beginner, it’s best to rely on your instructor's expertise to guide you through the initial stages of selecting the appropriate kite, bar size, and line length. Once you become an independent rider and have a better understanding of where you’ll be kiting most frequently, we can assist you in choosing the right gear for your particular needs.

    We use Ozone kites and bars for their unmatched durability, performance, and innovative design. Our preferred kites are the Ozone Edge, and our bar of choice is Ozone's Race Bar with standard lines. Ozone Race Bars allow for easy power and depower adjustments without the need to 'climb' or overreach, which is especially beneficial for shorter riders like us. We prefer standard lines over race lines for their strength and reliability—after all, we're not racing, we're just short!

Repair Kit & Extra Gear

If You Decide to Have Your Own Gear, invest in spare parts. You may even want to have a repair kit while you rent gear. You can safe yours or someone else’s kiting day! There’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop a kiting day because something broke.

Here are some suggested items to have on hand:

  • Spare set of lines Kite

  • Repair kit

  • Screwdriver

  • Spare safety kite leash

Safety & Communication

  • Radios

    Sam and I use BBtalkin headsets while training and teaching. Although they can sometimes be a bit frustrating, particularly because the communication isn't crystal clear when the transmitters are in the water (which is when you need them the most), we still find them worthwhile. They allow us to hear each other clearly on the beach without shouting every instruction and work through most of the water practice.

    While they are not perfect, they are much better than struggling to communicate over the sound of wind and waves. We haven't used traditional walkie-style radios, but we have seen a friend lose one due to a faulty waterproof bag. Therefore, if you choose to use radios, invest in something truly waterproof.

  • Garmin InReach or SOS Watch

    Satellite phones and SOS devices provide a reliable means of communication in case of emergencies, especially in remote areas where cell service might be unavailable. Ensure that whatever device you choose works internationally.

    We travel with the Garmin InReach because it provides global rescue services. This device can be a lifesaver and provides peace of mind knowing that help is just a button press away. We often wonder if we should get two, since at the moment we would need to be lost together to be found!

  • First Aid Kit

    Having your own First Aid Kit ensures you can address minor issues independently. We travel with two different kits.

    One small kit that travels with us pretty much anywhere. We keep it in a 1L Sea to Summit First Aid Dry Bag. It contains things we use often: band-aids, pain and allergy medication, tweezers, eye drops, nail clippers, and alcohol wipes.

    When we head on a big adventure we complement our small kit with a larger one. This one is more tailored to the emergencies we may encounter, thus its contents shift depending on what we are doing and where we are going. We also keep it in a 3L Sea to Summit First Aid Dry Bag because they are easy to identify and use.

  • Medical Insurance Card & Travel Insurance

    While we'd all love to think we're invincible, the reality is, sometimes things go sideways. And the best way to stay protected is to do some pre-planning. First aid kits, medical insurance, and travel insurance are amazing to have and (hopefully) never use! So, take a moment to prioritize your health and well-being now, instead of scrambling later. After all, right now, we've got time to write, and you've got time to read—but in an emergency, our time is truly priceless.

    Travel with your medical and travel insurance cards. Plus take photos of your cards insurance details and store them on your phone.If possible send these pictures to your traveling friends and companions. That way if something goes wrong, they can help regardless of your condition.

    As you are choosing your travel insurance make sure it covers extreme sports and the country you'll be visiting. For help finding the best option, check out Squaremouth.

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