How to Choose the Best Kiteboard for Beginners

Posted on March 4, 2013 by Matt Nuzzo

What is the best size kiteboard to ride as a beginner?

Generally speaking, your first kiteboard should be easy to ride and a little over your ability level. During your lessons you will be using very big beginner boards or light wind boards. The larger the board, the less power you need in the kite, so your first few rides will be on a monster board and a underpowered kite. Once you can get up and ride both directions you will progress off the big board.

Kiteboarding board design is constantly changing but here is REAL's take on the different board categories available:

Kiteboard Size Guide

- Light Wind Monster Kiteboards: 150cm-170cm
These boards tend to be really flat, wide, and have almost no rocker(amount of bend in the board from tip to tip). The massive amount of surface area allows you to drive upwind in the light stuff, and these boards will get a little bouncy in the chop.

- All Around Big Board: 140cm-150cmTo make an all around big board work it has to be really easy to ride and versatile for all types of conditions. Widths can vary in this category. The wider the board the better it will do in light wind and the narrower the board the better it will do in chop. These boards usually have a little more rocker than the light wind monster boards.

- Every Day Performance Kiteboard: 135cm-142cm
If you think about the perfect conditions and the perfect board to match you will land in this category. Often times this board will be a bit above your ability level when you first start out but you will grow into it during your first few sessions.

- High Wind/Light Weight Rider: 126cm-135cm
With really high winds you will have a lot of chop. A smaller board with less surface area can sink into the water more providing you with more control in high winds. Lighter riders will have the same results of easier edging with this category.

Most people will fit into the All Around Big Board or Every Day Performance categories for their first kiteboard.

In order to decide between these two options, try asking yourself these questions:

1. How much do you weigh?

Weight will really change how the board reacts. Very simply put, the larger the rider, the bigger the board and vice versa.

2. What types of wind speed do you get at your local kite beach?

The optimal winds for learning to kiteboard are 12-25mph. Many beaches will get in the 14-18mph pretty regularly and in those conditions kiteboarding is easy. If you are in higher winds you can size your board down and in lighter winds you can size your board up.

3. Do you have any board skills?

If you are a strong surfer, wakeboarder or snowboarder, you can jump down a size and "grow into" your kiteboard quickly. This will insure that you don't grow need to replace your board after the first few months. For those that don't have any board skills you will want to get a really easy to ride board that is bigger than average to make up for the lack of board skills.

Still confused? Here are a few case studies that have come through the door at REAL.

-Karl, 185lbs, No previous board skills, Kiting in the San Fransisco Bay, CA (15-25mph):
After Karl took some lessons and got riding one direction he bought his first quiver of kites and his first kiteboard. We put him into the All Around Big Board category and he got a wide 142cm board that had enough rocker to cut through the chop. Once he got better at kiteboarding, this became his light wind board and he ended up on a 136cm board in the Every Day Performance category.

-Victoria, 125lbs, Some snowboarding skills, Kiting in Boston, MA(13-22mph):
She really wanted to take her time and enjoy the process. She had a bad experience being overpowered right at the beginning, so she wanted to ride the kites underpowered at first. We got her a 137 in the Every Day Performance category. This was a little bigger for her size, so she could ride her kites underpowered. As she got better at kiteboarding, this board size grew with her because it was a performance-oriented board.

-Sam, 220, Lots of wakeboarding, Kiting in Jupiter, FL(12-20mph):
Since Sam was a big guy riding in a predominantly light wind area we needed to get him a board in the All Around Big Board category. He got a wide 145cm board that had a flatter rocker line. This gave his board good drive upwind and had enough planing surface to get him going in the light stuff. When the wind comes up he can still ride aggressively on this board because he is a bigger guy.

If you have any questions or need help and advice: contact a REAL Pro.

Further Reading:

Kiteboarding Tech Terms Glossary

Shop Kiteboards

10 Response(s) to How to Choose the Best Kiteboard for Beginners

  • Doug says:

    I am similar to Sam in your examples. But what would you guys consider narrow and/or wide.

    Posted on March 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

  • Pete Hardie says:

    Great question Doug:
    Generally we consider boards that are >43/44cm across the middle "wide".
    You will see the dimensions in all board descriptions listed online and the second number is the width measurement.

    To give you an idea - we set Sam up on the Best Breeze 145 and he is stoked.
    Hope that helps answer your question.

    Posted on March 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm

  • Nicholas says:

    I'm 205 lbs &I ride Mostly in Jupiter, FL, I have already a 150cm all around big board and a Light wind board (old Glide).
    If I want to ride in a windier area (23 - 28 mph). What size board should I consider if I kept the same kite?

    Posted on May 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

  • Toby says:

    Jacky,

    Many thanks for the contact and it's awesome that you are getting into the sport. There literally is no better way of spending time on the water covered in neoprene!

    In terms of design the premise does not really change as you either decrease or add rider weight away from the mean. This means you are still wanting to find a board with decent (soft) flex. This delivers a forgiving ride and allows for a smoother handling feel in chop. You also want to pick up a board which has a flat rocker line. Rocker is the amount of bend in the board from top to tail. You will have some on your snowboard but it will be a tad different. If you wake board then you know what I mean.

    A flatter rocker allows you to heel over on the edge and use the straight line to really drive you upwind.

    Here are 3 boards which for you will be perfect for beginning and then progressing into the Intermediate bracket.

    1) Liquid Force Overdrive 148cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-liquid-force-overdrive-kiteboard

    2) Slingshot Glide 150cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-slingshot-glide

    3) Core Fusion 149cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/core-fusion-kiteboard

    Let me know your thoughts and we can move towards setting you up with a great board.

    All the best.
    Toby.

    Posted on July 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  • Andrea says:

    Hey. I'm a total beginner, 130 lbs and will be kiting in Bellingham, WA. Any board size suggestions for me? Thanks for any help.

    Posted on April 25, 2014 at 11:39 pm

  • Toby says:

    Dear Nicholas,

    Many thanks for the note and we are delighted that you are stepping out from the light wind and into the more blustery days! Excellent stuff..

    The best way to look at the addition of a higher wind board to the quiver is by contemplating how you are going to find the best range from the boards you will have overall.

    Considering your current scenario I think it would be in your interest to find a board between 138 and 145cm. The best size to me seems to be a 142 (approx) as it still delivers an overlap with your lighter wind equipment as the wind dies but you don't want the session to end.

    Here are my top picks for boards. They all have a mellow to medium rocker, decent flex and forgiving carving characteristics.

    1) Liquid Force LFX - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-liquid-force-lfx-kiteboard

    2) Best Armada - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-best-armada-v5

    3) Slingshot Misfit - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-slingshot-misfit

    Let me know your thoughts and I can tune you up for some epic days on the water.

    Best,
    Toby.

    Posted on May 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm

  • Toby says:

    Dear Andrea,

    Many thanks for the note and there are lots of different options as to how you can begin with board sizes. My personal favorite is to make sure that you have enough size to allow for rapid progression.

    Therefore with that in mind I would suggest a board size between 135 and 145. If you go towards the smaller size of this range then you would be expecting a fast progression rate due to a large number of days on the water this year. You should go a little larger if you plan on not being in the water that often.

    Here are a selection of the best boards for someone of your skills and weight.

    1) Liquid Force LFX - 142cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-liquid-force-lfx-kiteboard

    2) Best Spark - 142cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-best-spark-plug-v2-kiteboard

    3) Core Fusion - 141cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/core-fusion-kiteboard

    Let me know your thoughts and I can start to build a better picture of what you need.

    All the best,
    Toby.

    Posted on April 29, 2014 at 4:54 pm

  • Jacky says:

    I cant find anything about big guys.
    I am 250 lbs, 6 3''
    Ride in Canada in light wind conditions Ottawa
    I snowboard
    I took a 10 hours lesson in Cabarete and only got on the board a bit on the fourth day.

    Anyone can direct me a little thank you
    Jacky

    Posted on July 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

  • David says:

    Hi,

    I am just starting off, had several hours of dry lessons, and 2/3 sesh in the water body dragging etc. Just started on Waterstarts.. I am currently looking for a a board of my own, and was wondering whats best that will last a year or so.. I am 16.5 stone, 6'1.. What would you think would be the best board and size to start with ?

    Posted on June 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

  • Toby says:

    Hi David,

    Many thanks for getting in contact and we love the fact that you are getting into this great sport. It is one of the most fun and addictive things you can get involved in and means thousands of great days outside and on the beach!

    For you there are two ways to go with your first board. You can either start with a larger and more lightwind/beginner board. This delivers rapid progression and very stable learning. The alternative is you take the long term approach and purchase a board that will suit you as you head towards being an intermediate rider. This approach typically yields slightly slower results in progression but offers a cheaper alternative to board investment over the years.

    Personally I think option 1 is the way to go as you can build your board quiver to cover far more wind range overall.

    The key to the board you need is for there to be a good amount of surface area and for the board to be nice and flat. The surface area lowers your required planing speed and therefore makes it easier to get up and going as you learn. The flatter rocker will offer great upwind ability and make it much easier to make that holy grail of self sufficiency.

    Here are the boards I recommend for you:

    Option 1 - (As per above)

    Core Fusion 152cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/core-fusion-kiteboard

    Best Breeze 158cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-best-breeze-v2-kiteboard

    Option 2 -

    Liquid Force Overdrive 148cm - http://www..realwatersports.com/2014-liquid-force-overdrive-kiteboard

    Naish Hero 145cm - http://www.realwatersports.com/2014-naish-hero-kiteboard

    I am sure you have lots of questions so let me know and I can take care of anything you need regarding the perfect setup for your location and aspirations of what you want to do with kiting.

    All the best.
    Toby.

    Posted on June 25, 2014 at 10:34 am

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