For years, adventurists have been looking for ways to take wind-powered recreation to the snow. The concept of sailing on snow is not a new one. Who hasn’t daydreamed about flying over drifts, surfing powder for miles, with no mountains, lifts, or motors required? The possibilities are endless, but until recently the laws of physics have put a damper on the daydreams.
The windsurfing craze of the ’80s and ’90s fueled the fires of invention, as snowbound sailors tried contraption after contraption using fixed-point windsurfing rigs. The problem has always been that with a stationary rig, you just need too much wind to go where you want to go. And if it does blow hard enough to move a stationary rig contraption through powder, odds are you don’t want to be outside in that weather anyway (imagine a sideways blizzard).
What is needed is a way to get moving in very light wind – when the powder is still nice and you aren’t freezing your butt off. Enter snow kites.
Kites work great on snow because they do two things: they generate a LOT of power in very little wind by using the apparent wind generated by the kite’s own velocity, AND they pull both vertically and laterally at the same time. This means you go, fast, far and high (if you want).
Skis, Snowboard, or ?
You can use Windwing foil traction kites on a variety of land vehicles. Skis and snowboards are the most common, but we have riders using skateboards Terraboards, buggies, heck, we haven’t even thought of all the uses yet. Skis are easier for getting used to snow kiting, and you can retrieve your kite on skis without having to step out of your board bindings. Other riders prefer the “surfier” feel of a snowboard, especially in powder. Whatever vehicle you use with our kites, ALWAYS WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR, including a helmet. When riding on frozen lakes take special care and carry emergency equipment incase of breakthrough. Never ride alone.
There are three types of kites that are excellent for snow kiting, and Windwing makes all three kinds: 2-line foils, 4-line foils, and re-launchable.
2-Line Foil kites: The Windwing Skyfoil is a perfect example of a 2-line foil kite. 2-line foils are great because they are simple to set up and use, are easy to fly, are the most efficient type of kite – which means you get the most power per square area, and they are the least expensive. This is the kite to choose if you are only going to use it for land applications, and are of a beginner or intermediate ability level.
Inflatable Kites: Originally designed for water applications, inflatable kites such as the Windwing Rampage II and Windwing Batwing also work well on snow. Because of their “rigid” structure, inflatable kites perform slightly better in extreme light wind because they do not rely on air pressure to maintain their shape. Older Windwing LEIs also work exceptionally well because of our exclusive JumpStart relaunching mechanism. Many people also choose inflatables as well because they can be used in the summertime on water, thus eliminating the need to purchase two quivers of kites. The downside to inflatable kites on snow, however, is that most non-Windwing kites do not relaunch easily on hard surfaces, they are less durable, they are larger and less efficient, and you need to pump them up, which is not always fun in cold conditions.