Kite foiling gives you an unequalled feeling of gliding over the water. The riding feel is quite different from regular kitesurfing.
While almost any kite can be used to foil with, it’s worth taking a look at the differences in design, purpose, and flight characteristics before choosing the best foiling kite for you.
We’ve identified our top 4 kite choices for foiling: the Cabrinha Drifter, the Ozone Enduro, the Airush Ultra, and the Ozone Hyperlink. The kite best suited will depend on the conditions you intend to foil in as well as on your riding style.
|Airush Ultra||Single strut||✔||✔||✔|
The Cabrinha Drifter is best for foiling in waves, the Ozone Enduro is best for all-around freeride foiling and jumping, and the Airush Ultra is the best inflatable for light wind foiling. The Hyperlink is a multipurpose ram air kite for land, snow, and water.
In this article we take a comparative look at these four kites. But first, let’s go over the main features to look for in a good kite for foiling.
What to look for in a good foiling kite
Think about how much wind you’ll be in, and what you intend to use the kite for. Will you be waveriding on your foil? Catching the lightest wind possible? Going for big air in strong wind?
You’ll want to choose the kite that best suits your purposes. An important point to be aware of is that many of the characteristics that make a kite good for wave riding also make it good for foiling.
Drift refers to a kite’s ability to stay in the air and float downwind when there is no tension in the lines. Lines go slack when you ride toward the kite, or downwind– it’s very common with both wave riding and foiling.
Especially if you’re riding waves on a foil, drift is at the top of your list of kite needs. A kite that drifts well is less likely to fall from the edge of the window when foiling.
On/off depower ability
A short “throw” (the bar’s range of motion up and down the lines) reduces the kite’s power with less bar movement. It allows you to depower without having to stretch your arms or bend forward to let the bar out far enough.
The ability to turn the kite’s power on and off easily is essential for the times you want to ride the foil without interference from the kite, and for not getting pulled off a wave.
Fast, pivotal turning ability is crucial for carving downwind on a foilboard, as well as for riding in waves.
You want to be able to throw the kite around the air effortlessly, with quick turns and loops. Kites with wide wingtips and medium aspect ratios are often the ones that turn the best.
Inflatable vs ram air for foiling
Ram air kites– the lightest of all kites– can get you foiling in the least amount of wind.
They’re easier to relaunch from flat water in sub-10 knot conditions. Their flatter profile can develop more power per square meter than an inflatable, allowing you to use a smaller kite.
On the flip side, they also tend to be less stable and less responsive, with poorer turning abilities. In strong or gusty wind they’re more likely to collapse, twist, or deform.
All-around inflatables are fine to foil with in most cases. But for the lower wind ranges, you’ll want to consider a lighter kite such as a ram air.
Foil-specific inflatable kites are designed to weigh less than standard inflatables, with lighter construction, less reinforcement, and/or fewer struts.
For comparison, check out are the weights of the ram air Ozone Hyperlink 13m vs the one-strut Airush Ultra 12m, one of the lightest inflatable kites – the ram air is significantly lighter:
|Ozone Hyperlink 13m||Ram air||4.6lbs / 2.1kg|
|Airush Ultra 12m||One-strut Inflatable||6.1lbs / 2.8kg|
Struts vs single strut vs strutless
Struts provide structural rigidity, which gives a kite better stability, power handling, and turning ability. However, they also increase the weight of the kite. In stronger winds this is not an issue.
Single strut inflatables are lighter, designed for lighter wind. They’re good for light wind foiling, but tend to lose some performance in their upper wind ranges and in turning ability.
Strutless kites are the lightest of all inflatables. But their high end is more limited, they tend to flutter, and can be trickier to relaunch in light wind. Many riders find that strutless kites are best suited for foiling vs twintip riding.
Size & wind range for foiling
Most of the inflatables here have similar wind ranges, covering about 10-12 knots for each kite size.
The Ultra and the Drifter have bridle systems with pulleys – one on each side for the Drifter, two for the Ultra. This helps them fly better when foiling depowered in strong wind, giving a bit wider range than the Enduro.
The Ozone Hyperlink needs less wind, but has a narrower wind range in the larger sizes. A 13 meter can be used in as little as 8 knots for an average rider, up to about 16 knots. The 5 meter Hyperlink has a range of 17 to 27 knots.
The inflatable kites here all have relatively simple front bridle systems, with four connection points to each side of the leading edge.
Most ram air kites have much more complicated bridle systems. Without the rigidity of an inflatable, they need more support points along the kite– the Hyperlink has over 30 points connecting the bridle to the kite.
Ram air kites need to be checked regularly for bridle stretching, as even a small difference in length can affect the flyability of the kite for foiling. The Ozone Hyperlink has a recommended flying time of 60 hours between bridle length checks.
In general, kites that weigh less are easier to relaunch in lighter wind– that’s why ram air kites can usually relaunch from flat water with the least amount of wind, making them great for foiling.
Strutless kites, on the other, although they’re the lightest of inflatables, can be more difficult to relaunch when light wind foiling. When the kite sits on its leading edge, the canopy may stick to the water surface, or even go under.
In contrast, a single strut holds the canopy up out of the water where it can catch the wind and roll over for relaunch.
When foiling, you can jump with any kite in enough wind, but a freeride kite will give you better and higher jumps than a dedicated foil or surf kite.
Kites designed specifically for surfing or for very light wind have some built-in design trade-offs that sacrifice jumping ability.
Thus, the Enduro, the Ultra, or the Hyperlink would be better for jumping than a Drifter.
Foil wave riding
As long as you have sufficient wind, a dedicated surf kite will serve you best for foiling in waves. The Drifter’s sharp turns, stability, smooth power delivery, and excellent drift make it a great candidate, for example.
In less wind, a lighter inflatable with freeride capabilites like the Enduro or the Ultra are generally a good option.
It’s possible to waveride with a ram air kite too, but if you drop the kite and it gets washed in the waves, your session is most likely over. That’s why Ozone recommends that the Hyperlink not be used in waves.
Our top kites for foiling
Best surf kite for foiling: Cabrinha Drifter
|Type:||3-strut inflatable wave kite|
|Sizes:||4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m, 12m, 13m|
The Cabrinha Drifter is a surf-dedicated kite; the best kite in the Cabrinha lineup for drifting. It’s a 3-strut kite, a bit heavier, and designed to be used in more wind than the others in this list.
The Drifter is an excellent choice for foiling, including in the surf. It’s very reactive and responsive, with a light feel on the bar. Sheeting out dumps the power very quickly, and the power re-engages again quickly when sheeting back in.
It has about the same power range as other inflatables, but it’s designed to be a bit less “grunty,” with less power in the lower end to avoid getting pulled off a wave.
The Drifter is not oriented toward big air and loft. If you’re interested in that, take a look at the next kite.
Best all-around LEI kite for foiling: Ozone Enduro
|Type:||3-strut freeride inflatable|
|Sizes:||4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 11m, 12m, 14m|
The Ozone Enduro is a mid-aspect ratio kite, promoted as an all-rounder suitable for freestyle, freeride, and foiling. At heart, it’s intended for intermediate to advanced riders.
This makes it the ideal choice if you plan to do a variety of foiling styles. It’s not as wave-dedicated as the Ozone Reo, for example. But if you plan to freeride and jump with your foil, this kite will give you the best boost.
It’s lightweight for its size, with less reinforcements and protective bumpers than other models.
Best single strut kite for foiling: Airush Ultra
|Type:||single strut for foiling, waves, and freeride|
|Sizes:||4m, 5m, 6m, 7m, 8m, 9m, 10m, 12m, 14m, 17m|
The Ultra from Airush is a medium aspect ratio, single-strut kite designed for surf, foiling, and freeride. For foiling in lighter winds, its reduced weight makes it a great option.
The bridle design, with 2 pulleys on both sides, allows the Ultra to still turn well when sheeted out or depowered e.g. on a foil, giving it a good upper wind range.
Best ram air kite for foiling: Ozone Hyperlink
|Type:||Multipurpose ram air kite|
|Sizes:||5m, 7m, 9m, 11m, 13m|
The Ozone Hyperlink is marketed as a kite that bridges the gap between ram air kites and inflatables. Most ram air kites have unique flying characteristics that may take some time to get used to.
Although this is a true ram air kite, the direct feeling and feedback on the bar makes it feel more like an inflatable. It’s a good kite for freeride, boosting, and foiling.
It retains all the advantages of a ram air kite: the ability to fly and relaunch in winds lighter than needed for an inflatable, light weight and packdown size, and versatility.
Besides light wind foiling, you can also use it for kiting on snow or land.