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Winter Safety Equipment for Winter Kiting & Ice Sailing with Wind Power

Winter Safety Equipment allows us to maximize our fun on the ice or snow and avoid or minimize serious injury.  When I was a child there were no bike helmets, we didn’t wear ski or snowboard helmets.  But times have changed and for the good of those who desire to enjoy winter sports.  Following is a list of winter safety equipment we use.

The helmet is the most important safety tool.  I prefer a BMX full-face helmet.  It’s lighter and cost less than a snowmobile or motorcycle helmet.  Bicycle, hockey, snowboard or skiing helmets work also.  It depends on the level of protection you desire.  The padding in the helmet also helps keep your head warm.

If you kite and are using a snowboard, kneepads and padded shorts really help. You either fall back on your butt or forward on your knees.  If you use skis, padded shorts and elbow pads are best.  These are minimum pads, adding more padding never hurts.

Winterboards are very stable but knee and elbow pads are good to use.  Freeskates (the shortboard of winter) can cause unorthodox falls therefore they require the most padding.  The serious Freeskaters wear knee pads, padded shorts and a chest protector that includes elbow, forearm, shoulder, back and spine padding with plastic covering the soft padding.

In 1985 I started sailing in the winter on windsurfing equipment and didn’t use any padding or helmet.  After many falls and poundings I now wear a helmet and a full assortment of pads all the time so I can maximize my fun, push the limits and not get hurt in the process.  We need to be able to play or work the next day and the safety protection makes it happen.

Padding or body armor has been improving drastically over the last years and Wind Power is constantly looking for the newest equipment and testing it out to see if it fits our needs.  Currently we are looking for padded shorts with built in knee pads.

What’s important to make a good functional pad? It must have thick enough padding with a plastic cover over the outside of the pad to distribute the impact.  So knee, elbow, shoulder, shin, forearm, butt and thigh pads should have plastic covers.  The Pad Must Say in Place! A pad that slipped is like having no pad at all.  It needs to be in place when you need it.  I prefer knee pads that I don’t have to slip my foot through.  I want to be able to put them over my clothing without removing shoes or clothing.  The same with elbow pads.  Motocross has developed very nice chest protection with built-in forearm, elbow, shoulder, back/spine and chest protection.  This is all built into a shirt that fits snug and holds all the pads in place very well so they are there when you need them. Link to Thor Chest Protector We are looking for hip, butt and knee pads built together similar to the chest protector but haven’t found any good enough for our use yet.  Some just came out this year but they lack the plastic covering over the pads.  So for now we use padded shorts and separate knee pads.  The shorts we use have removable plastic covers for the thigh and butt. Link to padded shorts.

Knee pads need to stay in place, easily install or remove over clothing, have a large pad with a plastic cover. Link to knee pads.

The preferred elbow pad is included in the chest protector.  If getting a separate elbow pad, get a similar pad as the knee pad.

A BMX full-face bike helmet offers the best protection as well as warmth in a light package.  They are usually cheaper than a motorcycle or snowmobile helmet, even though both of those helmets work great also. Link to helmet. Link to another helmet style.

If you have more questions about padding feel free to contact Wind Power for more information.  Protect your self and have more fun without worrying about injury.

p. s. A serious student will show up with all the padding and I’ll be smiling.

Introduction to Snowkiting: A Snowy Season with Wind Power

The winter season is fast approaching, and here at Wind Power we have been receiving a lot of interest in the snow sports that we participate in. So today, we decided to create a quick overview of the winter sport “Snowkiting”.


(Wind Power’s own Ben Herdrich Snowkiting on a warm day)

In this blog we will explore the concept of Snowkiting and the types of kites used while Snowkiting. Snowkiting is an amazing new sport that has been the talk of the town for a few years now, with all the new and advanced equipment, it makes the sport easier and more versatile for all types of riders.

Let’s look a little bit into what exactly Snowkiting is and why it is becoming such a popular sport. Snowkiting is basically skiing or snowboarding with a kite. There is a lot that goes into this sport however, understanding the wind, flying the kite, edging, jumping, etc… With all these things going on, Snowkiting can become a very challenging sport that tests your limits each and every session. Wind Power recommends at first taking lessons (Snowkiting Lessons) to learn important safety concerns with kiting, and also how to actually FLY the kite. Learning how to properly fly the kite from an instructor makes it that much easier, and quicker, to get you up and running on your board or skis. A few safety factors are important to understand, you need equipment that will protect you in case you crash, fall, make a mistake flying the kite, or any other factor that can come into play. Pads are highly recommended since here in Wisconsin, we are mostly Snowkiting on frozen lakes and this can cause injuries if you are not properly protected. For safety, protection equipment and gear, check out this past article written by Wind Power: Winter Safety Equipment.

Let’s talk a little bit about the types of kites used for Snowkiting. There are two specific styles of kites used in the winter season. The more traditional kite that is commonly used for Snowkiting is a Foil Kite link to Ozone Foil Kites.

Foil Kites are non-inflatable kites that capture air inside of various cells located on the leading edge of the kite (very front of the kite) to create the classic C-shaped outline the kite requires to properly fly. Below in Image 1 is an image of an Ozone Foil Kite. A few benefits to having a foil kite is the ease of packing up, the power that foil kites are able to generate, and the ability to kite in lower wind ranges. The foil kite is able to be easily packed away into a small backpack when in the backcountry, no need to release any valves to deflate the kite (we will explain this feature in the paragraph to come). A foil kite can also be used on land, some rider use foil kites to power buggies, mountainboards, and other land cruisers. These are just a few benefits to having a foil kite in the winter.

Image 1: Ozone Foil Kite

The second type of kite used in Snowkiting is a Power Kite or Inflatable Kite. This style requires air to be pumped into a “bladder” on the leading edge. In doing so, the kite takes on a “fixed” shape. A benefit of an inflatable kite compared to a foil kite is that inflatable kites can be used more easily on both water surfaces and snow/ land surfaces. This is due to the fact that inflatable kites can be “re-launched” from water surfaces much easier than foil kites. This allows kiteboarders to use the same type of kite on both water and snow/land surfaces. Referencing the previous paragraph, these kites have sometimes multiple struts lining the canopy to help give the kite its shape. Located below in Image 2 is a great picture by North Kites showing the leading edge, and the struts located on the kite.

Image 2: Leading edge and Struts

The bladder and all the struts fill with air and this air needs to be removed to store the kite in its specific bag. This process is not a lengthy one so packing up takes just a little bit longer than the foil kite. Located below in Image 3 is a picture of a Naish Inflatable Kite. 

Image 3: Naish Inflatable Kite

Wind Power has been involved in Snowkiting from the beginning. Not only do we host races, events, demo, etc, we are also actively involved with Snowkiting instruction all winter long! Link to Winter Snowkiting Lessons page. Wind Power has the knowledge, experience, resources, location and support for ANYONE interested in pursuing Snowkiting.

~Team Wind Power~