How hard should I pump my kitesurfing kite?
Would you expect a car to perform well with flat tires? Kites are the same! All manufacturers base their kites around a specific pressure, so here’s how to make sure your kite is flying at its best.
Firstly, lets put an end to a myth.
With a hand pump, you will find it VERY difficult to over inflate a kite. If you manage to pump up a kite so hard, that it blows up with a hand pump, then we guarantee you, it was not the fault of you pumping it too hard. It was due to damage elsewhere on the kite which weakened its structural integrity.
Most hand pumps are able to achieve pressures of about 10 PSI with an 80kg person doing the pumping. That’s what you’ll get when you are physically lifting yourself up with the pump and using ALL your body weight to push down on it. Great news! Most kites fly GREAT with 8-9 PSI in the leading edge. Bad news! You probably pump your kite to around 5 PSI right now, and your kite is flying like a flaccid… Well, a flaccid kite.
So! Three ways to tell you’ve pumped up your kite enough.
1: The bend test
Pump up your kite and flip it over (you know, like you do EVERY time you pump it up). As you flip it, does the leading edge bend near the centre of the kite? If it does, then flip it back over you slacker – pump it up some more!
2: The ‘flick’ test
The higher the pressure, the higher the noise will be when you flick your kite with your finger. Make sure you don’t hold it with one hand, and flick it with the other, or your hand will deaden the noise. Leave it connected to your pump leash and give it a flick. ‘PING’ = good. ‘PUH’ = bad.
3: Use a gauge
While there’s heaps of people who will cry ‘oh those gauges are useless’. ‘They never work’. ‘They only cost 30c to make in China’. A gauge is better than nothing in a lot of cases. Treat it right, and a guage will give you a pretty good idea of what pressure is being held in the pump hose. As brands get fancier with their pumps, so too do the gauges these days. So give a gauge a try!
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