Your kite is your engine. Research kite characteristics that will suit your style of riding and skill level and make your selection carefully. Don't buy a second hand kite that you know little or nothing about then attempt to use it. Some stores will push particular kite brands so it is worth shopping around to seek different opinion and kite options.
Some factors to consider when choosing a kite:
Good depower is arguably the most important feature and safety factor. Older C kites had limited depower, while the advent of Bow Kites provided close to 100% depower
Durability - lighter kites might fly and turn faster, but they are also more prone to ripping in a big crash.
Wear protectors on abrasion points - particularly the leading edge and wing tips - can prevent wear and tear damage while self-launching and self-landing.
Easy re-launching is a big plus while learning
Heavy bar pressure will tire your arms more compared to lighter bar pressure
Read the manual that comes with your kite so you thoroughly understand its controls and characteristics.
UV light will damage and weaken kite fabric. Don't leave it on the beach in the sun for long periods when you are not using it.
Attach a small cord loop on your depower adjustment (if it is above the bar) so that you will know instantly which it is, and to make it easier to reach.
C-Kites were the first type of inflatable kites used for kitesurfing.
C-shape leading edge
Often have less depower than other kite types
Used for unhooked wake-style and advanced freestyle riding
Bow kites first appeared in 2006 (such as the Cabrinha Crossbow) and offer very good depower
Flatter canopy than a C kite
Bridle system (with or without pulleys) for controlling the leading edge
Easy and effective depower
Handle a wide wind range
Can be used by riders of any skill level.
Delta kites have a delta (triangular) shape and have good power and depower characteristics
Very easy relaunch
Good for freestyle, wave riding and racing
Hybrid kites combine characteristics of bow, delta and C-kites
Design aims to combine the best attributes of 2 or more kite types
Foil kites use the wind to form their shape. They do not have bladders for flotation.
These are not commonly used for kitesurfing now, but some people prefer them
If you let go of the bar the kite will fly by itself to zenith
Good light wind and upwind performance
No pumping up required
Will not relaunch when completely wet
Little or no bouyancy
Sometimes referred to as "doonas"
Choose the right kite size
Choosing the right kite size for the combination of wind conditions and your body weight is a critical for safe and enjoyable kitesurfing. Getting overpowered is no fun at all, and you might get hurt.
If in doubt, use a smaller kite rather than larger kite. For more details see Choosing the right kite size.
For details on kites suitable for use in light wind see Light wind kites.
The reviews section contains reviews of some kites, boards and accessories.