When you start learning to kitesurf, there will come a point in time where you will be ready to invest in your own gear. And as you accumulate the various pieces of your kitesurfing arsenal, you’ll inevitably run into questions. The good news is that the internet is glorious place for answers, but the overwhelming number of gear reviews can still leave you wondering what’s best.
Before heading off on a bucket-list tip to kitesurf in Bali (more about that later), I needed kitesurf footstraps and pads for my new Tona Eden board. Here’s a synopsis of my experience and three quick tips for finding the perfect kiteboarding footstraps and pads for women.
1. In a Man’s World, Size Matters
I often have trouble with my toes reaching the built-in toe groove on kitesurf pads, so finding the right fit mattered to me. I was particularly interested in finding kitesurf footstraps and pads for women, but that specific online search was fruitless. I quickly learned that footstraps designed for women are pretty much non-existent.
Most kitesurfing pads and straps come in small/medium, large and extra large, but there seems to be more selection in the larger sizes, probably because there are more male kitesurfers out there. The models that came in a size small made my shortlist, and I did find a few brands and models that seemed ideal for my small feet. In the end, one kiteboard footstrap in particular caught my eye.
2. Try Before You Buy Is a Must
Even after you read the reviews, ask your friends, or post on forums to narrow down your selection, I highly recommend that you go try the footstraps on at a store, when possible. The reality is that footstraps and pads are not created equal. Some straps are designed with double velco for ‘better’ adjustability, and others come with more basic tightening mechanisms. The way the footstap locks down on the pad and board will differ as well. The only real way to find out what really works for you is going to the store and trying them on.
In my experience, the one set of kitesurf pads and straps that I thought would be ideal for me ended being entirely the opposite. The pads were bulky and the straps were not properly engineered. Upon trying it on and pulling my foot upwards, the footstrap detached itself from the pad. Had I stuck with only reading gear reviews and ordering online, I would have ended up with a footstraps that could have led to nightmare safety hazards out on the water.
3. Prioritize Comfort Above All Else
While I haven’t done any extended downwinders yet, countless practice hours on the water can wear on your knees and feet. Aside from size and fit, putting comfort at the top of your rating scale will benefit you now as you learn to kitesurf or when you become addicted to kitesurfing and want to partake in 3-hour downwind sessions with your kitesurfing buddies.
Some footstraps and pads that I tried on felt hard on my feet, which was a concern for big impact when landing those spontaneous jumps (another reason to try them on in-store before you buy). Others kitesurf straps dug into the tops of my feet, which would likely have been quite painful after a full day of kitesurfing.
Other factors such as brand, colour or price (cause let’s get real, who wants to spend over $300 on footstraps, especially when just starting out) might also be important to you, but consider setting those criteria aside for the footstraps and pads that feel both spongy and supportive. Like me, you’ll be glad you did.
And the Winner Is…
In the end, I chose the Cabrinha H1 footstraps in size small and couldn’t be happier. They are nicely engineered, come in black to match my board, were decently priced, but most importantly, they are comfortable, easily adjustable and make my little toes feel like they just found a great new home.
As I write this, I am in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia, gearing up for the Bali Kite Testival by Cabrinha and praying to the wind gods to send us some stoke. Stay tuned for more blogs about kitesurfing in Bali, and happy shopping!
BONUS TIP – Bring a Kitesurfing Friend
It’s always nice to have a second opinion, especially from someone who knows what you should look out for. As I tried various models, I had my kitesurfing shopping buddy try them on as well to offer a more seasoned opinion. When I finally found the pads and straps that fit all my key criteria, that second confirmation sealed the deal.