Foil kites are a type of kiteboarding equipment used for kitesurfing, land kiting or snowkiting typically.
It is easy to recognise a foil kite parked on the beach as it rests flat on the ground without the struts sticking up like in the inflatable kites.
Foil kites are more potent than the leading edge inflatable kites, therefore, they are the main kites used in kitesurfing racing. Foil kites are also a great choice for light wind kiting. A 12m foil kite can deliver as much power as the 17m inflatable kite. Foil kites are lighter and allow better upwind performance due to their high aspect ratio design.
Foil kites are similar to the paragliders or parachutes in their construction which includes two layers of light kite fabric with the self-inflatable cells between the layers of fabric. This construction is supported by the system of foil kite bridles which then connect to the foil kite bar. The design which has been developed over very long time is very reliable.
Although the principles of flying a kiteboarding kite remain the same, it is useful to get the foil kitesurfing lesson before launching, as the feeling and the power delivery of the foil kite is a bit different than the inflatable kite.
Some of the other benefits of foil kites include their durability and a unpack/pack-down time. However, the foil kites are more expensive than the inflatable kites they last much longer than the inflatable kites do. Foil kites are packed with the bar attached to the bridal system hence the setup is much quicker. There is also no need to pump them as the kite inflates itself with the wind as you launch it.
There are closed cell foil kites and open cell foil kites. The cells that fill up with air and keep the kite in shape and flying can be opened by design or have the flaps that close the cells once enough air pressure is present. The open cell kites can be used only on land because it would be too much of a risk for the kite to fill up with water and sink when dropped during the kitesurfing session. Therefore the open cell foil kites are normally used for snowkiting and landkiting. The closed cell foil kites can be easily relaunched from the water without much risk of water getting inside. Launching the foil kite from the water is similar to launching the inflatable kite but may require more patience and more pull on the line to get the kite up.