Two weeks of solid Maui trade winds offered me the perfect opportunity to test the new 2017 Naish Kite gear, which I’m more fired up on than ever before. Cutting to it: The new Quad-Tex material for kites is what impressed me most. Naish has held off over the past few years to improve their T9600 single rip stop nylon. Kite designer Damien Girardin had something better in mind and – working with Teijin – created Quad-Tex. It’s 30% stronger, and over 30% stiffer than the current D2 material. Numerous tests have proven Quad-Tex to be the next nylon of choice for building kite canopies, and Naish has a one year exclusivity on it. And while Quad-Tex is slightly heavier than single, or double rip stop nylon, the durable new material allowed Damien to build the 2017 Naish kite line 10% lighter by using less reinforcing materials and dacron. Quad-Tex is notably stiffer and brighter in the sky, with an almost metallic look and feel. Over the past 3 years of testing, the prototype kites I saw on Maui still had a crisp, new feel and look, making for a powerful case as to just how revolutionary this material is.
Our best selling Naish kite, the Pivot, still felt like a winner, especially with the updated Quad-Tex canopy material. Great range, good low-end power, and tight turning. If big floaty jumps are part of your game, the Pivot is still the kite of choice.
Another highlight kite for me was the new wave kite, the Naish Slash. I’ve been waiting for Naish to come out with a kite to rival the Cabrinha Drifter and North Neo. After all, Naish is a wave-oriented brand. The Slash had everything I want in a wave kite: down-the-line drifting, fast turning, quick relaunching, good low end power, and durability. The turning speed isn’t as tight as Naish’s Pivot, but it’s powerful. The Slash’s leading edge doesn’t taper like the other kites in the lineup do. It remains thick out the wing tip. Damien told me this is so riders get the whole kite to turn, versus just the wingtip. One thing I found was to quicken the turning speed, just move the trailing edge pigtail all the way back to the lighter bar pressure setting, and it speeds it up noticeably. The Slash is a great kite for anyone looking to free ride with a directional board, or ride waves or swells. They are powerful kites, like North Neos, so you can rig them a bit smaller than than the average free-ride kite. I rode the 5m, 7m, and 9m, which felt like optimal sizes for most people in the Gorge my size (165 lbs.) Slash sizes are available from 4m-10m.
The 2017 Control Systems are completely redesigned with an option for an above the bar or below the bar depower. The new Torque ATB and BTB are light, and very user friendly. The ATB, above-the-bar with clamcleat is a huge upgrade to the previous ATB’s Naish offered. It employs natural leverage for adjusting the trim line, and has height adjustable tuning.
The BTB is ultra clean above the bar, and now has a below-the-bar ball bearing swivel for effortless untangling for the front lines. No more bulky swivel pulley above the bar! The new Torque Loop is super easy to engage and disengage once you’ve practiced it a couple of times. It works well with a standard spreader hook, or rope. The bar itself is Adjustable from 18”-20”, so will work with all sized kites from small to big. Available with 20m or 24m line sets.
There was the opportunity to fly some fun new kites that are going to be a late release next Spring too, all of which have the new Quad Tex material. The Ride and Fly are still part of the lineup as Naish’s All-Around Freeride and Lightwind Freeride kites, with the addition of a fun new L.E.I. that was a blast for Foiling, and a new kite that essentially replaces the Park HD. More to come on these new models!
TJ Guillizia hails from Omaha, Nebraska and has been kiting for 12 years. When he’s not mega looping, he’s either cheering for the Seahawks, running white water on an inflatable paddle board, or testing drysuits in 39 degree water.