This is on behalf of a pal who is about to buy his 1st kite. He is a brilliant park wakeboarder and can windsurf/ dingy, and fly trainer kites to a good level already, and fully intends to get into wakestyle and hitting obstacles with a kite asap - i expect he will pick it up very fast. As such I am advising him on what kites to look at.
I know that C type kites (torch, fuel, chaos, c4 etc) will be best for what he's after ultimately - but what about the ones a step down, such as RPM's, and the 'slightly less C style to make learning a bit easier initially'?
What I'm really asking I suppose is which kites are great for unhooking and obstacles, but still aren't too bad for learning on (for a fast and bold learner).
Oh - and they will need to be from around 2012 and available 2nd hand, as he's on a super tight budget, so new models are out I'm afraid.
I know some may scream - 'OMG!! don't get a C to learn on' - but I fly Cab Chaos's and consider them to be easy to fly, and I don't think they would make learning much more difficult than on a soft squishy and not very exciting learner kite.
You have the answer in your post, but to be a bit more constructive; Depends on your buddy I guess. 4 line C ish kites like RPM, Park, and many others are probably the easiest route for learning on something that will work just fine for obstacles. There is a lot of learning that goes into lining up obstacles with the variables of wind power.
The true C's are also great and not that big a deal for those with aptitude. 5 line is pretty nice as a complete shut off, but takes a degree of skill and perseverance when learning to relaunch successfully every time. Not a big deal, but it is a degree more complicated than the C ish options.
rpm is fine for a first kite. it's in the skill of the rider not the kite. Really there is only one kite I can think of that a park rider should NOT buy and that's the north rebel because you can't handle pass on a rebel, doesn't make slack. The rest of your freeride kites, envy, park, TS, RPM, C4, they are fine. Wind range is pretty important. If you know for sure he's going to build a quiver then yeah C kites are fine. One kite though . . . pretty hard to ignore how great bridled kites are for riding in lots of conditions. "Super tight" budget says to me, he's going to buy exactly one kite, not a quiver, he'll want a bridled kite I think.
I ride RPMs and didn't have a problem hitting rails up in Hood River last summer. I ride wake most of the time we have pretty good winds for it. Should be able to pick one up pretty cheap as a lot people do ride them.
For other kites you just need a mid to low aspect ratio kite. If it flies to far forward then you won't get much slack or none like the Rebel.
Most people hitting sliders in Hood River aren't riding C-kites. There's a lot that are, but most seem to be on SLEs like the Envy, RPM, Switchblade, TS.
The main point of a C-kite is that you get slack in the bar for air tricks, you don't really need this for hitting sliders, most kites will do fine as long as they are stable unhooked.
Your buddy doesn't necessarily need a C-kite -- I have a friend that is a pro cable wakeboarder and he rides a normal allaround kite, and throws down. I wouldn't recommend getting a C-kite as his first kite just because it'll be more difficult to learn on.