I've owned both RRD Obsessions and North Rebels.
RQO wrote:- Durability: I have heard mixed reviews about the durability of RRDs. I understand North Rebels are as durable as they get. Any views?
My RRD Obsessions didn't last nearly as long as I would have liked (with stitching and canopy material starting to deteriorate after about 14 months of hard use in tropical sun), but maybe I just had bad luck. Perhaps they simply had a bad day at the factory when they put together my kites.
North Rebels are among the more durable kites, yes. They should last several seasons even if you abuse them and expose them to a lot of UV light (and longer if you take care of them and shield them from prolonged and heavy UV exposure).
RQO wrote:- Bar pressure: I had a Cabrinha Switchblade and found the bar pressure too much after long sessions. I understand the RRD Obsession has lower bar pressure. How about the North Rebel? How do the two compare in bar pressure?
The RRD Obsessions have significantly less bar pressure than North Rebels, even in the most recent models. I can comfortably ride and steer them with one hand all day.
RQO wrote:- Fast: I believe both are pretty fast. How do they compare?
The RRD Obsessions are among the fastest kites on the market, for any given kite size. The North Rebel I would classify as a medium to medium-slow kite, by comparison
to the RRD Obsession - by which I mean that the North Rebel is not necessarily "slow" in the true sense of the word (the way that you would classify a large Flysurfer as being slow), just that the North Rebel is not nearly as fast and reactive as the RRD Obsession. Which brings us to a related point - the steering on the RRD Obsessions tend to be very "direct" and reactive whereas my personal opinion is that the steering of the North Rebel is a bit more dampened or "mushy". Think of the various cars that you have driven - on some, the steering feels more dampened and indirect than on others. That being said, depending on your experience with different kites, you might not notice the difference. Most people seem happy with North Rebels.
RQO wrote:- Waves: I guess the North Rebel is better in waves. Any views?
I'm not sure. To be honest, neither of them would be my preferred wave kite, but that's just me. I think that while riding down the line in good clean wind conditions, both kites are OK. The speed and responsiveness of the RRD Obsession might be a slight
advantage in some circumstances, and it is easier to deliberately get the Obsession to stall if that is something that you want to be able to do. The Rebel is however a good stable kite that many people like in the waves.
If / when the kites end up in the water getting slammed by a breaking wave, then the build quality of the North Rebel would be an advantage. On the other hand the North Rebel has a 5th line, which is something that many people don't like in waves.
One thing you didn't ask about is jumping. The RRD Obsession is OK in that regard if you know what you are doing, but the Rebels are almost ridiculously easy to jump even for beginners, and the Rebels - particularly the 2012 version of the Rebel 12m - have an amazing hangtime.
I don't think you would be disappointed in either kite. They are slightly different and have their good and bad points, but overall they are both nice kites.