Let me explain how a kite review works. first you will hear something about "low end grunt". This is garbage. why? Because kite manufacturers well they don't actually lie about how big their kites are but a 12 meter kite is never really 12 meters. I have taken out all my kites at one point and measured them. A 12 meter kite will range from somewhere around 11.1 meters up to 12.9 meters in size. So of course when you see a review that says a kite is "grunty" what do you really think is happening? That's right, your 12 meter is really 12.9 meters in size. The next thing is "high end" and you know what the exact same thing happens. this is especially true of the smaller kites, they like to make smaller kites just a little bit smaller than the printed size so that it feels like it has great "high end". What you have to do as a kite tester? Never use the printed size on a kite. Take kites out and feel how they fly. If you have a 11 meter that feels like it should be tested against a 12 meter then pit the 11 against the 12. Don't use the printed size.
Next up, they will explain how a kite jumps the highest. This is the worst thing you can do to a kite. In car terms this is the 0 to 60 time. You take a car and plop a huge engine in it you can get great times. But how does it handle? Well, you ruin the handling if you don't take care. This is exactly what happens in kites too. Kite manufacturers will do everything they can do make the kite boost high and what happens? They ruin the kite by making it jump 1 meter higher by sacrificing everything else that used to be good in that kite. What happens usually is that when a kite is well behaved it has a linear response on the bar. You pull it 1/2 way it has half depower. You let it out 3/4 of the way it has 3/4 depower. Well, you can make a kite jump higher if you turn it into a more "on/off" kind of depower. So you start pulling in the bar nothing nothing nothing, then wham all the power comes on at once. Great. You ruined a kite just to get it to jump a little bit higher. If you are a wooster you can ignore what I just said, go buy the highest jumping kite. If you are not a wooster and hate those devil devices for killing the soul of what kiteboarding is all about, then you know exactly what I"m talking about. In car terms, what I want in a kite is not something that has the best 0-60 times but a car like the mazda miata something that has great handling from top to bottom and is always perfectly balanced.
Next, you will see something about how fast a kite turns. The single best way to make a kite turn faster is strip everything out of the kite until it's so weak that the first time you crash the kite it explodes. Now I get it, a lot of people want fast kites. But you just want a kite to be fast enough, anything more is in my humble opinion useless. You can make a kite turn faster and faster and it just gets twitchy and buzzes around like an angry bee trying to kill you. Especially in higher winds, you want slower kites. This desire to make kites faster and faster I think is misguided. Slow kites are fine. They provide stability in the sky, so you know exactly where they are at all times. Faster is not better. You only need a kite to turn faster enough, anything more than that you are ruining the kite by taking away reinforcement points of a kite and making it weaker.
What is the nearly perfect kite? The north rebel. It is durable, handles almost perfectly linearly, boosts great, can turn fine even when depowered, has the great handling that I think every kite should have. There are two flaws to the rebel one is of course 5 lines means extra set up time. The second flaw is the only reason I don't run a quiver of rebels, and that's because it can't be used unhooked. You never get any slack from it. The Naish Torch is also a great kite that has this linear feel, but that's a C kite and C kites are not great for most riders.
Anyway, I see all these reviews and it never fails, I see these things like how fast it turns, how high it jumps, low end grunt high end and it's all garbage.
What is important are these things:
1) linear feel. The kite must depower in a linear fashion from top to bottom
2) not too fast. I don't want a kite that sacrifices durability for speed in the air. performance and durability are more imporant than spinning around like a top.
3) overall handling. It's not how high you boost but the great feel you get from a kite where no matter where you are on a jump you have complete control.
Anyway that's my opinions, I'm thinking of buying a new 12m, chime in if you have any suggestions for kites which have this "linear feel" that I want in a kite.