1) never feel bad about borrowing a kite. If you don't have a kite and you are away on vacation go up to people and ask for gear.
2) never feel bad about not lending. If you don't want to lend someone gear that's perfectly ok!
So the proper etiquette is do whatever you want. Borrow lend don't borrow don't lend, the only important thing is don't go around feeling guilty about it. You don't have to lend a kite. You don't have to not lend a kite.
When I see a kiter from europe that is on a working trip to my great state, I never fail to try to get them on the water some day, lend them my stuff, find some other way to lend stuff to them. If I ever ask for gear, and someone says "NO way! You will crash it" I would laugh and say, "true true." It's all good.
Loaning/borrowing even among friends can create an awkward situation if something goes wrong. I find it best to be upfront about the "what if's".....like "if you borrow this kite, you're taking responsibility for it, you wreck it, you buy it, and the price is $X". Then there's no awkwardness, they knew the deal going in. Possibly adding "you can fix it and keep it for yourself, or you can fix and sell it if you wish, not my problem as at that point you will own it".
But loaning to visitors or strangers, I think you lose some likelihood in enforcing anything like this. If I loaned my kite to a visitor, I would HOPE that they'd do the right thing and compensate me for damage, but I'd have no expectations. Bottom line: in that situation don't loan it unless you're prepared to lose it.
Twice recently I have been approached by other kiters on the beach that wanted to try one of my kites. One was a sponsored kiter who was doing a photo shoot. He didn't have a kite available in the size that I had in my quiver. The other was an inexperienced kiter.
In both cases, I said no, but I felt guilty about it. Actually the expert kiter borrowed another kite from someone else and proceeded to crash it on the rocks doing a trick.
What is the proper etiquette in this regard? I have lent my kites to people that I know and trust, but I am reluctant to lend a kite to someone I don't know personally.
Well don't feel bad. I have no problem letting people try my kite, but it has to be up to the kite owner to decide with no pressure. I would not let a complete beginner try it because that ads responsibility, and I would not lend it for a day to someone I do not know. Try means a quick session.
In principle I think it is a bit weird to even ask. I've had people here on KF that I have no idea who are send me messages about borrowing gear from me for a week because they could not be bothered bringing anything to Hawaii. Had people on the beach ask me if they could use my gear for many reasons...one guy had never kited before, but he knew wakeboarding so he would definitely learn in an instant. Again if it is just to check out how a kite of mine works and they know their stuff..sure usually no problem if I have the time.
Anyways, my point was that you should not feel bad about it.
Twice recently I have been approached by other kiters on the beach that wanted to try one of my kites. One was a sponsored kiter who was doing a photo shoot. He didn't have a kite available in the size that I had in my quiver.
You should have told this guy to look for a better sponsor. Maybe one that's a bit more organized when planning a photo shoot. The only time you should feel obligated to let someone try your kite is when you are an ambassador or affiliated with the kite company since you get a heavy discount on the kite to begin with. Even then, you can refuse under your own discretion. And usually if it's damaged during a demo, the company that sponsors you will take care of it in good faith.
*there is no way this isn't going to sound weird... mince away.
All of the above. This is uncharted social territory, and there are probably plenty legal issues (here in usa) that can make it easier to say no.
If someone is geared up and can demonstrate competence (ideally has been at the location a few times, or someone can vouch) but had the wrong size kite, kite has a leak etc, ...and i've got time and a kite I'm not married to it (I'm willing to say goodbye to it, but would hope for financial compensation if things went damagey) , then I'm happy to lend it for a 45min session. Share the stoke/save a session/day. I want you to have a safe and fun time, and my kite should hold up to a crash or few (*on the water)
As with any yes/no question, it's the lead up that makes it.
on another note... for trying out some kite, I think it would be cool to have a few 'bring out your dead' (slightly old or possibly for sale) kite days that someone (qualified) could try out for shtz'n'giggles. I'm pretty sure a few of us have some kites in the closet that don't get much time out, and there are a few i'd like to try out.