The 8 Types of Kites and How to Fly Them11 min read

If you’ve ever attended a kite festival, you might have come across a wide variety of kites in all sorts of designs and in every possible shade. Seeing all those kites may have even piqued your interest about the different types of kites you can fly.

You probably know all about the delta and the diamond now as they are the most popular kites universally and have become somewhat of a household name. There are plenty of other kites besides these two that you can try out, such as stunt kites and prism kites, and they can be equally fun to fly. This post will review the 8 different types of kites you can fly: Delta Kites, Diamond Kites, Foil Kites, Cellular Kites, Sled Kites, Rokkakus Kites, Stunt Kites, and Traction Kites. All of which vary in popularity, complexity, usage and material.

1. Delta Kites

The delta kite is easily one of the most popular kites in the world. It is also the kite that most beginners start out with because it’s easy to launch and fly even in light breeze. Delta kites are shaped like a triangle with a keel holding the spine straight and rigid while a spreader helps maintain its triangular shape.

You can find both single-line and dual-line delta kites for all skill ranges depending on what you need. Some delta kites have tails attached to the center or at the wing tips to maintain stability in turbulent weather.

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What are Delta Kites Made of?

Rip stop nylon is a popular material for delta kites. Light wind delta kites typically use special spinnaker fabric.

2. Diamond Kites

Diamond kites are another popular variety of kites and are easily the most recognizable. As the name suggests, these kites are shaped like a diamond and are very easy to make on your own. Due to their reliability, diamond kites are perfect for kids and beginners who are just learning how to fly kites.

With the right materials, diamond kites can become sturdy enough to withstand high turbulence. However, they have some trouble flying at steep line angles.

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What are Diamond Kites Made of?

Some of the earliest diamond kites were made of paper, but we can now find diamond kites made of rip stop nylon to give it more durability. The best part about diamond kites is that you can make them from almost any available material including plastic sheets and freezer bags. Mylar sheets are also popularly used to make these kites.

3. Parafoil Kites

Also known as foil kites, parafoil kites have one defining factor that differentiates them from the previous types of kites – they do not have a frame. This makes them much less likely to break on impact even when they crash against hard surfaces, making them the perfect kite for beginners.

Parafoil kites have an upper and a lower surface, which are further divided by vertical ribs into smaller cells. When air fills up these pockets, the kite becomes semi-rigid and begins to fly. Some foil kites may need several bridle lines to help maintain their shape.

If you’ve read our previous post on the history of kites, you would also know that parafoil kites are the inspiration for parachutes and paragliders. While you can find single-line, dual-line, and quad-line foil kites, the latter two typically fall into another category of kites called traction kites, which we will discuss later on.

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What are Parafoil Kites Made of?

Rip stop nylon is the most popular material for making parafoil kites. You can also find foil kites made of premium polyester fabric to further increase durability without sacrificing lightness.

4. Cellular Kites

These are three-dimensional kites which come in a wide variety of shapes, making it virtually impossible to point out what a typical cellular kite looks like. Box kites fall into this category and are possibly the most common type. Box kites typically have four struts that are parallel to each other with the sails or ribbons wrapped around each end of the box.

Some cellular kites have an elaborate structure and even have wings, vanes, or fins. The Cody kite is a popular variation of cellular kites and is basically a full box kite with upturned wings. Another popular variant is the Hargrave, which is triangular in shape and has wings on the side. You can also find cellular kites in shapes like stars and snowflakes.

Box kites typically need stronger winds to take off and stay afloat since they have more frames than other types of kites. This makes them slightly heavier, requiring more wind for optimal performance.

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What are Cellular Kites Made of?

Rip stop nylon is a very popular material for commercial cellular kites. For a DIY project, you can also build one using construction paper, newspaper, or any other lightweight material.

5. Sled Kites

Sled kites have a single surface with vertical spars on the side to help maintain their shape as they fly. Although the spars were traditionally made of rigid sticks, we can now find sled kites with inflatable spars. This makes them much more capable of withstanding heavy impacts during a crash.

The inflatable spars also make them more portable as you can simply squash them up and store them in confined spaces. Combined with the fact that they are often of moderate size, sled kites are perfect for kids.

What are Sled Kites Made of?

Lightweight plastic is the most popular material for making sled kites. However, you can also use lightweight fabric or paper if plastic isn’t an ideal option for you.

6. Rokkakus

Rokkakus are six-sided fighter kites, which originated in Japan and have become increasingly popular in the west. They are shaped like vertically stretched hexagons and have a four-point bridle. In terms of performance, rokkakus can easily beat any other type of kite. They’re also more stable and reliable than the delta kite, making them perfect for professional pilots.

The symmetry of the sail makes these kites ideal for kite art. Traditionally, they would hand paint pictures of famous Samurai and sometimes cows to symbolize wealth. Even the modern rokkakus still have artistic and colorful artwork that look exquisite as they fly high in the air. They become even more noticeable as the wind gets stronger.

Its large surface area and simple design makes the rokkaku ideal for use in atmospheric science and kite aerial photography.

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What are Rokkakus Made of?

Traditional rokkakus were made using washi paper and bamboo spars, which made them extremely lightweight. The modern, westernized versions mostly use rip stop nylon with carbon spars to increase durability.

7. Stunt Kites

Stunt kites, also known as sport kites, are known for their ability to perform impressive maneuvers in the air. With some experience, you can make them move around exactly as you wish, making them ideal for performing kite tricks. They come in a wide variety of shapes, but the triangular delta kite is the most popular configuration.

Most stunt kites have dual-line controls, which make it easier to control how the kite flies compared to single-line controls. You can also find quad-line stunt kites, which offer extremely precise controls and make it even easier to perform fancy maneuvers.

Interested in performing kite tricks? Make sure you check out our review of the best stunt kites in the market. While there are plenty of notable brands that are known for their stunt kites, Prism is one of the leading manufacturers that are worth checking out.

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What are Stunt Kites Made of?

Since stunt kites have to perform tricky maneuvers, they are also prone to crashes. This makes it crucial to use durable yet lightweight materials like rip stop nylon and rip stop polyester.

8. Traction Kites

Traction kites, also known as power kites, are large kites that are designed to provide significant pull. This makes them perfect for use in traction sports in conjunction with a vehicle or a board. So you’ll often see them being used with skis, snowboards, kiteboards, and all-terrain roller skates. Traction kites are vital for kitesurfing, kite skating, kiteboating, kite buggying, and kiteskiing.

As mentioned earlier foil kites with quad-line controls are a popular form of traction kite. Leading edge inflatable kites are also another popular variation. Soft single skin kites and rigid-framed kites are also suitable for power kiting, but they are less popular.

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What are Traction Kites Made of?

Rip stop nylon is a very popular material for making traction kites due to its durable yet lightweight feature.

How to Fly Different Types of Kites

The launching and flying of most of these kites aren’t very different from each other. So if you know how to fly one, you won’t have too much trouble flying another. Deltas, diamonds, and parafoils have a similar launching process. If you’re going to launch the kite on your own, here are some tips to help you out:

  • Let out a few feet of the flying line
  • In case of dual-line kites, make sure the lines are symmetrical to each other
  • Hold the winder with one hand and the keel with another
  • Raise the kite until it starts catching the wind
  • Let out the line as the wind lifts your kite

If the wind is very light, you will need some assistance from a friend. Here are some tips to fly these kites with assisted launching:

  • Let out 50 to 70 feet of the line to start
  • Have your friend hold the kite while you stretch the line at one end
  • Give the line a pull as your friend releases the kite

In case your kite is unstable, you could make adjustments with kite accessories like kite tails. You can also add some visual effect with spinsocks and spinners.

There is a slight variation in how you fly the sled kite. One of the main highlights is that it’s very convenient to fly, taking little to no time to set up. All you need to do is unroll and unwrap the kite, wait for the air to fill it, and it’s good to go.

With traction kites, there may be slight variations in how you fly them depending on the vehicle or board you’re using or the sport you’re using it for. However, the standard steps to launch them without a vehicle or board are as follows:

  • Lay out your lines and make sure they’re symmetrical
  • Unwrap your kite and let it inflate
  • Pull on the top parts of the handles and the kite will immediately take off

Bottom Line

Although these are the most common types of kites we can see today, your options don’t just end here. There are plenty of other subcategories and types of kites including traditional kites and novelty kites. For now, take a closer look at the ones we’ve discussed here and find out which one is the best choice for you.

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