At A Glance
Returning with a new update for 2023, The North Orbit continues to be a dominant player in the Big Air field. With podium finishes at the King of The Air, this kite of kings (Marc Jacobs in 2021 and Jesse Richman in 2020) has been proven since the beginning. It fires from all cylinders and sends you to the MOON! 2023 sees North make minor adjustments to an already well-established kite, and we've been able to get our hands on the 9m.
The North Orbit is a 5-strut design with a high aspect swept wingtip and efficient 2-stage arc design. It provides unmatched top-end control, and the qualities of this kite are even more prominent when it's in an overpowered state. With such a large wind range, this kite allows you to get out for a session on light-wind days. North has incorporated new, lighter bladders, and this bad boy can fly on those very light days.
All editions of the Orbit have been good; however, the first Orbit released in 2020 had a tendency to front stall. This issue was quickly resolved with the 2021 model. In 2022, it got even better, which left us thinking, "What else can North do to enhance this kite?" Now, riding the 2023 model, it's clearly been stepped up to another level. We really notice these new updates in super strong winds.
Big Air is evolving daily, and everyone is sending it BIG! Double and S loops have taken over, and riders are pushing to the absolute limit. To fine-tune and tweak the Orbit to your riding style, North has introduced an extra bar pressure option on the wing tips, with now four options to choose from. These options give a different feeling and turning radius allowing the rider to have ultimate control.
The bladders in kites make up a significant percentage of the overall weight. Lighter weight bladders have helped in creating a lighter kite making those jumps that extra bit bigger and those turns that little bit faster. In the larger sizes, there are newer lighter bladders helping with faster steering.
In all sizes, a new N-DURE Dacron features along the leading edge and the struts. This is another improvement in saving weight without compromising strength or durability. Small refinements on the bridles have also resulted in faster steering and, overall, more control. Another new feature is the NEW strategic 2-ply Canopy Reinforcement. If you put too stiff a material in the trailing edge, it can affect the profile shape. The two new layers of canopy material are softer and more responsive, helping to provide tension, and allowing the kite to keep its profile in all wind strengths.
For those that dare to kite in freezing cold conditions, a nice new feature is the valve cap. North has now designed a new valve with ridges making it easy to unscrew and tighten. So if you ever have those cold hands after braving a storm session, you'll quickly have that kite deflated!
Sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14.
Colours: Pacific Blue, Sunset Yellow, Rubine Red
In The Air
It's hard to find a Big Air kite that does it better! The Orbit not only goes big, but it's extremely reliable, especially when looping because it turns so quickly and catches you early. If you want a kite that is going to get you those extra few metres on your WOO score, then this is it.
With those new bar pressure settings, you can decide exactly how you want to turn your kite. If it's 40+ knots and you want to go for the doubles, there's a setting exactly for that. If you want to meet in the middle, you can keep the knots on the factory settings - there's unlimited choice for how you want this kite to feel/react.
The steering has improved again on the 2022 model. As mentioned, there's not too much North needed to change from the 2022 Orbit, but with new bladders across the larger sizes, refined bridles, and a new Dacron used, this overall weight saving has given the Orbit a new dimension of speed, power and efficiency.
The Orbit offers a feeling very few kites do when in the air. You can't not love the feeling of sheeting in and going big - this kite can feel like an extension of your body! What's also great is it fires back upwind. No matter how much distance you lose from jumping, within one or two tacks, you're back to where you started.
I've had the 9m Orbit in winds from 22 knots all the way up to 35. For my build at 6ft and 80kg, it's great to have a kite in the quiver that can get me out in those wind ranges. It's an absolute beast in the strong winds and to have a kite that I can trust and know exactly what it can do allows me to be more confident on the water. The Orbit also has a great range of depower, and even when fully depowered, it still responds pretty much the same!
No real bad words at all for the 2023 Orbit! The 2022 version was great, but now the double King of the Air winner has tweaked itself out, and this kite continues to be one of, if not the best, big air kite on the market! If you want a kite that boosts and you love your twin tip riding, I'd highly recommend this as your go-to choice. It's a great kite for the advanced big air rider pulling the doubles, but it is also great for the rider who wants to get into their first loops and have a kite that's reliable.
For those that want a kite with a bit more diversity when it comes to riding a foil, surfboard or unhooked freestyle, then I wouldn't recommend the Orbit. Although the Orbit would still get you on the water, something like The Reach would be a much better option as it's been designed to perform great across all disciplines.
This review was in Issue 96 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit North Kiteboarding
By Liam DredgeLiam fell in love with all Watersports after completing numerous seasons aboard, he then picked up kiting whilst in the warm tropics of the Carribean and has been obsessed ever since! Anyone that knows him would say it's near the only thing he talks about (which drives some crazy), and he loves to keep up to date with all the latest news, equipment and events that kiting has to offer. Liam also runs his own Watersports Centre along the south coast of the UK, LOOP Watersports, which is where our IKSURFMAG Test Centre is located!