Best Kiteboarding Control Bars for People with Short Arms

We get a lot of questions and concerns from kiteboarders struggling to reach their depower controls. As a 5’2″ woman with short(ish) arms, I can definitely relate.  Not being able to reach your depower control can be scary and frustrating, especially in overpowered conditions. Fortunately, there are some great control bar options out there for us too. In this article, we put together a thorough list of features and bars that any smaller frame person should consider when shopping for their next kiteboarding control bar:

1. Bar Grip Diameter. If you have small hands, you’re going to want a bar with a smaller diameter grip. It will be more comfortable, and you’ll be able to get your hands around the bar without creating more pressure on your wrists and forearms. The following brands offer smaller grip bars:

Ozone Compact v4 Control Bar
Ozone Compact Contact Control Bar for people with shorter arms.

2. Depower Throw. The “throw” is the section of the depower rope where your bar can move up and down. A shorter throw on  a standard ATB (above the bar depower) bars means that you won’t have to reach so far to actually depower your kite. Unfortunately for us short people, some kite brands don’t seem concerned that their throw is designed for 6′ tall men. They make great kites, but they don’t seem worried that we don’t stand a chance of depowering those kites on the fly. Ever.

Luckily for us short people, there are many brands that offer a bar with either a shorter or adjustable throw. While this is helpful for bringing the depower control closer to the kiter, please keep in mind that adjusting the throw will affect the amount of depower that the bar has. The shorter the throw, the less you will be able to depower your kite. Here’s the list of brands which have either adjustable or shorter depower throw:

 

3.  Depower Trim Location. If you would rather not reach for the depower control at all, there are some “on” and “under” the bar depower trim options.

  • Duotone Click Bar: the depower control is located on the bar itself, so you don’t have to reach for it at all. All power and depower control comes through the turn of a knob or the push of a button. Extra bonus, the bar has a small diameter as well!
  • Ocean Rodeo Stick Shift bar has an “on” the bar depower as well.

  • There are several brands that offer below the bar depower options, where the depower is right next to the chicken loop. While the location seems like a no brainer for people with short arms,  it  doesn’t have the same leverage for pulling the depower and can be very hard to use. This is especially the case in overpowered situations when depower is needed the most. We do not recommend this option.
GreenHatKiteboarding-Control-Bars-for-short-arms-Slingshot-Guardian-Bar
Slingshot Guardian Control Bar – under the bar depower

4. Chicken Loop Size. If you’re in love with your long-throw bar and would never give it up, a smaller chicken loop might be what you need to lower the depower and bring it closer to you. Cabrinha, Duotone, Ozone, Slingshot and Ocean Rodeo offer smaller chicken loops either as options or extras for their bars. You might be very surprised at how much easier it is to reach your depower control when you swap for a smaller chicken loop.

GreenHatKiteboarding-control-bars-for-short-arms-duotone-freeride-chicken-loop
2019 Duotone Freeride Chicken Loop

5. And finally…Seat Harness. No butts about it, the seat harness is a great option for lowering the depower control. My seat harness lowers the depower control by about 6 inches. So if I’m borrowing a friend’s bar or have to use another bar on vacation, I’ll use my seat harness and reduce all chances of an out of reach depower.

GreenHatKiteboarding-control-bars-for-short-arms-dakine-seat-harness
Dakine Women’s Seat Harness

So remember: It’s important to use the right size and type of bar for your body. If you’re kiting overpowered because you can’t reach the depower  control, you’re putting yourself at risk on the water. Be smart. Be safe. Get the right bar for your arms. And happy kiting!

Give us a call at 732-284-3800 if you have any questions!

PLEASE NOTE: the products included in this article were taken from available brand information and Green Hat testing. This list is not complete, but we will continue to add products as appropriate. If you have any additions we should be aware of, please send information here.

Kristin Vincenzo

A long time windsurfer, Kristin started kiteboarding about two years ago after finding an amazing community of friendly, helpful kiters in the NYC area. She hasn't touched a sailboard since.