The Envy is an all-terrain efficiency engine, offering highly versatile, easy-to-access performance, whether you want to shred the surf, lock into boots for wake-style or go high-speed blasting around your local slick. The Envy is stable, has a high wind range and is lightweight thanks to the three strut design. It has an uncanny ability to stay in the sky, so is great for beginners as well as progressive riders that push themselves. The Ultra Stable bridle system keeps the Envy solid in the sky and the delta hybrid design means it turns nice and quickly, pivoting on its wing-tips.
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Envy has been a bullet-proof all-round weapon for a range of different riders for a few seasons. Popular with schools for its ease-of-use and strength, wake-stylers have also really appreciated its steady, solid pull unhooked and fantastic single-line pull relaunch. What's the score for 2013, then?
Well, the kite's tough, robust characteristics continue, right down to the bag. The ruck sack is rugged and fitted out with a place for your bar and pump, extra straps for carrying a board and is plenty big enough. The build of the kite is just a little lighter than previous years, but this has made it a bit sportier. It's still one of the more robust kites on the market, with lots of Dacron reinforcement in all the key places, including a double layer leading edge construction. There is even a bar holder in each wing-tip in case you want to leave your lines connected to the kite. The Envy is quite extensively bridled and, although not complicated, a pulley sewn into the main tube on each wing-tip allows the front line bridle to be connected to the rear, so it looks like there's a lot going on. All the bridle points around the inflate/deflate valves are heavily reinforced and the scuff guards on the back of the struts are made of heavy duty rubber. The wide, fast inflation valve system that Liquid Force use makes pumping the kite really fast and easy, and this works well (you'll need a wide nozzle on your pump, but this comes on the Liquid Force pump as well as a regular pump nozzle for use on other kites). The Liquid Force pump also has a wide shaft for easier, quicker pumping as well as an attachment option reducing the amount you need to bend when pumping.
The bar is comfortable with medium/soft grip and winding your lines around the big bar ends is easy. One thing to note is that the safety line is attached to the chicken-loop rather than running independently through the centre of it. The system would benefit from a spinner on top of the chicken loop for after a few loops. The trimming system is below the bar, also on the chicken-loop, next to the safety push-away quick-release. We don't find this position the easiest to use as it's so close to your body, and requires a little practice to get much purchase in stronger winds. In lighter winds if the trim is well wedged into the cleat's teeth it's then easy to accidentally pull your chicken-loop from out of your harness hook if you don't have the chicken-finger in. The plus side though is that everyone can reach this and the kite doesn't need very much trimming once you have it set as there's a lot of throw at the bar and tonnes of depower. Plus, there's no clutter in front of your face with only the stopper above-the-bar which is very easy to adjust on-the-fly. Above-the-bar / below-the-bar trimming systems come down to personal preference, but this system is pretty sweet with about an inch or two pulled on and left there.
The low end power on the Envy is fantastic. Loads of grunt and good handling at the bottom of its wind range, moving spritely. It's not too whippy and quick, it's reassuringly steady, well balanced, doesn't back stall and drifts downwind very nicely. You can also depower the kite for what seems like forever, so the top end is also good and then you get loads of power out of it when you sheet in to take off on a jump. Yes, the top end is great but, as with most kites, you're better off changing down a size rather than holding onto this in as much wind as you can and bending your back to ride sheeted out. Although you can hold it, it doesn't perform at its optimum when really depowered, but it does mean it's very safe and you can get back to the beach if the wind suddenly picks up. This ability to handle lots of wind does mean that it's very good for boosting and the kite's throw-around nature is one of its best attributes. You can send it back hard and fast beyond 12 and you'll get a good ping up and soft float back down. The Envy isn't the most direct feeling kite because of the pulleys on the bridles, but it's very soft in the hands and is very forgiving. The bridle doesn't add extra weight to the steering, which is very easy, and the power delivery is very smooth. There is no need to move the kite up and down to generate power as there's loads of drive at the bar. Unhooked the Envy is very balanced, sitting there nice and solid with no back stalling and is really happy being loaded up hard. The pivotal turning nature means that you can throw it around with ease and without getting jerked all over the place, hooked-in or unhooked, and once you've got your trimming set, it's actually a gem in the waves, too. The kite will pivot nice and quickly around its wingtip and there's also loads of depower for little movement at the bar. This, combined with its deep profile and really good drift allow it to run with you downwind; and we found in lighter winds up to its mid-range was when it is best and at its most responsive. We had a great session perfectly powered on the seven in waves when others were on nines, which is exactly what we want. As there's so much depower on tap, you do lose some steering sheeted out, but overall, all these points make it very good for riders at the start of their careers, too.
The Envy does what it sets out to: it's very easy to control, forgiving, relaunches in a second, has great bottom and top ends, loads of beans for boosting, very progressive power delivery, instant depower and turns nice and quickly. Top level, ultra dynamic riders into freestyle that's about more than just having a super stable kite for wake-style would probably want more of an electric, sharp feeling at the bar and would be better looking at the HiFi X.
This is a great plug and play kite. You could throw anyone out on this and they would feel safe and have a good time straight away with loads of performance packed in, too.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
As a personal preference as kiters who ride in a lot of different conditions on different boards and don't have short arms, we'd prefer an above-the-bar trimming system most of the time.
SIZES: 15, 12, 10.5, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m
This test is in issue #61