2020 North Orbit Kite Review

Get Orbital – North Orbit 10M Review

This test first appeared in KW #101 in September 2019


2020 North Orbit Kite Review

You may also want to read our North Reach kite review, published September 2020 in issue #106 – read the test report here now.

North Reach kite review




So, here we go: the brand new North and within their first batch of products is the Orbit – a big air / freeride kite that you saw making its debut in the Red Bull King of the Air and Megaloop Challenge in the hands of Nick Jacobsen and Jesse Richman. ‘Predictable in the unpredictable’, they say.


2020 North Control Bar


Starting with the Navigator bar, it’s hard to believe that this is a V1 product because it’s well featured and yet clean, comfortable and functional. There’s a slightly angled grip that slots nicely into your palm and we used this bar for four hours and it remained comfortable to grip. You can adjust the size of the bar to make the steering line width narrower or longer to suit the size of kite you’re riding. Similar to several brands, you unplug the little tabs on the underside of the bar, pull them out, turn them round and push them back in, which re-sets whether the steering line is on the inside or outside of the plug. The steering line power knots are also hidden on the inside of the bar, operated by that same plug system too. Not only does it look neat, but keeps the number of confusing options at the kite to a minimum for inexperienced riders.


2020 North Chicken Loops


The sheeting line is coated in smooth plastic and makes a good effort at staying straight by being a slightly squashed square shape rather than round. The line un-spinner above the chicken-loop also operates with a very low torque force. Two other points of development are focused on the chicken-loop. Firstly, once the safety has been activated the chicken-loop simply clicks back in to re-set it. Although there are a few other single click systems on the market, there are still quite a few that require the use of two hands to carefully catch a pin and then pull the collar over the top. Secondly, the chicken-finger can be removed very easily without the use of any tools. So if you want to use the same bar for freestyle and then for a wave session it’s quick and simple to add or remove the finger. Finally, there are several chicken-loop size options which can be interchanged without the use of tools.

Overall, to conclude the bar, the lines are colour co-ordinated and untwist easily. The trimming cleat operates smoothly and a good point to note is that, even with the kite fully trimmed, the excess rope trim isn’t long enough to potentially wrap around your steering line when it’s swinging about. A nice finishing touch however would be the addition of a magnet on the end of the rope to secure it neatly against the cleat. The bar is available in two sizes: 45 – 50 and 50 – 55cm. North say you can use all bars with all kites.

Again, the kite is nicely featured. Obviously in this day and age you’re getting a good single point inflation system and a sleek yet reinforced canopy. One point that’s worth highlighting is that the bridles are short and compact, so there’s no chance of catching them around a tip if you bash the kite down hard in a freak occurrence.

North Kiteboarding designer interviews MY21

2020 North Orbit Kite Review


The Orbit hasn’t been over engineered and, although it’s quite a muscular looking five strut kite, it actually feels as light and nimble as most three strut hybrids. The ten metre requires barely any muscle to steer it hard and fast. Getting you up to speed quickly and efficiently with a couple of strokes, you feel spritely and in-tune with the kite.

There’s more mid and top-end quality to the Orbit rather than lots of low end grunt. When you sheet in the Orbit doesn’t chug – instead it’s programmed to be comfortable and help you maintain a nice upright riding stance because it drives forward very positively. Equally, when you send the kite up for a jump, the lift doesn’t really kick in until the kite is quite high in the window, so you’re able to hold and engage your edge before lift off, which again helps your control and style. (Some kites start pulling upwards as soon as you start moving them, meaning you may get pulled more forwards than upwards). The Orbit creates line tension very easily and puts you in control of the jump.

At the top of the window the Orbit also offers some lovely floaty lift for fun air tricks, like stalled back roll hand drag kite loop transitions – and moves like that are actually a good test for a kite’s generic freeride advantages. It’s obvious that this kite is designed for Nick Jacobsen style transitions, flips and extended moments of air time.

It’s also bang on the money for what we’ve seen in the last few months when it comes to the extended top end performance of new ten metre freeride kites. Many designers have told us over the years that they design a ten metre in the same batch as the bigger 12 and 14 metres kites, whereas nine metre kites are usually in the same family as the smaller kites; so faster, quicker to turn and with more top end range. The extra canopy of these new performance oriented ten metre models not only adds a bit more stability in flight compared to a nine but, as with the Orbit, the top end feels much extended. All this adds up to a nimble ten metre that’s fun to kite loop and always drives forward, giving you confidence that it’s always going to get round smoothly. Thanks to all the range in this kite, there’s still a lot of untapped potential that we need to investigate.

We will be testing the nine or ten metre again in Cape Town in January, when we can really see how the Orbit stretches its legs at the top end. It’s athletic, agile, ready to perform and we didn’t even get close to its top end in the 15 – 25 knot conditions we tested it in. There’s enough hangtime for board-offs and lazy grabs and the only time we did trim the kite was when first unhooking, but soon realised that there’s so much range in that canopy that you generally don’t really need to.


Watch the product video:


SUMMARY: First test of the Orbit has been interesting as it clearly ticks a lot of boxes, fulfilling most riders’ jumping and hangtime needs, it also loops very nicely and has enough depower to slay some waves with big hacks on your twin-tip. Stable and offering plenty of forward drive, the vast majority of people are also never going to push beyond this kite’s unhooked freestyle capabilities either. Super solid player that’s already standing tall among the main freeride performance players in the game.

KW LIKED: Speed and lightness of a three strut hybrid with the stability of a five strut.

KW WOULD CHANGE: Perhaps a couple of small things like a magnet on the trimming line and, if we’re being really idealistic, then a smaller bar for the smaller kites would make this package super tight and slick for those who are used to riding the smallest bars.



Build quality: 8.5

Full package: 8.5

Low end: 8
Top end: 8.5

Steering speed: 6.5

Turning circle: 5

Bar pressure: 4.5

Water relaunch: 8.5

Drift: DT

Boost: 8
Hang-time: 8
Unhooked: 7
Crossover: 7
Ease of use: 8


SIZES: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4m

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