1) Ocean Rodeo: These are the guys that I started my kiteboarding journey with back in the late 1990’s on Vancouver Island. My first inflatable kite was a handmade pink 8m build by Ross himself. They are industry leaders with their innovative Mako boards, Surf Dry, Soul, Razor and Cypher kites just to name a few.
2) Fluid Kiteboarding: A new company out of Australia they make some solid kties at a killer price. $1200 for a 12m ATV complete is a price hard to come by with any other manufacturer.
3) Hyperflex wetsuits: Out of New Jersey this company is going big with quality suits at half the price of the “fashionable” brands. I am currently riding in a Team hooded 5/4/3 and it is the warmest and best fitting suit I have ever owned.
How to go about demoing gear?
I will just let you try one out at the beach if I happening to be riding and not doing lessons, but those days are pretty rare now. The best course of action is to book a downwinder lesson (2 hours $75 from the boat). Not only will you get to try out a few kites, you will also get riding pointers and the opportunity to ride what many regard as the best flat water slick spots in North America.