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Putting Your Kite Away

Packing up
Unfortunately, there always comes the time you have to pack up and head home.   Most of the time, simply reversing the order in which you assembled your kite works perfectly for putting your kite away.   One of the most common questions we receive is "How do you keep the lines from getting tangled?"   There are several different ways of packing up your lines and I am sure there are hundreds of different ways that we haven't heard of yet.   Like flying styles, everyone seems to develop their own method of packing up.   The first thing to do is to make sure your lines are not tangled before packing them up!   If your lines are straight when you pack them up, they will be straight when you take them out again.   The most common way of packing up your kite is to first make sure the kite is securely staked.   Grab your bag and then walk to your kite, disconnect the flying lines from the bridle(s) and if necessary, tie off the bridles to the kite.   Hold the bridle lines up to make sure there are no tangles and then slowly lay the bridle lines directly on top of the kite (Usually done with power kites).   Disassemble your kite according to the manufactures directions and then fold or roll the kite up to place it into the bag.   Always make sure you get all the pieces of your kite into the bag with the kite! (spars, spreaders, leading edges, etc...)   If you have other people around you, try not to put your spars or leading edges on the ground or they may get stepped on by bystanders and broken.   If possible, always keep your spars and other parts in your hand during take-down, that way they are less likely to be accidentally broken or forgotten.   Power kites can either be folded and rolled or even just pack-stuffed into the bag.   Once the kite is safely tucked away, the flying lines should then be wound up on the winder.   Wind up your line from the kite to the handles.   Winding from the kite to the handles makes it simple the next time you get your kite out to fly.   Just stake your handles, unwind your lines and then assemble your kite and attach.   Always wind your lines in a figure 8 around the winder if possible, this helps prevent twists being put into the lines while they are wound.   Another thing to remember is that if you wind with your right hand while holding the winder in your left, you should un-wind the same way, unwinding with your right hand and holding with your left.   This also makes sure that twists are not put in the lines during the winding-unwinding process.   When done properly, there should be very few twists in your lines (2-3 at the most) and should only take a couple seconds to straighten out.

These are some of the most common variations of winding up your lines.   Some pilots leave their lines attached to the kite at all times, even during storage.   This makes setup even simpler but if you need to change lines from one kite to the next it can be a bit of a pain.   Follow the above procedure for packing up your kite but leave the lines attached.   After putting your kite in the bag your flying lines will be dangling out of the bag towards the kite stake.   Take your winder and start winding about a foot away from the bag with the bag/kite under your arm.   Wind up to the handles and secure your lines to the winder with a bungee or velcro strap.   Place the lines in one side of your kite bag and the handles in the other.   For setup, put your stake in the ground, lay your handles over the stake (for quad line kites make sure you stake the bottom of your handles), start unwinding your lines by walking downwind away from your stake, when you reach the end, pull your kite out of the bag and assemble (if necessary).   Walk your lines back to your stake, untwist if necessary and fly.   Another variation is to simply start winding your lines in a figure 8 around both handles (will not work with straps).   The figure 8 around both handles will be loose, but will not come off of the handles.   Continue up to the kite, lay the handles along with the bridle on top of the kite and then pack the kite into the bag.   It is recommended to have something holding your kite firmly to the ground if you are going to pack this way because any gusts or wind could blow your kite around while you are winding, making the kite totally uncontrollable.   For power kites this can be a very dangerous situation if the kite suddenly powers up while you are winding up the lines.   Another method is what has been called "parapacking", this method is used mainly by sky divers to pack up the lines of their parachute.   After packing your kite into the bag, simply start stuffing the flying line into the bag as you slide the bag towards the handles.   I don't recommend packing up stunt kites in this manner but power kites can be done this way pretty efficiently because the bags are usually soft vinyl bags with draw strings that can be cinched down tight to hold the lines in one place.   To unpack, just stake the handles and then walk the bag out as the lines are pulled from the bag.   The system I use is similar, instead of just stuffing the lines into the bag, I use a method of loops to loop the line down to appx. 1/3 the length and then coil that up and stuff that into the bag.   Anyone who has looped up an extension cord will be familiar with this method.   First pack the kite into the bag with flying lines attached.   create a loop with all four lines about 2 feet from the bag, twist this loop around 2 times and then reach through the loop and pull the line heading to the handles through, creating another loop.   Continue to reach through the created loop and pull the line through, as you walk towards your handles the kite will drag behind you, helping to keep a small amount of tension on the line.   When you reach your handles the line should be about 1/3 of the normal length.   Create a very large loop about 1 foot before reaching the handles but do not pull the line through this large loop, instead tie a simple overhand knot to hold the loops from coming undone.   Keep this knot loose so it will be very simple to undo when you set up the next time.   I leave one end of the knot out to create a slip knot so that one simple pull will pull the knot loose.   You should have your handles, a 30 foot length of looped line, and then the kite laying on the ground.   Hold the line at the place you put the knot near the handles and loop the line, pulling the kite towards you.   It should only take about 7-8 loops to reach the kite.   When you reach the kite, collapse the large loops in your hand, pick up the handles and place those in your hands with the loops of looped line and wrap the remaining 2 foot of line coming out of the bag around your handles and looped line to hold it all together while it is in the bag.   Stuff the whole thing into your bag on the side of your kite.   For setup, stake your handles, unwrap the line around your handles and looped line, undo the knot at the handle end and then walk your kite out, all the loops should simply pull out as you go.   When you reach the end, set up your kite and fly!
I will try to get some pictures to help describe this method, it may sound confusing but is really very simple to do and is used by many of the pilots in our area.

Things To Be Aware Of Before Putting Your Kite Away
Some of the obvious things to watch for is to make sure that you have all the pieces of your kite before leaving your flying spot.   Many spare parts are purchased because they have been lost or forgotten instead of broken.   Rip stop nylon is a material that can rot or become moldy.   If your kite is wet or damp, do not store it in the bag or it may mildew and damage the colors of the fabric or the fabric integrity itself.   If your kite is wet, let it dry fully before storing away.   If you cannot dry your kite at your flying spot, open it up and let it air out when you get home, garages are great for this as are clothes lines, just make sure the kite can't power up while it is drying outside.   Laying the kite on the grass can create dew or moisture on the kite, try to keep the kite off of the ground while you are drying it out.   If you fly near the ocean you will want to check your kite for salt, especially if it gets wet with sea water.   The water will evaporate leaving the salt crystals to rub and "sand" your kite like sandpaper, always rinse your kite with fresh water after flying near salt water and let it dry completely before storing it away.   Check your leading edge pockets and all other spar pockets for sand or salt residue to reduce the amount of wear on your sail.   Empty any sand or other debris that may have found its way into your kite.   As stated above, never leave your spars laying on the ground or they may be stepped on and broken.   Always check your flying line for any snags, abrasions, or damage while winding or unwinding your lines.   A broken line at the wrong time can do serious damage to your kite and can seriously injure someone including yourself.   Always check your flying lines for uneven stretch.   Rip stop nylon can be damaged by UV rays or direct sunlight if left for hours without flying, if you are going to park your kite for a while and won't be flying, leave your lines and just stuff the kite into the bag until you are ready to fly again.   This will help keep your kite as new as possible as well as making it impossible for it to accidentally self launch.   Whenever you are stuffing something into the bag with your kite, make sure it will not snag, puncture, or tear your kite.   If your bag has a zipper, run your hand on the bottom of the zipper while zipping up the bag to make sure your kite does not accidentally get jammed in the zipper.

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