Feb 5, 2009
Author: Shane Thompson
Size Tested: 10 m2 / Style: Five-line hybrid / Wind range: 18-28 knots / What’s new: Adjustable bar pressure settings, Frame Tech Reinforcing
The Airush Vapor III promises to be a fully refined performance freeride and freestyle machine. Positive and direct steering with the enhanced depower capability of the modern bridled SLE. The flat canopy shape is supported by fifth line and the front-line attachment points on the leading edge. The Vapor III bridges the divide between the freeride-dominated Flow FT and the pure wakestyle C-kite performer called the Generator.
Bar setup and safety systems
The five-line cleat bar from Airush has an advanced safety system that incorporates the multifunctional leash options that include hooking up to the fifth line for complete depower or optional 0-ring attachment on the front line. Both steering-line handles also completely flag the kite. The trigger-release trim loop is one of the easiest to release and re-engage, and has been made less trigger-happy this year. The on-the-fly stopper ball, a standard feature on all Airush kites, lets you lock in the bar throw where you want it.
Key kite features
The Vapor III has a distinct flat five-line shape with two-point front-line connection and swept-back wingtips. Unlike some traditional five-line systems, this kite is designed around constant canopy tension, which means when the kite is depowered, the fifth line and front line retain equal tension to maintain the kite’s shape. Adjustable bar pressure setting, single-point inflation and smart reinforcements throughout the canopy earn the Vapor III top marks in build and engineered construction.
The Vapor III is in its third evolution, and the test team was happy to have the new model for some lit-up sound sessions. This year’s Vapor has more well-rounded performance for both the intermediate cruiser and advanced freestyle or wave enthusiast. Initially, the most noticeable new feature is the Vapor’s solid feel and great stability. Unhooked performance has improved, and smooth, predictable front-line pull follows good pop.
For parking the kite and nailing unhooked tricks, there are no worries of input sensitivity issues that often cause oversheeting and stalling. More glide and bigger air was also noted by testers. It ranked in the top three for big air and lofty glide jumps. The five-line configuration also provides direct steering with moderate bar pressure and increased feedback from last year’s model.
With three tuning options on the front lines, the Vapor can be customized for more or less bar pressure and faster turning. Testers appreciated the user guide with the line dimensions printed on the kite. The Vapor III has slightly faster turn initiation and generates more power than the pivotal-turning Flow FT. Although depower is not as instant as the Flow FT, the Vapor has improved wind range over last year’s model. This comes at both ends of the range spectrum, as more power is generated for lighter winds, but as the wind picks up, the Vapor III maintains good steering and stability while depower is increased. Water relaunch performance has also been improved, with access to the easy rollover relaunch initiated by pulling an outside line.
The bar pressure is slightly more than some are accustomed, but it’s more than made up for with fast, direct turning and excellent usable wind range.
The Vapor III is a great choice for intermediate or advanced riders who want the performance and excitement of C-kite steering with the better range and depower of an SLE. It has performance that can span all disciplines, and has improved water relaunch, better unhooked performance and tunable steering performance.