Riding on Air: The Best Wind-Borne Gear
The wind that rushes over our play spaces—rivers, deserts, mountains, seas—is a free and inexhaustible source of fun. These tools will help you tap into nature's tempestuous power supply.
Coolest wind toy ever. The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is a quadricopter with two cameras: a high-def one that points forward and another with a wide-angle lens that points down—all controlled by your smartphone or tablet. No, it's not perfect, and yes, you will crash it and subsequently need spare parts. But it's your own personal drone. With live streaming video. That you can fly from your phone. $300
Stay warm and dry, even if the weather doesn't cooperate, with SLAM's Force 2 Jacket. It has seams that are reinforced with thermal tape (to keep moisture out) and is made from laminated two-layer nylon that's waterproof but breathable. Added refinements include a high collar with a roll-away hood, fleece-lined pockets, and a whistle affixed in a pocket. $195
AQUAGLIDE's Multisport 270 is a versatile, inflatable watercraft that's great for mastering the basics of sailing. When deflated, it's so compact that you can check it as standard luggage. It quickly converts from sailboat to windsurfer to (with an $80 add-on kit) kayak, and it comfortably holds two adults and one child. $800
It's best to learn the principles of harnessing wind power—which apply equally to kiteboarding, snowkiting, and landkiting—with a power-kite trainer. Power kites are much larger than conventional kites, and trainers are even bigger, effectively serving as training wheels. HQ's Hydra Trainer 350 is the only training foil designed for use on land and water. A third middle line adds stability and makes for easy relaunching, even if you dunk it into the drink. $340
DAKINE's Full-Finger Sailing Gloves are designed for sailing and kiteboarding but work great in any situation that demands good grip. Compression-molded neoprene combined with a no-slip palm that feels like skin—but stickier—provide positive contact while keeping your digits nimble enough to tie knots. Despite their snug fit, they're easy to get on and off. $34
While you're out there playing in it, you can measure how much wind you're harnessing with KESTREL's 3000 Pocket Weather Meter. The compact, handheld weather station gauges wind speed and gusts, windchill factor, humidity, and dew point. Since it's waterproof and it floats, you can use it to determine air, snow, and water temperature, too. $150