HQ Powerkites Apex3 Kite Review
Every so often a manufacturer makes an update to a kite, sometimes these updates are little refinements, other occasions they're big steps forward, in the Apex3 it's a giant leap forward. The HQ Apex3 kite itself has a new profile, and the whole package has been updated to include more features and increased safety. This is currently, and quite simply, the easiest depower kite to fly with the lowest price tag on the market of all the larger name manufacturers creating a new affordable entry in to depower kites.
The backpack on the Apex has been updated slightly, with a new hood and expandable straps to make getting the kite in and out easier with a zip on the top for your keys, wallet, phone etc. The material has a quality feel to it, not thin and cheap, it's an actual canvas backpack.
The flat aspect ratio of the kite 3.6, with the 5.0m having 16 cells and the trailing edge having a slight convex on the trailing edge. In contrast to the previous Apex2 model the leading edge of the new Apex3 is curved, not a hard squared off edge. Initially the kite itself doesn't look quite as thick in the profile from top skin to bottom skin either.
The graphics are a nice change, and look stunning once in the sky. Initially on the print before seeing the kite I thought it looked good but not great, however once you put the kite in the sky the contrast and colours really come out and shine and the kite looks stunning.
On a foil kite Bridling is one of the most expensive points of manufacture, more points means more time sewing. Keeping in mind the Apex3 is a few hundred dollars cheaper than alternatives, I would have expected a reduction in both bridle numbers and quality. However this is simply not the case with the Apex3. It has more than enough bridling to keep a consistent shape and profile over the kite, and all the bridling points are completely sleeved giving the kite's bridle longevity. As you can see in the photo, the ground we were flying the kite on for the photos wasn't exactly bridle friendly. Having a sleeved bridle was great, I didn't have to worry about damaging the bridle on launch. Perfect for beginners that like to reef at the kite when it gets stuck on something.
There is reinforcement throughout the kite's bridle points, and they are all neatly sewn in to the kite, the finish of the bridle is very clean and colour coded.
These are large enough to let debris out of the corners of the kites, and are Velcro.
The 5.0m has a total of 16 cells, and inside the cells are well finished without dangly loose ends inside the kite. There is cross venting through the cells, so on a leading edge impact the kite and dissipate the air to less pressurised parts of the kite.
Kite Bar - Chicken Loop
One of the biggest updates to the Apex series is the new Chicken Loop, that is a push away release. These are becoming standard in the Kiteboarding industry, and HQ have brought this design over to all their depower kites. Having a universal push away release is now a basic must for your own safety, it allows you to release with either your left or right hand without needing to search for your release. A slightly more rigid chicken finger / donkey dick would be good to see on their next update.
Kite Bar - Overall Setup
The setup also retains the second "top hat" safety system above the bar which you can use. On the outer leaders there are loops sewn in, so if you do pull the top hat safety you can link these around your bar ends as you reset the safety. This will keep the kite grounded for you as you do this.
Different to the HQ Montana 6, is that the HQ Apex3 uses a trim strap, opposed to a cleat. Personally I like the trim strap setup, over a cleat as I find it easier to adjust without needing to dis-engage the rope in order to move it. You can just incrementally give it more or less power, and adjust it so you can ride with the bar at a comfortable distance, closer in to you without being overpowered.
The bar itself brings a welcome update. The graphics are the same as the previous bar, clearly marking which is left and right with colours, however the bar ends have been updated. These are a much nicer moulded, rounded finish that feels not only better quality but also much comfier. The Apex3 bar retains the teflon/plastic insert.
I have flown the Apex3 a number of times, and the end result is that this is the easiest depower kite to fly so far. It is VERY stable, even in gusty dirty winds where we flew it to take the photos it didn't invert once. Then on the beach in a clean wind the kite just excels. Stability is one of the best aspects of this kite, it is simply rock solid in the air and very forgiving. If you overfly the kite it generally just blows back nicely, catches some wind, takes it shape and off you go again. I did not actually manage to invert the kite once when flying it, even when riding directly downwind towards it.
The bar pressure on the 5m is fairly light, not heavy, which I liked as it was great for longer runs down the beach or longer kiting sessions.
Turning speed of the kite is greater than the previous model, this has improved considerably and the kite turns a lot tighter. Add this in with the reduced bar pressure and it makes it easy to reef in the bar and hook it for a tight turn producing a heap of power as the kite comes out of the turn and accelerates forward to the other side of the wind window.
I found that the kite felt more powerful than the Apex2, however it also had a very noticable amount of increased depower over the Apex2. So whilst the bottom end seems slightly greater size for size, the top end of the kite is significantly greater due to how much more depower it has on the top end. The end result being there is a much larger wind range per size on an Apex3 than an Apex2 so you can get away with flying the same kite without needing to swap as often.
Speed of the kite in a straight line was also impressive, I did wish there was a lot more wind on the main beach to see how much further I could push the kite as it was sitting forward in the window not dropping back yet, this meant there was a lot more top end in the kite and speed which with more wind I could get out of it.
Power of the Apex3 is on tap, you don't need to work this kite as much as others to get the power out of it, just pull the bar and away you go making this kite friendly to use.
Overall this kite is an incredibly friendly, stable and easy to use kite. Everything about the kite from the bar pressure, to the power on demand, to the stability and way the kite handles has been made to make this kite the friendliest depower kite to use.
This review was originally written March 9th 2011 and published on our Community Forum.
Edited by .Joel