Pumping up a kite: your leading edge must get rigid and stiff | Photo: Vuckovic/Red Bull

You can't ride a kite without inflating it first. Learn how to quickly and safely pump up a kite.

Inflating a kite is easy, but it can take time. It's part of the set-up routine, and it is as inevitable as it is to lay out the lines.

When you fill the kite's leading edge bladders with air, you will give shape and structure to your wing. Inflating and deflating can be an annoying and embarrassing process, so we better learn how to do it fast.

It is truly important to know what is the right air pressure for your specific kite model because it really makes the difference between a comfortable ride and a dangerous experience.

In the end, the leading edge of your kite should be solid, rigid, and won't fold when placed on the ground. Time to pump up the kite correctly:

1. Find an area free of obstacles or any sharp objects;
2. Unpack the kite and unroll it with the wind against your back
3. Connect the pump leash to the kite;
4. Clean the inflate valve;
5. Screw the inflate valve in;
6. Start pumping up the kite using both hands and feet;
7. Check the air pressure when the leading edge is sufficiently firm;
8. If you hear a high-pitch drum sound when you flick the leading edge, the kite is pumped up;
9. Disconnect the pump, close the valve, and disconnect the leash;
10. Check all the strut connectors, and ensure the hoses are connected correctly;
11. Look for tears and nicks in the leading edge and canopy;
12. Turn the kite around and lay it with the leading edge facing the wind;

A kitesurfing kite that has correctly been inflated with the right air pressure - and some models feature a manometer - will float in the water if you crash, or if the wind dies down.

Finally, before launching your kite, and once you've inflated it, make sure you close the strut clips. In the event of an unexpected air leak in the leading edge, there will still be enough air in the struts to perform a safe self-rescue.