FIXED-BRIDLE (TRACTION) KITES
Traction Kites are normally four lines kites - with 2 power and 2 brake. The top power lines are used for steering. The extra brake lines provide control including; slowing, stopping, reversing, parking on the ground and even allows your kite to take off backwards and increases safety.
The "fixed-bridle" element refers to the lines that give the kite it's shape and attach to the control lines. How these bridle lines are attached to the kite will determine the shape and angle of the kite in the air. On a fixed-bridle kite the bridle lines have been pre-set and fixed by the manufacturer for optimum performance in the air.
Fixed bridle kites are suitable for land activities such as buggying, landboarding and snowboarding/skiing.
DE-POWER (FOIL) KITES
Depowerable kites allow you to use a single kite over a much larger wind range. This is achieved by the depower control bar and bridle system that can be adjusted by the pilot to alter the amount of power generated as you ride.
Bring the bar closer to you will increase the kites power. Pushing the depower control bar away will decrease the kites power but also increase the kites speed by change the angle of the kite in the air, sometimes referred to as the "angle of attack".
A harness is essential for using depowerable kites. However you can fly them in light wind conditions without the benefit of depower. Depowerable kites are excellent for landboarding, buggying, snowkiting and kiteboarding activities.
THE PROS AND CONS OF EACH
In a nutshell, fixed bridle traction kites very often generate more power than de-power equivalents. The manufacturers have optimised the bridle settings to try and position the kite at its strongest angle strongest angle of attack, always. This means that fixed-bridle kites tend to be fast, more responsive and agile than de-power kites. However, they will quickly tire you out and limit you to flying in a smaller range and more moderate range of wind conditions. Depower kites on the other hand relive you of some of the physical strain of kite flying, meaning you can fly for longer, and because of their adjustable nature - in a wider and changing range of wind conditions. This makes them perfect for serious kite boarding and individuals who want to stay out for longer and across all the seasons.