Updated: October 14, 2016
Water Ski Reviews:If you are an experienced water skier, then buying skis is no big deal. For beginners and intermediate skiers, then the process of selecting a water ski that fits you can be a little harder. Water skiing is a physically challenging sport that requires balance, strength and endurance. Much like snow skiing, you need to match the right equipment with your ability level or even style of water skiing. There are essentially 4 types of skis - combination skis, trick skis, slalom skis, and jump skis. Most of us will start off skiing on 2 skis, while some jump straight to the single ski experience. Experts recommend using combination skis to start with since the wider tips allow beginners the easiest way to learn. You get more control from the wider tips meaning you are less likely to fall as often. With combination skis, one ski has a double binding meaning you can ski slalom on that ski if you wish. Combination skis are the most common type of water ski you will find.
As your skills progress on the water, the idea of using a slalom ski, or just one ski, is what most water skiers aim for. The slalom skis are perfect when skiing at faster speeds or when you want to make sudden, sharp turns. To make the slalom skis easier on recreational skiers, some are made with a flatter bottom and wider tail. For the more advanced water skiers in the crowd, the slalom skis with beveled edges, a tapered tail, and a bottom that is tunnel concave or moderate concave allows for the highest speeds and sharpest cornering ability. This style of ski is perhaps the hardest to ski on. Trick skis, like the name suggests, are used for spinning, jumping and other tricks. Compared to combination skis, trick skis are shorter, wider, are best suited for intermediate to advanced skiers. The fact that they have no fins means 'control' will be an issue, although most advance skiers sacrifice control for the improved ability to turn and slide easier. As a kid I always liked going to Marine World Africa USA in the Bay Area because they had the water ski show with people going off of jumps. The jump skis are designed strictly for jumping off ramps. Jump skis are very strong with technological engineered materials that also keep them quite light. The profile of these skis are long and wide Many water skis are made from fiberglass or a combination of graphite/fiberglass composites. The materials allow them to be waterproof and hold up well over time. The bottom design of the ski can tell you a lot about the type of skier that will be using it. Some water skiers prefer to ski with bent knees and their weight leaning forward and concave bottoms give them much higher maneuverability. The narrow tunnel bottom design helps those that ski standing straight up. When your weight is on the back of the ski while skiing it's best to have a narrow tunnel. Fins on skis make them easier to turn and maneuver on the water. The amount of beveling on the edges will determine just how much control you have and how sharp of turns you can make. The general rule is that rounded edges give you the best control, but sharper edges let you do very sharp turns. Like snow skiing, the flex of a ski also dictates how you will ski. If you own stiff skis, or ones with low flex, you can go faster but you will lose control. The oppposite is true of skis with lots of flex, you get plenty of control but lose speed. Water skis tend to be 5' to 6' in length and 6 to 7 inches wide. The thickness varies from 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. If you are just starting out, look for skis that are longer, since you are will want more control and less speed to start with. The salesperson at your local water ski shop should be able to help fit you with the right size skis. The binding on the skis will often be adjustable to fit multiple users, although some are fixed, such as on certain slalom skis. The top brands are Connelly, Goode, HO, Fisher, D3, Jobe, KD, and O'Brien. We found some excellent reviews online at sites like Waterskimag.com where they tested 9 slalom skis for 2015. Some of the top skis to get rated were the Connelly F1, the D3 X5 Pro, the O'Brien SS, and the Radar MPD. Bartswatersports.com carries a nice selection of all types of skis and their pricing is competitive. Overtons.com also carries water skis but lots of other supplies like bindings, ropes and handles, bags and cases, wetsuits, gloves, life vests, and fins. Many of the slalom skis sell for around $300 to $500 while the combination skis can be closer to $150. Trick skis like the Hydroslide Hoppers Wakeskis sell for about $150. Browse the best selling water skis here.