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.
water skis


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.

Top Rated Combination Water Skis:

The O'Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis ($150) are a solid pair of skis that any beginner should consider. They are nice and wide for deep water starts and the dual tunnels provide a smooth ride in all types of water. The 700 adjustable bindings will fit sizes 5-13. For intermediate skiers, consider the O'Brien Performer Combos ($230) which perform nicely. The dual tunnel shape, composite construction, aluminum fins, and X-9 neoprene lace-up adjustable bindings make these skis a great fit. The HO Pinnacle Combo Water Skis ($270) are another solid pair of combination skis. These skis let you adjust the binding placement so you can do both slalom and combo skiing. Move the bindings back for slalom or all the way forward for combo skiing. The HO Pinnacle is made out of fiberglass which will give you a stiff flex and feel.


Best Slalom Water Skis:

As your skiing prowess improves, so do the prices you'll pay for high end slalom water skis. We found some 2007 models at a discount price on some site, but the majority of stores have moved on to the 2012 models such as the Connelly 2014 F1 Water Ski ($880) or the Connelly Concept Slalom Water Ski ($500). Many people choose the Connelly Concept because it is so forgiving. The tunnel design combined with round bevels and a soft flex make this ski very unique. Riders say the ski is very consistently and extremely smooth on the water. You can get a variety of binding options on this ski - double fastback or fastback w/ rear toe plate. The binding sizes are setup to fit most everyone and the fin is adjustable with foil. For the ladies, we found several recommendations in water ski forums for the HO Esprit Ladies Slalom Ski ($350). The tunnel bottom gives women a steady ride and the flex makes for a forgiving skiing experience. It comes in two lengths - 64" and 66" and the bindings are Venom or Shock. Much like snow skiing, people have their own preference for ski type and style, so do your research and talk with a reputable salesperson before making a purchase.

Trick Skis:

Part of the fun as you get more comfortable on water skis is to try tricks and really go for it. Trick skis are what you need to buy in order to be able to try insane maneuvers. The Hydroslide Hoppers Wakeskis ($150) are the perfect starter set to get you going. They allow you to flip forwards, jump, cut, and flip backwards. The Quantum Dynamic Carbon Trick Ski ($599) are used by many skiers at the World Championships. These skis are designed for aggressive riders or need to get an easier lift of the wake. They are stiff, but very light giving the user freedom to try lots of tricks. We found a pair online at Masterlineusa.com.

Skis for Jumping:

Connelly makes some of the best water skis for jumping and so does D3. Top jumpers like Jimmy Siemers, Brian Kinney and John Burris use the Connelly LS Stokes Tip Jumpers which retails for about $3500. The D3 Nightmare Jump Skis are a touch less expensive at $2500. You can find out more online at D3skis.com or at http://www.connellyskis.com. Both sites are very informative and help guide professional jumpers to the best pair of skis for the longest distance on jumps.