Water skiing is one of the best summer sports to learn. There is nothing quite like getting out on the open water under the sun. While the learning curve may seem a bit steep, in truth, anyone can learn how to get up and on some skis with just a little bit of practice. Having the best water skis can help, and not all water skis are created equal.

Finding the best water skis requires a little bit of knowledge and a lot of trial and error. In order to find the best pair for you, it’s important to do your research, talk with some more experienced skiers, and to get out on the water to try some out. To help you out here’s some information about water skis and a list of some of the most beginner friendly skis available.

10 Best Water Skis Comparison Table

This comparison table provides our readers with an overview of the most popular water skis on the market right now.

ImageTypeSkillLengthPrice
O'Brien Reactor Combo SkisBeginner67"
Hydroslide Victory Junior Combo SkisYoung Intermediate59"
AIRHEAD AHS-1300 Combo Water SkisBeginner68"
O'Brien Performer ComboBeginner68"
Connelly Eclypse Combo Water SkiIntermediate67"
Rave Rhyme Adult Water SkiBeginner65"
HO Sports Burner Pro ComboExperienced65"
Connelly Aspect Slalom 2017Intermediate65"-69"
Connelly Skis HP Waterski with Swerve BootExperienced69"
Radar
Lithium Vapor Combo Skis
Beginner69.5"

Water Ski Guide Part I: Things to Consider Before Buying

A big factor on picking out slalom water skis is the boat’s speed and the skier’s body weight. View the chart below for assistance in pick out the right length of water skis.

Water Skis Size Chart

Here are some other factors to consider before making a purchase.

  • Skier Experience Level. Obviously, a competition skier is going to be riding a different ski than a novice. Nobody starts out on a slalom ski, unless of course you’re pulling a prank on one of your buddies and want to see him flopping all over the place trying to get up on that darn ski. First timers will always wear combo skis as they are much easier to get up on. If you or your family goes to the lake a few times a year, a pair of beginner or intermediate skis that allow everyone to cruise around the lake at slow speeds is probably fine. Advanced and competitive skiers only skiing on the best water conditions and tackling courses at high speeds are going to be more selective.
  • Skier Build. Skis are inherently designed to stay on top of the water and do this with their surface area. As such, the heavier the skier, the wider the platform surface area (wider skis) they will need to support their weight. Some ski manufacturers will suggest a weight range on each ski model they offer because each ski and shape design is unique when you get into the higher price tiers of advanced waterskis. A heavy skier with a linebacker build is going to need something different than a growing teenager who’s skinny as a toothpick. Most experts suggest at least considering the skier’s weight when purchasing water skis. For advanced skiers, they will want to take into account their weight, height, and other unique characteristics.
  • Boat Speed. Most novice and beginner skiers will ski at speeds below 30 MPH. This helps them get acclimated to things without them feeling like things are moving a little too quickly. Intermediate and recreational skiers will typically cruise around 31-33 MPH, while competition level skiers will be pulled at around 36 MPH (the highest speed a skier should ever be pulled at). 36 MPH is an intense ride! Boat speedometers are known to be inaccurate and we suggest if you want a true reading on your speed to get a GPS or smart phone speedometer app to get an accurate reading.
  • Ski Design. Those new to the sport and casual skiers generally select a wide body ski or a slightly wide ski. This helps reduce rider fatigue because the skier is not pushing as much water and the added stiffness of the wider design will increase acceleration out of turns. For advanced skiers, a narrower design makes sense, as well as considering three other factors: stiffness (amount of flex), edge bevel (rounded side and bottom corners), and base concave (spoon or tunnel bottom shape).
Picking Out the Right Water Skis

    Santa Claus Eats a lot of Cookies and Needs Wide Skis

Most skis have the same basic shape that allows them to glide through the water at high speeds. However, each ski has small but important differences in the shape that can influence the beginner friendliness. The basic anatomy of a water ski includes a long, narrow shape that differs in width from tip to tip. The overall shape or profile differs with each type of ski. Slalom skis are typically narrower while combo and shape skis are wider for more stability.

To keep the ski stable while slicing through the water, most skis will have some sort of fin underneath. The material and size of the fin will determine how well the ski stays straight or carves through the water. The bindings of the ski can also make a difference. Most skis will offer double findings to offer different foot placements.

There isn’t one single solution for finding the best water skis. Some people will find one pair to be better than another. What’s important is to find the right water ski for yourself. The best thing to do is to get out and try a few different options. If you are starting from scratch, try renting a few pairs while you learn how to ride comfortably. Over time, you will begin to discover what works for you. Another strategy is to purchase a beginner set that isn’t overly expensive. Then, build up your skill and see if the sport is for you. If you really enjoy it, go all in on your water ski purchase and get one of the best slalom skis.

Water Ski Guide Part II: Types of Water Skis

There are a number of water skis available on the market these days.

Wide Body Beginner Water Skis

An Example of Wide Body Beginner Skis

The best water skis come in many shapes in sizes, but in general, can be grouped together into a few different types:

  • Combination Skis – These skis are typically designed for beginning or multiple style skiing. They typically have two bindings on one ski and a single on the other. These skis are great for learning to drop a ski as you advance in skill.
  • Slalom Skis – Standard skis that come with double bindings and a narrow profile which are great for carving and turning. Higher speeds are required to stay upright.
  • Shaped Skis – Sometimes known as “trick” skis, these are similar to slalom skis. Double bindings with a wider profile make them more stable for tricks and advanced maneuvers. These can also be beginner friendly since they can be used at slower speeds.

Water Ski Guide Part III: Beginner Skills

One important requirement for the best water skis for beginners is making it easier to learn the basics. All beginners need to learn the basics of skiing in order to advance and enjoy the sport. Two of the most important skills is starting and staying up. Learning how to get and keep yourself upright will get you going. Skis with a wider profile can help beginners find the stability they need to do this.

Another important skill is learning to carve on skis. Turning on skis will be important to avoid obstacles, increase your stability, and even begin to do courses or obstacle runs at a later point. Skis that turn well usually have good fins to track well and deeper rockers.

Our Top 5 Best Water Skis Picks of 2017

If you are ready to buy and are wondering where to find some options, look no further. Here’s a list of some of the most beginner friendly out of the best water skis on the market today.

1. O’Brien Performer Combo Water Skis

o'brien performer combo water skis

These skis offer a pro performance package on a beginner friendly platform. As a combo pair, these skis are designed with a wide width that makes them stable in deep water. A deep rocker makes the turning radius smaller which is great for carving on the water.

2. HO Sports Burner Pro Combo Water Skis

HO Burner Pro Combo Waterskis

This set is probably the least beginner friendly in the list but is a great option for newbies looking for a pair to grow with. A deep rocker can make them a little more unstable than other skis, but with a little bit of practice, it’s an easy challenge to overcome. Aluminum fins and a wide profile do make these skis stable in deep water, especially when starting and getting into the upright position.

3. Radar Lithium Vapor Combo Water Skis

radar lithium vapor water ski

These skis are a great option for a beginner looking for a good balance between speed and stability. A wide platform is combined with a fluid rocker so the skis track well going straight and in turns. The bindings are further upfront than typical skis which offers a bit more balance and control. The main bulk of each ski is made up of a PVC core.

4. Hydroslide Victory Junior Combo Water Skis

hydroslide junior intermediate water skis

Specifically designed for young beginning and intermediate riders, these skis are the perfect length for children and young adults. The length makes the skis more proportional to young riders which make them easier to control. A rear toe plate also provides riders more freedom and stability while learning to ski.

5. Connelly Eclypse Combo Water Ski

connely eclypse combo waterskis

This is a great all-around option that most beginning riders can enjoy after a little practice. The skis feature a wide profile that increases stability. An aluminum fin helps each ski to track well in the water, allowing you to stay in control.  Each ski is made up of carbon fiber and fiberglass and is 67″ in length.

 

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