Best Water Skis
Many of you will agree that water skiing is one of the most enthralling water activities on the planet. It is incredible how much fun it can be to glide across the water on a pair of skis while being pulled by a boat. If you want to try other options, check our guide on beginner surfboards or another great activity is a sit-on-top-kayaks. But, the reason you are here today is the actual water skis you are using can make a world of difference.
Not only are there different styles, but there are also different used materials and different construction methods altogether. In other words, there is a lot that you need to know before you buy water skis for yourself. In addition, we also want to detail some of the absolute best models that you can find on the market.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 8.5 hrs of research
Designed with a vibration dampening system
Engineered with carbon fiber
It is ultralight in its design
Our Top Picks for the Best Water Skis
1. Ho Sports Syndicate
Designed with a vibration dampening system
Engineered with carbon fiber
It is ultralight in its design
Lacks any accessories
Alright, so this top-end water ski is actually a slalom ski. This means that you only need the one ski for operation. And, while it comes without any accessories, its design speaks for itself.Read more
To say that the Syndicate is designed for performance is an understatement. Not only is it designed with a progressively changing elliptical arc for improved stability and velocity but it also sports a vibration dampening system for even better stability and control.
The Syndicate was engineered with a unique combination of Superlite core technology and aerospace carbon fiber. Let’s just say that you will not find too many skis built any better than this.
As noted, this is a slalom ski and that means that it is to be used by itself. If this is not your thing then you may want to pursue other options.
Overall, the Syndicate is not the best ski for larger users. It is available in sizes of 65 and 66 inches and this is going to be suitable for users around 120 to 180 pounds.
What you see is what you get as this is simply a black ski. You will need to account for the bindings and other accessories yourself.
Some of you may find it ludicrous to spend so much money on a blank ski. But, understand this; the Syndicate is worth the price for anyone who needs the absolute best of the best.
2. Radar Katana Ski
Ideal for any skill level
It turns naturally and beautifully
Different sizes are available
Not too many to speak of
Radar water skis are always some of the best in the business and the same goes with the Katana Slalom Ski. Not only does it perform unbelievably but it is also available in different sizes to account for different users.Read more
In addition to the fact that the Katana sports an oversized flat spot that allows it to auto-level, it has also been engineered with a level spine. With this spine intact, water will flow down the center and this will reduce drag.
Because this is a 100 percent carbon build, it is nimble on the water, incredibly lightweight and also impressively durable. That is the combination that carbon brings to the table, after all.
This is another slalom ski and that means that you will need to be comfortable with using only one ski out on the water.
What is really nice is the Katana is available in a few different sizes. There are options for 65, 67 and 69 inches and this is going to account for a wide range of users.
Now, unlike the Syndicate, this actually comes with bindings. Being equipped with both a Prime Binding and an ARTP Binding, you will be ready to rock with this ski.
What more could be said about this overly-impressive water ski? It is simply one of the most elite models available on the market and will be great for anyone who can properly fit on it.
3. Ho Sports Omni Ski
Designed with Clean Edge technology
Built with a three-dimensional fin
Features a fiberglass polyurethane composite build
Does not appear to come with bindings
What makes the Omni Ski so great is the fact that it couples the design of a high-performance ski with a more traditional model. This combination makes it one of the best performing models out there, period.Read more
As just noted, this design has been optimized for both speed and maneuverability. Also integrated is Clean Edge technology and this will reduce the drag in the water by 50 percent.
The Omni Ski sports a classic and traditional construction that you really can’t go wrong with. It was engineered with a fiberglass polyurethane composite core.
Yet again, this is a slalom ski. As you can see, there are plenty of elite-level slalom skis on the market.
This specific model of the Omni Ski (as there are other ones available) measures 71 inches in length. As such, it is better for larger riders (ideally over 250 pounds).
While this does not appear to come with bindings, it does come with a three-dimensional fin. And, this fin mimics an airplane wing as it increases your glide speed and overall turning ability.
This is just one of the many versions of this ski and, quite frankly, all of them are terrific. Let’s just say that you really can’t go wrong with the Omni Series.
4. Connelly Bid Daddy Ski
Sports 550 square inches of surface area
Ideal for beginners
It comes equipped with a rubber boot
Not exactly a performance ski
As the name suggests, the Big Daddy Ski was engineered with larger riders in mind. And, while it is not necessarily a performance ski, it does offer ideal performance for beginners and balance-deprived users.Read more
Again, this is not exactly a performance ski. With that being said, it is designed with a forgiving flex pattern that will ensure a smooth ride on speeds up to 28 miles per hour.
As you can see from the photos, this is wonderfully built. It features a closed-cell polyurethane resin core and granted you treat it with care, it is going to last you for years to come.
The Big Daddy Ski is yet another of the slalom design. Once again, you will need to adapt to this style if you are used to using two skis.
At 69 inches in length and with 550 square inches of surface area to work with, it is easy to see why this is called the Big Daddy.
The front adjusting binding that comes with this ski is good but not great. It is a bit on the narrow side, though, and is probably not going to fit wider feet.
As you can see, the Big Daddy is optimized for a specific set of users. It is better for beginning-to-intermediate, larger riders with feet that are not too wide.
5. O’Brien Celebrity Combo Skis
Ideal for both combo and slalom skiing
Features a solid construction overall
Perfect for beginners of the sport
Not the lightest skis out there
Alright, so what is nice about combo skis is the fact that they can be used together and solo. It is one of the many reasons why this option is one of the best out there.Read more
The combination of the dual tunnel and the performance slalom side-cut make this an incredibly versatile option. This ensures optimal control and stability while you are on the water.
Overall, these skis are well built but you need to know that the fins are plastic. Additionally, these are not the lightest skis on this list.
Indeed, these are sold in pairs and can be used together. But, as you can see from the photos, one of the skis can be used by itself if you wanted to try slalom skiing.
If 68 inches is too long for you then you may want to check out the 64-inch version of the Celebrity Skis. As for the 68-inch version, they will be ideal for riders around and over 200 pounds.
Your purchase comes with X-7 adjustable bindings. In addition to the comfort and performance they provide, they are designed to fit men sized 4.5 to 13.
While the unique design of the Celebrity Skis allows them to perform admirably, they are also not incredibly light. At least when compared to other water skis that is.
6. Ho Sports Burner
Comes with an adjustable Blaze boot on each ski
Easy to get secured to
They perform very well
The bindings will not secure tight enough for some of you
If you are looking for combo skis instead of slalom then you will probably be quite fond of these bad boys. And, though the Burner Skis are an entry-level design, they are based on the design of higher-end skis.Read more
Those who are looking for an easy ride will love these skis. They are built with a V-Bottom design that allows them to make effortless cuts while maintaining optimal stability.
Most people will agree that the Burner Skis are ridiculously good in regard to their build quality. It is not something you will need to worry about, let’s just say that.
The Burners can be used together or solo (one of them can be used for slalom skiing) and this makes them incredibly versatile.
At 67 inches in length, these are better served for users less than 200 pounds. If you are a few pounds over you should be fine, however.
There is an adjustable Blaze boot on each ski and each one has been pre-molded with an EVA footbed. With that said, they can be a pain to tighten while you are in the water.
Even though some buyers have complained about the bindings, these combo skis are still excellent overall. They perform incredibly well and are built to last.
7. Airhead S-1400 Skis
Sports a durable and reliable construction
Great for beginners
Comes with dual-density bindings
Not incredibly versatile
Given the size of these skis, they are better optimized for smaller and lighter riders. And, overall, the S-1400 Skis will be preferred by beginners due to their wider tips.Read more
Indeed, these skis do have wider tips and these come in handy as they will displace more water. Overall, the S-1400 Skis are slow and steady and may not be the best choice for avid skiers.
There is no doubting that these skis are well built. They sport composite/foam cores and also reinforced nylon fins. They will last granted you treat with them care.
As with other combo skis, one of the S-1400s can be used by itself. But, as these do come in pairs, you can also use them together. It is all up to you.
Given the fact that these measure 65.5 inches in length, they are not going to be suitable for larger riders. Nope, instead, they are optimized for users well less than 200 pounds.
The dual-density bindings that are included can be adjusted for your convenience. For the record, are adjustable from US sizes 5 to 12.
To be honest, this could be an excellent pair of skis to have your children try out. For smaller adults, however, they can still be quite useful on the water.
8. Hydroslide Victory Skis
One ski can be used for solo skiing
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Comes with adjustable bindings
The bindings’ material does stretch a bit too much
In addition to the fact that these skis are lightweight and easy to control in the water, one of them can be used solo. They also come with slide adjustable bindings, which is nice.Read more
The major reason why these Victory Skis are easy to handle in the water is due to their tunnel concave bottom patterns. These help to ensure directional stability.
The drop thru plastic fins combine with the ultra-solid core to create skis that will hold up to normal abuse on the water.
It is entirely up to you how you want to use these skis. One of them comes equipped with the ability to be used for slalom skiing but you can also use them both at the same time.
For riders less than 180 pounds (at the very least), these are going to be sufficient. Their 66-inch length is on the smaller side, hence why they are not suitable for larger riders.
While it is a bit tricky to achieve a snug fit with the attached bindings, they can fit virtually any foot size out there (to an extent that is).
For those of you who are actually sized correctly to use these, there should be few complaints on their performance and construction. You may have to fiddle with the bindings to get them as tight as you want them, though.
9. Connelly Quantum Combo Skis
Designed with stabilizer bar inserts
They are ideal for many different users
They deliver admirable performance
Longevity issues have been documented
In spite of the durability concerns that a few buyers have had, the Quantum Water Skis are fantastic to use on the water. You just need to ensure you are not completely reckless with them.Read more
The combination of the shallow and narrow tunnels and wide tails of the Quantum Skis allows them to provide smooth turns and deep water starts.
Now, these do sport reinforced composite constructions and glass-filled nylon fins. However, a few buyers have had issues with these skis snapping in half.
As with other combo skis, one of the Quantum Skis comes with a slalom toe to be used by itself on the water. And, of course, these can also be used simultaneously.
While it will depend on other factors, it is noted that users between 135 and 240 pounds can feasibly use these skis. If you are 250 pounds or heavier, though, you will be pushing your luck with these.
In addition to the adjustable bindings that are provided to you, these are also equipped with stabilizer bar inserts. Be aware, though, that the actual bar needs to be purchased separately.
The longevity issues that have been reported may scare some of you off. But, that was just a few users as most reviewers have had nothing but positive experiences with the Quantum Skis.
10. O’Brien Reactor Skis
Designed with a deep center tunnel
Narrow in their design
They are combo skis
The boots are somewhat cheap
As noted by O’Brien, the Reactors are their most traditional pair of skis that they offer. And, overall, they are narrower in their design and this makes them more responsive while on the water.Read more
In addition to being more responsive, these also feature a deep center tunnel for improved stability. But, overall, do not expect to be utterly “wowed” with these skis.
The actual build quality of the Reactors is not the issue here. But, various reviewers have alluded to the somewhat cheap construction of the included boots.
As the Reactors are O’Brien’s most traditional pair of skis, it makes sense that they would allow for both dual and slalom skiing.
These measure 67 inches in length and if you have been paying attention thus far, you will deduce that these are better for lighter riders.
Now, though the provided pinch-slide 700 series adjustable bindings are not the absolute best out there, they are still nice to have and get the job done pretty well.
Everyone needs to start somewhere, right? With their outstanding stability and responsiveness on the water, let’s just say that this is as good a starting point as any.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The effectiveness of any water ski you buy is going to be dictated by several different performance features.
Right from the get-go, you need to understand that not all water skis are going to perform in the same manner. The reason for this is that not all models will sport the same shapes, edges, and overall design. To buy skis that perform to your liking, you will need to familiarize yourself with some of the leading design concepts out there.
Of course, this all starts with the shape of the skis. If you are looking for high-performance models, then you may want them to be with edge-to-edge concave bottom designs. Skis of this nature will perform better the harder you turn.
Then again, you can also stick to those that feature narrow tunnel bottoms. These models are with optimization for directional stability, and they will handle rough waters quite well. But, what about the design of the edges?
No matter what, you need to look at the beveled edges located on the sides. If these edges are rounded and slightly soft, they will allow for more control in the water. However, if they are sharper and squarer, the overall stability will be enhanced.
Oh, and lastly, you can assess stiffness and “rocker” (the curvature from the tip to the tail). If you desire an ultimate performance ski, you will want one with a stiff forebody, soft tail, and less rocker.
Skis of this nature will be made with different materials so you need to be familiar with them.
Alright, so it is not exactly necessary for you to understand the convoluted process in which these skis are engineered. Instead, it is more important that you become knowledgeable about the materials that will often be utilized to make them, in the first place.
But, even for this, there are different layers that you need to assess. For starters, most water ski cores will consist of either closed-cell PVC or polyurethane foam. Regarding which core is superior, closed-cell PVC is more reactive and lighter than polyurethane. However, both of these foam cores will do the trick.
With the core in play, skis will then be wrapped by another material. And, this material will typically either be carbon fiber or fiberglass (though you will also see combinations of the two utilized by some engineers). And, even though both are fantastic materials, carbon fiber is the superior of the two.
In addition to the fact that it is stronger and lighter than fiberglass, it is also stiffer. All this adds up to an enhanced performance, quite frankly. However, carbon fiber comes at a very steep price. Those who are on a tighter budget can still enjoy the performance advantages of fiberglass skis.
There are not too many different styles to choose from but this section is still important regardless.
When it comes down to it, you can either go with combo or slalom skis. It is easy to find both styles on the market as they both are trendy. Regarding what the difference is between the two methods, let’s first assess what slalom skis are.
It is pretty simple, really; slalom skis are sold individually as they merely consist of one ski with two separate bindings. As one binding will be located in front of another one, you will need to get used to skiing with one of your feet in front of the other one. It is not the same type of skiing with the winter one, but our blog on How To Get Prepared for Skiing might be of help. Click here to check it out!
As for combo skis, these will be sold in pairs and can be used in conjunction with one another. In other words, you can use one ski per foot. However, what is lovely about combo models is one of the skis will come with two bindings (to be used for slalom skiing).
But, which style is going to be better for you? Well, if you are unsure which method you prefer, go with combo skis as you can perform both types of skiing. With that said, if you want to water ski for competitive reasons, stick with slalom water skis.
It would seem you could pick any ski you want but when it comes to their length, there is more than meets the eye.
Is there that much of a difference between skis that measure 66 inches in length and those that measure 69 inches in length? After all, what are three inches in the grand scheme of things? Well, when it comes to skis of this nature, three inches is everything.
Indeed, you can’t just blindly choose the length of your skis. Instead, it is going to come down to a few factors. The two most important will be your weight and the speed at which you will be skiing. Both of them are vital, so it is going to be in your best interest to conclude how fast someone plans on pulling you while you ski.
And, once you figure out your weight and speed, you can then access online sizing charts to figure out what your ski length needs to be. Water ski sizing charts are not hard to find as many manufacturers will have them available.
Of course, to give you a small reference, lighter skiers (around 150 to 160 pounders) will require right about 66 inches in length. And, for every two inches of added measure, you can add 20 pounds to the requirement (in general).
The main accessory you will need to focus on here is bindings and whether or not you want them included or not.
Most models on the market are not going to come with a ski rope or a ski tube or anything like that. In fact, the primary accessory that you will need to asses here is ski bindings. These were briefly alluded to earlier but now it is time to talk about them in-depth.
In case you did not already know, the bindings will be the part of the skis that actually secure your feet. Now, you can either buy blank skis or those that come with bindings pre-installed. If you do not want to account for them yourself (which can be nice if you wanted specific bindings) then you can opt for models that come with them.
For the most part, engineers that include them for you will make them adjustable. This allows their skis to account for a wider range of users. But, this also means you will need to ensure that the bindings will fit you (and go as tightly as you want them to). Thankfully, most models on the market will fit a plethora of men’s and women’s foot sizes.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Even though water skiing is fun and exciting, no matter what, it is incredible how much the experience can change with proper skis. And, this all starts with their performance. But, if everyone required the same type of skis, then this section would be secure. As you know, that is not going to be the case. Specific features and design implementations will determine how certain skis will perform.
How much money are you willing to spend? That is a fundamental question to answer as, like it or not; it can dictate how you go about this section. The reality is carbon fiber models are the cream of the crop. But, the reason this list was not overflowing with them is they also are incredibly expensive. Thankfully, fiberglass is an excellent alternative and even a lot cheaper to produce.
When it comes down to it, you need to figure out if you want to buy combo skis or just regular slalom skis. The benefit to the former is that they are incredibly versatile. At the same time, however, performance buffs will settle for nothing less than slalom skiing (which can be performed with combo skis). It all comes down to you and your preferences here.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How well do wider skis perform?
The reality is an entire buying guide could be dedicated to the performance of water skis. This is another example of such as wider skis can perform incredibly well. But, again, as was documented in the previous section alluding to performance, there are many other design features that will come into play.
It makes it difficult to simply point to one thing that makes certain skis perform at a high level. But, make no mistake about it, wider skis can do just that.
q: What foot should you place forward on a slalom ski?
For the record, this is only going to concern those of you who actually plan on partaking in slalom skiing. If you do, the foot you place forward needs to be the one that provides you with the best balance. From user to user, this is going to be different.
And, one of the best ways to determine this is with combo skis. With both skis attached, shift your body weight over to one ski and lift the other ski out of the water. Do this both ways to conclude which foot you feel more comfortable on. This will then be the foot you place forward on your slalom ski.
q: Is water skiing a good exercise?
Sometimes, it can be rare to find fitness activities that you actually enjoy. Let’s just say that water skiing is one of those activities. Though you may not believe so right away, water skiing is one of the most versatile exercises out there.
It will provide you with a core body workout while toning your muscles. Oh, and it can also be used as an excellent form of resistance training.
q: In general, is water skiing harder than wakeboarding?
Wakeboarding and water skiing are very similar as they both entail you getting pulled by a motorboat across the water. However, when you get on awakeboard you will realize that it is much different than when you hop on water skis.
Overall, few people will disagree that wakeboarding is much more challenging. Before you jump to the big leagues, you should be able to handle water skiing first. From there, wakeboarding will be much easier to learn.
q: Will barefoot skiing hurt?
In case you were wondering, you can water ski barefoot if you want to. Yet, if you are a novice, it may not be the best idea to start with it. It all comes down to your tolerance with pain, to be honest.
Yes, to answer the question, barefoot water skiing can be somewhat painful. This is especially true if the water you are riding on is incredibly smooth. Across your instep, the surface of really smooth water can create an unpleasant sensation.
q: How fast should you ski if you are a beginner?
This really all comes down to what you are comfortable with. Some of you will adapt quicker to water skiing than others. For some of you, starting out somewhat slow will be best. Then again, perhaps some of you will prefer being thrown right into the line of fire.
It is better to start out with manageable speeds, though. For men, this will be right around 25 to 30 miles per hour and, for women, around 23 to 27 miles per hour.