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Buying Guide | Water Skiing Equipment

By Steve Kopitz

Water Skiing is one of the most common, popular, and enjoyable water sports activities that you can take part in on the water. Each year, thousands-upon-thousands of people take to the water for a sun-filled day with many enjoyable hours of water skiing fun! Whether you’re looking to get into the sport, or you’re a veteran water skier, check out the information we have outlined in this buying guide to assure yourself that you’re purchasing the right equipment, and that you’re day of fun in the sun won’t just be, well a day in the sun.


Water Ski Selection



Construction and Design



Rope Selection


Handle Selection




Water Ski Selection


Types of Skis


In water skiing, there are four (4) basic types of water skis that are available to choose from: Combination Pairs, Slalom Skis, Trick Skis, and Jump Skis. Of the four (4) types, two (2) of them – Combination Pairs and Slalom Skis – represent the majority of water skis purchased.




The most common type of water ski that is purchased. Perfect for recreational use and the easiest of the four types to learn on.


Features wider tips designed for better control for beginners to advanced skiers alike.


One ski is also set up as a combination ski, containing a double binding that allows for the function of slalom skiing as well.




Higher speed ski that is ideal for sharp turns. Consists of one ski only.


Recreational style slalom skis are typically wider in the tail and flatter on the bottom. This makes it easier for a rider to get up and go straight.


Intermediate-to-Advanced slalom skis will have a more tapered tail with beveled edges. Additionally, they will have moderate or tunnel concave bottoms. This creates a more challenging ride, but the opportunity for faster rides and sharper turns.


Skis designed for tricksters. Riders who perform jumps, spins, and various tricks on the water.


A shorter and wider design of the ski makes trick skis designed for intermediate to advanced skill level riders.


Trick Skis do not use fins. This creates a challenge for riders in controlling the skis, but makes them easier to turn and slide.




Specifically designed for ramp jumping.


Similar in design to old-fashioned water skis. Jump skis are designed with a longer and wider profile, but with a high-tech composite construction.


Jump Skis are strong and durable, while at the same time lightweight.

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Construction and Design




The Water Skis of today are manufactured from fiberglass or a fiberglass/graphite composite. This makes for a ski with better durability and waterproofing.


Bottom Designs




Design is ideal for skiers who ski with their weight forward and very bent knees.


Improves turning and maneuverability.


Narrow Tunnel


Design is ideal for skiers who ski with their weight on the back of their skis and an up-right stance.


Partially concave bottom. Ski is wider.


Beveled Edges


Sharper edges allow for faster speeds, but create a greater difficulty in control.


Rounded edges are easier to control, but result in less sharp turns.




The rocker of a ski is the measurement of the curve on the bottom of a ski.


Larger rockers result in greater in turning ability, but less acceleration.




Located on the bottom of the ski.


Makes turning and maneuvering easier.

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The measurement of stiffness in a ski.


A lower flex represents a stiffer ski. This means that you can go faster on the ski, but turning is more challenging.


Higher flex ratings indicate a more flexible ski that is easier to turn. Speed is sacrificed as a result.




Standard water skis measure 5 to 6 feet in length, 6 to 7 inches in width, and 1/2 to 3/4 inches in thickness.


Longer skis are ideal for beginners because they provide better control, but they do not go as fast.


Advanced skiers should use shorter skis because they provide greater rates of speed, but are more challenging to control.


How to choose your correct ski length:


Ski size is greatly dependent on the weight of the rider. If the weight falls on the line of two sizes, choose the larger ski size.


Children: 30 – 80 pounds: 40-52 inches in length and 5-6 inches in width.


Young Adults/Women: 80 – 150 pounds: 66-67 inches in length and 6 1/2 inches in width.


Adults: 150 – 200 pounds: 68 inches in length and 6 1/2 inches in width.


Adults: 200+ pounds: 69-72 inches in length and 7-8 inches in width.




The element of a water ski that holds your foot to the ski is the binding.


Typically constructed of gummed rubber or neoprene with adjustable straps and reinforcing pieces on the heel to make them fit similar to a shoe.


Combination Pair Skis: Will usually have one ski with one binding, while the other has a double for slalom ski capability.


Combination Bindings: Are typically adjustable for multi-user use. They are also easier to put on and take off.


Slalom Skis: Have a binding for each foot. Will be adjustable or fixed (plate) bindings, and have double boots or a rear toe piece.


Single Boot Bindings: Convenient in-and-out, less secure than double booted bindings.


Double Boot Bindings: Keep your feet in place better, but are less convenient to get in-and-out.


Rear Toe Piece/Adjustable Bindings: Easier to get up on but provide less feel for your skis.

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Rope Selection


Water ski ropes require a slight bit of elasticity that can provide give as the skier changes his or her speed and goes from one turn to the next.


Standard rope lengths are 70 feet. 75 feet with the handle included.


Typically water ski ropes are made from polypropylene that will stretch 2-3% of its length under normal conditions.


Rope give absorbs shock as a skier goes side-to-side cutting through boat wake.


A recommended rope is one-quarter-inch diamond braid polyethylene or polypropylene with breaking strength greater than 800 pounds.


Take-Offs: Allow for the shortening or lengthening of a rope from one attachment loop to the next. If you would like to ski closer to the boat, "take-off" loops, or further away, add loops.


Standard ropes will contain up to 10 colored sections that you can "take-off".


Handle Selection


Handle Diameters & Lengths


Diameters can range anywhere from 1 inch for small hands to 1 1/4 inches for larger hands.


Lengths typically range from 11-18 inches. The length is dependent on the size of the skier.


Recreational Handles


Generally feature injection-molded rubber or plastic grips.


Molded Grips: Will float because no water can get inside. May or may not have anything inside to provide strength and durability.


Molded Grips: Typically less expensive than high-performance handles and uses less expensive rope materials.


Higher Performance Handles


Typically feature construction based around an aluminum bar. Has had a soft, comfortable rubber molded to it.


Provides lighter, stronger, comfortable, and more durable features than a molded handle. But is hollow, leaving the likelihood of water getting inside and causing the handle to sink.

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