Fun, safe waterskiing depends the right equipment. Use our guide to select your perfect skis.

 

How To Buy Water Skiing Equipment

Water skiing is a challenging and fun recreational activity. Your enjoyment of it depends on the proper selection and use of your equipment. It is also equally important to ensure that the equipment you use matches your skiing style and ability level.

 

Choosing the Right Water Ski

Types of Skis

There are basically four different types of water skis available, although two of them– combination pairs andslalom skis, account for the majority of skis purchased

  • Combination pairs
    • Combination pairs are the most common form of water ski and the easiest to learn with
    • Combination skis feature wider tips for better control for beginners to advanced skiers
    • One ski is set up as a combination ski, with a double binding to allow for slalom skiing
  • Slalom skis
    • Used for skiing with only one ski, the slalom skis are ideal for making sharp turns and reaching higher speeds
    • The more recreational type slalom skis have a wider tail and flatter bottom and make it easier to get up and ride straight
    • Intermediate and advanced slalom skis have a more tapered tail, beveled edges and a moderate concave or tunnel concave bottom
    • These are more difficult to ride but allow you to go faster and make sharper turns
  • Trick skis
    • Used for jumping, spinning, and doing tricks
    • These are short, wide, and require an intermediate to advanced skill level to use
    • These have no fins, making them more difficult to control but easier to turn and slide
  • Jump skis
    • Highly specific design used exclusively for jumping off of ramps
    • These resemble long, old-fashioned skis with a wider and longer profile, but with high-tech composite material construction
    • They are strong, but light

 

Ski Construction and Design

 

 

Construction

  • Modern skis are manufactured out of fiberglass or fiberglass/graphite composites for better durability and waterproofing

Bottom Designs

The type of ski design you buy depends on what type of skiing you will be doing.

  • Narrow tunnel
    • For skiers who tend to ski standing straight up or with their weight on the back of the ski
    • The bottom is partially concave and the ski itself is rather wide
  • Concave
    • Designed for skiers who ski with their knees very bent and their weight forward
    • Improves turning ability and maneuverability

Fin

  • Located on the bottom of each ski to make turning and maneuvering easier

Beveled edges

  • The edge of all skis are beveled in different amounts
  • A sharper edge lets you go faster but is more difficult to control because it is easier to catch an edge and wipe out
  • A more rounded edge is easier to control but it is less sharp on turns

Rocker

  • This is the measurement of the curve on the bottom of the ski
  • The greater the rocker, the more ski will turn but the less it will accelerate

Flex

  • Flex is the measurement of stiffness in a ski
  • The stiffer the ski (lower flex), the faster you can go but the more difficult it is to turn
  • The more flex a ski has, the easier it is to turn but the slower you will ski when going straight

Length

  • Most standard water skis are 5 to 6 feet long, 6 to 7 inches wide, and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick
  • Beginners should choose a longer ski that gives them better control but does not go as fast
  • More advanced skiers should purchase shorter skis, which go faster but are more difficult to control
  • How to choose the right length ski
    • The size ski you choose depends largely on your weight. If you are on the borderline, choose the larger ski.
    • Children weighing 30-80 pounds should choose a ski 40-52 inches length and 5-6 inches in width
    • Young adults/women weighing 80-150 pounds should choose a ski 66-67 inches in length and 6½ inches in width
    • Adults weighing 150-200 pounds should choose a ski 68 inches in length and 6½ inches in width
    • Adults weighing over 200 pounds should choose a ski 69-72 inches in length and 7-8 inches in width

Bindings

  • Ski bindings are what hold your feet to the ski
  • Most bindings are made of gummed rubber or neoprene with adjustable hold-down straps and a reinforcing piece across the heel that makes them fit almost like a shoe
  • Combination pairs usually have one ski with one binding and the other ski with a double binding to allow for additional use as a slalom ski
  • Combination bindings are usually adjustable to allow for multiple users and are easier to put on and take off
  • Slalom skis have a binding for each foot and are either adjustable or fixed (also known as plate bindings) with double boots or a rear toe piece
  • Single booted bindings are easier to get on and off but are not as secure
  • Double booted bindings hold your feet in place much better but are not as convenient to put on and take off
  • Rear toe piece and adjustable bindings are easier to get up on but do not give you as good a feel for the ski

 

Ropes

  • A water ski rope needs to be slightly elastic and able to give with the skier as he or she changes speeds and turns
  • The rope length for standard water skiing is 70 feet, 75 feet if you include the handle
  • Generally, water ski ropes are made of polypropylene and will stretch two to three percent of their length when under normal skiing load
  • The give in the rope helps absorb the shock of cutting through the boat wake as a skier crosses from side to side
  • One-quarter-inch diamond braid polyethylene or polypropylene having a breaking strength of more than 800 pounds is recommended
  • Standard water skiing ropes may have up to 10 colored sections, or take-offs
  • Take-offs allow for shortening or lengthening the rope from one attachment loop to the next
  • If you want to ski closer to the boat, you merely shorten the rope one or more “take-off” loops

 

Handles

Most skiers today use a single handle.

  • Recreational water ski handles
    • Recreational water ski handles generally feature an injection-molded rubber or plastic grip
    • The molded grip may or may not have anything inside of it to provide strength and durability
    • Because it is molded and no water can get inside, it floats
    • Molded handles are generally less expensive and typically use less expensive rope materials
  • Higher performance water ski handles
    • Higher performance water ski handles are typically based around an aluminum bar that has had a soft, comfortable rubber molded onto it
    • While this construction is lighter, stronger, more durable, and more comfortable than an injection molded handle, it is also hollow, which allows water inside and leads to sinking
  • Handle diameters and lengths
    • Handle diameters range from 1 inch (for small hands) to 1 1/4 inches for larger hands
    • Handle lengths range from 11-18 inches, depending on the size of the skier