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Guide to buying Water Skis

Beginner's Guide to Buying Water Skis


This article is aimed at the novice Waterskier as it is assumed that an intermediate or advanced skiier will probably know most of this stuff already. This is not intended to be an exhaustive study of Waterski design. Instead we have deliberately filtered out a lot of the unnecessary jargon and technicalities and put together a simple list of considerations that are relevant just to beginners. We hope that you find this article useful and that it helps you to choose the perfect waterskis for you.

Waterski Design and Characteristics

The individual features of waterskis determine exactly how they perform on the water. There are numerous design factors that we could discuss here, but we have focused just on those that are most important to the novice.

Waterskis come in 2 main types - Slalom Skis (a single mono ski that is so called as it is designed primarily to be used on slalom courses) and Combo Skis (a pair of skis that are so called as they can be used as a combination of beginner pair or a mono ski as one ski has a single binding and the other has two bindings). Beginners should always start with a combo pair as skiing with one ski takes a lot of practice. Modern Combo skis are perfect to learn on as they are wide and forgiving with extra volume on the tips for easier deep water starts.

Progressing from 2 skis to one is a fairly simple task but it can take time to perfect. To start with, most people will spend a few sessions deep water starting on 2 skis and then kicking one ski off when composed and up to skiing speed. This is a great way to get the feel of using one ski without needing the skill required to deep water start on just one ski. Eventually though, you will want to progress with your slalom skiing and this will mean learning to deep water start on just one ski.

Beginner's Waterskis should be long and wide with as much "lift" as possible, especially at the tips. Longer skis track better and are more stable in a straight line than narrow skis, and wider skis offer more volume and lift so are easier to deep water start on. Wider and longer skis also tend turn more forgivingly so are more predictable and desitrable for novice waterskiiers.

Most Combo Water Skis vary in length from 57" - 69" inches and these dimensions are important when deciding which are right skis for you. The golden rule is that if you are a novice and are likely to share your skis with other people (which basically covers most family / recreational skiiers) then go for longer skis.

Combo Water Ski Size Chart
Rider Weight
Rider Weight
Rider Weight
Ski Length
Up to 120
5 - 10.5
32 - 68
110 - 250
8 - 18
50 - 113

Waterski bindings are designed to hold your feet firmly to your skis and to support your ankles, but in such a way that they will "release" in the event of a tumble to prevent injury. Waterski bindings come in two basic types - boot style or squeeze heel. Boot style bindings fit your feet very snuggly and are tightened efficiently around the foot via strong nylon laces. These types of bindings can be closed toe or open toe and tend to appear just on better quality combo and slalom waterskis. Squeeze heel bindings are generally rubber and only adjust forwards and backwards to clamp around the foot. These types of bindings appear on cheaper combo skis.

Fins are the tracking and turning devices located on the back of the waterskis and are there to help stabilize and steer the ski. Beginner waterskis generally have fixed neutral sized fins that are often brightly coloured so that you can find an upturned ski when it is floating in the water. Slalom waterskis on the other hand often have quite complicated and fully adjustable fins so that individual prefferences can be dialed in.

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