I’ve been wakeboarding for several years now, and while it has been a fun activity, I’ve always felt the need to take it to the next level.
I know wakeboarding, much like surfing, is intense and demanding, but my adrenaline rush is never-ending. And even when I’m on the water, I need something to get my heart beating faster and my senses engaged.
So, last summer, I decided to give water skiing a try. After all, my friends have been raving about it, and it’s also one of the top summer activities in Key West, Florida.
And man, this is an activity worth taking up for the thrill-seekers.
I mean, this water sport embodies the vibrant supremacy of both airborne and high-altitude skiing.
For me, at least, it added a lot more skill, fun, and thrill to my regular day out in the water.
Of course, starting the sport came with challenges, and I can’t even mention the discomfort of slipping into the rubber boot-like foot-holders.
Body positioning was also a challenge for me, and I can’t even count the number of times I fell flat in the water after slipping.
But looking back, I’m glad I took up this new activity because I’ve achieved a lot in terms of skills, fun, fulfillment, and even self-realization.
But one thing I came to learn with water slalom skiing is that many factors determine your success as a slalom skier.
Initially, I thought it was just about a soft and flat wake. But equally important as the wake is the overall comfort experience, ski boat, and equipment.
And today, we’ll discuss the ski equipment, with a focus on the slalom water skis.
In my case, I made the mistake of choosing a ski that was too large for me. The result is I couldn’t keep afloat even when the boat was pulling me, and it was a very uncomfortable experience.
But now, I know better, and having been in the sport for close to a year now, I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best slalom water skis.
I’ll also share some of my favorite slalom water skis.
Table of Contents
The Best Slalom Water Skis For The Money
#1 O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I wanted a good, inexpensive ski combo for our top pick that I can use when I head out boating with family or friends.
The O’Brien Vortex seemed perfect!
Just the right length and width to easily get beginner skiers up and top of the water and easy to use.
Very happy with these water skis!
The first thing you’ll notice with the Vortex is its ergonomic design and size. You can easily tell they’re reasonably good for a non-competition ski.
They come in at 65.5 inches long, and I find them best suited for skiers weighing between 115 and 160 pounds. So, they’re a great option for adults wanting to learn water skiing or getting back to it.
But they also work well for kids because I taught two of my granddaughters how to ski in them. They’ve a super flexible binding with a generous range, so they can accommodate anyone from the kids, teens to adults.
I also can’t get enough of the shape. The O’Brien Vortex skis fan out quite a bit, and there’s a lot of surface area to work with upfront.
What’s the benefit?
When you use these skis on the water, you’ll immediately realize how helpful the additional width is.
First, it makes it quite easy to get out of the water gradually. This is quite helpful for beginners, especially on slower boat speeds.
Secondly, there’s a wide surface to work with, so kids will have plenty of surface area to play with. Vortex skis sit well on the water, and my granddaughters find these perfect as their feet were slipping out of the full-size skis. For me, at least, I dropped a ski and went slalom almost immediately.
Finally, slalom water skiers will love that even if they’re forced into making quick turns, they shouldn’t fall into the drink easily because of the wide polished speed base.
I’m a big fan of the adjustable bindings that comfortably lock riders into the water ski. I love how they instantly release in case of an accident, so you’re saved from an accident.
My only concern with the Vortex was the plastic fins. They’re not necessarily the best type of material to use and take something away from the overall durability of these skis.
Nonetheless, they’re the perfect size for intermediate water skiers and will give you great control.
Vortex’s performance is also on point as they offer great stability to slalom, though some riders find the cuts a little slow.
The skis can also run a little small, especially if you’ve large feet, but most people won’t have an issue.
Overall, the O’Brien is quite an impressive set of water skis and will allow you to slalom in no time at all and have an immense amount of fun in the water.
#2 Connelly Aspect Slalom Water Ski - Best Slalom Water Ski for Speed
Connelly has long been among the best ski brands, and it’s incredible what they’ve done with the Connelly Aspect Slalom Water Ski.
The ski has a signature shape, consisting of an intense body shape.
It comes with a super transitional concave tunnel design, running from the tip to the front. This helps with pushing up on the water, and you shouldn’t have any trouble remaining high up on the surface.
The design also comes in handy for the professionals looking to slalom and execute those sharp turns without slowing down first.
The Connelly Ski isn’t long either, and at 67”, it kinda felt shorter on me, but it was still super easy to get upon. I’m 5′,11′, and for me at least, I barely needed the high boat speed to achieve the nice, easy, and smooth up.
This slalom ski also comes with a bunch of techs, and one of my favorites is the Delta-V Channels they put on the base. It’s a Connelly advanced profile technology that reduces drag while riding and has plenty of release, so it’s easy to glide over the water, unlike the standard plastic bases.
It’s also not a surprise that these skis are also built for speed. Besides the V-Tech technology, you can see that in the way the body of the slalom ski is designed. It’s narrow compared to most of the slalom water skis on our list and will cut through the water with relative ease.
The narrow tunnel ski design makes these equipment competition-level skis may not be great for beginners as they don’t leave a lot of room for error.
Connelly Ski doesn’t have a double boot, so what I like to do in this is not to fly across the wake- it’s not like you’re on a slalom course at a full curve. Instead, I just stay out in the smooth glass and just curve out there and curve back to the wake. This way, you won’t even notice it doesn’t have a back boot.
It’s pretty comfortable, even with a single boot, and you’ll almost feel as if you’re snowboarding. Like on a symmetrical snowboard.
Connelly Ski comes with a swerve but, easy to get on, but with a lacer. So, if you’ve not been in the water for a long time, you’ll know how easy it is to get, remain on this boot and get off.
The build quality is also great, with the closed-cell polyurethane frame helping the ski go fast on top of the water. However, the choice of material means the skis themselves may not be as durable as some of our other options.
But the aluminum fins are durable, and more importantly, handy options for those who want the fastest skis as they’re light and won’t weigh you down by dipping too far beneath the water.
#3 Connelly SuperSport Combo Water Ski (Junior) - Best Water Ski for your Kid
After a couple of years of my daughter trying unsuccessfully to get up on “beginner skis,” we were about to throw in the towel before we learned about skis that were wider and kid-friendly.
My 10-year-old wanted to water slalom ski so badly but just couldn’t get it. As a last-ditch effort, I decided to get the Connelly SuperSport Combo Water Ski for her.
We had someone in the water to assist her, and we got her about 50 feet on her very first pull. By her 5th pull, she was up without assistance from anyone in the water.
That’s how good the Connelly SuperSport is.
They qualify as the perfect teaching items for your kids and are ideal for those who want their kids to accompany them in the water skiing.
As you would expect, the Connelly SuperSport Skis are exclusively designed for younger users and are on the smaller side. I know they’re tempting to use, but not the skis to get for the whole family. In fact, the manufacturer insists that they’re only ideal for a water skier weighing less than 135 pounds and are supposed to be used by kids, teens, and smaller skiers.
The SuperSport Skis come standard with reinforced composite material. You can easily tell how much difference the material makes.
These combo skis are sturdier and stronger than comparable alternatives. The benefit is that it makes the skis better suited to teenagers and kids who frequently bump onto obstacles while using them. So, you won’t need to worry about the skis breaking down or having to buy another pair soon.
Connelly’s Ski design also points out to skis tailored for kids’ use. They’re wide at the tip and tail. The extra surface gives your kids plenty of surface area to play, keeps them balanced, and makes it easier for you to pull them out of the water.
The bindings are narrow, though, but it’s a good thing as it makes the edge-to-edge bevel transitions easier and more controlled.
Another signature feature on the Connelly SuperSport that is hard to miss is the connecting bars that span the gap between the two skis.
TheyThey serve as a good stabilizer while allowing the skis to move inward and outward, without more resistance than normal.
Plus, it helps the kids hold the skis straight when waiting for the boat to pull them.
Of course, after they learn, you can always remove the bar.
My daughter wasn’t able to tilt the skis to make cuts with the bar attached and couldn’t get out of the wake, so I reluctantly removed the bar at her request.
With the bar removed, she cut in and out of the wake, which she loved. She can now even stay for much longer, and her boat speed has improved.
The SuperSport water skis gave her the confidence and ability to get up and ski, and we’re super happy with this purchase.
My only concern was with the bindings. They’re adjustable, but the slide mechanism makes them somewhat sketchy. But once the adjustment period is out of the way, your kid should enjoy smooth sailing on these water skis.
#4 HO Sports Carbon EVO Slalom Ski - Premium Water Ski
Nothing is more prestigious than a carbon slalom water ski, and today, we’ll be looking at one of the best carbon water skis in the market, the HO Sports Carbon EVO Ski.
It’s a top-of-the-range water ski, perfect for skiers who need a smooth ride, regardless of the water conditions.
The HO Sports is like a Range Rover of the water skis, thanks to the premium carbon fiber construction. Because of this water ski construction, it’s easy to ride and roll over the challenging water conditions with greater ease.
Plus, the material is handy for keeping and releasing energy. The benefit is you enjoy an exceptionally fast and responsive ski that will take you wherever you need to.
But more importantly, the carbon fiber construction provides excellent support and stability, allowing skiers to make their best jumps and slalom tracks without breaking a sweat.
Another thing I like about this ski is the surf-inspired fish shape. This ski features a narrow-width profile with an aggressive tail taper, so making a roll on the edge bevel is easier. It’ll help riders generate massive amounts of angle.
It also creates the ideal planing surface area, and this is quite handy for performance at a slower speed and makes it easier for beginners for deepwater starts.
And that’s not all!
Ho Sports Carbon EVO Ski has plenty to offer.
It utilizes a Clean Edge Technology, an advanced laminar textured ski base on the base to reduce drag by up to 50%.
Less drag and deep concave, helps you stay on top of the water effortlessly while giving you better speed control. For me, at least, I can control the ski better during the rapid deceleration for the daunting turns with a tight rope.
Overall, the Carbon EVO Ski is a great choice for skiers who need to overcome the challenges offered by the water.
It’s sturdy, lightweight, and reliable, perfect for water skiing in any condition.
#5 O'Brien Pro Trac Trick - Best Slalom Skis for Recreation
The O’Brien Pro Skis is one of the most popular recreational skis ever made by O’Brien.
I love this ski because they’re a hybrid ski, unlike anything else in the market, and can be used as recreational skis, slalom skis, or trick skis. How cool is that?
They’re completely different from your regular skis and don’t come with a keel. This means they’re quite slippery over the deep water, so maneuvering them is almost impossible. But that’s what they were meant for. They’re trick skis and not wake skis.
The O’Brien Skis work well as trick skis, and you’ll fall in love with their performance.
And the good thing is they come as a set, so two people could use these at one time. Of course, it might be a bit challenging to get up in deep water, but yes, two people can slalom at the same time.
That’s not even the best part!
Both of them have a slalom boot and a rear toe plate, so you can always enjoy slaloming with your better half or friend without the need to purchase another pair.
Since the ProTrac Trick Skis aren’t your traditional ski, there’s also not a designated weight limit for these skis. And as we mentioned above, though not designed for it, two people could likely use them at higher speeds.
A recreational skier will find it easy using the O’Brien Trick Skis, and this is because they come with a front binding on them for securing your legs.
The Avid front bindings won’t require you to make any changes, even for users with different feet. They offer an easy entry and exit, and all you need to do is simply gran the ski, and you’re good to go.
Meanwhile, the sharp bevels create the perfect ski for lifting you, which is helpful for easy starts and beginners.
On the other hand, the full-length grooves and the symmetrical rocker on the O’Brien Trick Skis increase the stability.
Overall, the O’Brien Pro Trac Trick Skis is a nice option, and with its ease of use and forgiving ride, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular recreational slalom ski.
Best Slalom Water Skis Buying Guide
The market for skis is saturated, and even with a list of five options, I know it’s still a challenge to pick out the best slalom water ski for your needs.
But I’m here to help.
I’ll share everything you need to know to make the right purchase decision in the buying guide below.
Features to Look for in the Best Slalom Water Skis
The edge refers to the part of the ski that gives you the ability to carve through the water.
Every slalom ski has an edge bevel angle.
It’s the degree to which your edge is shaped and gives you control over the water.
If your skin lacks the edge, it means you won’t be able to turn or have mobility in the water.
Skis with a smaller edge angle give the smallest turn radius and the most control. It’s what most professional skiers use.
On the other hand, beginners need a ski with a solid edge hold, for making turns more gradual and at a slower speed.
The bottom of the ski determines the overall ride in the water.
Some of the common shapes are:
Skis with a V-Bottom have a ridge running down the center of the base, creating a V shape.
V-Shaped skis cut through the water like the flat bottom of a boat and allow for easy control of the water flow.
They also maintain a straight line and are common with beginners or intermediates.
The full concave design has a base with an inward arch along the entire width of the ski.
This design makes carving easier and longer.
While a deeper carve arch is harder to carve, it gives riders more ability to hold it.
The concave design is a reserve for professionals who need the most control and have the highest skill.
A tunnel concave resembles a full concave but looks different closer to the edges.
Rather than taking the same angle, the base gets flatter as it gets closer to the edges.
This design propels the ski to float more on top of the water and offers added stability than the concave. It’s also easier to control.
Crucial Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Slalom Water Skis
Material is a major factor in the purchase of a ski.
The choice of material on the best water ski goes a long way to determining the water’s durability, ride quality, and enjoyment.
Of course, many pieces go into a complete ski from the core, base to the binding. But generally, most of the modern-day skies are built with a polyurethane foam core.
It’s a high-density material that keeps the skis afloat.
Also, alongside the polyurethane, you’ll find fiberglass wrapping. It’s strong enough to withstand a beating while maintaining lightness for easier floating.
The more premium skis utilize carbon or graphite. These skis are ultra-light while maintaining the strength of fiberglass.
Epoxy resin is poured over the top of the material to give a nice sheen, necessary for speed and durability.
Water Ski Sizes: Which Size Do I Need?
As with a pair of shoes, it’s important to ensure your water ski fits you.
But unlike a pair of shoes, skis are simply more than fit. It’s not enough to just check if your feet fit inside them.
There’re plenty of factors in the size of a ski.
The first one is the weight.
When you’re out in the water, you need skis that can keep you comfortably above the surface.
If you’re too heavy for your skis, then you’re likely to sink, resulting in an uncomfortable experience. On the other hand, if they’re too light for your body, you’ll have trouble keeping them under control when skating along the surface of the water.
The second element is the speed at which you’ll be skiing. Generally, you’ll want smaller skis if you intend on riding at higher speeds.
Water Skis Sizing Chart
If you’re still unsure of the actual ski size to pick, Water Ski Chart has provided a handy chart that you can refer to when determining the right ski sizes.
Types of Water Skis
There’re different types of water skis available, and the variant you seek will mostly depend on your skill level and skier type.
The trainer skis are the easiest to work with because of their user-friendliness.
It’s common to come across trainer skis with a bar connecting the individual’s skis, ensuring the rider’s feet don’t separate.
Other trainers will also have large platforms that offer more ground to work with so that they’re better balanced on top of the water’s surface.
Combo Water Skis/ Combination Skis
The combo water skis are good to use for inexperienced water skiers.
Their wider front and generally larger surface area provide more stability,
Combo skis are also easier to pick out and best for family fun.
You can graduate to the more challenging slalom skis once you get some experience using the above water ski design and use flat spots.
Still, within the selection of skis, they’re additional variants suited for different types of riders.
For example, skis with a greater width are perfect for riders looking to get more comfortable, while those with narrower width are great for turning on the water.
Bindings and their Importance to Water Skis
Binding is the components usually placed on top of the skis and designed to hold your feet.
Besides holding your feet while gliding, bindings also provide a stable base. Instead of you wobbling while standing, they ensure your feet are in the same spot.
So, what are the characteristics of good bindings?
In terms of composition, the best RTS bindings utilize rubber or neoprene.
These materials are durable, flexible, and play well with what.
You’ll need to consider fit. You’ll have to thread a fine needle here because the goal is to find something that fits snugly around your feet yet, offering enough space to make removing your feet a breeze.
Also, consider the types of wraps the binding utilize. The single and double-wrap binding are perfect for security, but I prefer the double fiberglass wrap for greater control.
Fins are essential in water skis, and their configuration can be helpful.
Beginners will want fins that sink deeper into the water. By digging deeper, riders achieve better stability. When they’re set at a shallower depth, they’re more conducive to turning and offer less resistance.
Skiers looking to make turning on top of the water easier will also want longer fins.
The wings attached to the fins are also crucial.
Beginners need the wings more angled because they offer greater stability. On the flip side, the narrower wings help skiers pick up more speed as they move on the surface of the water.
Best Slalom Water Skis Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How fast should a boat go so I can water ski?
A: The ski speed will depend on your skiing experience, skier type, and type of skiing you’re doing.
The main thing is to maintain the minimum speed to keep you upright. If you go too slow, the skier won’t have enough momentum to stay upright. And if you go too fast, the rider is likely to get knocked off their feet by hitting the wake.
Plus, the speed at which you ski affects how deep you sit in the water. So, the general rule is if you ski at a slower speed, you need a wider ski that can stay on top of the water better.
Q: What’s the difference between waterskiing and wakeboarding?
A: While both of these sports have many similarities, there’re some subtle differences between them.
The first one is waterskiing uses skis, while wakeboarding uses boards, similar to snowboards, only a lot smaller.
Another difference is that the water skis come off every time you fall, no matter how tightly you attach them, while a wakeboard stays bound to your feet.
When wakeboarding, you’ll have a more sideways stance in the water, and when you’re on the best water ski, you’ll be facing directly forward.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best slalom water skis is the O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis.
It’s a wonderful option, coming in with plenty of awesome features for better water slalom skiing performance.
Everything on this ski seems to be just right, starting from the length, choice of material to the design.
A wide and center concave design makes the ski easy to get in and out of the water, so beginners won’t have any problem staying at the top of the water.
The O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis also doubles up as a competition ski and delivers a great experience in the water and will accommodate the needs of beginner skiers, intermediate skiers, and expert skiers.
The ski’s performance and features also make it perfect for kids, teens, and adults.
I would highly recommend this slalom ski.