Water skis offer riders one of the most exhilarating sports on water and over the years we’ve seen huge transformations making them more balanced and better suited to meet the needs of specific riders. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get your feet wet for the first time or an avid user looking for an upgrade, choosing the perfect ski makes all the difference.
Water skiing is one of the original forms of water sports, and since being introduced have spawned other sports that preserve the same art form, but offers something unique. Bringing you over 100-years of experience, water skiing combines balance, performance, concentration and so much more helping you glide across the surface in style.
Helping you get the most out of your buying decision, we’ve decided to break-down the Top 10 Water Skis in 2018 including slalom and combos including the best features of each.
- Smooth and easy to ride
- Featuring Connelly Advanced Profile Technology
- Virtually impossible to damage
- Reduced drag and improved manuevering
- Not suitable for beginners
Claiming the top spot in this review and being distinguished as the best water ski this year is a 2017 CWB model which scores a 9.7 out of 10. Getting as close to perfect as possible is the 2017 Connelly Aspect which is a slalom ski which was takes full advantage of Connelly advanced profile Technology. This makes for an amazing skiing experience which helps decrease the weight of the ski when in the water while improving response and strength.
The 2017 Connelly Aspect features a fiberglass wrap highlighted by a high gloss pmu top which gives you the same showroom finish even after years of rigorous use. This slalom ski boasts a large surface area and wide fore body which makes for a stable and ride at all speeds. It also offers superior protection and decreased water logging with a closed cell polyurethane resin core.
- Available in many sizes
- Faster speed
- Reduced weight with a Carbon Fiber Speed Skin
- Binding Spine improves tricks and overall performance
- Re-introduces the popular A1 Syndicate design
- Only available in one color
The 2nd choice in this review isn’t for everyone, but is for everyone looking for the top-rated performance ski of all time. The price of this ski says it all as HO Sports introduced the 2017 Syndicate VTX which is a 67-inch model which outperforms the competition. Offering an amazing look and superior performance while maximizing cross course direction and decreasing rope load.
The 2017 Syndicate VTX waterski is one of the fasted slalom skis out there and performs the same in any riding condition and at any speed. Designed by the 5-time world record holder Bob LaPoint himself, he brings years of professional experience to the table and brings back the highly regarded Syndicate A1 design.
- Accommodates beginners and intermediates
- Durable and strong
- Wider base offers improved stability
- Safe ride
- Features too basic for advanced riders
The 2017 Swerve by CWB is easily one of the best water skis this year and comes in with the 3rd place in this review. The newest Swerve was made right here in the USA along with all other CWB skis which are always revered among the year’s best. This slalom water ski is highlighted by a user friendly and stable design that makes it perfect for beginners and lets intermediates master their skills.
The 2017 Swerve Slalom water ski comes in with a modest price tag and stands behind the quality that goes into every CWB ski. This model gives skiers an unforgiving and stable ride which has gotten better with time. Recommended for intermediates, but versatile enough to make beginners better overnight and is feature rich enough for advanced riders.
- Simple turning due to an innovative side cut
- Better stability with a low center of gravity
- Higher 48-degree bevel capacity
- Full grip with a unique bottom design
- Possible to make minor adjustments
- Bindings and fins should have been pre-fitted
- Higher price point
The O’Brien G5 has become a staple-mark among avid enthusiasts and offers a stylish, clean look which helps skiers standout in a crowd. The visuals are highlighted by an amazing balance of black and green colors and boasts a rich finish which helps keep the ski looking new after years of rigorous use.
The G5 features a performance fin which significantly improves speed, balance and control. Offering superior tracking that leads to smooth edge to edge transitions with a smooth, natural arc perfect for effortless angles. The unique bottom design of the O’Brien G5 gives riders an amazing grip with the amazing concave along with the natural fore body rails.
- Better stability with a wide base
- Compact and lightweight design
- Simple to use features
- Durable and made to last
- No significant cons
Claiming the 5th spot in this review is another Connelly Aspect as this blank model impressed us all scoring a 9.3 out of 10. The slight differences between the blank and standard model keeps the price comparable and integrates CWB’s own Connelly advanced profile Technology. This helps keep the weight of the ski itself seem lighter when in the water making for an effortless freeride while improving strength and responsiveness.
The 2017 blank Connelly Aspect Slalom ski has become a fan favorite among all types of users and sports a new look after years of use. Highlighted by a high gloss pmu finish and fiberglass wrap which allows it to maintain its luster and show off its impressive graphics. The extra layer of polyurethane resin core diminishes the chance of water logging if the outer core is ever damaged.
- Versatile, can accommodate everyone in the family
- Open back bindings with a fixed front
- Lightweight and durable PVC core and aerospace grade carbon fiber layup
- Slight spray with 45-degree bezels
- Improved tracking with a narrow tunnel
- Higher price
- Stabilizer bar and rope not included
The 2017 Impulse Slalom water ski will become a classic in no time at all as it’s as significant improvement over the 2016 model. The newer Impulse does a great job on building on what the older model did so well including enhancing grip, control speed, and overall performance.
The O’Brien 2017 Impulse was specifically created for women skiers, but has been known to give men a thrilling ride as well. Built for the consummate professional, but accommodates the needs of beginners and intermediates as the Impulse series has become well-known for its versatility. 45-degree bezels, adjustable fin, narrow tunnel, and aggressive rocker pattern are some of the many features that makes this slalom ski standout.
- Accommodates skill levels of all riders
- Excellent performance with slow speed skiing
- Safe ride with reduced ski drag
- Versatile with many fin options
- Clean edge tech offers a comfortable and stable ride
- Nothing specific
This 2017 HO Sports women’s freeride water ski is easily one of the best options for female skiers and is available in four sizes from 63 – 67-inches. At first sight, it’s impossible not to appreciate the amazing craftsmanship and color pattern that offers a bright, amazing finish that will have you standout on any body of water.
The 2017 Freeride water ski comes in with an aggressive price, but follows the notion of you get what you pay for. This model is a high-performance model and comes complete with an amazing set of adjustable bindings. Built to meet the needs of all riders, it comes in highly recommended for all skill levels and excels at what advanced riders look for in a slalom ski the most.
- Durable and strong
- Turning made easy with great radius
- Attractive visuals
- Surface shows scratches easily
- Not designed for beginners and intermediates
Hands down, the best-looking ski out this is the 2016 Syndicate V-Type R Slalom from HO Sports. From top to bottom, this Syndicate offers a stunning finish that looks as good gliding across the water as it does on the showroom floor. Highlighted by performance minded features which includes an amazing V-TYPE R rocker line specifically created to improve velocity and forward/aft stability.
The HO Sports 2016 Syndicate V-Type has a matching ski width which perfectly matches the V-TYPE R’s rocker and ski width. This results in amazing stability and balance which is easy to notice from the moment you step in. Other highlight features include a carbon fiber speed skin, vibration dampening system, and HO Sports Superlite core technology which is the best in its class.
- Stable base
- Sturdy construction
- Appealing visuals
- Nothing specific
For women skiers looking for an upgrade, meet the 2017 Connelly Aspect Slalom Nova Water Ski. The 8th option in this review is available in 65 and 67-inches which are small to medium sized skis which are best suited for beginners and intermediates. This 2017 upgrade performs amazing at all speeds and tops out at 32 mph which creates one amazing ride.
The 2017 Aspect Nova features a slightly larger frame than the CWB V series which has become one of the best-selling of all time. The fiberglass layup was specifically introduced to give female skiers a competitive edge with an unforgiving and softer ride. Complete with a tunnel featuring V shaped steps which allows the water to flow through naturally from the front of the bindings and ending with the fin.
- Improved tracking with a plastic fin
- Great tracking and improved speed
- Makes it easier to learn stunts and other tricks
- Reaches max speeds
- Accommodates aggressive riding by advanced skiers
- Not recommended for beginners and intermediates
The O’Brien Reactor is perfect for those looking for cheap combo skis which perform like models priced significantly more. Complete with the 700 bindings which are fully adjustable including one that has a rear toe piece. The bindings fit a wide array of sizes of men’s feet ranging in size from 4.5 – 13.
The Reactor combo skis offer a clean black and green finish and comes in at 67-inches. Complete with a plastic fin which improves tracking and provides a faster ride and a wide fore body and tunnels for better performance and stability. At this price, you won’t go wrong as the Reactor skis are highly recommended for beginners and intermediates alike.
- Hand-crafted showing amazing craftsmanship
- Makes it easier to perform stunts
- Simple to turn on edges
- Difficult for beginners to learn on
Connelly reinvented the Hp Slalom factory blemish blank water ski when they introduced this 2017 model which comes in at 70-inches. Longer than most, it handles speed to 30 mph with ease and comes in highly recommended for intermediates and advanced level skiers. Dubbed as being one of the most versatile slalom skis on the market helps it earn the 17th spot in this review.
The 2017 Hp Slalom Factory Blemish Blank is highlighted by a narrow and shallow tunnel. This gives the user improved stability which offers the same great ride whether you’re cruising around the lake or carving out huge turns for hours. This well-balanced slalom ski offers the same ride under any riding condition making it the perfect everyday choice.
- User friendly
- Strong, durable construction
- Easy to perform tricks
- Faster max speed
- Made for adult riders only
- Scratches show on the surface easily
This Big Daddy from CWB claims the 12th spot in this review and offers users 550 square inches of surface area which sets up a very stable ride. The Closed cell polyurethane resin core provides an extra layer of protection if the fiberglass is compromised and helps prevent water logging. Maintaining the ride throughout gives skiers the sense of security and allows for simple deep water starts.
The 2017 Connelly Big Daddy Slalom waterski is highly durable and will accommodate riders over 220-pounds. The unforgiving flex and underfoot design provides an amazing skiing experience to speeds of 28 mph with a super-smooth performance. Other features include a super-wide tip, wider tail and the Connelly Tracking System which makes for simple starts.
- Strong, durable base
- Improves stability
- Portable and lightweight
- Best suited for beginners
- Easy to learn on
- Surface scratches show
- Do not exceed the max recommended weight
For juniors, CWB introduced the 2017 Prodigy blank water ski which impresses us all with an 8.9 out of 10. At this price, this 2017 upgrade is best suited for diehard enthusiasts are those looking for a ski that was built to last which offers superior durability and makes skiers better, instantly. The look is simple, but the performance is everything but which is highlighted by a full concave tunnel.
The full tunnel of the 2017 CWB Connelly Prodigy helps create seamless edge to edge transitions with ease. For juniors, this ski accommodates riders to 120-pounds and is best suited for intermediates and advanced skiers. Other features include a 62-inch length, acrylic base, and sharp front bevels.
- Accommodates skill level of all types of skiers
- Improved ballance
- Great tracking
- Reduced ski drag
- Smooth ride with Clean Edge Tail Technology
- Nothing specific
This 2017 HO Sports slalom water ski scores an 8.9 out of 10 and was specifically introduced for more experienced skiers. The 2017 CX Double XMax offers an amazing look with a performance and true efficiency that is out of this world. The unique Syndicate ski design offers more real estate which improves balance and control.
The 2017 CX Dould XMax water ski is highlighted by an unconventional sidewall that that shape from traditional to futuristic with an inward rotation like wakeboards. In the tail section, the bevel disappears which helps the water to move freely from the bottom of the ski which significantly reduces drag. This Clean Edge technology is becoming the gold standard of water skis that only a few manufacturers like HO Sports have perfected.
- Performs at advanced levels
- Includes one of the best bindings available
- Strong construction, built to last
- Responsive, makes turning simple
- Unique look with a stylish design
- Not suitable for beginners
Hydroslide introduced this affordable set of combo skis which were specifically introduced for adult skiers. The Legend is highlighted with comfortable side adjustable bindings which fit all sizes of adult feet while offering a snug, comfortable fit. Best suited for intermediates, but can be used by skiers of all skill levels including beginners and advanced level riders.
The Hydroslide legend waterskis were designed for skiers more than 120-pounds. Offering a durable and stylish solution which helps skiers hone in on their skills while offering improved turning with an aggressive tapered tail. The universal fitting bindings are simple to adjust and can be fit for any rider while in the water.
- Easy edge to edge transitions
- Makes turning effortless
- Very fast
- Highly responsive
- Simple for experts to master
- Not suitable for beginners or intermediates
The 2016 O’Brien Impulse is a slalom water ski which scores an 8.8 out of 10. Giving users a stable and smooth ride is what makes this Impulse standout and equipped with a heavy-duty rocker profile it gives you unforgiving speed. The unique narrow tunnel design which bodes well for edge to edge transitions helps improves the overall skill set for all types of skiers.
The 2016 Impulse includes O’Brien’s X9 bindings which offer superior comfort and stability. Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate looking for a faster upgrade, this O’Brien Impulse packs it all and bodes well for all types of skiers and can be shared with everyone in the family. The X9 bindings are extremely versatile and adjustable to fit the size of everyone who gets in.
- Connelly Advanced Profile Technology provides advanced tracking and improved speed
- Aluminum drop through gives high performing tracking
- Acrylic base is durable
- Closed cell polyurethane resin core gives dual layer protection
- Affordable, especially considering high-end features
- Too basic for experienced users
CWB introduced a significant upgrade to the 2016 Connelly Double Nova as the 2017 model improves on virtually every facet. For starters, users have noticed this slalom ski as simple to use and is highly recommended for beginners and intermediates looking to improve their skills as it is stable and user friendly.
The CWB 2017 Double Nova is one of the newer models out there and boasts an acrylic base which is highly durable. The base also proves worthy for those looking to glide on the water and allows you to reach speeds to 30 mph with ease. Recommended for all skill levels, but excels with intermediates as it offers a smooth and unforgiving experience.
- Accommodates all male riders; adults and children
- Plastic fin provides more control
- Rear toe piece in one ski
- Stabilizer bar does not compromise on safety
- Parabolic shape offers better stability
- Does not include trainer rope
- Bindings too wide for children under the age of 9
O’Brien has become one of the leading manufactures of water skis and their lineup of kid’s skis is one of the reasons why. This Vortex kid’s combo set including the X-7 bindings which have received rave reviews for offering the best in-class comfort and improves stability for all skill levels. Whether you’re a newbie to water skiing or looking to upgrade your combo set for a better model, than considering the 18th option in this review is a great place to start.
The O’Brien Jr Vortex Kids Combo water skis is visually appealing, but once strapped in you’ll notice the superior performance they offer. Included is a plastic fin which offers more speed and better tracking, adjustable bindings, and a stabilizer bar which is perfect for beginners.
- Better grip and control with adjustable bindings
- Soft and comfortable bindings
- Dual purpose ski with slalom toe integrated
- Reduced drag with a well-balanced shape
- Improved strength with a plastic top and fiberglass rods
- Over buoyant
- Not suitable for lighter skiers
Rave introduced this water ski combos which were specifically designed to handle the rigors of adult skiers. The Rave Rhyme has proven its worth and comes to you with an affordable price which is surprising considering the performance features built-in. Standing out with a unique wide body design which provides greater balance which makes it highly recommended for beginners.
The Rhyme has become a great seller and is suited for both newbies and intermediates. If you’re looking for a great transitional combo set which allows you to grow the ski and keep it around for years, then this is it. Highlighted by adjustable side bindings which are double density, slalom toe and accommodates adult riders more than 125-pounds.
- Reduced drag and quick turns with heavy-duty rocker profile
- Front Quick Lace System makes them easy to adjust
- Low-Cut Design offers better flexibility
- Includes the highly regarded O’Brien X-9 Bindings
- Improved stability without compromising agility with a Transitional Concave bottom
Finishing up this review is another slalom ski from O’Brien which includes the acclaimed X-9 bindings. The O’Brien ski scores an impressive 8.0 out of 10 and is available in two sizes including 67 and 69-inchdes. What sets this slalom ski apart from the competition is the heavy-duty rocker profile which makes turning on the drop of a dime a reality.
For performance minded skiers, O’Brien introduced this slalom ski which is just that. The Transitional Concave bottom offers greater stability than most without influencing agility. The conventional tunnel bottom further improves stability while also gives you straighter tracking before moving into a full concave design making it easier to influence your movement.
Be sure to leave us a comment below if you have anything to share on this review of the best water skis this year, and after you’ve made a purchase why not come back and share your experience with the rest of this water ski community.