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Boat pulling a woman on a Radar Graphite Lyric water ski

Best Water Skis for Beginners to Advanced

Most water skis may look similar, but they vary massively when it comes to performance. Before you hit the water, it's critical to select the best water skis for your skill level.

Beginner water skis make it easier to get up and ride, while advanced skiers need skis that can handle higher speeds and tighter turns. Men's and women's skis vary in weight, flexibility and balance. Choosing the right gear can make all the difference to your water ski experience.

Our Picks for the Best Water Skis of 2024

Different water skis for sale vary in their weight-bearing capabilities, how high or deep they ride in the water, their overall size and their flexibility. Sometimes, a taller or heavier woman may feel more secure on men's skis, while a smaller man might prefer women's skis. While these are our top options, you may find that a slightly different water ski better suits your individual body and style.

Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Defined

If you've been water skiing before but aren't sure how to categorize yourself, here's a simple guide to skill level.


A beginner may water ski a handful of times a year or is just starting to make water skiing a habit. Beginners ski at speeds ranging from 20 to 28 mph. At slower speeds, a water ski naturally wants to sink below the water. The best water skis for beginners have a wide surface area to keep you stable and upright.


An intermediate skier enjoys water skiing as a regular practice. They ski at the high end of the beginner's speed range, from 28 to 32 mph. They often ski on a longer line and either in open water or starting to transition into the course at a slower speed. Intermediate skiers graduate from long, wide slalom skis or combo skis to shorter and thinner slalom skis. 


Advanced water skiers ski at high speeds of 32 to 36 mph. At these speeds, a water ski doesn't have to be wide or stiff to stay on top of the water. Advanced skiers may ski courses — a series of buoys on the water to weave through — for an extra challenge. Thinner, lighter and more flexible skis give advanced skiers improved speed and finesse in turns.

Our Best Water Ski Picks and Packages

The best water skis for adults don't fight you when you're on the water. We love Radar skis for their carbon laminate construction that rides high instead of sinking. Radar's water ski bindings are also ahead of the curve.

Best Men's Water Skis

Men's water skis are typically stiffer, larger and able to support more weight than women's skis. Here are our top picks for men.

Best Beginner Water Ski: Radar Session

The Radar Session has a broad shape with a wider tip and tail that provides stability and easier to learn how to get up on. Improved grip rails on the bottom of the ski funnel water towards the center to help with balance and handling.

A strong all-terrain core allows for crossing wakes and skiing over slightly rough water. Pick up the Radar Session package with a Prime boot binding for the ultimate beginner's kit.

Best Open Water Ski: Radar Alloy Senate

The Radar Alloy Senate can handle medium-to-high speeds, roughly 26 mph - 30 mph, while delivering a smooth ride high on the water. It's .2 inches wider than a typical advanced slalom ski for improved stability but narrower than a traditional beginner ski. Paulownia wood stringers in the front of the ski can handle rougher water than other beginner and intermediate options, making this one of the best water skis for open water.

This ski packages well with both the standard Vector boot and ARTP or with the double Vector boot depending on the skier's preference. The Vector is a great all-purpose boot, while the BOA boot features an advanced lacing system for a custom fit and Carbitex CX6 strips for handling.

Best Crossover Waterski: Radar Lithium Senate

The Radar Lithium Senate is our top pick for men crossing over from open water skiing to course skiing. This ski has the same width as the Alloy Senate but with more radius for sharper and more responsive turns. It also features a sharper bevel and a bit more width behind the wide point for stability in the latter half of turns. Great for skiing 30 mph - 34 mph.

The best package option for the Radar Lithium Senate is with the double Vector BOA boot. Tackle your first courses the easy way with the most precise and responsive intermediate gear.

Best Waterski for Advanced Course Skiers: Radar Vapor Pro Build

Our top pick for advanced course skiers is the Radar Vapor Pro Build, which comes in lagoon blue and gun metal color options. Its PMI core is a lightweight high-density foam that is faster and more responsive than other core options on the market. The Vapor Pro also features Textreme Carbon, Radar's lightest composite.

The Radar Vapor Pro carries speed like no other ski and is recommended for 32 to 36-mph advanced skiers. There are no package options for the Vapor Pro, but it pairs excellently with front and rear Vector Boa bindings.

Best Women's Water Skis

Women's water skis are shorter, lighter and contain balance adjustments for a lower center of gravity. Here are the best water skis for women and water ski packages by skill level.

Best Beginner Ski: Radar Women's Session

The Radar Women's Session makes it easy to get up and start skiing. This ski is wide for stability and comfort at low speeds, but it can still reach speeds of up to 30 mph. Grip rails and a flat spine funnel water beneath the ski for an easier start and less drag. There is also a sizable flat spot on the ski to help with balance.

The best package option for the Radar Women's Session is the Prime & ARTP. Easily ski for hours with this well-designed beginner set.

Best Intermediate Ski for Open Water and Courses: Radar Women's Lyric

To take your water skiing to the next level, try the Radar Women's Lyric . The Lyric has a narrower build with extra bevel and radius for precise turns and great for women who ski 28 mph - 32 mph. Its design balances speed and control which is great for someone who is skiing the open water or wanting to transition to the course. The all-terrain core can handle open water and the turning profile provides a great introduction to courses.

There are two package options for this ski: Lyric & Lyric ARTP or Double Lyric boot depending on the skier’s preference. The Lyric boot comes in both small and standard sizes.

Best Waterski for Advanced Course Skiers: Radar Women's Graphite Lyric

Tackle challenging courses with the Radar Women's Graphite Lyric. This ski's Aero core is light and responsive at speeds of 28-34 mph. The shape is finely honed to provide peak turning capabilities with less effort.

The Graphite Lyric packages well with Radar's most advanced Lyric boots. The two package options are the Lyric BOA boot with Lyric BOA ARTP or double Lyric BOA boots, again, depending on the skier's preference. The BOA fastening system allows for a more responsive binding than the standard Lyric boot.

Shop the Best Water Skis at Competitive Prices Online

The best sports adventures start with top-tier gear. At Wakesports Unlimited, we offer a huge selection of the best water skis and accessory options. Shop our water skis to find your perfect ski.

Ross Villarino, owner of wakesports unlimited on the water

Written by Ross Villarino - Owner & CEO

Being on a boat since he was 2 yrs old and getting up on a wakeboard and waterskis by the age of 5, Ross has more than 3 decades of experience being on a boat and around the Watersports industry. Ross taught wakeboarding, waterskiing and wakesurfing lessons for the greater part of a decade before owning Wakesports Unlimited. 

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