Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best water ski ropes

To succeed in any endeavor, you need the proper equipment. You wouldn't want to use a screwdriver to sink a nail, for example; a screwdriver is the wrong tool. Water skiing is no different. You need good equipment to create the best water skiing experience possible. In this article, we focus on an essential piece of equipment to successful water skiing: water ski ropes.

There are certain aspects of tow ropes that are unique to water ski ropes. Most obvious is the fact that it is not comprised of just one rope; it consists of many. Also notable is its ability to stretch and provide some elasticity, absorbing shock so it is easier for the skier to cut from side to side when traveling through the boat's wake.

If you'd like to learn more about what to look for in the best water ski ropes, keep reading. If you're a seasoned pro and already know what you need, consider one of the highly rated options we've spotlighted in this article.

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Not all tow ropes are the same. Wakeboard ropes, tube ropes, wakesurf ropes, and kneeboard ropes do not have the specific features you need for water skiing.


There are two key components that make up a water ski rope: the rope itself and the handles. We will cover each topic in depth, noting the most crucial elements so you get a better understanding of exactly what you need.

The rope

  • Length: The length of your water ski rope should be 70 or 75 feet.

  • Sections: For a beginner, a one-piece rope is fine. If you are more advanced, you will want a water ski rope that is sectioned so it can be shortened as desired to increase your difficulty level. Most water ski ropes have eight sections, but you may have more or less depending on your needs. Additionally, the sections should be color-coded for ease of use.

  • Rope characteristics: You will want a durable polypropylene rope that is at least a quarter of an inch thick. Ideally, the rope should have some elasticity — but not too much, as the play in the rope can act as a shock absorber, helping the skier change speeds as they cut from side to side.

  • Strength: Your water ski rope should have a breaking strength that is rated at 800 pounds or greater.

  • UV-treated: A UV-treated rope will hold its colors better when exposed to sunlight.

  • Rope keeper: If your water ski rope comes with a rope keeper — a little loop to help keep your rope neat when storing — you will appreciate it.

The handles

  • Materials: Most handles on water ski ropes are manufactured with aluminum wrapped in rubber. You'll want a handle that floats so you have no trouble finding your rope if you need to let go of the handle for any reason.

  • Ergonomic design: The rubber that encases the handle should be designed with comfort in mind to reduce the chance of hand fatigue while skiing. Additionally, the rubber should be textured so it can't easily slip from your fingers.

  • Finger guards: The two points where the rope connects to the handle need to be reinforced and have a few inches of stiffness. That way, it’s impossible for your fingers to get pinched between the rope and the aluminum handle.

  • Double-handle pull: Some water skiers like to learn how to slalom while using a double-handle pull. Others simply prefer it to a regular handle. If you prefer a double-handle pull, make sure the water ski rope you’re considering has this feature.

  • Deep V handle: A deep V handle has a deep, wide space to assist beginners who can't quite get the hang of deep water starts. The handle actually helps guide the skis, making those difficult starts a little easier.

  • Size: If you do not need help with starts, you'll want to keep your handle as small as possible, as most falls actually occur when leaning forward. If that happens, you do not want your handle to be so large that you get tangled up inside.
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Did you know?
It sounds tricky, especially for beginners, but you need to relax while water skiing. The tenser your muscles are, the stiffer you will be, and the harder it will be to find your balance.

Water ski rope prices

On the budget end of water ski ropes, you can find one for as low as $10 or $15. These ski ropes may not be ideal, but they can get you by when you are just starting out.

From about $15 to $50, you will find some decent-quality water ski ropes with a variety of handles. However, for the most part, all of these are still one-section ropes. To get the ideal rope, one that is fully adaptable to your needs with multiple sections, you will likely have to spend $50 to $80.


Water skiing is not the easiest skill to learn. It can take a while to build up your core strength and attain the level of body awareness needed to be able to stand confidently on a pair of water skis. Here are a few tips that can help get you where you need to be.

  • Take your time. There is no urgency to get to a standing position. Stay tucked until you feel comfortable.

  • Keep your arms straight. Do not pull on the rope; let the boat pull you.

  • Keep your knees bent. Water does not have a stable surface. Bent knees are better for maintaining balance.

  • Keep your head up. The body follows the head. If you can maintain a good head position, the rest will follow naturally.

  • Lean back, but keep your hips forward. Imagine the rope is tied to your hips and is pulling you along.

  • Keep the skis at shoulder width. This is the best balance position for a beginner.

  • Focus on a stationary object. It is easier to keep your balance when you are focusing on something far ahead and stable, like the boat's transom.

Other products we considered

There are a few other water ski ropes we'd like to bring to your attention. If you are looking for an affordable water ski rope with a deep V handle, the Connelly Ski Series Easy-Up Water Ski Rope is worth checking out. The handle features molded end caps to help prevent injury while skiing.

Airhead has a water ski rope with a diamond grip handle that features eight color-coded sections that allow you to customize the rope for your specific needs.

Lastly, on the higher end of the price scale, Proline has a 10-section water ski rope with a 13-inch tacky-grip handle featuring an elliptical shape for reduced hand fatigue.

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Besides the physical benefits water skiing provides, simply spending time on the water has a calming effect for many individuals.


Q. Is water skiing a good workout?

A. Yes! Water skiing provides an incredible workout. It is an activity that engages your whole body while increasing your balance and core strength. It is not a high-impact activity, but it burns about 400 calories an hour and provides resistance training. Staying active in general can reduce or even eliminate an individual’s risk for a number of health concerns, including high blood pressure and obesity.

Q. How do I prepare for water skiing?

A. Most people do not just hop in the water and have what it takes to be able to water ski. You will need to build up your core strength so that you can stand. You’ll also have to build up your endurance so that you can last for more than a few minutes.

Also, you will need to loosen up before you begin a skiing session with some gentle stretching exercises. Loose muscles help reduce the risk of injury when you fall. One good exercise is to tie your water ski rope to a sturdy tree and practice leaning back with your hips. This exercise can help you get used to the feel of the position.

Q. What kind of clothing should I wear when water skiing?

A. Normal swimwear is not adequate protection for water skiing. When you fall on the water while traveling at extreme speed, there is a chance that water could be forced into your body, causing discomfort or internal damage. The best protocol is to make sure you are wearing reinforced water skiing apparel. Additionally, all water skiers (as well as individuals on the boat) need to be wearing Type II PFD life jackets. Lastly, some individuals prefer to wear gloves, which can provide a better grip.

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