Figure Skates and Hockey Skates Buying Guide
The best part about winterskates'>hockey skates.
'''Stiffness and Stability'''
You need a skate that has adequate ''ankle support''. Without the support and stability of a good skate you will be putting yourself at risk to injure yourself. Not only that, but if you're on the ice for an hour or more, a poorly constructed skate will make your ankles feel achy and sore. Part of choosing the level of support has to do with what kind of skating you will be doing. If you are a recreational skater who just likes doing laps around the rink, then a boot with average support will break down quicker and mold to your foot with ease. That is crucial in creating a comfortable boot. One that is too stiff will take a long time to break down, thus feeling hard on your foot and creating sores. You might even prefer a nylon "soft boot" that looks more like a sporty version of an ice skate. For jumpers and skaters in training, a very stiff, sturdy boot will be the most durable and create softer landings from tricks. Some specialized shoes come with integrated gel linings that actually mold and conform to your foot and ankle each time you wear them. They also provide added comfort.
Speaking of comfort, let's discuss sizing. The basic rules are that the skate should fit snugly without putting any pressure on your bones or joints. Sometimes you will buy skates ''one size smaller'' than your street size (typical with pro skates), however, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some brands run large and some run true size. As for the width, D is regular and EE is wide. For a more detailed listing of sizing per brand, try Backstreetinline.com.
One more note about sizing. If you go to a store to try on skates, remember to bring either a heavy stocking or a thin sock with you to try them on with. You want as little material as possible between your foot and the skate in order to enhance you feel for the ice. Therefore, heavy socks are not recommended. As far as materials go, choose something that will let your feet breathe and absorb perspiration, possibly a cotton and synthetic combination if you prefer socks. The thing you don't want is for your sweat to absorb into the skate lining as it will cause the boot to wear prematurely.
'''Selecting a Brand'''
When it comes to brands, everyone will claim that one is better than the rest. However, just because you find a really pricey brand, don't assume that it will be the best for you. Part of choosing a good brand, is choosing according to your skill level. For beginners who expect to train, Riedell
is a very popular brand that starts around $50 and can cost as much as $300 depending on the level of skate you choose (gold, silver and bronze are for instructional skaters). It has good support, which is crucial for performing jumps and other tricks. Below you will see the most popular brands for beginners, and a little bit about what each one offers. All of these skates come assembled with both the boot and the blade.
'''Individual Boots and Blades For Professionals'''
For those interested in customizing their skates, there is the option of buying the boot and blade separately. This is more expensive, but it is certainly the choice for those interested in getting seriously into skating. Some of the brands for blades are Kingbeil
are some popular boot brands.
'''Fitting and Sizing'''
The key is comfort. That means a snug, but not suffocating fit. Your foot should not slide around inside the boot, as that will cause blisters or spurs. When in doubt go smaller than larger since you can always stretch or "punch" a boot (stretch one tiny part, say around your ankle bone or pinky toe) to fit better in the future (stretching them can add up to a full size or width). Large boots will simply have you swimming uncomfortably in them. If you get a chance to try them on before purchasing make sure that your heel fits snugly in the heel cup and that your toes are flush against the front of the boot when standing with flexed knees. Kids whose feet are still growing should only have a very slight bit of room in the toe area.
Note that buying online is often inexpensive, but that there are often advantages to buying in a store. The first is periodic free blade
sharpenings. More importantly is the option for getting a heat fit and comfort adjustments. Comfort adjustments may last the lifetime of the boot, and if you plan to be living in the vicinity of a particular shop that will perform them, that means you are ensured a good fitting skate for as long as the boots last. Heat fitting is a matter of "baking" the boots, which eliminates the uncomfortable breaking in stage.
Fit will vary from brand to brand. Here are some of the major ones and what you can expect from them.
series for a higher instep.
: Not good for people with high insteps.
: Lots of models for all sizes and shapes of feet lengths and widths.
: Average instep on most models and a tendency to run wide overall.
: Three different widths like the Grafs, plus they work for feet with higher insteps.
'''Popular Hockey Skates'''
For pro skaters who are playing competitively, performance is a big factor in choosing skates. The first consideration is stiffness, which most often is relative to price. You can determine how stiff you need a boot to be by your skill level, how often you play, and how much you weigh. Boots that are less stiff are aimed at beginners, those who play less often, and who weigh less. The opposite goes for stiffer skates. Of course, you will have to use discretion when choosing for yourself, or for a child. Just because a kid weighs more than 100 lbs, doesn't mean that he or she is ready for a pro skate if they haven't had the proper training and practice. Likewise, unless an advanced player has strong skills, even if he or she who weighs very little shouldn't get a very stiff skate because it will be too hard to flex. Usually, lowrange skates are good for most novice players up to 170 lbs who play a couple times a week to several days a week. Kids are fine with the most basic skates unless they are very large or heavy. Advanced and intermediate players should look at higher quality boots that will be stiff, but also lightweight.