By Steve Kopitz
Buying inline skates for you can be a pain free process. However, buying for your child can be a whole different matter. Unlike an adult whose foot has stopped growing, your child’s feet are constantly growing, thus making it hard to find the right size. Of course once you find that right size you may worry that your child’s foot will have grown after one year of use. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand the components of boys inline skates and help you figure out the best skate to purchase for your boy.
There are three different types of boys inline skates: Recreational, Roller Hockey and Aggressive.
• Recreational boys inline skates - These skates are used for skating, either indoor or outdoor. Boys can use recreational skates in a variety of ways such as skating with parents, to the bus stop, to school, or just average daily use.
• Boys Roller Hockey skates - These boys skates are used for playing roller hockey. Based on the type of wheels on a Roller Hockey skate, they can be used indoor or outdoor.
• Aggressive skates - These skates are for the kids that are looking to do tricks, jump off ramps and grind. They are definitely not a good skate for just skating around in.
The most important part of an inline skate, from a comfort standpoint, is the boot. The boot of the skate is what holds your boy’s foot in place and will actually determine how much they will enjoy inline skating. If the skate you purchase doesn’t offer a decent boot, their poor little feet will start aching and hurting after each skating session and they may never want to skate again, which of course leads to money wasted when the skates aren’t used.
Nowadays skate boots are made with a soft boot (as oppose to the old plastic0style) for total comfort while skating. The plastic style may be cheap but your boy’s feet will be so sore they may give up skating. The new soft boot will provide your child with a soft, comfortable feeling that will have them enjoying the inline skating experience.
Sizing is the most important part of picking an inline skate for your little man. A boy’s foot can grow very quickly which can make getting a skate a tricky ordeal. Your boy may wear a size 2 but after one season they could jump to a size 4, thus making that brand new skate un-usable. With that in mind it’s best to find an adjustable skate. Adjustable skates will allow you to adjust the size of the skate easily; in some cases up to four sizes. When deciding on an adjustable skate you want to start with a size that is close to where your child is now. For example if your boy wears a size 11, you would want to select a skate that is sized 11-1. If your boy is a size 1, to be safe and to get maximum use you would select a 1-4 or 2-5 skate.
For a lacing system you’ll ideally want to get something that your boy can do on their own so they can put the skate on a take off without any assistance from a parent.
• Laces: Just as it’s written, these skates are closed by laces, which are tied like a regular shoe and also come with a buckle or strap for additional fit and stability.
• BOA: This is a very easy option that your boy will be able to do on their own. There is a dial on the front of the skate that he will turn until they get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit. Best of all, if he feels the need to tighten or loosen he can do this with ease with the twist of the boa.
• Speedlace: This is also an easy way for your boy to tighten their skates. This features a pull tab so that he can simply grab the lace and pull to get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit.
Wheels that you find on modern inline skates are manufactured from polyurethane. Seldom will you find wheels made of any other material, unlike decades ago when inline skating began its emergence. Many skates manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s had plastic wheels, which were ineffective and cracked easily. Nowadays, very few skates (typically skates for children) offer anything but a polyurethane wheel.
When you’re shopping for and comparing inline skates, there are several items that you will want to consider regarding wheels, including wheel size, durometer rating (hardness), and the type of skating your son will be doing.
Inline skate wheels for kids typically run in size between 70-79mm. These wheels are found on recreational skates. Kids are just learning how to skate and are much smaller than adults and therefore don’t need the big speed skating wheels. On aggressive skates the wheels are between 50-59mm. The reason for this is your child will need high rates of acceleration to perform tricks and jumps.
Inline skate bearings are an essential part of inline skates. Bearings will determine the smoothness of your child’s ride when skating and also his ability to reach higher speeds. Different companies have their bearings systems rated differently. For example Rollerblade uses the ABEC scale with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest which is a faster and more smooth bearing. K2 is the same as far as the number rating but their rating is labeled ILQ as opposed to the ABEC of Rollerblade.
As you can see there is a little more involved to picking out the right size and type of skate for your little man. Depending on his age, shoe size and growth potential over the next few years, the best size would be to get an adjustable so he will get more use out of the skate. There are also different lacing options to take into consideration. Hopefully, this guide was a big help in deciding the best type of skate for your child.