Buying Your First Pair of Inline Skates
Spring is here, which means that so too is another season of inline skating. We’ve already spoke of ways to get into shape for the summer via inline skating in a 2-part blog back in March. However, a new skating season means that there will be an abundance of people who are going to start inline skating for the first time and/or will be making their first purchase of inline skates. If you’re one of those people, we encourage you to read on.
If you are new to inline skating and/or you are looking to invest in your first pair of inline skates, it is important to set some time aside to think about what kind of skating you want to do and how often you plan on skating. For most beginners the logical type of skate to purchase is a recreational skate. Recreational skates are designed for many uses and require less maintenance than specialty skates like speed or racing skates.
Now, shopping for skates over the Internet, especially if it is your first pair of skates, is going to be a bit weird. It is our hope that we can give you some quick tips to make it easier.
First, understand that unlike many sports, there is almost no such thing as a recreational skate that is too advanced for a particular skater. A more expensive skate is not going to be more difficult to use necessarily, it will just offer a much nicer ride with some design differences. For example, a more expensive skate will be lighter in weight due to its frame construction and the use of lighter, more durable materials. This will reduce fatigue when skating, which is a really nice benefit. It may also ride smoother because of higher rated bearings and larger wheels that increase skating efficiency. Therefore, when you are shopping for inline skates and you’re wondering why a particular recreational skate costs more than another, keep this in mind. If you can afford to get the pricier skate, do so because it is unlikely that you will regret it down the road.
Second, you’ll want to know the types of closure systems you will find when shopping for inline skates. In today’s market you will find several closure systems including laces, buckles, Velcro straps, and cable systems, also referred to as “quick lace systems.” Laces will most commonly be found on roller hockey skates, roller skates, and racing skates. Unless you’re purchasing a skate of this type, you won’t find a recreational or fitness inline skate that offers only this form of closure system.
More than likely you will find a skate that offers a combination closure system using a traditional lacing system, with ratchet buckles, and a Velcro strap. At one point, inline skates used exclusively laces, and then switched to using exclusively buckles. Not so anymore, as the majority will offer a combination because it helps to firmly place the foot in the skate and keep it stable and supported.
Also available are skates that offer cable, or “quick lace” systems. Skates with this type of closure system are great because they allow you to quickly fasten your skates with one pull. You can get a precise, comfortable fit and have the luxury of adjusting your skate looser or tighter as you’re skating.
When it comes to the fit of your skates, understand that when you initially try on a skate your foot should feel very snug, but not cramped. You do not want any side movement or movement forward-to-back. From our experience, many people have a hard time telling if a skate fits properly because they are unable to press down from the outside like a shoe to find out where the toe is positioned in relation to the front of the skate. Ideally your toes should barely brush the front of the boot and you should be able to wiggle your toes when standing upright. This is ideal for two reasons: first, your feet will swell up when you are skating and you will need the little bit of extra room to compensate for this. Second, the boot liner of your skates will become compacted over time, any where from 1/4- to 1/2-a-shoe size larger, and you don’t want to buy a larger skate in the beginning and end up with a small canoe after the liner compresses.
Finally, if you can try on skates in the afternoon, or after a physical activity, do so. This is the best time to try on skates because it will allow you to gauge what the feel of your skates will be like when skating and allow you to choose the proper size.
That’s all we’ve got for you now and we hope that this will help you when you go to make your investment in inline skating.