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 kids inline skates and help you figure out the best skate to purchase for your child.
Types of Kids Inline Skates
When you begin your shopping you will notice there are a few different types of kid’s inline skates available. The main types of skates you will find are recreational, fitness, aggressive and inline hockey.
Recreational Skates - Kid’s recreational inline skates are great for beginners, and can be used indoors or outdoors. Although best suited for beginners, the kid's recreational skates on inlineskates.com are still of high quality and can be used to progress as a skater.
Fitness Skates - Fitness style skates are very similar to recreational skates as they are the same design and shape. kid's fitness style skates will offer a bit higher end components like larger wheels, smoother bearings, and fancy closure systems.
Aggressive Skates - Kid's aggressive skates are built for skating obstacles commonly found at skate parks. These skates utilize smaller, more squared off style wheels to give great control without too much speed. Aggressive skates will offer a plastic notch between the wheels (called an h-block) which gives an area to grind on rails, and other obstacles. Kid’s aggressive skates are built with additional padding, and with durable plastic to deal with the abuse of aggressive skating.
Inline Hockey Skates - Kid's inline hockey skates are designed for quick point a to point b speed, with easy and quick cornering. Hockey style skates will offer a shorter wheelbase, with larger wheels which are often set up in a hi-lo or rockered set up. The shorter wheelbase makes for easy turns, while the larger wheels give great speed.
Different skates can be attributed to different skill ranges which is why you’ll see skill range as a searchable feature. Most kid's inline skates will only be offered in beginner, intermediate and sometimes advanced intermediate. You won’t see too many advanced to expert level kid’s skates because at a younger age it’s simply unnecessary, and many of the muscles used to flex a stiffer, higher end skate have yet to fully develop. When choosing a skate skill range, be sure to think of how often your child is skating, what ability level they are at, and what ability level they are aspiring to.
Sizing is the most important part of picking an inline skate for your child. As you may know kid’s feet grow very quickly, which makes getting a skate a tricky ordeal. Your kid 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 its best to find an adjustable skate. Adjustable skates will allow you to adjust the size of the skate in some cases up to four sizes and it’s very easy to do. 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 child wears a size 11, you would want to select a skate that is sized 11-1. If your child is a size 1, to be safe and to get maximum use you would select a 1-4 or 2-5 skate.
Another factor to consider when purchasing an inline skate for your child is the type of closure/lacing system that is offered. Ideally you want to get something that your child can do on their own so they can put the skate on, and take it off, without any assistance from you.
BOA: This is a very easy option that your child will be able to do on their own. There is a dial on the front of the skate that your child will turn until they get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit. BOA kid’s skates are also simple and easy to take, just pull to release the knob and the lace will loosen the skates immediately.
Speedlace System: This is also an easy way for your child to tighten their skates. Typical speed lace system will feature a pull tab system. To tighten a kid’s skate with this system, simply grab the lace and pull to get a nice tight, secure and comfortable fit. Speed lace systems will also offer a quick and easy release system.
Traditional Laces: Just as it’s written, these skates are closed by laces, which are tied like a regular shoe. The laces and eyelets used on kid’s skates are built to be more durable than standard shoe laces and eyelets.
Please note that most all kid’s inline skates will also offer a buckle clasp top closure, and mid point Velcro closure. These additional closures add extra stiffness and support, but are also very user friendly and can often be done and undone by young ones.
Wheels and Wheel Size
Like other elements of inline skating, wheels have seen their fair share of advancements over the years. 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 you will be doing.
Size: 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 which is much smaller as aggressive skaters are less interested in acceleration, and more interested in control for performing tricks and jumps.
Wheel Hardness (Durometer): For kid’s inline skates it’s not necessary to cover wheel hardness, called durometer, in great detail. Most all kid’s inline skates will come with an 80A rated wheel which makes them great for outdoor skating, but can also be used for indoor skating. The 80A hardness gives kids the durability they need for skating outdoors as most will do, but can be taken indoors without being slippery because they are too hard.
Grades and Types: Inline skate bearings are an essential part of inline skates. Bearings will determine the smoothness of your kid’s ride when skating, and also their ability to reach higher speeds. Different companies have their bearings systems rated differently. For example Rollerblade uses the SG scale with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest or 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 SG of Rollerblade. Both rating systems are based off of the ABEC rating system which is a scale developed by the Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC). The higher the number rating of the bearing, the better efficiency and speed it will provide.
Hopefully, this guide was a big help in deciding the best type of skate for your child. If you have further questions or concerns please contact our customer care team!