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Buying Your First Inline Skates

The best skates for you to buy will depend on the kind of skating you expect to do, and the amount of money you're willing to spend. Inline skates can be generally organized into the following categories:

  • Aggressive Skates
  • Artistic Skates
  • Fitness and Recreational Skates
  • Hockey Skates
  • Speed Skates

  • Note that buying a particular type of skate doesn't mean you CAN'T do any other type of skating. You'll see plenty of people playing hockey in recreational skates, doing aggressive maneuvers in fitness skates and dancing in hockey skates. If you aren't sure what type of skating you'll be doing, you should probably select a comfortable, medium-priced recreational skate.

    What to Spend

    Plan to Spend at Least $200
    If you spend less, your feet will probably be so uncomfortable you won't enjoy skating at all. If you can afford to spend more than $200, your feet will definitely notice the difference. It's almost always true, that fitness and recreational skates rated highest for comfort cost between $300 and $400.

    What If You Can't Afford $200?
    If you can't afford to buy a high-end skate, you should be quite comfortable in a mid-range skate, but there are two other options: Buy a high quality used skate, or find a discontinued high-end skate on sale. Finding good used skates may not be easy (try eBay), but finding a discontinued skate on sale is very possible, especially during the winter season. I've seen top-of-the line $350 skates on sale for under $100 after they've been replaced by a new model.

    Types of Skates

    Aggressive Skates
    Aggressive skates are tough, durable skates made of thick plastic. They have small wheels for maneuverability and grind plates to protect the boots when you perform aggressive stunts.

    Artistic Skates
    The skates most commonly used for figure skating and dancing have boots similar to ice skating boots and small wheels for maneuverability. The newest artistic skates have only three wheels, and the front and back wheels are a different hardness than the middle wheel. This allows smoother turns and spinning, and gives the skates the feel of a rockered skate or an ice skate.

    Fitness and Recreational Skates
    Basic recreational skates have four wheels and plenty of ankle support. They are usually made of hard plastic. If you decide to purchase one of the new soft-boot skates, make sure the one you select has a plastic cuff or some other device to provide good ankle support. Recreational skates used for fitness and long-distance skating have larger wheels (80 mm), a slightly lower cuff, and extra comfort features. Recreational skates used for down-hill skating have a high cuff made of hard plastic, to provide the extra ankle support needed for skating down long, steep hills.

    Hockey Skates
    Hockey skates are made of leather and they have small wheels for maneuverability. They close with laces for a tight fit, and they are manufactured to support the agility requirements of roller hockey.

    Speed Skates
    True speedskates are very light weight and they have a low-cut leather boot with no ankle support. They have a long wheel base and 5 large wheels for extra speed. They are not suitable for beginners because they have no brake, and the long wheel base makes it difficult to turn and do other basic maneuvers.



    Skate Buying Tips from the Experts
  • Buying Guide for Inline Skates (Tony Chen)
  • How to Shop for Your First Pair of Skates (Liz Miller)
  • How to Choose Inline Skates (Justin Anderson)
  • Buying New Skates (Matt Graham)
  • Selecting Skates (James O'Connor)
  • Ten Steps to Getting Great Skates (IISA)



  • This is the first article in a four-part series for beginning inline skaters called "How to Get Started on Inline Skates":

    Go to Part 3:
    Skating Safety and Etiquette



    More of This Article
    Part 1: Overcoming Fear of Skating
    Part 2: Buying Your First Skates
    Part 3: Skating Safety and Etiquette
    Part 4: Practice Tips for Beginners



    Visit Our 12 Skating Forums
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    10 Skating Forums at AskAboutSkating.com
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