One of the most diverse forms of footwear in the world, ice skates are used for a variety of different activities. This means that making a selection when you are trying to buy for yourself or someone else can be quite difficult. What if you don’t know what kind is best for their specific activity?
Today, you won’t have to worry about that any longer. In today’s guide, we are going to take a look at all the various forms of ice skates, answer any questions you might have on your mind, and then we are going to review the most popular skates currently on the market in 2018.
Top Ice Skates Comparison Chart
|Product||Blade Material||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Riedell 110 Opal Recreational Skates for Men||Stainless Steel||$$$||Check on Amazon|
|Softec Jackson Ultima XP1000||Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|American Athletic Women’s Tricot Lined Ice Skates||Nickel-Plated Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Jackson JS180 Figure Skates for Women and Girls||Stainless Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Lake Placid Monarch Boys Adjustable Ice Skate||Stainless Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|American Athletic Senior Cougar Hockey Skates||Stainless Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Lake Placid Starglide Girl’s Double Runner||Zinc-Plated Carbon Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
|Lake Placid Boys Nitro 8.8 Adjustable||Nickel-Plated Carbon Steel||$$||Check on Amazon|
Ice Skates Buying Guide
Uses for Ice Skates
As stated before, ice skates can be used for a whole lot of purposes. Narrowing this down will help you better judge what to buy. The most common use of ice skates is going to be for those that are going to use them recreationally. Recreational skaters are going to be kids, teens, and adults that just want to go to the skating rink and have a good time, or they might even just want to be able to skate on the frozen pond out back during the winter. This is a good all-round kind of skate, and as such they are good to learn on.
Another use is for figure skating or ice dancing. Because this is a practice that takes a lot of skill and work, they aren’t best to learn how to skate on but are very much necessary when it comes to competing in that sport. Hockey is also a very popular reason to get ice skates, and as such, it also has to be mentioned. Closely related to this is the types of ice skates, of which there are seven that we will point out. We are going to take a look at them below:
Figure skates are made in order to help the wearer execute spins and jumps, therefore they are not at all encouraged for general use. The thing that sets them apart from other types of skates is that they have toe picks to help you do those maneuvers. You will not be too pleased if you go with this type of skate for any other purpose!
Hockey skates are more of a general type of skate due to the fact that both speed and technique is going to be needed. You will have to go backwards, forwards, and to the sides quickly, all while spinning as well, so you need a lot of things to be able to do that. Hockey skates have a lot of curvature built into them to allow them. Depending on the position that a player plays, he/she will want to sharpen their blades accordingly.
Bandy skates are very closely linked to those used for hockey, but the difference is that they are usually an inch longer. Bandy is an interesting game that combines elements of soccer, field hockey, and ice hockey all at the same time. Because the field, or rink, is much bigger than in hockey, it requires a longer blade to help players move quickly and cover that space efficiently.
Racing skates, as you could probably guess, are made for getting you from point A to B as quickly as possible. They use a flat bottom and the blades only seek to cut into the ice a little. By doing this, it skims across the top and thus ‘glides’ better than most other skates, making them quicker. In general, going side to side is going to be tougher on them than other types.
Touring skates are going to be used for people that will be up on their feet for a long time and will be making trips on their skates. This type of skate has a really long blade and can be attached to your ski boots or even hiking boots as well. Because the blade is so long, these skates will help you cover long distances in the blink of an eye compared to others.
This type is pretty self explanatory and is for the general type of use. Because these are for leisurely strolls on the ice and for all sorts of purposes, they are a good type to learn skating on and to just get acquainted. Sometimes, they can resemble hockey, figure skating, or inline skates a little bit, but they won’t go too far overboard, or at least they shouldn’t to be a true ‘recreational’ skate.
This type of skate is very much akin to the training wheels on a bicycle. If you have a small child, or are possibly an adult that is scared and just starting out, then this could be your option. A double runner takes two blades and puts them beneath you, which increases the level of stability for you. Because of that, you can have more confidence and not be nearly as afraid as you might otherwise be starting out on the ice.
Sizing and Fit of Ice Skates
Getting the proper sizing of ice skates isn’t going to be quite as easy when ordering like with your normal shoes. Instead, you are going to have to do a little research and take your time. One of the things to know is that they do run in normal sizes. So U.S. sizes 6-10, for example, will be used. However, they do not tend to match up well with the size of your trusty, standby shoe. Instead, they run small. Usually by a full size or even a full size and a half. Because of that, it means reading reviews is even more crucial because those could decide if they feel good or awful on you.
As far as fit goes, ice skates are also going to be different from what you are used to with normal shoes. With ice skates, you actually want them to feel tight on your feet. In normal shoes, this is seen as a bad thing, which can cause blisters and other issues. But with ice skates, you need all the support that you can get because you are literally standing on a single blade, which is made out of metal.
With that said, you need to make sure you have wiggle room for your toes. Like a shoe, you can get blisters if you are cramped in too much, especially if you are going to be doing it for a while. If you went and borrowed a pair for an hour it might not be that big of a deal, but if you are going to be buying them for yourself or someone else, then it’s best to make sure you have some room.
Once you have them on and have enough room to your liking, you need to tighten the strap or tie the laces. This gives you even more pressure and will give you a noticeable change as you feel the support coming into play. This will occur from your tongue down to the top part of the foot. If you do not feel snug pressure on you, you will need to look at getting a different size. If you can’t get your foot down into the skate, or if it takes a whole lot of work, you also will want to consider another option.
Here are some tests that you can do to make sure that your skates fit well. These are just some general ideas to help you make up your mind if you are in person. Even if you do purchase online, you should perform these upon trying them on to get an idea of what they will feel like. It will also help you decide if you’d like to send them back or not.
This test is one that you can do to see how stiff the material is. You do want to know that the skate is sturdy underneath you, and this is the way to do it. Simply take the skates and squeeze them in an attempt to touch the insides of them together. If they fold in without much effort, they won’t offer the necessary support required.
This one requires laces, but it could probably be engineered without them with a bit of thought. Take a pencil, or pen I suppose if you don’t have one, and put it on the tongue of an untied shoe. Use the third or fourth eyelet (where the laces go through) to put the pencil on. This test will see if the skates are too shallow and flimsy for use. If the pencil moves too much, then they are. If it moves none or maybe just a little, you should be good to go.
This test is going to measure how much security is in your heel, and it’s a great way to check that you have laced up properly. For this one, you definitely need to lace up, of course, and then stand up. Taking your index finger, drop it down the back of your foot and place it between the skate and the heel. If you are able to only get that finger in, you have done a good job at securing the skates. If more fingers can fit, then you need to get a tighter fit. First, try lacing them a little tighter. If that doesn’t work, a change in size might be the best course of action.
Getting Them On
There are a few different ways in which you can enclose the foot of your ice skates, and we are going to break them down here and give you the pros and cons of them. First of all, skates with straps are by far the easiest to deal with. If you have a young child, or you just don’t want to fool with taking a lot of time before getting on the ice, then this is the way to go. However, you oftentimes will see skates like this being hard to tighten as much as you might desire.
Another option is for straight up laces. Laces are for older, more experienced skaters and are a little tougher to get on your feet. However, they give you the utmost in terms of being able to adjust them and then be able to find your desired level of comfort and flexibility as well.
The third option is what is called a combination. This type allows you to get the best out of both worlds, and it also gives more ankle support to someone that is a weaker skater. If you have a child that is struggling, this might be the way for them to go as you will probably be right with them anyway when they go to skate, so you will be able to help them get them on. These are a good transition as well to the full laces because it can teach someone how to get them on and then they can graduate on up.
Things to Look For in a Skate
Unfortunately, there are more than one or two things to look for when shopping for a good pair of skates. No matter what the activity might be, skates need to have these things in common.
Support is a huge factor in picking out a pair of skates. Without support, you are going to be feeling pains in a few different areas, and they can either cause injury or ultimately make you ditch them a lot earlier than you’d probably planned on. Cutting your day on the ice wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun. Support is really important in the ankle. Without support, you’re going to feel like falling over, even if you are the most savvy of skaters out there. Look for things like a padded tongue, which helps lock you in, and support straps to make sure that you have this.
Comfort is always a key, and many people will confuse it for support. While the two are closely intertwined, they are different. For example, I could find a pillow very comfy but it might give my neck cramps at night. Same thing goes for skates. You could possibly have one but not the other. In addition to the things listed above, you need to find a skate that has a padded insert in the bottom. These inserts can even conform to your foot to give you a cushy ride throughout your day.
The lining is also important to look for. Lining that is not soft could rub up against you and cause you problems. Look for fleece or a similar material for that. And finally, a toe box area with plenty of room is also a very necessary thing to look, too, as well. Like we said earlier, you do want to be tighter than a normal shoe, but you also don’t want to cut off your circulation or give yourself blood blisters… yikes.
The style is oftentimes going to be closely related to the activity that you are going to be doing. For example, a skate made for ice dancing isn’t going to look very good or tough on the ice hockey rink. And vice versa for that matter. But it also goes a little beyond that. Colors and designs are very nice to have, too, and if you find that something is too plain, or even goofy looking, it could end up meaning you will want to look elsewhere for your ultimate destination.
The cost of a skate is going to vary based upon how much you are willing to pay and at which level you are seeking to be at. If you are wanting to be competing with the very best, you need additional support and function, so you are going to pay a lot more. Our list generally has skates that are for beginners, meaning that the price is going to be much lower. If you are looking for heavy duty gear, then there is still plenty of that to be found as well. It’s just the nature of doing the most popular that good, all around skates are emphasized and sought after a little bit more than those that are intended for one kind of use.
As always, price is a good indicator of quality, but it is not a guarantee of it. If you see that a skate has terrible reviews but is priced highly, you should pay credence to the reviews. The same goes for a skate that is cheaper but happens to tick all the boxes off for you. If you have two skates that are exactly the same in every way except for the brand and price, you are most likely going to go with the one that is the least expensive, provided that it fits well and is in your size, of course!
Most of our reviewed skates, if not all, will be pretty manageable in terms of the cost simply due to the fact that they are in the beginning sort of range, mirroring the support issue quite a lot.
Best Ice Skates Reviews
1. Riedell 110 Opal Recreational Skates for Men
If you are looking to get into figure skating or ice dancing, are a guy, and a want a good looking skate for a reasonable price, then this could be just the way to go for you. Riedell has given a great look along with some great comfort thanks in large part to having a split tongue. The split in it makes it more supporting and adds comfort, though it only has a 20 on the support scale out of 100. This doesn’t seem great, but for the beginner, this actually does a great job at covering you for what you need to learn.
The open throat design also helps you increase the level of comfort afforded to you. On the inside, you have a very soft foam that provides extra padding and will make it so that you are able to do it all day if you choose. Furthermore, they have quilted linings in the inside to give you even more cushion, while using a PVC sole on the bottom to keep you on your feet. With the ice pick in front, you can be sure that these will give you a good mixture of speed and handling no matter what ice you are on. They are usable out of the box as well, so that is a big plus!
The problems related to them is that they are for beginners. That means move with much complexity will put too much strain on them, which will cause them to break down.
- Plenty suitable for beginners
- Comfy insoles
- Doesn’t need sharpening
- Complex moves break them down
- Not for intermediate level usage
2. Softec Jackson Ultima XP1000
Coming in a range of sizes, for both adults and for kids, these ice skates offer a lot of diversity for you. Right off the bat, one problem is that they might not fit well. They tend to run in 3 size ranges, so you have to judge that correctly. The company claims they run true to size with men and large on women, but it’s hard to tell because ice skates usually run smaller. These skates are also good for a more general use and for recreational means.
The last pair wouldn’t be a bad pair, but this type allows you to do a little bit more, whether it be dabbling in hockey or learning ice skating, though it certainly isn’t encouraged for full time use, by any means. One of the things that makes them so good is their comfort is great thanks to a combination of Nylex lining to keep you cool, a PVC outsole, and a padded tongue. The upper is made out of vinyl, helping the skate to be light as possible to allow the newbie to get a better grasp of the trade. The blade on the bottom is made from nickel, which makes it a sturdy option that should last quite a while and keep you happy.
This is a good pair to get you on the path toward turning professional one day! If you are an older male with big feet, you are out of luck with this, and if you are someone that is better than a rec level, then they probably won’t suit you, either.
- Nylex wicks the sweat away
- Very good price
- Tongue is padded
- Bigger feet left out
- For beginners only
3. American Athletic Women’s Tricot Lined Ice Skates
Here is an option solely for the lady that would love to work their way into figure skating. The Tricot has only one color, but the white with black is just classy and elegant in its appearance. Aside from that, the PVC boot is quite easy to take care, meaning it is very easy to clean and can be done quickly. On top of that, PVC is very durable, so you will not have to worry about them coming apart, unless you are up to advanced tricks.
The price of these skates are also quite good, coming in at a very low price that should keep you happy as you look to make you or your young learner happy to get on the ice. It has multiple layers of support for the ankles, which is a great thing to have for someone beginning, but please don’t mistake this as being good for people that are doing more than just starting out.
The blade, like the Softec, is made from nickel and will last quite a while, while the padding inside is foam and the tongue is form fitting to you specifically. They can be worn right out of the box, but they do need resharpening after a little while. Durability overall isn’t the best on these, which is to be expected with the price. They also can be tight on the feet as the tongue presses down on some people.
- Very good price
- Lots of padding
- Elegant look
- Tight at the tongue area
- Durability is questionable
4. Jackson JS180 Figure Skates for Women and Girls
Another option for those ladies that want to get into figure skating, Jackson has a range of sizes that will surely fit you well while making you look awesome in a number of colors, including a fleece style that catches the eye. The outsoles are made from PVC, which doesn’t just aid the ability to clean them and the durability but also helps them to be very fashionable and slick and sleek looking at the same time.
The Ultimate Mark I stainless steel blade, with an ice pick in front, that is used is a very good that is intended for use with beginners, so you will not be able to put untold amounts of pressure upon them and expect them to respond very well. The tongue area is very nice, helping to conform to your foot in a couple of ways. The tongue is padded first of all, but there is also a rolled collar, also padded, that forms around the foot to give you comfort a tiny bit of support at the same time, too. The chromed insert adds further style to the mix, making them quite brilliant in that regard for sure.
Out of the box, they will not be able to be used and will need sharpening before they are put into use. They are sized based on inches as well, which makes them different and a little bit more difficult to size accordingly. The skates also tend to bend in the upper sides where the eyelets are, so you might need to bring your own laces or tighten those up a lot to correct that.
- Four great colors to pick from
- Lots of comfort
- Good for beginners
- Sizing on issues a little worrying
- Might need your own laces
- Not good for use right away
5. Lake Placid Monarch Boys Adjustable Ice Skate
If you are buying for a child, you will know that is a headache in and of itself. Do you big a little big thinking they will grow or go with their size and risk them being too small yet again?
With the Monarch from Lake Placid, you don’t have as much worrying to do because you can adjust the size with a push button. This means the days of throwing away a pair after a season could be gone for you, and it’s done so at a reasonable price, too, which is all the better. On top of that, they have a truly good look for boys (blue and black with white laces) that will make any kid happy with them.
The wove lining is great and it offers a lot of comfort and padding along with it, while the stainless steel blade helps the skater cut into the ice as best as it can. The boots are sometimes tough to adjust, so if you aren’t inclined with fixing things, it could be a little bit troublesome. The skates can be used straight out of the box, but it looks like they need to be sharpened in order for them to do their best work.
- Adjustability is king
- Great look for boys
- Reasonable price
- Sharpening would make use better
- Might be tough to adjust to start with
6. American Athletic Senior Cougar Hockey Skates
We have seen skates for figure skating and those for recreational use, but in the Senior Cougar, we see a pair that is meant for hockey. Because of that, they come with the very clearly curved blade at the bottom to help get down the ice and to turn quickly.
The foam padding used inside makes them both warm and comfortable at the same time, keeping you from having to worry about getting cold on the ice or feeling down because they hurt. The enclosure uses laces, which are easy to use, but they also include Velcro to help keep them on and to provide additional support while you skate and make hits on the ice. The boot has multiple layers for protection and ankle stability and they make them easy to get on with a pull on tab in the back near the hell. The carbon steel runner makes the blade light and overall helps you glide faster than you’d otherwise be able to do.
Sizing can be very tough with these, as they claim to run true to size despite many claiming differently. The blades also feel weird and like they are not placed in their proper place, which can take a lot of the fun away as you worry about them. They also aren’t great in terms of durability, an expected factor related to the low cost.
- Low cost for hockey skates
- Carbon steel blade is quicker and lighter
- Velcro gives extra support
- Lack of durability
- Blades feel like they are in the wrong place
- Sizing issues are abundant
7. Lake Placid Starglide Girl’s Double Runner
If it feels like your little girl has only just begun to walk, but you or her just really want to get onto the ice, this is the kind of option you will want to see. This double runner is going to put the training wheels on them, so to speak, by giving them double the hold beneath them to help them stay upright and without injury.
They also look wonderful with their pink and white design, and they look a whole lot like figure skates with the exception of the double blade look and the lack of the pick in front of them. They do have laces, which means you will most likely have to help them get them on to begin with, but they have a heel tab to help them at least get them onto their feet so they can feel like they are helping a little bit!
The upper is made out of smoothed vinyl, making them very soft and giving extra comfort and padding as the rider is just starting out and needs that. One big problem is that the blades are ‘blunt.’ This basically means that they are not sharp at all and that they are not going to be able to be sharpened very much if at all.
On top of that, something to note is that there isn’t much ankle support in these as they are ultra soft, so if you think your child might be on them all day, it might be best to go ahead and go with another pair.
- Very soft
- Great for stability and learning
- Awesome look for girls
- Blunt blades not sharp at all
- Too soft and offers little support
8. Lake Placid Boys Nitro 8.8 Adjustable
Just like the other Lake Placid offering on the list, this one also allows you to adjust the size of the skates to make them last longer and be more worthwhile to the buyer. This already makes them a good choice for a newbie or a beginner, but the fact that they have buckles that snap on is even better because it means that they can pretty much get them on all by themselves and hit the ice without a ton of input and work on your part. This can breed confidence in younger kids, so it’s a big plus to look at.
You would assume that this would make them come in at a premium price, but in reality they do not and are very reasonable, like everything we have seen on this list. The comfort liner that is used by these is not only there to make them more comfortable but also to allow you to wash them easily.
As with so many of the other options, these are not great ones for skaters that know what they are doing and need more support because they are doing tricks and are able to put more pressure on their bodies. They are a good pair of skates for general uses, meaning they can do a lot of different activities, but they don’t have an ice pick in front, so it would be hard to do spins and the such, even if they aren’t exactly encouraged given a general lack of support.
- Great price
- Easy to put on with buckles
- Not for intermediate or above usage
- Not a lot of support
Conclusion and Final Ice Skates Recommendations
With so many things to do out on the ice, it is easy to get bogged down going through list after list of explanations and items, trying to find the perfect one for either yourself or your loved one. With our guide, though, you will now have the necessary knowledge to go out and buy a pair of skates for a beginner and be confident in knowing what you are doing. Just remember, the higher the level, the more support that is needed. Elementary levels have been provided in these pairs, but if you are looking for better, you will have to pay more!
Frequently Asked Questions About Ice Skates
Do The Blades Come Sharpened?
Unfortunately, most ice skating blades will come to you already sharpened and ready to use. Because of that, it is highly recommended that you take them to a skate shops so that they can be sharpened by a professional. Not doing this might cause you to fall, and it will keep you overall enjoyment down further than it would be if you had them sharpened properly.
Can Beginner Skates Take Jumps?
In all actuality, the answer is probably a no. While, in theory, you could do it, most of the skates that are affordable are not going to be able to support you because they just don’t have it built into them to uphold someone jumping or wildly spinning in them. So you probably shouldn’t try to do the Olympic moves you saw last winter, unless you want to end up with sore ankles and feet, that is.
How Do I Break Them In?
Let’s face it right away. On most occasions, your skates are going to hurt when you first start wearing them. Just know it and accept it. But that should only last a time or two, not five or ten. If so, then you need to make a change. Breaking them in is harder to do than shoes because you can’t just stick them on and wear them in the house like ordinary shoes. However, you can use a baking method to break them in. Not all skates will be conducive to this, but if it works, the skates will essentially mold to your feet.
If you are interested in this, you can google it and also look for videos on YouTube to help you perform it. Outside of that, use your skates a little at a time. Do a free skate first for a little while, then ramp up toward your desired activity. Going all in at once might leave you aching a little bit!
Isn’t Ice Skating Dangerous?
I’d answer this question by asking you thousands of questions relating to dangers. Everything and anything can be dangerous if done incorrectly or in the right (er… wrong) context. Ice skating, though, isn’t nearly as dangerous as you think. If you are a parent or someone that hasn’t been around it a lot, you might think it is, but while the ice is very hard, it’s actually a lot more safe and less damaging than even the sidewalk.
The reason for that is friction, which will make the body essentially slide when it hits the ice. On a sidewalk, you do get this action and the fall is more likely to result in bruising and cutting. You can still get bruised or cut on the ice, but it’s not nearly as damaging as you think. As far as the blades go, yes they are sharp and can cut. But with proper form and rules given around others, you can be confident that your child won’t end up bleeding from them. The VAST majority of the time spent on the ice will be just that. The blade will be on the ice, therefore, not allowing for it to cut anything but the ice!
When Can I Start My Child?
In the end, this is left up to your discretion, but you can do it as soon as they are able to walk, according to many teachers and sources. Whether they want to do so is a whole other matter. If you find them crying or just not being able to pay attention, it would be wise to wait a few months and try again. Some will learn quickly, others will be slower. Just relax and enjoy it, because that is what will bring them the most joy out of it as well.