Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Skating is relatively easy to learn and motivates you to leave the warm house and get physically active even in the cold season. Whether alone, with friends in your free time or in a club - with the right skates, young and old can have lots of fun. With our big skate test 2021 we want to help you find the best skates for you. We have compared figure skating skates and ice hockey skates with each other and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages. This is the easiest way to make your purchase decision.




Summary

  • Skating is relatively easy to learn and, especially for recreational use, does not require any expensive equipment other than the appropriate shoes.
  • There are two main types of skates: figure skates and ice hockey skates.
  • Figure skating skates are suitable for any experience level, while for ice hockey skating you should already have some experience on the ice.

The Best skates: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for skates

In this section, we give you tips to help you decide on your future skates. The criteria you can use to compare the different types of skates include:

In the following paragraphs we will explain what you should look for in each of the points.

Fit

Whether you only go out on the ice a few times a year or you want to skate all year round, skating is no fun without the right fit. Your foot hurts when you skate and you run the risk of losing control of your boot and taking a painful fall. Just like normal shoes, skates must fit tightly but not pinch. To find the ideal fit, we recommend the following trick: When trying on skates, put on the socks you will be skating in. Once you have slipped into the boot, loosen the laces and all buckles and slide your toes all the way forward. A maximum of one finger should fit between the heel and the shoe. Also, if you get cold easily, wear only one pair of socks and use thermal insoles with an aluminium layer against the cold. It is generally advisable to order skates in one size larger than your normal shoe size. For skates, you need to consider not only your normal shoe size but also the width. Cheaper models usually have one size: R-Regular. A narrow foot is marked D, wider feet are marked EE. Sizes vary depending on the manufacturer, so take a look at the respective size chart before buying. If you want to buy skates for children, size-adjustable skates are a good option. These usually cover 3 to 4 sizes and can be used for several years. However, these are often only designed for recreational use and are therefore unsuitable if your child plays ice hockey in a club or wants to do figure skating. In addition, the ratio of shoe size to blade changes, which has a significant influence on the stability of the skates.

Skates

The length and shape of the blades in relation to the shoe determine stance and manoeuvrability. Long, straight runners provide a secure stance, short, slightly upwardly rounded runners enable fast, agile movements. The blades of figure skates are toothed, those of ice hockey skates are toothless. The toothing is not used for braking, but for a safe landing after the jump or during toe steps. As a rule, toothed blades have 3 to 4 teeth. To ensure that the blades glide safely over the ice and that the braking force is as high as possible, they must be ground. When you buy new skates, they are often not yet sharpened. It is essential to have your skates sharpened by a professional, as the sharpening plays a decisive role in ensuring safe footing, freedom of movement and manoeuvrability.

Material / Design

Skates come in many different colours and designs. Especially for children, there are also skates with popular motifs from films and series. Figure skates are made of artificial leather or real leather and tend to be narrow and elegant. Artificial leather skates are usually more comfortable, but less stable than real leather skates. These are less comfortable at first, but with more frequent wear, the material adapts better to the foot. This is especially advantageous for frequent, professional skating. Ice hockey skates are made of high-quality synthetic and special materials to offer particularly high protection against external stress. However, this protective cover makes them chunkier than figure skating skates. Buckles and lacing are not only a design decision, but also influence the fit and wearing comfort. Skates with many hooks and eyes for lacing take longer to put on, but the fit is often much better than with Velcro or clamp closures. A combination of lacing and additional fasteners ensures optimum safety.

Boot height

Skates are available in different boot heights. Depending on the height, the ankle is given additional support and mobility is improved. If you prefer to skate fast, a low height is recommended. Speed skating boots where the boot ends directly above the ankle are only suitable for skating experts! If you are still a beginner and want to ensure a secure stance, a higher boot provides additional support.

Easy to use / 2-in-1

Most skates are suitable for pure use on the ice. However, some skates can be converted into inline skates and vice versa. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The 2-in-1 skates are a little more expensive than pure skates, but you save space in your wardrobe. Since the shoes can be used all year round, the inner lining is not always optimal. In summer, you can quickly sweat in the inline skates, and in winter, the skates may not be sufficiently lined.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about skates answered in detail

Before you buy a new pair of skates, you will certainly want to have some questions answered before making your purchase decision. In the following guide, we have summarised the most frequently asked questions and answers. This should help you find the perfect skates for you.

Who are skates suitable for?

Skates are suitable for almost everyone, regardless of age or gender. Ice skating is relatively easy to learn and can be done alone or with family, friends or a club. The initial cost of skates is very low compared to other winter sports such as skiing. If you like winter and especially winter sports, skates are great for recreational use, but also for sports like figure skating, speed skating or ice hockey.

schlittschuhe-test
Skating is literally child's play and therefore suitable for the whole family. (Image source: Unsplash / Irena Carpaccio)

Many cities also have ice rinks that are often open throughout the winter season. If you don't have a lake nearby or the winter weather is rather mild, you can also go ice skating regardless of the weather. You already have practice on inline skates? If so, you may be able to get into skating more quickly than others and enjoy your hobby in summer as well as in winter.

How much do skates cost?

Skating is relatively inexpensive compared to many other winter sports, as no equipment other than skates is needed.
Type Price
Figure skates From approx. 20 € (for children from approx. 15 €)
Ice hockey skates From approx. 30 € (for children from approx. 25 €)

The price depends on the manufacturer, size or age group and material. The design and whether it is a new purchase or second-hand also play a role. If you have never skated before, a visit to an ice rink is recommended. There you can usually try out different types of skates on loan and find out what kind of skate works best for you.

What types of skates are there and which are right for you?

When buying skates, you can choose between two main categories:
Type Advantages Disadvantages
Figure skating skates Suitable for beginners of all ages, need to be sharpened less often Risk of tripping due to toothed blades, less protection
Ice hockey skates Agile skating, fast acceleration Rather unsuitable for adult beginners, not designed for longer distances

You want to know more about the different types of skates? Here you will find a short overview.

Eiskunstlauf-Schlittschuhe

Figure skating skates

Even if the name rather suggests elegant turns and artistic gliding over the ice: Figure skating skates are ideal for beginners. The blades are long and extend beyond the heel. This makes your footing more secure and you can lean back a little more. The blades are made of harder steel than the blades of ice hockey skates and have a straight shape. Therefore, they often need to be sharpened less often.

Advantages
  • Suitable for beginners of all ages
  • Need to be sharpened less often
Disadvantages
  • Risk of tripping due to toothed blade
  • Less protection

Toothed runners are a tripping hazard in the beginning, but this is due to the wrong walking technique. In normal walking, the foot is rolled over the toes and you take big steps. When skating, on the other hand, it is important not to roll your foot and to take as few steps as possible in order to glide over the ice. The relatively soft material of the figure skate makes your foot more susceptible to impact injuries. Playing ice hockey is not recommended because of the expected hits or hits from pucks, which is why you should rather use the appropriate skates.

Eishockey-Schlittschuhe

Ice hockey skates

Ice hockey skates are relatively hard on the outside to withstand the impact of pucks or hockey sticks. The inner padding, on the other hand, is soft to ensure high wearing comfort. Short, curved blades ensure high acceleration as well as maximum manoeuvrability. The toothing on the front part of the blade is missing, as this is a hindrance in the sport of ice hockey.

Advantages
  • High protection
  • Agile skating
  • Fast acceleration
Disadvantages
  • Rather unsuitable for adult beginners
  • Not designed for longer distances

If you’ve never skated before, we don’t recommend ice hockey skates as a starter. The boots are best manoeuvred from a slight crouch, but careful adult beginners are more likely to stand upright. The short, curved blades make for an unsteady stance and increase the risk of not being able to control the shoe and falling. Children usually approach the challenge more innocently and fearlessly, which is why beginners at a young age can also try out ice hockey skates. Ice hockey skates are not suitable for longer distances on the ice due to the short blades, as gliding is not possible over a longer period of time and the legs are subjected to greater strain.

What alternatives are there to ice skates?

Besides skates, there are also alternatives that you can buy. The alternatives and their prices are shown in the table below:
Alternative Price
Skates From about 10 €
Inline skates From about 40 € (for children from about 20 €)

An alternative to skates are so-called gliding skates. These have either one or two blades the width of a cross-country ski and the approximate length of your shoe. With the help of straps, you can attach them to your normal street shoes. They are often cheaper than skates, easy to transport and you don't have to change your shoes to go on the ice. However, they are primarily suitable for children and young people and are rarely available in sizes over 42. Also, the speed of movement is quite low and tricks are not possible. This makes skating relatively safe, but can quickly lead to boredom. In summer, inline skates are a good alternative to ice skates because the movements are almost the same. You can also use 2-in-1 skates, where you can replace the blades with wheels.

How do I lace up my skates correctly?

To ensure maximum safety and comfort, the skates should be laced differently depending on the level. First, fix the tongue by pulling the upper laces. Then lace as follows:

  1. Lower foot area: tight, but not too tight lacing
  2. Ankle: tight lacing
  3. Above the ankle: loose lacing

To ensure that you can easily bend your knees while skating, leave about one to two finger widths of space between your leg and the tongue of the shoe. Finally, tie a double knot and a loop so that the laces do not come loose while you are skating.

How often do I have to sharpen the skates?

The first sharpening should be done immediately after buying the skates, as they are often sold unsharpened. After that, the frequency of sharpening depends on different factors:

  • Frequency of use
  • Care of the blades
  • Type of skates

There is no prescribed or recommended frequency, although at least once a year is recommended. In general, if the skates feel dull or if familiar movements are no longer successful, it is time for sharpening. In any case, have your skates sharpened by a professional. This is usually possible at skating rinks or skate and sports shops. The price is usually between 5 and 12 euros.

What do I have to keep in mind when caring for my skates?

After skating, the skates need to dry, preferably at room temperature. If you put the skates on the heater or use a hair dryer to dry them, the shape can change, especially with synthetic leather skates. Remove the sole and dry it separately. To avoid having to sharpen the blades unnecessarily often, protect them outside the ice. If you skate frequently, it is advisable to buy blade protectors. However, only use them when you wear your skates outside the ice. If you store your skates with blade protectors, there is a risk of rust. Do not skate on stone or tiles. If you skate in an ice rink, stay on the rubber mats. After skating, clean the blades with a dry cloth to prevent rusting.

What does "baking" skates mean?

Baking" skates is the process of heating skates for optimal fit to the foot. The skates are heated in a special oven so that the material becomes soft and adapts perfectly to the foot. To do this, the skates must be worn for at least 15 minutes. Theoretically, you can also bake your skates in your own oven, but you will lose the manufacturer's warranty. If you still want to try, follow these steps:

  1. Open your skates as wide as possible and leave at least the top eyelet open. This will make it easier for you to slip into your skates.
  2. Preheat your oven to 80-90°C and then turn it off.
  3. Put the skates in the oven. Let them bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how hard they are.
  4. Put the skates on sitting down and lace them up at the sides.
  5. Sit with the skates on for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not walk around or put your weight on the skates.
  6. Take the skates off and let them cool down for at least 24 hours.

Baking is especially important for mid- to high-end skate models. These are often made of harder material and need to be baked to make them more comfortable to wear and to fit your foot perfectly.

Where can I dispose of my old skates?

Before you dispose of your skates, consider donating them to a clothing charity or reselling them. If they are still in good and wearable condition, they are far too good to throw away and can still bring joy to other people. However, don't throw the skates in the old clothes container: the blades can potentially damage other items of clothing.

schlittschuhe-test
Discarded skates as a decorative item are another way to preserve them for a longer period of time. (Image source: Unsplash / Terry Matthews)

When they are no longer usable, dispose of the skates in the household waste. It's best to wrap the blades in an old rag to prevent damage. Recycling centres do not usually accept skates.

Image source: 123rf / 50220589

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