Hockey is an absolutely wonderful game for anyone to play. It is also a tough game to learn because you have to master several different parts of it in order to get good at it. One of those is skating.
If you cannot skate well chances are you will not go far in the game of hockey. Skill alone is not the only contributing factor to being a good skater either. You also need a good pair of hockey skates.
We have written this article to help you recognize the characteristics that the best hockey skates have. Once you know that, then finding the right pair of skates for you or your youth player is relatively easy.
Why is it so important to have a good pair of hockey skates in order to play the game well? The simple fact is, skating is such a big part of the game of hockey and having the right pair of skates is a big part of being able to skate well.
A hockey skate needs to fit so well that it literally needs to become an extension of your foot and it needs to perform well too so you can get up and down the ice quickly and smoothly.
Hockey Skate Buying Guide
Hockey skates may seem like a simple sports product but there is a lot of effort that goes into the design of them and they also use some very advanced technology.
It is part of the reason that quality skates are not an inexpensive item. In order to get a pair of hockey skates that meet your skating needs and you are happy with, you need to focus on some key characteristics that most hockey skates have.
Here are some skate characteristics you need to take a very close look at as you are doing your hockey skate shopping.
Hockey skates come in all different price ranges. Unfortunately, it usually holds true that the more you pay for a pair of hockey skates the better quality of skate you are getting.
That is one of the reasons that hockey can be a very expensive sport to equip you or your youth athlete to play it.
The fact remains though, that if you are like most people then you have a set budget in which to do your hockey skate shopping.
That means you may not always be able to get everything that you want in a hockey skate for you or your youth player.
If this is the case then you will have to decide which hockey skate features are most important to you and then purchase a pair of skates that include as many of these as possible.
Low-end skates are priced from under $100 to around $250. These do not offer any customizable options. Mid-range skates offer a moldable gel interior, and they range from $300 – $500 or so.
Then, you’ve got your high-end pro skates that are up around $700-$1000 and they offer many customizable options from a moldable interior, exterior, and even custom moldable insoles. You can find out more info in the video just below.
The most important feature in hockey skates is how they fit on you or your youth player’s feet. We’ve already mentioned that they should be so snug they are an extension of your foot.
In order to skate as well as you can, when your foot moves your skate should mirror that foot movement as closely as possible.
You might remember going shoe shopping with your mother when you were younger. When the salesman checked the fit of your shoes as you tried them on they always made sure there was space between your big toe and the end of the shoe.
Well, you can throw that train of thought out the window when it comes to buying hockey skates. You want as little extra room as possible between your toes and the end of the skate without it resulting in an uncomfortable and painful situation.
Snug is definitely the key here. It is what makes a hockey skate ultra-responsive to the person who is wearing. Also, do not confuse the word ‘snug’ with the words ‘overly tight’.
There is a very big difference here, to say the least. If your feet hurt every time you get done taking your skates off, then your skates are probably too tight and that is not what you want either. A snug skate is responsive but does not hurt your feet when you wear it.
Here is one really important piece of advice if you are buying skates for your youth hockey player. Yes, skates can be a big investment for your youth hockey player to say the least.
For that reason when many people buy skates for their youth player there is a tendency to get them a little big so they can ‘grow into them’. Why that may seem like a good idea financially it can be a disastrous setback for your youth player’s ability to improve their skating.
Loose skates will be wobbly, lack support and be uncomfortable to wear.
SAY WHAT?! Bake my Skates??
It is an absolute must that any hockey skate you buy properly support the structure of your feet.
If your skates fit you snug but do not do such things as limit how much your ankle can over move, then that pair of skates will be a pair that will not help maximize your skating ability.
A quality pair of hockey skates will support your ankles, the sides of your feet and your arches as you wear them. So make this a point of emphasis for any pair of hockey skates that you are thinking of buying.
We mentioned how important ‘fit’ is when you are wearing your hockey skates but that is not the only thing that makes your skates comfortable to use.
Hockey skates, much the same as a good athletic shoe, must have other features built into them that make them comfortable to wear as you play the game.
These include such features as arch supports, padded inserts and other soft materials in areas where your feet will contact the inside of the skate. Don’t overlook these important little details as you are doing your skate shopping.
A hockey puck is a hard piece of vulcanized rubber that can sometimes travel at high speeds during a hockey game. Much of the time that puck is also traveling at around the same level as your skates and when it hits you it does so with great force.
That is why you need some protection built into your skates to minimize the impact on your feet of such things as hockey sticks, other skates and the puck as you are playing.
You may feel it when these types of impact occur but proper padding in a skate will keep it so it does not hurt badly or injure you. It is especially important that your sensitive ankle areas be protected by your skate as you play the game of hockey too.
The lacing style of your skate also plays an important role in how well your hockey skates function for you. A skate that laces up snug will provide the extra support that your feet need while you or your youth player are wearing skates.
Many payers also like to unless their skates during intermissions to increase the blood flow to the feet at this time; if that is the case with you or your youth hockey player, then you want a pair of hockey skates with a lacing style where this can be easily done with little or no effort.
Stay away from skate models that use such things as Velcro attachments to tighten them up with.
Blade construction is another area where hockey skates have vastly improved over the years. It used to be that heavy all-metal blades were the norm but now they have been replaced by blades that are made of space-age plastics and lightweight metal alloys.
You need to select a pair of skates that have a blade that will put the most amount of blade on the ice surface as you skate too. This will help you build up speed quickly and also help you when you go to stop.
Over the last 30 years, the materials that hockey skates have been constructed with have gone through some dramatic changes. Gone are the days where heavy plastics and bulky metal pieces are used in the construction of them.
These days’ carbon fibers and other space-age components make hockey skates lighter than ever.
That does not mean that there are no differences in the weights between different models of skates that should be considered when shopping. Some people are more sensitive to increased weight than other players are.
Weight also comes in the form of tradeoffs too; for instance, a defenseman may prefer the added weight in the form of extra protection gives them while a forward may want a lighter skate that offers less protection.
These days manufacturers realize that the skates they produce not only have to be functional but they should be stylish looking too.
That means there is no reason you should not be able to find a good looking pair of skates that complement your uniform also.
You certainly do not want to make the skate style a major point of emphasis in your skate shopping task but it is always a nice little bonus to think you look good when you are playing the game of hockey too.
It’s no secret that hockey is a very rough game and it’s very rough on the equipment that you play it with; your hockey skates are certainly no exception to this.
They will take as much of a beating or more than any other piece of equipment that you use to play the game. That is why you want to get the best and most inclusive warranty you can when you purchase you or your youth player’s new skates.
Good skate warranties will not only give you peace of mind that you are protected from material failure and poor workmanship, but it will also give you an indication of how well built a manufacturer thinks their product is too.
A warranty can also be a deciding factor when you are having trouble choosing between two different pairs of skates that offer similar features.
Best Hockey Skate Reviews
We looked at many different model hockey skates and we found that these models were by far the ones that impressed us the most.
The CCM Super Tacks 9360 Senior skates are our top pick because from what we’ve gathered in our research, they are made to suit a wide range of players (any position and also a wide variety of foot shapes).
The reinforced 3D injected boot is an ergonomic boot shaping system that provides customized comfort. It comes with a stiffness performance index of 125 which is very good in case you’re wondering! The 7mm felt tongue is embossed with lace-bite protection.
The liner is a high-density microfiber that offers a high level of wear-resistance and ventilation. The Speedblade is, unfortunately, not replaceable, but hey, you can’t have it all!
Also, don’t forget to pick a size quite a bit smaller than you normally take (about 1.5 sizes smaller). If you normally wear a size 11, CCM says order a size 9.5. We like this skate as a “best value” given the quality for price ratio.
- Pro Features (mostly) for a non-pro price
- Very versatile design for a wide range of players and playing styles
- Not the cheapest skate on the market
- Features a non-replaceable blade
- Average looking skate
The NS Junior’s construction is stellar for the price! It offers 15% more ankle support than previous versions and it offers an anatomical fit. It’s an entry-level skate that offers excellent value for the money.
The boot is a one-piece injected composite style that will wear very well over time. The TUUK Lightspeed Pro blade holder is standard and though the blade is not removable, the chances of needing another blade are slim.
The steel is a mid-grade metal, but it has exceptional durability qualities. The 30-ounce black felt tongue offers decent protection from lace bite and impact.
The AnaForm ankle padding is more than adequate and the microfiber liner wicks moisture for ultimate comfort. The EVA form footbed cradles your foot for comfort without feeling sloppy or insecure.
- Anatomical fit
- Quality throughout
- Proven skate brand
- Ultimate Customization and fit
- Good price for the quality and brand name
- Non-removable blade
This is a very good and economical youth skate. It will make a great skate for anyone who is just starting out playing the game of hockey. You certainly don’t want to spend a fortune on your youth hockey player’s skates until you are sure if they will stick with the game or not and with these skates will help there.
It has a lot of features that you will find in more expensive skates too. Such as a premium microfiber insert to help enhance the comfort of these skates and an anatomical design that will enhance the foot control your youth player has when wearing these skates.
These are not the classic Tuuk blades found on Bauer’s higher-end skates but they are still a quality blade all the same.
The entire skate is perfectly lightweight for any size youth player too. When you factor in this skate has reinforced nylon quarters and adequate protection in all the right places, you can see that it is a very good starter skate for any youth player.
- Great price point
- Nylon quarters
- Anatomical design
- Generic blade design
- Run a little big on some
- Lightly lined
This Czech-made skate is another winner in the Botas line and it could actually threaten some markets that the other “Big 2” companies (CCM and Bauer) have dominated worldwide.
This model (the Draft 281) is not only good-looking but offers great features for the money. It’s a more-or-less beginner skate for those just starting the game, but are skating in competitive leagues.
It offers lots of protections like ergonomic shape and extra reinforcement on the sides of the boot. The top of the boot section is made of quality black PA fabric and a cool-looking silver print.
While it does not have carbon fiber, the heel has an “imitation” carbon fiber material for added strength. The anatomical tongue offers good comfort and the reinforced toe (with TST – total stability technology) is equal to any competition for impact protection.
The felt insole is double-layered and the ankle padding is super-comfortable.
- More affordable than many other options
- All synthetic outer shell
- Low profile design
- Non-replaceable runner
- Beginner skate
These 5th Element Stealth Skates are great entry-level skates and are not really meant for serious higher-level competition. Overall they are decent skates that offer what is necessary to play the game, like premium steel blades, great ankle padding and heel support.
Comfort was a big factor in the design of this skate and to that end, the moisture-resistant liner adds to the portfolio of features. The padded footbed and enhanced ankle support are also features that 5th Element likes to brag about!
Reinforced outsoles give you extra stability on the ice. Overall, these skates are good for both beginners and advanced skaters in recreational league or leisure play.
They are durable and lightweight and we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed with them given the value price point.
- True to Fit size
- Great quality for the price
- Good comfort and very ample foot protection
- Does not have all the “high-end” features of a pro skate
- Heat-Moldable for custom fit
- Excellent value (though not altogether inexpensive)
- Extra-thick ankle/liner foam for better custom fit when baked
- Pro Level Blade holder
- Non-removable blade
- Not best for thin/small feet
Obviously Botas is not a household name in skates, and you can tell it sound kinda foreign right? Well, it is. It’s a Czech-made skate that lends some level of credibility given the quality of the Czech ice hockey program.
Even so, it’s a skate that is geared towards beginner/intermediate players or recreational use. It’s a simply-made product that has everything you’ll need to play the game, but not much else. It features ample ankle pads and a felt tongue that offers just enough protection to make this a good contender for one of your first pairs of skates or for your recreational use.
The shell has outside vents to help with airflow and there are good reinforcements in the lacing zone. It features a hard plastic toe that prevents injury on the forefoot.
Overall, we do recommend this skate but only if you’re not in a super-competitive league or if you’re a step or two away from the NHL. If that’s the case, I’d splurge and get the best skates money can buy if only to look like you have what it takes and to gain every ounce of advantage possible over your competitors.
- Good quality for the price
- Medium price point
- Excellent comfort for players not used to $300 pro skates
- No well-know brand name components
The Tacks SK9040 makes our list not because it’s the best or the newest skate. In fact, a few skates higher on our list is the newer CCM 9060. The 9040 is here because it has stood the test of time and remains a good seller from CCM.
It’s also here because it retails for under $100 and yet offers great features that would appear to be reserved for a higher-end skate.
Features include a pre-sharped blade (non-removable) attached to a Speedblade Pro holder much as you’ll see in the NHL. There’s an injected plastic outsole which is not quite as rigid as you’ll get in a pro skate, but more than adequate stiffness for most players.
The injected mesh boot exterior is the perfect balance of stiffness for support and flex for comfort. Pro skates have less flex and more stiffness for protection, but they are not necessarily more comfortable.
Pros need ultimate protection since they’re playing against opponents who literally want to hurt them badly! Hopefully, you’re not in the same position, so these skates should do fine!
The exterior is thermo-moldable so you can bake the boots for an ultimate custom fit.
There’s a 2-piece white felt tongue with ample protection qualities and a brushed felt microfiber liner for wicking moisture away from your socks.
The fit is medium volume.
- Value price point for a skate that looks pro
- Best cross between stiffness and comfort
- Thermo-moldable (you can bake the shoe and tighten it for a custom fit)
- Pre-sharpened blade
- Does not have all the features of a pro skate like ultra-stiffness and removable blades
Here is a skate that is made only for the ladies. It is designed to meet the different needs in sizing it takes for a lady’s foot to properly fit in a skate. Now the ladies that play the game do not have to use skates that were originally designed for men any longer. These skates also have a design that gives them a nice touch of style too.
American Athletic shoe is not nearly as big of a skate manufacturer as Bauer and CCM are so we give them kudos for coming up with one of the only lady specific skates in the hockey marketplace.
The main drawback of these is that you must be aware that they are strictly a practice skate only. They do not have a lot of reinforcement in the boot itself or protective padding. This skate is ideal however for those ladies who prefer a hockey-style blade when recreational skating or participating in skate and shoot sessions.
- Specially designed just for women
- Medium price point
- Lots of foam padding to cushion the foot
- Not a unisex skate
- Protection is somewhat limited when wearing them
- Not meant for serious league play
American Athletic Shoe Company has made a nice entry-level skate here that is slightly better than some of the more popular companies’ entry-level skate products.
There tends to be a little more support structure and padding in these than most entry-level skates have. We were impressed by the design here, to say the least.
Keep in mind these are definitely entry-level skates. They are really NOT meant for serious league competition and these are not recommended for advanced or very skilled player use.
But if you need a skate for pond hockey or light recreational use, then these are exactly the model skate you want to own.
They do not have an extreme amount of padding but they have generous support in the ankle area and other areas of the boot. The blade quality is also excellent on these for a lower-priced skate model.
You can skate around in them pretty smoothly and they are comfortable to wear even for an extended period of time.
- Premium nylon outer layer
- Multi-layered ankle support
- Insulated well enough to wear outdoors
- Protection is somewhat limited when wearing them (though the theory is that you’re not playing with adults that slash!)
- Slightly heavy
Conclusion & Recommendation
There is truly a large variety of different types of hockey skates available in the sports marketplace. It does not matter whether you are a dedicated serious hockey player or a weekend recreational player, there are a pair of skates made that will do nicely for you.
For those young players just starting out we encourage you to seriously consider the CCM Jet Speed line of skates; they are a quality skate for the money you pay.
For more serious players you can’t beat the VAPOR 1X by Bauer to help give you a competitive edge when playing the game of hockey. They are very expensive, but they are one of the few actual Pro level offerings on our list.
There really are no bad skates on the review list we have here.
You just have to match the skate model to you or your youth player’s level of competition and primary skate use. Make sure you use the buying guidelines we gave you too; the advice in there will come in very handy to use in your search.
If you use the skates we reviewed as an example of high-quality skates and also factor in the advice in the buying guide, then you should have no problem at all finder a pair of skates that will nicely fit you or your youth player’s needs.