Like many things, you get what you pay for when it comes to ice hockey skates. The sport itself is fast-paced, and you need a sturdy skate as well as a very good boot with a strong holder to keep it all in place. The player is standing, or moving fast, on a one-eighth inch blade of metal, so you need something that will support the player and allow them to have balance.
Higher priced skates don’t just look nicer, they generally are of a higher quality as well. Even so, you still need to consider the level of play and what your goals are. If a junior is just trying out the sport to see if he or she likes it, then a less expensive pair might be best. If your child has been playing a year or two and is committed, a more expensive brand might be the best idea.
Top 10 Best Junior Ice Hockey Skates (2017)* editor rating based on quality and value
Bauer Supreme 190 Youth Ice Skates
|(4.9 / 5)|
Bauer Youth Supreme 140 Skate
|(4.7 / 5)|
Bauer Youth Vapor X300 Skate
|(5 / 5)|
CCM Jet Speed 250 Youth Ice Hockey Skates
|(4.9 / 5)|
Bauer Vapor X 60 Junior Hockey Skate
|(4.4 / 5)|
Bauer Supreme S160 Youth Ice Hockey Skates
|(4.8 / 5)|
Bauer Junior Supreme 140 Skate
|(4.6 / 5)|
Bauer Junior Vapor X200 Skate
|(5 / 5)|
Bauer LIL Angel Champ Skates
|(4.2 / 5)|
CCM RBZ 40 Youth Ice Hockey Skates
|(4.8 / 5)|
Types of Skates
When you get beyond basic rental ice skate you use at a public skating area, the skates get specialized quickly. Hockey skates have extra padding for protection, and the blade is built for quick stops and starts. Other types of skates – figure, recreational, speed, roller, – all have special design features designed for that activity.
A properly fitting pair of shoes is essential for any ice hockey player, and especially for the beginner. Wearing skates that don’t fit well can cause what is called “Haglund’s Deformity” or the “Bauer Bump.” This is a common foot injury for hockey players, and the chances of getting it are lessened with the right shoe. If you want to spend the money, you can get skates made at a pro shop where the skates can be baked to fit your child’s feet, but there are less costly options out there that are good.
One important thing to realize is that sizes are different for ice hockey skates than for regular shoes. A general rule of thumb is to get the skate boots one to two sizes smaller than what is normally worn.
Thin socks should be worn when trying on the skates. The heel should fit tightly into the back, and the widest part of the foot should feel almost tight, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. The toe should have a very small amount of room in front of the boot. A very tight fit, but not too tight, is essential. Youth players need a more flexible boot, but higher level players use very stiff boots that are very expensive.
A beginner needs a decent skate with a good basic boot. They do not need the special construction of advanced skates, though. When getting a shoe, get the one that offers the most protection and the one that fits the best. Everyone is different, and a tiny difference in a pair of boots can make a huge difference.
New or Used
There is the option of used boots, as opposed to new ones. The beginner needs a decent skate, but probably will be fine with a used one. Skates are expensive and kids’ feet grow quickly, so you could be shelling out a few hundred dollars every year on new skates. It might make more sense to get used ones each year as the child grow. If you can find a skate in good shape and fits well, it will be serviceable until the child outgrows the boot.
If you are going to get used skates, be careful to examine the condition. The blade and the boot. There is also the holder for the blade, but many people see that as part of the blade. If the boot is too worn, it won’t protect your child’s foot enough, and may not last the season. Also, check the blade to make sure it can be sharpened during the season.
Skates for playing ice hockey are very specialized. There is no need to get them or spend the extra money if you are not going to be competing. It is important to choose quality skates, because they do determine how successful you will, or will not be, on the ice. If you get beyond the beginner level and want to play at a higher level, you will have to get a higher level skate.
Some of the extras you get with high-end competitive skates include:
- Light materials to allow speed and movement, while still providing protection
- Durable construction.
- Thermo-formable padding, which can be baked to create a custom fit.
- Increased ankle supports and more stiffness.
- Extra padding.
- The precise workmanship on the blade.
The above is for high-level skaters who do need all the extra trappings. There are also recreational hockey skates that still offer protection and are sturdy, but not as much. Manufacturers have many different levels of skates to choose from, and a pro shop can help you decide what is best.
Regardless of style, construction, price or anything else, the most important thing is to find the best fitting shoe for your child to play on.