Ice skating often seems graceful and effortless, and it’s beautiful to watch pro ice skaters waltzing on the ice. It makes you want to skate, too. But you’re going to need to learn ice skating first. And for every skating level, you’re going to need the right ice skating gear. At this point, you’re asking your coach and everyone else at the local ice rink, what are the best ice skates for beginners like me?
Also Read: Best Wide-fit Ice Skates
You’re also wondering, should I start with cheap, entry-level ice skating boots that’ll need upgrading or replacement 3 months in? Or, should I bite the bullet and pick up something pricier, a pair of skates that evolves with my developing skating prowess?
Which hockey skate or figure skate do you pick up since pretty much all recommendations seem similar as far as features and even appearance? Don’t worry. I’ll give you a few tips on how to choose the best ice skates for beginner kids and adult beginners down the road.
Who Carried the Day?
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The Jackson Ultima Artiste is probably the best ice skate for starting skaters. Not only does this leather figure skate provide learners tons of ankle support and a decent amount of comfort, but it’s also good enough for simple jumps and even spins thanks to its 8′ rocker profile. Since it works great for beginners and intermediate figure skaters,it’s worthy setup to upgrade to if you’re tired of skating cheap, zero-support skates. For adults wanting to focus on jumps, especially tall heavy adults, it’s best to go with a more supportive skate. And I’ve heard tons of good things about the Jackson Ultima Fusion Elle Freestyle Figure Skates.
Best Ice Skates For Beginners (Reviews)
Let’s now see how these 7 beginner-level ice skates stack up. Here’s a comparison table of the most recommended ice skates for new skaters.
Also Read: Can You Learn Ice Skating Without Training?
- Sizing tip: Artistes fit true to size. If between sizes, size down as the boot is pretty roomy. Width-wise, the Jackson Artistes come in different widths for men and women. If your feet are wide. Choose C-wide figure skates if your feet are wide rather than B-wide sizes.
- Boot made from high-quality leather for durability
- Blade stats: 8′ rocker 1/2″ R.O.H chrome-coated stainless steel blades with a reasonably sized toe pick
- Jumps and spins: The reasonably sized straight-cut toe pick works for beginner skaters, but the toe pick needs some getting used to. Most novice-level skates suck at jumps and spins, and the Artistes are OK for simple jumps.
- If you’ve been skating for a while and want to focus on mastering jumps, stay away from the Artistes. Instead, get the Jackson Ultima Fusion Elle from the get-go since these are more supportive and the best bet for practicing jumps including salchows, waltz jumps, single jumps, spins, crossovers, and whatnot. Best of all, the Fusion Elle comes in wide-widths as well as standard width. Size down (Elle) if your feet aren’t wide; get your usual shoe size if your feet are wide.
- Pretty pillowy inside, and the ankles stay nice and supported. They keep feet warm throughout play
- Laces: These aren’t great quality. They’re thin, and they could be longer. Consider getting new thicker laces.
- Colors: Black and white
- Fit: These ice skates run true to size. However, the sizing information is misleading. If you order a women’s size, you’ll get toddler-sized skates! Select an ADULT size and you’ll be fine.
- Wider fit: If you have wide feet, these figure skates work great because the toe area is wider than most skates. But they’re described as medium-width.
- Nice fleece liner: Your feet stay nice and toasty when you’re out there doing recreational figure skating.
- Looks: They look nothing like the usually crappy and possibly dirty rental ice skates, they’re a compliments magnet
- Ankle support: Great
- Sharpening: The Ultima Mark 1 blades come sharpened, so get them on and get on the ice.
- Colors: Black, Blue, Pink, and White. There’s something for pretty much everyone.
- Overall: A sturdy and supportove beginner figure skates that look great, fit great, keep the feet warm, and glide like a dream.
- Fit: Note that the American Ice Force 2.0 have a really small cut. Most people have to get them 1.5 sizes bigger or they’ll kill your feet.
- Probably the best cheap ice hockey skates for guys and boys out there
- Blades: The steel blades they come with don’t have tons of bite on the ice, which makes them fast enough so you can whip pucks better
- Ankle support: They’re made from a tough, stiff, and supportive carbon fiber shell. You’ll have to skate for a while to break them in. Some new skaters said they felt like their ankles were a tad too loose wearing these ice hockey skates. If that happens, I learned that wearing ankle braces easily solves the problem
- Extras: They come with black plastic skate guards so you won’t damage the blades when walking to and from the ice.
- Price: I dare you to find better $70 ice hockey skates for beginner men
- Sharpening: I suggest that you have a skate tech sharpen the skates to your liking
- Colors: Black, pretty limited in this regard
- Overall: These aren’t $300 hockey skates. You get what you pay for here: an OK skate for when you want to explore whether ice hockey is the hobby for you without spending gobs of money or renting poor-quality rink skates.
1. Jackson Artiste: Best Ice Skates for Neophytes
If you’ve decided that ice skating is the winter fun activity for you and want a boot that evolves as your skating ability does, you can’t go wrong with the Jackson Ultima Artistes.
These boots are rad. It’s hard to complete a training session without someone asking you what model they are, and who doesn’t like compliments? Especially if they’re coming from someone you’ve been meaning to talk to for other reasons. These are the skates you want to have on your feet if flirting while ice skating if you’re between romantic partners.
These boots are quite stiff, and you’ll have to put in some effort and break them in. It took our tester two weeks skating 4 days (1-hour skates) to get them nice and soft, but they didn’t become any less supportive. The young dude loved how solidly these boots cradled the foot and ankles, a feeling that gave his confidence on the rink a nice boost.
Being stiff may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t when it comes to ice skating. Post the initial (and expected) discomfort, the skates were super comfortable, and they look great. He didn’t sleep in them, but I’d not have been surprised if he did.
Our tester, who also happens to be my nephew, is 15 and has wide feet. And his ankles weren’t the strongest they could be when he first slipped into these boots. He wears size 9.5 men’s shoes, and he ordered 9 men’s. They came in a week earlier than expected, and nothing about them looked cheap or poor quality.
These skates fit the lad way better than the cheap recreational figure skates he started learning ice skating on. Jackson skates are some of the widest-fitting I know of, and this one didn’t disappoint.
The blades on these are the Jackson Ultima Mark IV figure skating blades. These are 8′ rocker blades, which explains why our tester glided faster on the ice and did jumps beautifully. The straight-cut toe picks on the Jackson Ultima Artistes tells me that these skates are designed for beginners.
Well, the young guy did find the toe picks somewhat bigger than expected, but he adjusted his skating to account for it. He’d fallen a few times before his couch discovered the toe pick was the problem, so that’s something to know before springing for these beginner-to-intermediate-level figure skates.
Important: Artistes Are for Practicing Simple and NOT Serious Jumps
If you’re an adult and probably tall and heavy and looking for a boot that’s built for learning beginner jumps of all kinds, stay away from the Jackson Ultima Artistes no matter what anyone else out there tells you. These boots are supportive, BUT not supportive enough for any kind of serious jumps: landing waltz jumps, Salchows, crossovers, 3-turns, and other challenging jumps.
For practicing ice skating jumps and other tricks, I recommend a highly supportive freestyle boot. I love Jackson skates, and I recommend the Jackson Ultima Fusion Elle for that sort of thing. Sizing: The beautiful thing about Jackson Ultima Fusion Elles is that they’re available in standard-width as well as wide-width sizes. Shall we consider the Fusion Elle as the 7th pick?
Back to Artistes…As for the hollow on the Jackson Artistes, it is ½” and this kind of edge depth works great for most people learning ice skating. And did I tell you that the steel metal on these skates has a nice chrome finish?
Lastly, you get a pair of skate guards, something I see more and more sellers throwing into the deal these days.
What We didn’t Like
The laces on these skates could be better quality. They were thin, and we expected better quality for the money. Besides that, the laces weren’t long enough, which creating a uniform, balanced fit difficult. We ended up buying better-quality, longer laces, which is a shame. Aside from that, there’s nothing not to like about the Jackson Ultima Artistes.
2. Jackson Ultima Softec Vista Ice Skates (Also Decent)
Jackson is a tested-and-proven brand when it comes to making ice skates. They design their skates to not only allow novice skaters to learn how to ice skate but also to have them thoroughly enjoy this thrilling sport.
These Jackson Ultima Softec Vista beginner ice skates for women have the collar padded with thick, soft Nylex lining that gives them a velvety feel. They’re lightweight, and novice feet don’t do very well with heavy skates.
They’re comfy and warm, and the padding allows for easier turns and movements for the amateur skater. In terms of overall liner comfort and ankle support, the Jackson Ultima Softec Vista trumps every other choice on my list.
Another great feature is the Ultima Mark 1 blade. The blade has a flatter secure edge that helps new figure skaters stay solidly safe on the ice.
The toe pick pattern on the Mark 1 blades isn’t as aggressive as on the Ultima Mark II blades. And that’s because these easy-maintenance steel blades are designed to support basic ice skating skills and footwork. Which makes the option an ideal choice for beginners who want to try new moves and build up some confidence around ice skating.
There’s one more important feature: the boots’ anti-bacterial properties. The Jackson Ultima Vista ice skates have an anti-bacterial microfiber lining that protects the foot against infection.
With these skates, you’re assured of comfort, balance, and a great design. These are modern-looking girlie ice skating boots that promise to get you skating in no time.
One more thing: they’re sold in at least 5 colors including white, black, blue, navy blue, and pink. Lest I forget, these ones come sharpened so you can get on the rink right away and glide around to your heart’s content. But you may still want to get the skate sharpened by a pro sharpener to further fine-tune the groove.
Sizing? This skate is sold in children, youth, and adult sizes. When ordering, make sure to choose from Adult sizes. I initially selected a women’s size, and guess what came in the box? A toddler-sized figure skates, that’s what. I returned them (return wasn’t a hassle) and ordered my usual shoe size, and I got a glovelike fit.
My feet are wider, but there was enough toe room for them. They didn’t squish my feet as others had done before.
Though these aren’t the cheapest figure skates on the market, they’re quite affordable. But it’s hard to find a comfier, warmer, and more durable beginner figure skate than the Jackson Ultima Softec Vista. At least not in that price range. And when it comes to ankle support, there’s no better bet.
3. Jackson Ultima SoftSkate Finesse 180 (Size 8 for Women)
Tired of floppy figure skates that provide little support? Ever slid into a pair of beginner figure skates that were so unsupportive that your ankles bowed outward or inward? The Jackson Ultima Finesse 180 provides a surprising level of ankle support for beginner skates.
Well, these recreational Jackson figure skates aren’t cheap. But they look awesome, and you’ll love how comfy and supportive the ice shoes are.
As for fit, these soft boots fit true to size. So, I’ll not advise you to size up or down. Just measure your feet and see what skate size Jackson’s size chart for this ice skate model suggests.
Ice skates aren’t supposed to fit like regular shoes, you know. Your skates shouldn’t feel too tight or too loose, just comfortably snug.
I found the size chart to be pretty accurate. And if you’re the kind of beginner figure skater who needs skates that run a little roomy, the Jackson Ultima Finesse 180 skates are a great bet.
The blades on these skates come with a beginner-friendly toe-pick design — not too aggressive. The Mark 1 blades are stainless steel blades. At that price, you can expect these to be decent blades that endure multiple sharpens. Note that the blades come unsharpened.
What I Didn’t Like: The Laces Aren’t Long Enough
The laces you get with these skates aren’t long enough. Also, the laces weren’t as thick as I like. But you won’t find many beginner figure skates whose laces won’t need replacement.
With these laces, you won’t be able to lace your boots all the way up to the last hook. But buying longer laces completely solves that problem. And decent ice skate laces are a dime a dozen. Still, I’d expected better laces at that price point.
Some reviewers said that the Finesse 180 skates came with faulty hooks. In some cases, the hooks broke after just a month of light skate use. But this hook-quality issue didn’t seem to be widespread. Plus, the seller (on Amazon) did replace the boots with issues.
Sure, you can get cheaper entry-level figure skates. But I doubt they’ll be nearly as comfy, supportive, and cute as the Jackson Ultima Finesse 180.
I’m happy to recommend them to anyone wanting to try ice skating without enduring the unpleasantness that comes from wearing heavy, often unsharpened rental ice skates.
4. Lake Placid Monarch Girls Adjustable Ice Skate (Medium Size 2-6)
The Lake Placid Monarch girls’ skates look like regular inline skates on steel rather than wheels. This white/pink girl’s skate looks nice, too. Your daughter won’t want to miss a public session or an ice skating lesson.
Unlike many girls’ recreational hockey skates in that price range, these ones offer enough ankle support. The hard outer shell that houses an inner soft boot with cushy woven liners deserves the credit here. The padding inside is thick enough and keeps young feet warm and comfortable throughout the skating session.
Features a 3-Part Boot Closure System
Just like the boys’ version with adjustable sizing, this option doesn’t exclusively use traditional laces to secure the boots. Instead, this product uses powerstraps designed to keep young inexperienced heels locked in nice and secure. There’s also a buckle at the top that makes customizing the fit even easier while increasing support.
The Skate Extends Up to 4 Sizes
As for sizing, this ice shoe offers size extendibility of up to 4 sizes. And the skate is available in 3 size categories namely Small (11-2), Medium 2-6, and Large sizes 6-9. The Lake Placid Monarch girls’ skates you’re looking at sit in the medium-size range of 2-6.
This skating boot also offers expandability. That’s a really cool feature that lets your kid grow into the boot without needing to size up or use thick socks.
But I found that adjusting the size can be quite hard. You’ll likely end up returning this product unless you learn the little trick I’m about share with you.
How to Adjust the Size of the Lake Placid Monarch Girls’ Ice Skates
First, pull the quick-flip pink lever to open it. Next, turn to the two black screws located underneath the front part of the skate and give each a turn or two to loosen things up.
Then, hold the rear of the skate with one hand. Next, grab the toe of each skate and pull it forward. At that point, the front portion of the boot should slide forward with ease. Once you have the right size, turn the black screws the other way, and you’re done.
In some cases, using your hands to hold the rear of the boot won’t suffice. In that case, you’ll have to invent a way to provide a firmer grip.
A doting dad I’m friends with used a vise to make things easier. The person placed some steel rod between the jaws of the vise and then hooked their skate’s frame on it. They then pulled the front part of the shoe until it gave in and slid forward.
Well, that’s a bummer. But I think it’s easier than shipping the skate back. Try this trick and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
The Skates Don’t Arrive Sharpened, Though
Remember to sharpen these girls’ skates. Well, my niece’s skates came sharpened. She could skate on them right out of the box. But they still needed a tweak to get the sharpening right. The skates sharpen well, and that’s another positive.
For the price, the Lake Placid Monarch is a decent kid’s skate your little loved one won’t outgrow in a year. But they’re meant for casual skating or recreational ice skating rather than abusive, regular skating. Overall, it’s a good beginner girl’s recreational hockey skate.
5. American Ice Force 2.0 Hockey Skates: The Budget Pick
The ice shoes hubby received had a professional feel to them that’s uncommon with $70is ice skates. But the tough carbon shell made them a little too stiff, and hubby’s feet hurt a little. But good hockey skates are supposed to be super stiff.
But good hockey skates are supposed to be super stiff and supportive so they can support the novice skater’s untrained feet as they glide around, whipping pucks.
The skates arrived with plastic skate guards, and that’s nice. These guards allowed him to wear the hockey skates around the house for sometime in an attempt to break them in. After skating 30minuest for 3-4 days on these guys, hubby was quite happy with how great they felt and worked.
You’ll go nice and fast with these ice skates thanks to the blades not digging too much into the snow.
But there’s the little matter of sizing, which is way off for these skates. I came across reviews that said they fit true to size, but I’d say those folks were simply parroting back what the manufacturer says.
My husband’s experience was that these hockey skates are at least 1.5 sizes smaller. He had to returned them, and order skates that were 1.5 sizes bigger. I suggest that you do the same if you have your eyes set on these guys. And he’s not the only one. Many other skaters whose reviews I read said the same thing.
If between sizes, definitely size up. The skate in the picture is size 7 men, and even though the manufacturer says it fits true to size, that’s not the case. Go up one and a half size.
One cool structural feature of the American Athlete Ice Force 2.0 is its customizable PVC injection padding. This padding is designed to mold onto your feet for the perfect fit. Also, this padding makes baking these skates possible.
But are these skates comfortable? The American Athlete Ice Force 2.0 skating boots boast a breathable, comfortable liner that’s also highly absorbent. You won’t experience wet or sweaty feet, and your feet will remain toasty warm.
There’s also a nylon toe box for safety and comfort. But as explained above, the American Athlete Ice Force isn’t super comfy right out of the box.
For beginner hockey skates for boys, go with the American Athletic Shoe Boy’s Ice Force Hockey Skates. These youth hockey skates for beginners are available in the youth hockey skate size range 2Y – 13Y.
Buy the American Ice Force 2.0 beginner hockey skates to play in the rec league. But if you’re an avid skater, please pick up something else as these likely won’t hold up.
For any kind of aggressive hockey skating, you’d be better off with a Bauer or CCM hockey skate. The American Ice Force 2.0 is a beginner option, after all. In the end, they’re lots of bang for the money. But don’t expect them to last seasons…because they won’t.
A great fit, comfort, and extra support are what make American Athlete Ice Force 2.0 one of the best ice skates for beginners. What’s more, these skates are reasonably priced.
BTW, these ice shoes usually come in black, they’re a little limited in the color department.
Also, I came across skaters who said their ankles did feel a tad loose wearing these hockey skates. Which made setting up maneuvers that much harder.
Fortunately, wearing ankle braces instantly solved the problem. The braces made sure that the blade placed right under the foot, and this made doing slide stops and other aggro maneuvers noticeably easier.
6. Riedell 615 Soar Beginner Youth Figure Skates: Best for Kids
The Riedell 615 Soar youth figure skates are designed for young recreational-level skaters (for 7-year-old girls).
As a parent, you want your child to be comfortable enough on the ice. And this size 13 beginner youth figure skate does the job. The skate does run a little wide, though. And that makes it ideal for wide young feet.
This nice-looking youth-size ice skate features a plush foam-backed velvet lining coupled with a durable, easy-to-main boot for comfort.
Another comfort-boosting feature is the 3M Thinsulate insulation. The Thinsulate technology allows materials to stay warm even when they’re wet. This insulation keeps your little one’s feet dry and comfy even when they’re practicing their new-skater footwork vigorously on the ice.
The skate comes with lightweight PVC soles designed to keep moisture out, keeping young cold feet dry. As for the blades, they’re stainless steel blades called Spiral Blade, and they seem durable. You’ll need to give these a proper sharpening first, though.
Since these youth figure skates are light, your athletic tyke will want to spend every weekend playing on the ice. Then there’s the split-tongue design, a feature that works hard to foster stability. And the skate provides a reasonable level of ankle support.
Finally, the figure skate features a Velcro closure. Velcro closures are great for beginner kid ice skaters because they’re pretty easy to use. There’s traditional laces, too, and together the two closure systems keep small young feet nice and secure.
The Riedell 615 Soar beginner kids figure skates are available in two cool colors, blue and pink. Your little girl won’t want to take them off!
Last but not least, these skating boots have an anti-bacterial lining to keep things inside the skate nice and hygienic. That is why I crowned them the best ice skates for the entire family.
Why Did I Pick Jackson Ultima Artiste as the Winner?
I picked the Jackson Ultima Artiste as the best beginner ice skate overall. That’s because the skate looks great and offers decent performance to learners and those further ahead in the lessons. It’s available in kids and adult sizes (both men’s and women’s sizes), plus it’s super comfy and keeps the feet toasty while providing amazing ankle support. And because the boot is made from leather, you can expect these skates to last longer than most, even when you throw a decent amount of abuse at them each week during the winter season.
That doesn’t mean you can’t try on any of the others. They’re also decent beginner options, and beginner men might love the American Ice Force 2.0 Hockey Skates. Because they’re dirt-cheap and are supportive and tough for play without being complete crap. For little and older gals, the Jackson Ultima Softec Vista could be a great choice.
Also Read: Keeping Feet Warm and Dry Ice Skating
Comfort and stability are crucial in a good pair of starter ice skates. Whether you need skates for recreation or to jumpstart a passion after a 10-year hiatus, get good skates, ones that show decent performance while holding up beautifully to constant practice on the ice.
A pair of ice skates that checks all the boxes may cost you a pretty sum, but it’s almost always a worthwhile investment. And here’s good news: none of the picks reviewed here suck, and none would make your credit card hate you for months.
But before you go out skating, remember to grab a good skate helmet like any one of these for your safety.
Two Main Types of Ice Skates
The ice skating market offers two main types of ice skates namely figure skates and hockey skates. Each type of ice skate is built to facilitate a different kind of motion on the ice in line with the corresponding sport.
So, what’s the difference between hockey skates and figure skates? Should a beginner go for hockey skates or choose figure skates instead?
Figure Skates Vs Hockey Skates: What’s the Difference?
Figure skates tend to be lighter than hockey skates and usually feature a toe pick. Also, figure skating boots look nicer and allow for more foot movement than hockey skates do, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the better choice for starters. Hockey skates have better symmetry and generally provide noticeably better ankle support compared to figure skates.
Figure Skates Or Hockey Skates for Beginners?
As for what ice skates are better for a beginner, hockey skates are a better option in my experience and that of many ice skaters. Do you know why hockey skates are a great choice for ice skating beginners? It’s because hockey skates offer more support to the wearer’s ankles. Additionally, hokey ice skates offer more maneuverability compared to figure skates.
You probably aren’t sure what to choose at this point, so why not…
Rent Both Ice Skate Types at the Rink and Test Out Each
Here’s a little advice for you: drive down to the local ice rink and try both skates. See what you like better and go with that. You might find that you like figure skating better than ice hockey.
Once you’re comfortable skating around the rink, you’ll find that both figure skates and hockey skates are quite easy to skate on. In the end, the best option for a beginning adult ice skater is a matter of personal preference.
Now that we’ve grasped the differences, let us dive into what you need to look for as an absolute beginner shopping for a worthy pair of ice skating boots.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Ice Skates for New Skaters
In this brief entry-level ice skate buying guide, I point out a couple of factors to Keep in mind as you shop around:
1. Be Sure the Ice Skate Boots Fit Just Right
Ice skates should have a snug fit. If the fit is either too tight, that can cause injuries to your ankles as well as unpleasant pressure points while skating. And if too loose, controlling your skates becomes a tad more difficult. If you can move your feet in more ways than wiggling your toes, the fit is probably too loose.
Are ice skate sizes the same as shoe sizes? How do you know your ice skates fit well? No, ice skates aren’t the same size as regular shoes. Ice skates (hockey skates and figure skates) fit large (1 to 1.5 sizes larger than regular sneaker sizes). That’s why it’s recommended that men size down at least 1 size and women to size down 2 sizes.
But here’s the thing: different ice skate brands size ice skates differently. 1 size smaller in a particular brand
As far as fit, your toes shouldn’t be crammed into the toe cap; rather, your toes should barely touch it. And heel room should be adequate but no more than a 1/4.” Once you’ve correctly laced up your skates, they figure skates and hockey skates feel snug, and your feet rest comfortably on the footbed.
If your skates are too tight (maybe they’re a smaller size or you’ve tied the laces too tight?), that can dramatically reduce ankle flexion.
Too much tightness makes it so that you can’t achieve full extension when striding on the ice. That’s because you can’t bend your ankles as you’d like. And that means you can’t bend your knees properly either. Properly fitting beginning skates don’t feel too tight or too loose.
How to Size Skate Blades
Your blades need to fit your boots just right. For beginner adult skaters, blades should be between 0.125″ – 0.25″ shorter than the boot’s entire sole length. If the soles are 9.25″ long, the blades should be about 9.0″ long.
However, when buying beginner ice skates for growing children’s feet, select blades that run end-to-end. Such blades are referred to as a “growth mount” because they can be swapped out and used on the next upgraded pair of kid’s ice skates.
Choose Adjustable Skates for Your Kid
Most brands have a size chart to help you find the pair of ice skating boots that will fit you best. For growing children, there are adjustable boots to accommodate growth, which saves you money. Unfortunately, none of my picks above offers size adjustability so that parents of rapidly growing groms won’t have to buy new skates too soon.
But that’s no biggie. Simply choose the correct size ice skate and pray that your kiddo’s feet won’t grow too fast. Look, just accept you’ll have to buy a new pair of ice skates for that growing grom pretty soon.
But, There’s ALWAYS a Break-in Period
Even ice skates that fit great may hurt a little initially. They’re stiff by nature, and it takes a little time for the feet to get used to new, strange fit.
In fact, it’s normal for pro skaters to expect their boots to cause some discomfort when worn for the first time and a couple of days afterward. So, expect to do some work to break your ice skates in. Everyone’s gotta break in their skates, you know.
2. What Skating Level Have You Achieved?
You’re interested in ice skating, but you are very new to this exciting indoor activity.
The first question you may want to answer is, what type of ice skating do I intend to take up?
As a beginner, you’re not looking for skates designed for jumps, spins, and other complicated stunts. That means you’re not looking for the stiffest ice skates on the market. Super stiff boots are for intermediate and advanced-level ice skating. Beginners need soft, comfortable entry-level boots or mildly stiff vinyl or leather boots that offer a decent level of comfort and support.
Fortunately, most ice skate brands have a guide to help skaters at all levels get an idea of what kind of boot they need at each skating level.
Tip: The common advice thrown around by pretty much everyone is to get ice skates designed for your current skating level. But I have a different opinion. I say buy something one level or even more above your current skating level. Pick up ice skates that’ll serve your current level adequately and still be useful when you’re 6 months in. Sound like a good idea?
3. Ice Skate Boot Material
Whether you’re new to ice skating or are a seasoned skater, you want to know what constitutes the boot portion of the ice skates.
For a beginner, there’s a wide range of leather and vinyl boots to choose from. Leather boots tend to be pricier and more durable than vinyl boots. If you can afford it, go for a leather boot as a beginner as leather tends to be softer and offers more flexibility. But if you favor a more vegan lifestyle, you’d be better served by vinyl boot skates.
When buying ice skates for a young beginning skater, it’s tempting to go for the flashiest plastic skates. Kids love plastic boots because they tend to look fab. But I’ve never seen a high-quality, durable pair of plastic ice skates. Besides, they’re rarely super comfy.
And, unless you are skating outside, it’s best to avoid fleece boots. That’s because fleece skates tend to reduce the control you have over your feet and that can’t be nice.
4. Know Your Ice Skate Blades
Blades usually come with the boots for most beginner-level figure skates and hockey skates. And that’s OK. However, more advanced skaters prefer to buy them separately.
Whether you buy a complete boot-blade setup or buy separate components and build a custom skate, you need to know a few critical things about ice skate blades.
The best quality beginner skates have great blades, blades that give a great performance while needing sharpening less often. Such skates are low-maintenance skates that win on all critical fronts.
Blades that require constant sharpening not only waste your precious time and money but also nick pretty easily. Generally, beginner-level ice skates typically have lower-quality stainless steel blades while advanced-level skates feature high-quality stainless steel blades with lots of carbon. But they’re going to be pricier.
When shopping for a young skater, be sure to avoid skates with nickel blades. Because nickel blades suck at holding a sharpen. And getting skates sharpened can be quite the hassle in some places.
Blade Construction Technology
In the past, beginner skates came with nickel-coated steel blades. But increasingly, beginner blades are being made of good quality chrome-coated stainless steel.
High-quality blades don’t necessitate sharpening as often as beginner blades. Additionally, the best quality blades translate to noticeably smoother flow over the ice as well as better jumps and spins.
Aside from that, better quality blades resist damage and rust better than cheaper, nickel-plated steel blades. Yes, ice skates can and do rust if you don’t take good care of them or don’t store them properly. Make sure to completely dry your blades post skating and store them away from moisture.
Many modern ice skates boast an aluminum alloy frame which reduces blade weight considerably. But the best of the best ice skate blades are constructed from carbon fiber technology, a technology that dramatically reduces weight while increasing lift (higher jumps).
But carbon blades can command a prohibitively high price point. That’s why absolute ice skaters may want to pick something cheaper, something that won’t be overkill for that skill level.
You get to choose between side-honed, parabolic, parallel/standard, or tapered blade styles. With parallel blades, the blades have the same width and the edges are parallel.
Tapered blades aren’t parallel at all. These ones come in thinner at the tail and thicker around the toe pick. This little innovation in blade design helps reduce friction or drag on the ice during skating.
Parabolic blades are thinner or narrower around the middle while having a thicker front and tail. This blade shape helps minimize slippage while skating.
As for side-honed ice skate blades, these have thickness around the stanchions and edge stripe while staying thinner between these two areas. Identifying this blade style can be a little tricky, but if you really look at the blades, you’ll notice that the reflections are inverted.
All these blade styles except the parallel one are for advanced-level skating souls. Unless you’re a dance and synchro pro or some other high-level skater, parallel/standard blades should suffice. Not surprisingly, pretty much all beginner blades are standard or parallel, even-width blades.
Other Important Beginner Ice Skate Blade Selection Considerations
No one likes sounding like a clown when conversing with a knowledgeable person, and I bet you’re no different. To sound intelligent enough, or at least seem like you’re a real ice skating enthusiast who knows what they’re doing even if you don’t, be sure to learn the following ice skating terms:
Radius and Rocker
The radius of a blade is the amount of curvature it has. In plain language, radius refers to how much of the blade actually is in contact with the ice. Note that a blade can have a front radius that’s higher or lower than its back radius. 12″ 17″ and 27″ happen to be pretty common front profile radiuses (radii, huh?). Most of the jumping and spinning you’ll learn as you advance in your skating should happen at the front radius.
The radius toward the back of a blade is known as the rocker in proper ice skating lingo. Another distinction between blade radius and rocker is that the front radius is expressed in inches while the rocker is expressed/measured in feet.
Generally, the larger the radius, the more contact between the blade and the ice, and the flatter the blade. A large-radius blade offers more speed than a small-radius option because there’s less toepick-ice clearance.
A flatter blade also does double jumps and triple jumps beautifully. What’s more, a flatter blade offers pro skaters better edge control plus increased speed and glide. They’re also somewhat safer since the skater falls off their edge less frequently
In contrast, blades with more curvature provide more clearance between the toe pick and the ice. These kinds of skate blades enable beginner and intermediate-level skaters to launch better spins. The skater also benefits from much smoother turns and more efficient footwork.
Blade Back-end Radius (Rocker Profile)
The rocker is where most of the stroking and gliding your advanced skating self will ever do should happen. Suppose you draw a straight line 14 feet long and then draw a circle that touches both ends. That circle would have a radius of 7 feet. If you placed a 7-foot blade along the inner side of the circle, you’d see perfect alignment.
Best Rocker Profile for Beginning Skaters
So, What’s the Best Blade Radius/Rocker for Beginner Ice Skaters? As a beginner, you want to turn easily and smoothly while doing more intense footwork. That’s why most pro skaters (I’m not there yet, OK?) recommend a blade radius of 7 feet for smaller skaters such as children as well as adult beginners.
With such a rocker profile, turns are smoother, and the edges more secure, but these advantages come at the expense of speed. And speed may not be a big deal for neophytes. For more advanced skaters, an 8-foot blade work best because jumps are easier and the glide is faster with such a rocker profile.
Toe Pick Design and Size
A toe pick is a metallic, jagged structure or component incorporated to facilitate jumps and tricks of various kinds. I won’t go into how to choose the right toe pick here, but I will in a short post coming soon.
Just as you must choose your blade right before getting on the ice, you must also use skates with a toe pick designed for your skating level and style. Two main kinds of toe picks exist namely cross-cut style toe picks and straight-cut toe picks.
A straight-cut toe pick enables the skater to cut deeper into the ice, which means higher jumps. But there’s no higher jumps without sacrificing some momentum. By comparison, cross-cut toe picks don’t cut as deep into the ice, but the skater experiences less sliding since the toes grip the ice a little better. As a beginner, a cross-cut toe pick would work better since you’re not much jumps-and-stunts oriented.
Toe pick size also matters. New ice skaters should go with smaller toe picks as these don’t bog down their evolving basic skating skills. Bigger toe picks are easier to trip on, and I bet you want to fall less often while on the ice.
Hollow: Shallower or Deeper Edges for Beginners?
Each blade features a groove that runs right down in the blade’s middle. This groove typically measures 0.635″ on most blades, but the measurement ranges between 0.5″ – 0.75.” Now, the hollow can be deep or shallow.
Should the hollow be shallow or deep for entry-level ice skaters? Shallow edges are the better option for beginning-level ice skaters because they offer increased glide and speed. The skater also gets greater maneuverability and stopping ability. However, the noob skater ends up with less secure edges.
In contrast, a deeper hollow equates to less sideways sliding, which means more secure edges. But a deep-hollow blade also gets more friction on the ice and slows down a bit. The upside is that it’s easier to accelerate with deep-hollow blades, which means controlling them and stopping becomes a little challenging.
5.Cheap Ice Skates Vs Expensive Options
I get it. You don’t want to splurge on ice skates at this point because you’re not sure whether you love the activity all that much. And, you’ve pondered grabbing a cheap ice skate with the good intention of skating them to the ground and buying more expensive ones down the road as your skating skill level grows. Now, that definitely sounds like a great idea. But is that always the best approach? Nope. At least not in my experience.
A young friend of mine recently bought (3 months ago) $60 ice skates to learn ice skating on. And everything was fine…at first. Three months later, my friend realizes they can’t do much beyond the very basics of ice skating. But it gets even worse. The boots are broken, and now they need a new pair!
Should I Start With a Cheap Skate then Upgrade?
My friend is planning on buying mid-range skates that’ll accommodate his improved skating abilities. They’re considering shelling out $120 for the shoes. But I’m trying to have the person spend a bit more for a pair of skates that’ll last jumps, spins, and all sorts of tricks for seasons.
Maybe I’ll win, maybe I won’t. But should they ignore my advice, I’m seeing them needing to spend $180 or even $200 for a decent pair pretty soon! That’s how it ends…almost always.
In my experience, it almost always pays to spend more right off the bat and get skates that tough it out through the entire learning phase and beyond. Whether you’re a beginner or not, please don’t skimp on skates. At least, don’t cheap out on blades (in case you choose to buy the boots and blades separately).
The cheapest ice skates available are usually recreational skates. And while they may be comfortable enough for untrained beginner ankles, they don’t offer anywhere near enough ankle support.
Oftentimes, recreational skates aren’t designed for any level of play beyond the basics. Try doing a waltz jump on some of those kinds of cheapo boots, and you’re going to end up with ankle tendonitis.
6.Best Beginner Ice Skate Brands?
Riedell, Jackson, Graf Davos, and EDEA are all good brands when it comes to ice skates. Riedell ice skates tend to have a narrow fit and would be a good bet for beginner-level skating enthusiasts with narrower feet.
My first skates were the Jackson Artiste, and they were good enough for me and the skating skills I was learning. They lasted through the fundamentals, and I could do spins and even beginner-quality jumps.
The beautiful thing about the Jackson Artiste ice skates is that they’re good for new skaters, and when those skaters evolve into the intermediate level and can do decent spins and jumps, they won’t need to upgrade.
Well, they do need some breaking-in. But they’re probably the best new-ice-skater figure skates ever designed. The toe pick may feel a tad too big for some, but you’ll get used to it in the end. And for learning how to jump properly on figure skates, consider getting the Jackson Ultima Fusion Elle. Happy ice skating!
7 Buying Beginner Ice Skate Tips
1. Don’t always follow the manufacturer’s size chart strictly as these have been known to provide misleading sizing information. Instead, measure your feet (both length and width), calculate the correct size, and then size up or down as recommended by the majority of owners/users of the skate.
2. When buying for kids, don’t pick a bigger size hoping your little one will grow into the skates. Just get them the correct size skate and be ready to spend more because they’ll soon outgrow the boots.
3. Can I buy used ice skates to learn on? You can learn ice skating on used skates no problem. But not if the skates are falling apart. Not when a huge portion of the of the blades isn’t in contact with the ice (you want to have at least 6 inches of the steel touching the ice). And certainly not when torn and ripped badly and the ankle lost its original structural integrity. Oh, and be sure to clean the old ice skates before sliding into them.
4. When shopping for kids, give skates with plastic closures (and other plastic parts) rather than than traditional laces a wide berth. Because such skates tend to be totes crappy.
5. Buying bigger ice skates just because you know you can always use thicker socks or even two pairs of socks isn’t always a great idea. Because using ultra-thick socks or wearing two pairs takes up all the space around foot. Less warm air from your feet gets trapped, and your feet get and stay cold.
6. Don’t buy the cheapest figure skates you can find. Most are trash and offer little to no ankle support. Plus, they tend to be uncomfortable and to fit weirdly.
7. If money isn’t tight, get skates that won’t impede your progress down the road. Instead of getting beginner figure skates that are great for learning basic gliding and nothing else, be willing to shell out more for a skate that evolves with you as you transition to jumps and other more demanding ice skating tricks.