Rolling around on roller skates is loads of fun and could help you burn calories all while making memories with friends and loved ones, memories you’ll treasure forever. But what are the best roller skates for new skaters? I answer this and a slew of other questions you might be researching at this time.
Also Read: Best Rollerskates Ever
Can You Lose Weight Roller Skating?
Yes, you can lose weight rollerskating. According to the American Heart Association, roller skating moderately for 60 minutes can help a 143-pound person lose up to 330 calories. And if the same person increases the intensity so that they skate vigorously, they’d burn up to 590 calories. Combine roller skating with other activities such as cycling, running, and swimming among others, and the fitness benefits you get from this aerobic exercise increase dramatically.
But how can you draw maximum exercise benefits from indoor and outdoor roller skating if you’re not wearing comfortable, properly fitting skates? In this post, I briefly review 5 roller skates that work great for new skaters.
Roller Skates Aren’t Inline Skates
Inline skates are roller skates, but roller skates aren’t necessarily inline skates, aka rollerblades. Roller skates have strictly 4 wheels per plate while each inline skate needs anywhere between 2-6 wheels. Roller skate wheels mount on plastic or metal plates while rollerblade wheels mount on plastic or aluminum frames. The wheels stay between the toe and the heel for roller skates while they usually stick out to the back and to the front on inlines. Learn more about the differences between inline skates and quad skates here.
How to Choose the Best Beginner Roller Skates
Beginner roller skates have certain characteristics that distinguish them from pro-level roller skates. Sure, a beginning skater can wear speed skates or other high-performance skates. But they lack the skill and ability required to access the full potential of such skates.
They’re simply too much skate for a new skater, and there’s no point in spending loads of money to buy a boot that’s overkill. Better to buy a skate designed for lower-level skating ability. And not surprisingly, beginner roller skates tend to be cheaper, but some are utter crap and break into smithereens after a shockingly short period of time.
11 Practical Tips for Picking Out New-skater Roller Skates
1. Fit: The Most Important Factor
A top-rated entry-level skate that fits poorly is inferior to a skate from a no-name brand that fits perfectly. Roller skate size charts aren’t always accurate, but they’re usually your best chance at choosing form-fitting skates.
Most brands want you to measure your feet and then use their size charts to decide on the correct size. Do that. But don’t stop there. Read customer reviews online on how the roller skates you’re debating fit. Learn whether the fit runs small or wide, and either size up or down.
Tip: If it’s a suede or leather boot and you’re between sizes, sizing down almost always works best. Roller skates are designed to fit snugly. Neither too loose that they become floppy and cause blisters or too tight that they make your toes to scrunch at the toe box. Good news: Leather and suede boots stretch a bit with use, which makes them fit better. But if it’s a vinyl roller skate boot, know that it won’t stretch much at all and size up if on the size cusp.
I have wide feet: Get wide-fitting entry-level roller skates. Be sure to learn how the skate fits versus the shape of your foot. Perhaps your foot is wider around the toes while the heel is narrow. Or your foot is evenly wide. Or you have flat feet that pronate or supinate. Finding skates that fit your foot shape isn’t always easy, but it’s not impossible. Here’s a bunch of wide-fit Roller Skates (not all are new-skater options).
I have narrow Feet: If your feet are narrow or extremely narrow, you’ll struggle to find roller skates that fit snugly enough. Many skaters with very narrow feet tend to drop in inserts and wear extremely thick socks or even two pairs of socks to improve the fit.
But it’s best to search for narrow-fitting roller skates, and the Riedell Blue Streaks are the best narrow-fit roller skates out there, narrow all around. Alternatively, get semi-custom narrow-fit Bont roller skates. By the way, black Riedell roller skates are cut to fit wide while white Riedells fit narrow.
Men’s vs. women’s roller skate sizes: Generally, roller skates are available in men’s sizes. If you’re a woman, make sure to size down 1.5 sizes.
2. Comfort vs Skate Performance
As a new roller skater, comfort and support come before performance. The same goes for someone with weak ankles. More supportive skate boots tend to be stiffer, which means they’re less comfortable unless they have plush padding. Yea, padding. Get boots that have thickly padded interiors and insoles. And if the skates you finally get aren’t super comfy, get good insoles and heel gels because these can really help you adjust the fit. You sure can order speed skates, but those boots typically promote performance to the detriment of creature comfort.
3. Boot Height, Material, and Toe Stops
Low-cut roller skate boots are best suited for Derby and speed skating. But there’s no reason you can’t learn roller skating on speed skates and derby skates. Simply slap proper outdoor wheels on the skates and get going.
High-cut roller skate boots provide a higher level of support to the ankles, which makes them a great choice for new roller skaters. But failure to do ankle-strengthing exercises on an ongoing basis is the perfect recipe for twisted ankles down the road! In the end, boot style doesn’t make much of a difference to the ease of learning.
Tip: You can also get a mid-top boot that’s a sort of crossbreed between high-top roller skates and low-cut boots. Again, not much of a difference IMHO.
But whether you’re looking to mostly cruise trails, groove on sidewalks, or just skates to learn roller skating on, any boot style should be OK. You can choose low-cut, high-cut, or mid-top boots for these use cases.
Heeled Roller Skates vs. Flat-booted Skates: The vast majority of roller skates whether novice skates or pro skates have a raised heel. These skates look nicer than their flat-heeled counterparts, which partially explains why they’re super popular.
If you’re looking to do mostly artistic roller skating, get a heeled skate. This kind of skate naturally transfers your overall balance forward and may offer lots of ankle support or not much support depending on overall boot stiffness.
Boot material: You can get leather boots, suede boots, or vinyl boots. If you’re all for a more vegan lifestyle, definitely go for PVC or vinyl boots. But be careful when sizing vinyl-boot skates because you won’t be able to stretch them to make them roomier. If you oscillate between sizes and prefer a viny boot, pick the next size up.
Leather and suede roller skate boots: Leather boots are really nice, fit better once you break them in or bake them in the oven, and last longer versus vinyl roller skate boots. The same can be said about suede roller boots. But they can be super stiff and somewhat uncomfortable at first, plus caring for them can be a tad harder.
4. Toe Stops: Adjustable Toe Stops vs Fixed Toe Stops
Whether you’re looking for skates to learn roller skating on, cruise trails on, or groove sidewalks on, you can use any kind of boot. You can use a jam, rhythm, artistic, speed, recreational, or derby boot.
I suggest choosing a boot with adjustable toe stops since you can lower or raise the stops versus not being able to do anything about a high-placed non-adjustable toe stop.
5. Base Plate: Metal Plates vs. Plastic Plates
If you’ll mostly skate parks, definitely choose skates with metal plates. The same goes for when you’re a heavy starting skater. Metal plates hold weight better and last longer. Stop worrying about roller skate weight limit and just pick skates with aluminum base plates. Whether you weigh 160 lbs or 250+ lbs, metal plates will carry you with ease.
6. Truck Type and Kingpin Angle
Definitely stick to aluminum trucks. Avoid plastic trucks, not that they’re common. Much of the Aliexpress trash comes with plastic trucks that fall apart shockingly soon. Fortunately, most beginner roller skates come with metal trucks and urethane cushions.
Once you pass the learner phase, you can begin experimenting with different kingpin angles and trucks. Many entry-level roller skates come with a 10˚-20˚ kingpin angle. A 10˚ angle is OK at the start, but you may want to adjust this angle as your skating ability evolves. In case you’re curious to know, the maximum kingpin angle on any pair of roller skates is 45˚.
Tip: Don’t overthink technical stuff such as kingpin angle if you’re new to roller skating. You most likely can’t tell the difference between a 16-percent
7. Skating Surface: Indoor vs Outdoor Use
Consider the quality of the skating surface. For skating on rough asphalt and crappy sidewalks or generally skating outdoors, get supportive skates (high-tops) with large, soft wheels.
Softer wheels roll smoothly and soak up vibrations, cracks, and tiny bumps great. But softer wheels tend to wear down faster compared to harder wheels. Soft roller skate wheels for outdoor use are found in the 78A-80A range.
Wet surfaces: Avoid wet surfaces as a beginner, especially if you’ve not yet mastered balance. Because wet surfaces are more slippery naturally due to friction being reduced. If you must roller skate on wet surfaces, use really soft wheels because grip such surfaces better than harder ones. Get 78A wheels, and if you can find grooved roller skate wheels, that’s even better. Seismic roller skates have a grooved surface and perform decently on wet roads.
Also Read: Skateboarding in the Rain
Slick, extremely smooth indoor surfaces: Get soft skates with really soft wheels, like 78A wheels or even softer. Get sticky, gummy wheels for slick rink floors. Learn how to choose good outdoor roller skate wheels here.
8. Wheels: Diameter, Durometer, and Quality/Durable
For outdoor roller skating, stick to larger wheels: 60-65mm wheels. For indoor skating, smaller, harder wheels suffice. For outdoor surfaces and extremely slippery surfaces, get the softest wheels that can be had: 78-80A wheels. For sticky surfaces, get 94-96A wheels. And for extremely gummy floors such as rubberized gym floors, get the hardest roller skate wheels available: 97A-103A wheels. Polished concrete and sports courts? Stay in the 90A-93A durometer range. Durometer is a skate wheel stat that expresses the overall hardness or softness of the wheel in question.
Tip: Don’t fret too much about wheels. Because you can easily upgrade to better-quality wheels in the future.
9. Brand: Not Super Important
Focus less on the brand and more on fit. If the skate fits and feels comfortable when worn, take it. However, we in the roller skate community have noticed that there are many dirt-cheap Aliexpress dropshipped roller skates being advertised on social media these days. Stay away from these…because these roller skates aren’t safe for new skaters or anyone else.
These skates often look nice in photos, but they’re utter crap. Laser Skates, Angel Skates, Foxy Skates, Sunny Skates, and many other “brands” owned by folks who get for $10-$30 from Aliexpress, slap some graphics on them, and pass them off decent roller skates.
How about Impala Skates, are they good for new skaters? Lots of Impala skates aren’t great for beginners or anyone else. Impala roller skates tend to fit poorly and are generally uncomfortable.
I’d also stay away from fashion store roller skates for the same reason: many of these skates are unsafe. Avoid skates from Urban Outfitters, Altar’d State, Dolls Kill stores, and many other fashion stores.
10. Price: Avoid Dirt-cheap Skates
Stay within your budget, obviously, but don’t buy suspiciously cheap roller skates as these tend to be extremely low quality. I remember reading a post on Reddit where a Redditor had to make an ER trip because their roller skates terribly failed them.
Avoid roller skates priced below $50. Try to spend between $100 and $300, and you’ll easily avoid options that are a bad accident waiting to happen.
Good $100 Beginner Roller Skates
Here’s a list of entry-level roller skates that cost around $100: Riedell 3, Riedell Dart, Riedell Citizen, Candi Girl, Sure Grip Malibu, Suregrip GT50, Roces Classic Roller Skates, Moxi Rainbow Riders (these fit wide), Rookie Artistics, Rio Roller Milkshake, Rio Roller Script, Rio Roller Signature, Pacer Stratos, Roller Derby Drifters, Roller Derby Drifters Astras, Roller Derby Drifters Cruze, Crazy Retro Skates (works great for heavy skaters) Crazy Glam Skates, and Crazy Glitz Skates, and Crazy Glam Roller Skates among others.
Good $150-$200 Roller Skates for New Skates
If you can spend $150-$200, you can access these beginner skates: Sure Grip Fame, Chaya Melrose Elite, Moxi Beach Bunny (these ones provide great ankle support and fit narrow feet beautifully), Jackson Vistas, Jackson VIP, VNLA Parfait Skates, and Bont Pro Star Roller Skates among others.
Good $200+ Entry-level Roller Skates
With a $200+ spend, the following roller skates can be had: Luna Roller Skates, Moxi Panther Skates, Riedell Zone, Riedell Celebrity Skates (seems like everyone roller skates these days), Bont Parkstar Roller Skates, Crazy Evoke Skates, Sure Grip Boardwalk Skates, Moonlight Roller Moon Boot Skates, and a few others.
Be sure to read beginner roller skate reviews online to get a sense of how each of these choices fits and feels. And definitely give cheap fake roller skates a wide berth.
11. You Sure Can Buy Used Beginner Roller Skates
It’s perfectly OK to buy secondhand roller skates. If they’re in great or decent condition, buy them. Then give the used skates a thorough clean, and if the wheels need swapping out for better ones, do that. It’s better to learn to roller skate on good secondhand roller skates that fit beautifully than learn on low-quality new roller skates.
Also Read: How to Properly Clean Roller Skates
Where to Buy Good Used Roller Skates
- FB Marketplace
- Join the Roller Derby Recyclables, an FB group. If you’re in the US, join Roller Derby Recyclables on Facebook here. If in the UK, join this group. And if in other parts of Europe, consider joining this group. Another FB group you could join is Secondchanceskates.
- Reddit: Look around and you might stumble upon an appropriate subreddit.
Tip: While Mercari and Poshmark are great places to buy used roller skates to get into roller skating with, they’re not so great for anyone trying to sell. They take a really huge cut from the sales proceeds and I suggest selling those slightly used high-quality Moxi Lollies elsewhere.
if you can spare a minute or two, visit any of these online corners and see if you can get good secondhand skates. I bet you will find something you’ll love.
5 Tips for Anyone New to Roller Skating
- New skaters fall a lot because they’ve not yet mastered balance or have poor skating technique. So, prepare psychologically for frequent falls. Also, wear protective gear for roller skating: knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and a certified skate helmet. Pads protect your knees, elbows, and wrists. And a proper skate helmet guards your gray matter. But no helmet provides guaranteed protection against concussions according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF). It’s a cardinal sin to your body to roller skate outdoors without a helmet and pads. Besides, having pads on breeds confidence, encouraging you to practice harder and more frequently.
- Watch Dirty Deborah of the Dirty School of Skate on Youtube. She doles out truly helpful beginner tips. Asha of Skatefresh also serves good beginner training tips, but I like Deborah’s roller skate tutorials better.
- If you are in doubt as to whether you want to roller skate long-term, get the cheapest-but-well-fitting you can get away with.
- Start small and learn progressively. Start the learning process on the carpet or wooden floor, then practice on sidewalks, and then head straight to the local skate park. If you’re not picking up roller skating as quickly as you’d thought, hire a coach. Don’t quit, and most importantly, have fun.
- You can buy used skates or hand-me-downs as long as they’re still in good condition.