Finding the best rollerskates for the money can be a tough mission for new and even experienced skaters. The rollerskate marketplace chokes on gazillions of choices, and the majority of these skates seem like good options. But not all rollerskates are created equal. Some are garbage, others are good, and a few are great.
This post is all about helping you rummage through the stacks and stacks of bad deals for a skate that’s worth the money. Something that gels great with your skating style, level/ability, and the spend you’ve set aside. Here, you’ll learn what you need to know before swiping right.
Why Roller Skates And Not Rollerblades?
Do you really want to get into rollerskating or rollerblading? I keep seeing comments in which people, especially beginners and parents, ask whether rollerskating is easier to learn versus rollerblading. If you asked me this question a few months ago, I’d stated without hesitation that it’s easier to learn rollerskates than on rollerblades.
Also Read: Best Beginner Rollerskates
But in reality, rollerskates can feel pretty stable to kids and adults who’ve never skated. Rollerskates are supposed to be more stable than rollerblades right out of the box because they have smaller, wider wheels. But quads tend to move backward without warning the moment you try balancing on them. And things can get out of hand pretty quickly. That’s why I suggest that you wear good pads and a certified rollerskate helmet before rides, especially if you’re new to this thrilling, calorie-burning sport. Learn more about the differences between rollerblades vs Rollerskat here.
Rollerblades may feel a tad more unstable when you try to stand and stabilize your position on them. But once you get the hang of how they ride and get cruising around on them, you’ll love how smooth the ride really is, and stride efficiency is remarkable. Another big advantage rollerblades have over rollerskates is that they have bigger wheels, which means you won’t trip up the whole time when you encounter cracked sidewalks, tiny potholes, street manholes, sticks, and small pebbles.
Rollerblades roll right over these obstacles, especially if the wheels are tall, somewhat wide, and soft. But if you’re on roller skates when you bump into these little sidewalk surprises, the odds are you’ll take a tumble, and you better have a highly protective bucket sitting nice and tight on your melon. If you think rollerblades are hard to learn, you’ll find rollerskates even more challenging.
13 Best Rollerskates for All Styles, Levels, and Budgets
Best for Beginners
Best for Kids
Best for Men
Best for Women
Best for Recreational Rollerskating
Best for Artistic Rollerskating
Best for Roller Derby
Best for Distance Rollerskating
Rollerskates Buying Guide: Get the Right Quads for Your Style and Ability
Rollerskates aren’t the cheapest purchases anyone can make, but you’re not spending pennies here. You’re spending tens of dollars for a pretty crap skate and somewhere north of $100 for a decent entry-level quad skate.
As someone who’s made their fair share of rollerskate mistakes over the years (I’m not like really really old or anything lol), I’ve put together a straight-talk guide to help you pick out the next pair of rollerskates with confidence. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and $200 rollerskate mistakes can have your credit card pouting for pretty long.
By the way, is rollerskating a girls’ and women’s pastime? The notion that rollerskating is a woman’s hobby stems from roller derby being traditionally dominated by women. But in truth, lots of men out there rollerskate, and no one thinks it’s a girlie thing. It’s the same with rollerblading, an activity many tend to associate with men. Here’s the thing: rollerskating is for men and women, and the same goes for inline skating.
Fit Your Rollerskates Accurately: You’ve Been Oversize Shoes for Years
I recently watched a video created by a lady named Indy Jamma Jones on YT, and what she said left me convinced that most people have been wearing oversize shoes and skates without even knowing. Jones says that parents tend to choose shoes that are a half size or a full size bigger than the actual size because kids’ feet grow really fast. Result? People start normalizing wearing shoes that are way roomier than should be the case.
Even though most people in rollerskating say that people should wear rollerskates that are the same size as their everyday shoes. And that’s perfectly good advice, except that, as suggested by Jones, most of us have been unnecessarily sizing up all our life. And while we wear larger shoes than the correct size and nothing terrible happens, wearing the wrong-size rollerskates is a bad idea.
Usually, we notice it when rollerskates are too small because they pinch our feet really badly. But when rollerskates are roomier than they need to be, we tend to think that’s OK. I mean, what’s wrong with having a little wiggle room for our toes? Nothing, but rollerskates are supposed to hug the skater’s foot rather snugly.
Here’s how to know you have the right size rollerskates: The pinky toe, the next toe, and the largest toe should touch the side of the toe box while the rest of the toe should just go around the other toes. That is, there should be a bit of room between the middle toes and the front of the boot, but the largest toe or the longest toe isn’t in contact with the skates’ toe. The toes are almost but not touching the front, and if you lift the foot, it shouldn’t freely come off the heel. If the longest toe rubs against the front of the quad skate, you want to order the next size up.
Definitely, the foot shouldn’t slide back to front and vice versa when skating, nor should you have to endure pressure points that don’t vanish even when you loosen up the boot a little after skating a while.
It’s hard to know for sure if a rollerskate is the correct size for you when buying online. Because you can’t perform the fit test I just described. So if shopping online, maybe try on the quad you’re wanting to buy in person (in-store) and then order online if the deal makes more sense than buying from a skate shop. I’m all for handing my money over to your local shop, but there’s a time when saving $50 makes complete sense.
Skating Style: Buy Any Boot, Switch Out Wheels As Needed
What kind of rollerskating do you plan on getting into? Maybe you see yourself spending tons of time gliding around in indoor roller rinks. Or perhaps you’ll mostly skate at the local skate park. Maybe you’re an outdoorsy kind of persona and will almost exclusively quad skate outdoors.
So, do you need a dedicated rollerskate for each kind of skating? No, you don’t need to purchase a dedicated boot for each kind of skating you want to do. All you want is a boot that forms nicely around your foot and the right set of wheels.
For indoor rinks, the surface is typically hard and smooth, and harder wheels in the 97-101A range do a good job. For outdoor rollerskating, most skaters find 78A wheels as the perfect rating for them. As for having fun at a skate park, get harder wheels because they roll fast, won’t deform, and make your moves really quick and agile.
But while you can do all sorts of rollerskating with pretty much any boot, some boots are better suited for one style and don’t work as well for others. More on this below.
Vinyl or Leather/Suede Boots, Who Works Best?
You can buy vinyl or suede or leather boots depending on your budget. Both materials are OK, but suede boots are better than vinyl ones in a number of ways. The most important difference between synthetic boots and suede boots is that suede ones work better in terms of fit.
Suede boots sure feel a little stiff at first, but upon breaking in the skate, the boot forms nicely to the foot. And if you chose the right size skate to begin with, the boot soon starts to feel like an extension of the foot.
Leather and suede also outlast vinyl in most cases, plus they look cooler in my opinion. And if you ever want to sell the skate in the secondhand market, I guarantee you that you’ll find lots of people hunting for a good suede skate. Well, you’ll have to spend more money if you go the suede route, but the benefits outweigh any disadvantages for the most part.
Do I Choose Flat-heeled or Heeled Skates?
Some rollerskates have a small heel while others have no heel at all. Others have big, high heels, but what’s the right heel size for you? It all depends on the kind of rollerskating you intend to do.
Get High-heeled Boots for Outdoor and Artistic Rollerskating
If you’re wanting to do mostly artistic rollerskating or outdoor rollerskating, it’s best to choose a boot with a high heel. The beauty of a high-heeled boot is that it compels your body to assume the posture you’re supposed to be in at all times.
You strap on the boots, and the skate lifts your heel and causes a decent amount of your weight to move forward. The weight automatically shifts to a place directly over the front truck. The ball of your foot supports this weight, and all you have to do is start gliding forward.
Get Flat-heeled or Low-heeled Boots for Speed Skating and Roller Derby
Have you ever watched skaters playing roller derby? If you have, you’d have noticed that the heel is either small or nonexistent. These skates have to get down really low to do this type of skating, and having no heel makes this effortless.
Here’s the thing with flat-heeled rollerskates: they start rolling backward as soon as you tie up the laces and stand. This boot doesn’t move your weight forward, and it’s not surprising that you naturally begin moving rearward. When this happens, adjust the posture so that more of your weight rests over the ball of your feet.
Get the Right Wheel for Your Rollerskates
Grasp the basics first: smaller wheels get rolling faster, that is, they accelerate faster than those with a larger diameter. Wheels for indoor skating and parks are typically smaller and harder. When you want to go fast, get bigger wheels, like 65-70mm wheels. Bigger wheels may not gather up speed as fast as smaller wheels, but they’re faster in the final analysis.
Rollerskate wheels are 45mm to 70mm in diameter. For freestyle and artistic rollerskating, 45mm wheels that are really hard are a great good option.
Jam skating, roller derby, short-track speed skating, and artistic rollerskating, get 57-58mm wheels. 59-62mm wheels are best suited for roller derby, speed skating, and jam skating but not so good for artistic rollerskating. And when it comes to outdoor quad skating and long-track rollerskating, 65-70mm wheels serve you best.
Generally speaking, smaller narrower wheels give skaters great maneuverability and are good for rhythm or artistic rollerskating. Larger wider wheels roll faster and are great for outdoor rollerskating and indoor speed skating.Mercy, skatingmagic.com
You also want to consider the hardness of the wheel. Most roller skate brands make their wheels according to the A hardness rating scale but some might use the durometer B scale, which is 20 points lower than the A scale.
If you hold a rollerskate wheel in your hand and take a look at the sidewall, you’ll notice the hardness rating number printed there. It’s a numerical figure with the letter A added at the end to indicate how hard that wheel might feel.
For rollerskate wheels, the durometer scale starts at 70A and ends somewhere slightly above 100A. When the surface you’re skating on is somewhat wet or slippery, get the softest rollerskate wheels because they’re masters at gripping the surface.
For indoor skating and park roller skating, get the hardest wheels you can get. And for skating on rough sidewalks, asphalt, and other outdoor surfaces stick to soft, obstacle-absorbing wheels.
Wheel shape and wheel core
If you’re looking to do mostly artistic rollerskating, square-lipped wheels work best. Wheels shaped this way offer tons of grip and have a wider area in contact with the ground compared to round-lipped rollerskate wheels.
When you look at a square-shaped quad skate wheel from the sides, you see that it has straight edges. But while this wheel shape is great for stability and traction, maneuverability isn’t as great.
Round-shaped rollerskate wheels are great for battling pebbles and cracks on sidewalks and knocking these obstacles out of the way. Definitely get round-lipped quad wheels for skating outdoors. If all you want to do is cruise around while sliding some of the time, pick round-profile wheels.
All that said, understand that most rollerskate wheels have a profile that’s a kind of cross between round and square. The trick is to test/try out different wheels over time until you find the perfect set of wheels that work best for a particular skating style.
There are aluminum-cored rollerskate wheels, which are the strongest wheels you can find. They’re also the heaviest. These wheels don’t deform easily and tend to be more durable compared to others. Heavy skaters should definitely pick aluminum-hub wheels or wheels with a really solid hollow core.
Hollow-cored rollerskate wheels sit somewhere between the weakest wheels (nylon-cored wheels) and the strongest wheels (metal-hub wheels). These wheels are pretty common. They’re at least more common compared to wheels with an aluminum hub, and while they’re not as fast they’re not as heavy.
Nylon-cored wheels are the lightest but also the most likely to deform and the least durable. These wheels also tend to be the slowest of all three types, but they’re the grippiest because they normally have the widest contact patch. Beginners can sure use nylon-hub wheels, but if you want better, more durable wheels stick to hollow-cored and metal-hub wheels.
Generally, pricier rollerskates come with better-quality bearings and vice versa. But you really shouldn’t worry too much about bearings because they’re inexpensive and not too hard to find online. I’ve bought lots of $20 steel bearings that performed beautifully and pricier ones that didn’t give me any kind of remarkable roll performance. So, don’t overthink bearings.
Plates, Trucks, and Axles
Without plates, trucks, and axles, you wouldn’t be able to attach the wheels to your roller skates. Each of these components serves a specific role, and there are some super important things you need to know about them.
Some pocket-friendly roller skates, those that cost $100-$150, come with nylon plates. Plastic plates are nice because they’re lightweight, but if they’re not strong enough they might break without warning and hurt you badly. For kids and light adults, plastic plates may be an OK option, but I almost always recommend metal plates.
Some budget quad skates come with aluminum plates. Metal plates make skates heavy, and being heavy can discourage kids and adults new to roller skating from practicing often. But if you’re tall and pretty jacked, skate weight becomes less of an issue, and metal plates whether lightweight or heavy are your best option.
Trucks: Check If There’s a Nut on the Top of the Trucks
Trucks have a steel axle running through, and there’s a wheel on each end. Avoid plastic plates if buying for an adult or heavy person, but plastic trucks on a young kid’s rollerskates aren’t altogether a terrible idea.
Cheap rollerskates often have trucks with a sizeable nut toward the top, and this design makes it harder to achieve a wide range of adjustments when tightening or loosening the trucks. So, it’s not easy to have a loose setup that functions right.
If you want tons of adjustability so that you can customize the feel of the trucks however you want, get skates whose trucks lack the nut near the top. These skates tend to be pricier than those with that nut, but being able to tweak the trucks to the best possible configuration is a huge advantage.
Rollerskate axles are typically made from steel and are not something to pay too much attention to IMO. Unless the skates are total crap and nothing works, you can expect pretty decent and strong axles that will last a while. And if they lose threads or don’t work properly anymore, you can switch them out inexpensively.
Toe Stops: Adjustable vs Fixed-height Toe Stops
Toe stops are for stopping on roller skates. I’ve noticed that many budget roller skates come with non-adjustable toe stops. These toe stops stay stuck at one height, and sometimes they could be too low or too high for you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
If I were you, I’d be willing to spend a little more to get my hands on skates with height-adjustable toe stops. With this kind of skate, you can lower the toe stop or adjust upward until it’s in the best possible position. And if you find a fancier toe stop down the road, maybe a flower or heart-shaped toe stop, you can easily remove the existing ones and screw in the new ones. You could even take out the toe stops and add jam plugs, making the skates useful for dance.
Who Are You Buying the Rollerskates for?
It’s important to give some thought to the needs of the person you’re shopping for. When buying for kids, there’s a thing or two to keep top of mind, things that’d not matter when shopping for an adult.
How to Buy Rollerskates for Kids and Toddlers
Don’t succumb to the ever-present temptation of buying oversized rollerskates to accommodate fast-growing feet. Kids and everyone else who skates need to use foot-hugging skates or they won’t skate efficiently, safely, and comfortably.
Here’s an idea that can save you money when shopping for kids’ rollerskates: picking adjustable kids’ rollerskates. Well, there’s an awful lot of rollerskates that grow with rapidly growing feet, but there are a few online and in physical stores so do your research.
The Roller Derby Track Star Rollerskates are some of the most popular adjustable rollerskates for kids that I’m aware of. Crazy Skates also have adjustable options. Sowume and SHDSL are other brands that sell adjustable-size skates. Well, these two aren’t the finest brands, but their kids’ skates are as good as any.
Color: It’s best to involve your aspiring quad skater when choosing colors. If buying online, show them a few color options and let them take their pick. That eliminates the odds that they’ll blame you down the road for choosing a boring color, or worse, a color they hate.
Cost: While it’s a bad idea to buy dirt-cheap adult rollerskates, it’s OK to purchase $50 for children. Well, the plates may be plastic and the wheels and bearings may not be great. But the quad will likely hold up beautifully because kids don’t weigh much, nor do they throw tons of abuse at skates.
Toddler rollerskates: When buying toddler rollerskates, get skates with wheels that don’t spin at all so that the tot can walk around and not hurt themselves. Some toddler rollerskates let you switch the wheels from spin mode to no-spin mode, and that’s nice. There’s no reason your 3-year-old can’t rollerskate with you around the house. Roller Derby Firestar Boys Rollerskates are a decent pair of rollerskates that work for toddlers.
Teens: If you have a teen wanting to get into rollerskating, get the boot in one of their favorite colors. I bet you know what colors your teen likes. Alternatively, give them a gift card so they can buy the skate in whichever color they choose. Many teens will comfortably wear adult-size rollerskates as long they don’t look too dorky.
How to Buy Rollerskates for Men
You won’t have trouble shopping for hubby or any other male because there are tons of rollerskates in men’s sizes. In fact, rollerskates normally come in men’s sizes. Unless the skate you’re looking at is described as a women’s quad, assume it’s a men’s size.
If the guy you’re shopping for is a size 14, good luck finding size 14 rollerskates. But the Suregrip 1300 Boots have size 14, and I noticed that Derbywarehouse carries them. The same goes for Riedell Model 120 Award, but you’re getting only the boots here. You’ll have to get the baseplates, wheels, axles, trucks, and whatnot.
Other size 14 rollerskates include the Sure-Grip Fame, Sure-Grip Sonic, and Sure-Grip 1300 Aerobic rollerskates. I found that most rollerskate brands charge extra if your feet are size 14 or bigger.
How to Buy Rollerskates for Women
Women can wear men’s rollerskates no problem. But there’s a slew of skates that are designed specifically for women. Usually, it’s color that makes all the difference. Lots of skates for girls and women are pink, but there’s nothing else that differentiates them from a man’s skate.
Women’s rollerskate sizes: If you have really large feet, finding rollerskates larger than size 11 can be pretty tough. Most of the women’s quads out there go up to size 11, but a bunch of brands out there stock size 12+ women’s rollerskates.
But Bont Rollerskates are cut big and come in all kinds of large sizes. Actually, Bonts are really roomy. If you’re a size 8 in regular women’s shoes, you’re going to need to order size 5 Bonts.
And if you’re looking for rollerskates with an LGBTQ tilt, I bet you’ll find something that works for you. Moxi skates would be a great place to kick off your search.
How to Choose Quad Skates for an Older Person
Are you an older person wanting to get into rollerskating? I get you. You’re probably wondering if age 45 is too old for rollerskating. You probably don’t want folks in your neighborhood to think you’re a crazy old lady who likes wheeling around on some skates.
But you know what? It’s your life, and quite frankly, everyone out there has more and bigger problems to worry about than freaking out because a 45-year-old decided rollerskating is fun.
Or you skated as a kid way back and have been wanting to get back into rollerskating after 20 years of zero skating. Don’t worry. Just get a pair of boots you like and get going. Go ahead and sign up for an Insta account and also start creating short Tiktok videos of yourself rolling around.
There are lots of people out there waiting for a courageous older person to inspire them. And that person could be you. And no, no one will think you look like an idiot. Help others rediscover the joy of rollerskating.
If your ankles aren’t as strong as they used to be, get something that offers decent ankle support. And oh, make sure to put on full safety gear before strapping on those boots. You never know what might happen when you start gliding around.
Secondhand Rollerskates vs New Ones
If money isn’t really an issue for you, definitely get new rollerskates in the right material, style, and size. But new rollerskates, especially great quality ones, can have you parting with gobs of money so why not look around for secondhand quads? If $300 on skates wouldn’t feel like money well spent for you, definitely go the used-but-still-worth-it route.
Between buying used quads that are still in good shape versus buying cheap new skates, I’m all for the first option. Actually, getting really high-quality quad skates used for a really low price isn’t hard at all. Many parents do it all the time, and there’s no reason you can’t explore this save-money idea. Whatever you do with your earmarked spend, don’t buy trash.
Where to Buy Rollerskates
If buying used skates for a child or yourself, eBay is one of the best places for that. Facebook Marketplace is another decent place. You can also access good-quality gently used kids’ or adults’ rollerskates on this Facebook group and this one.
Another idea would be to let your friends and relatives know you’re looking to buy used skates as long they’re not too battered.
Or, you could ask around Reddit. Find the right subreddit because redditors can be quite forthright with folks who seem lost. It’s also a great place to do exchanges if you have a size problem and don’t want to jump through hoops to return the wrong size skates.
Can I Get Away With Buying the Cheapest Rollerskates?
Here’s an absolute you must know if you’re wanting to buy safe rollerskates for yourself or as a gift for someone. Never ever buy $50 rollerskates no matter how nice and colorful they look. Just don’t do it. Because you’ll soon regret that decision. Scores of skaters over the years have found that cheap rollerskates are a twisted ankle or a broken skull waiting to happen. They’re dangerously unsafe; they’re just not worth it.
I have no axe to grind with any rollerskate brand, but I’d say stay the hell away from Angel rollerskates, most Impala rollerskates, and pretty much any rollerskate brand no one’s heard of. It’s best to steer clear of any sort of Aliexpress-dropshipped rollerskates unless you’re the type of person who doesn’t worry too much about massive hospital bills and a forced absence from the skating scene.
If you want cheap safe rollerskates, be ready to spend at least $100. And be sure to buy from a “good” company, one that many skaters seem to patronize. Actually, make it $100-$200 for a beginner-level rollerskate and $250-$350 for advanced-level quad skaters.
When buying a budget rollerskate, make sure it comes with a metal baseplate. Too often, the insanely cheap Aliexpress junk skates I warned you to shun above come with a poor-quality plastic plate. The kind of plate that snaps after a ride or two unless you’re feather-light or a child.
Speaking of children, you can actually buy cheap rollerskates for a young child. Just make sure that they’re not too inexpensive as to be unsafe. I once bought $50 Chicago skates as a birthday gift for a BFF’s daughter. And they had zero problems with it. It lasted about a year, but I suspected that’s down to the fact that most quads can stand up to low-weight loads.