Buying the Perfect Skates (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Skate Makers)

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

If you’ve read my prior post, you’ve already learned How Not to Buy Hockey Skates (link). If you finished that incredibly long post and you’re back - THANKS!

After all of my mistakes, I believe I’ve determined the best method for selecting hockey skates. Without further ado - Here are the steps:

Knowledge is Power - READ

After 5 years of purchasing the wrong skates, I finally decided to READ about the very products I was purchasing. In doing so, I discovered that skates are made to fit specific foot profiles - Narrow heel, moderate heel, wide heel. After wearing several pairs of skates and hating most of them, I now could understand why. There is no substitute for understanding the item you’re about to buy. Read product descriptions, read manufacturer's literature on their brands and the differences between lines. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

After you’ve read about the products, feel free to go to your local hockey shop (big box or mom & pop, doesn’t matter) and talk to the people who work there. You’ll be amazed at their in-depth and knowledge. If you aren’t, find a new shop.

Scan Your Feet!

One of the greatest advancements in modern skate shopping is the ‘custom’ skate. Though I defer to the aforementioned hockey shop manager (as he knows a great deal more about boot construction than I), ‘custom’ skates are really the assembly of skate parts (the boot, the toe box, the holder, etc.) which are not all from one size skate. In other words, when you go into a shop and buy a 6.5 D skate, you have a boot, holder, steel and tongue all fitted for size 6.5. If, however, you needed a size 6.5 EE skate (extra wide) it’s very likely that your skate would have the toe box from a size 7 skate, a holder from a size 6, etc. The ability to customize these builds used to be only available to the elite, professional and collegiate players. Now the manufacturers offer this capability to everyone (well everyone with $1000+ to spend on skates).

The major manufacturers have also deployed foot scanning technology. It’s a bit weird to experience, I’ll admit, but it produces a 3D image of your foot and with an insane degree of accuracy identifies your actual size (for both shoes and skates). I’ll shill a bit here and say that I found Bauer’s scanner less invasive (read as awkward) than the others but I found them all to be spot on regarding the selection of the best fitting skate from their respective brands.

Try Them ALL On

It may sound like a great deal of effort, but if you’re spending $150 - $750 on an item you hope to use for years to come, it makes sense to understand your purchase and ‘test drive’ as many pairs of skates as possible. You’ll immediately begin to understand all of the product details you’ve read and conversations you’ve had with your hockey shop manager. The words will directly translate to a tangible feeling when you put your feet in the boots. If you have an unusual size (I’m a 6.5EE in skates), it may take some effort and you may have to visit shops you don’t trust. It’s a small price to pay to avoid making the wrong purchase.

Trust Your Gut

When you put your foot into that perfect fit, that Cinderella skate, enjoy it. Make your decision on purchasing the best quality you can afford with the absolute best fit you can find. If you’re not comfortable, don’t buy the skates. If you do, then walk out of the store with them and don’t give it another thought. You’ve found the right skates. Trust your process and focus on enjoying your new skates.

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