Best Ice Hockey Skates

Updated January 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

27 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
462 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best ice hockey skates

Last Updated January 2020

Hockey is one of the most exciting, fast-paced sports to play. But you can’t glide over the ice as quickly and powerfully as you’d like without the right hockey skates.

Ice hockey skates are an essential piece of gear for any hockey player. Hockey skates have a boot like any other pair of ice skates, but they’re usually more rigid and lighter in weight than figure skates with added padding to protect against the impact of hard pucks and sticks. The skate blade attaches to the boot with a plastic holder and is rounded at the front and back, so it’s easier to turn and maneuver.

But with so many ice hockey skates available, it’s easy to get deked out by all the options. You must consider your play level, the fit type you prefer, and the blade material that will serve you best. Our shopping guide will help you find the best ice hockey skates to help you glide effortlessly into your next game. We’ve included some product recommendations, too, to help make shopping as easy as can be.

If you buy a pair of heat-moldable skates, you’ll usually get the best results at home if you use a hairdryer to heat the boot. You can also bring them into a hockey specialty store and have them heat the skates for you.

Key considerations

Play level

When you shop for ice hockey skates, it’s important to use your level of play as a guide. Novice hockey players don’t need the same features in their skates that experienced players do, so you want to choose a pair that matches your skill level.

  • Recreational skates are ideal for new or casual hockey players. They’re usually more affordable, but many are designed for younger players, so they’re not all able to handle the height and weight of an adult player. Recreational skates generally have a softer boot to enhance comfort and make it easier to learn the necessary footwork for hockey. They typically have non-exchangeable runners, but that usually isn’t an issue since most players upgrade their skates as their game progresses.
  • Performance skates are best for experienced players who skate at least one to two times a week with a mid-to-high level hockey team. Adults who are new to hockey might also start with these since recreational skates may not be able to support their weight. Performance skates have a stiffer boot that helps players achieve greater power and agility. They’re heat-moldable, too, which helps provides a better fit and reduces the time that it takes to break in the skates. You’ll also find exchangeable runners on performance skates, so you can replace the blades if they break down.
  • Elite skates are the best option for extremely advanced hockey players who skate at least three times a week with a high-level hockey team. They often feature one-piece boots that offer greater durability and are heat-moldable. You’ll usually find better ventilation to improve airflow, too, which helps shorten the dry time after playing. Elite skates also provide excellent protection for the top of the foot and have taller runners to improve the turning radius.

Fit type

Ice hockey skates are available in a few different fit types.

Tapered or narrow-fit skates have a shallow instep, a narrow heel, a slightly narrowed midsection, and a standard toe. They work well if your main concerns are speed, agility, and control.

Contoured or anatomical-fit skates have a standard instep, snug heel and midsection, and standard toe. They work well if you desire a more powerful stride while still maintaining control.

Classic or comfort-fit skates have a deep instep, slightly wide heel, wide midsection, and wide toe box. They are lightweight and comfortable, so they help you glide more naturally.

Size

Finding the right size for ice hockey skates can be a challenge because manufacturers use different sizing charts. In most cases, you should choose a smaller skate size than your regular shoe size. If you choose skates that are too large, your foot will shift inside and slow you down on the ice. There’s also a risk of blisters and other injuries. If you wear skates that are too small, though, they’ll be uncomfortable and may cause cramps.

As a general rule, go down one-and-a-half sizes from your shoe size when you’re choosing your hockey skates.

EXPERT TIP

To protect the blades on your skates, use skate guards if you’re wearing them off the ice. Concrete and other hard flooring surfaces can dull the blades in a hurry.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Blade material

Ice hockey skates usually feature steel blades. For the highest-performing skates, it’s best to choose stainless steel blades, which don’t rust as easily and hold an edge longer than other types.

However, if you’re new to playing hockey or only play occasionally, you don’t necessarily have to splurge for stainless steel blades. Nickel-plated steel or other lower grades of steel are usually fine for blades on recreational hockey skates.

Blade profile

An ice hockey skate’s blade profile describes how curved it is — or how much of the blade comes into contact with the ice when you’re standing in a neutral stance. You can usually choose from 9-, 10-, 12-, and 13-foot profiles, with the lower numbers being more curved and allowing for greater maneuverability. Goalie skates are almost entirely flat, which gives them a 25-foot profile. Flatter blade profiles (higher numbers) provide more stability but can limit your agility and maneuverability.

Non-exchangeable vs. exchangeable runners

The steel portion of a hockey skate’s blade is known as a runner and sits in a plastic holder at the bottom of the skate. Some skates feature exchangeable runners that can be replaced, while other pairs have non-exchangeable runners that are permanently fixed to the skate. Exchangeable runners can be replaced if the rest of the skates are still in good condition but the blade is damaged. With non-exchangeable runners, you have to replace the entire skate if the blade becomes damaged.

Performance and elite hockey skates all have exchangeable runners, but many recreational ice hockey skates have non-exchangeable runners. That’s because they’re geared toward kids and young adults whose feet are still growing. The chances are good that a child will outgrow the skates long before the blade is permanently damaged.

Protection

Ice hockey skates need extra protection for the feet because there’s a good chance of impact from a hard hockey puck or another player’s stick. The boot of the skate usually has especially good protection in the toe, along the sides, and at the tongue. The amount of protection you need often depends on the speed and skill of your game, so you may want to make adjustments to the protection in your boot to suit your playing style.

Laces

Hockey skates can have either unwaxed or waxed laces. Children and new hockey players typically do better with unwaxed laces because they stretch when they get wet, which makes it easier to get the skates on feet that have swelled. Experienced players usually prefer waxed laces because they don’t stretch and lock in place more easily.

EXPERT TIP

Make sure to have a towel in your hockey bag so you can dry off your skates as soon as you’re finished on the ice.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Ice hockey pucks: A&R Sports Classic Ice Hockey Puck
You can’t play — or practice — hockey without a puck to move around on the ice. We like this one from A&R Sports Classic. It’s made of vulcanized rubber and works well for both indoor and outdoor hockey.

Ice hockey sticks: Franklin Sports NHL SX Comp 1010 Street Tech Hockey Stick
Besides your skates, a hockey stick is the most essential piece of gear for a hockey player. We love this stick from Franklin Sports because it’s affordable and features a wide, heavy blade that’s ideal for new players who are learning the game.

Ice hockey skates prices

Ice hockey skates vary in price based on the type, materials, and other features. Most pairs cost between $35 and $600.

Inexpensive: Basic recreational hockey skates are the most affordable. They usually have non-exchangeable runners that are made of lower quality steel and aren’t heat-moldable. You’ll typically pay between $35 and $80 for these skates.

Mid-range: Elite hockey skates are more expensive. They typically have exchangeable runners, and many pairs are heat-moldable, too. These skates generally cost between $80 and $300.

Expensive: The priciest ice hockey skates are elite skates. They have exchangeable stainless steel runners and are heat-moldable. They offer the most protection for the foot, too. You’ll pay between $300 and $600 for elite skates.

EXPERT TIP

If the boot of your skate starts to bend or feels too flexible, it’s usually a sign that you need a new pair of skates.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Dry your skates. To prolong the life of your hockey skates, always dry them thoroughly after a game or practice.
  • Air them out. Prevent mold from growing in your skates by removing the insoles from the boot and leaving the tongue out after you use them. That allows the interior to dry before you put them in your bag.
  • Take the fingernail test. You can usually tell if your skates need sharpening by carefully running your fingernail along the blade edge. If your nail doesn’t get caught or drag along the edge, your blades need sharpening.

Other products we considered

With so many ice hockey skates on the market, we couldn’t include all the pairs worth considering on our shortlist. The CCM Junior Tacks Ice Hockey Skates are a perfect option for new or recreational players because of their lightweight design. They also feature a microfiber liner to help wick moisture away from your feet during tough games.

We also like the Botas Draft 281 Ice Hockey Skates, which have carbon ultra steel runners that are preinstalled on all adult sizes. They also feature double density ankle padding for plenty of protection against errant pucks and sticks.

You can tell that your skates fit well if you can only fit one finger between the back of the skate and your heel when you’re leaning forward on the ice with your knees bent.

FAQ

Q. How often do ice hockey skates need to be sharpened?
A.
It depends on how often you hit the ice and what your personal preference is. Some players like their blades to be ultra-sharp, so they sharpen after every game. Other players can go a couple of months between blade sharpenings. In general, you should sharpen them every 12 hours of use.
 

Q. How long does it take to break in a pair of hockey skates?
A.
It depends on how stiff your skates are and how often you use them. In general, stiffer skates take longer to break in. With most skates, though, you can usually notice a difference after 10 hours of skating. For extremely stiff skates, it may take up to 40 hours of skating before you’ll feel comfortable wearing them in a game.
 

Q. How long does a pair of ice hockey skates last?
A.
Several factors play a role in the lifespan of hockey skates. The quality of the skates, how often you use them, and how well you care for them are the most critical. If you purchase an elite pair of skates and only play one or two times a week, you may be able to get four to eight years of use out of them. If you opt for a lower-quality pair of skates or play three or more times a week, you may only get one to two years of wear out of them.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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