Best Ice Hockey Skates 2021

So, you’ve decided to purchase the best ice hockey skates to pair with the best hockey stick on the market? Good, because good-quality hockey gear can make a world of difference between playing recreationally or professionally. However, hockey stakes are far more diverse when compared to hockey sticks, with a multitude of factors to consider.

In this article, we’ll present you with some of the best ice hockey skates for sale and explain all the different things you need to know when purchasing a pair of skates. Regardless of whether you’re a veteran player, or a complete newcomer to the sports, read throughout the comprehensive buyer’s guide to learn more about the best ice hockey skates for sale.

To start things off, we’re presenting you with our top picks reviews:

Our Top Pick

Bauer Supreme Hockey Skates

  • Thermoforming
  • Exceptional energy transfer
  • Supportive and protective

2nd Best

CCM Super Tacks Skates

  • Elite-level performance
  • Feature-packed Comfortable
  • Comfortable

Best Affordable

True TF7 Senior Hockey Skates

  • Affordable
  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Ultra-lightweight Comfortable


Top 12 Best Hockey Skates for Sale


1. Bauer Supreme UltraSonic Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer Supreme UltraSonic Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

• Fit Profile: N, R, W (Heat Moldable)
• Available categories:
Intermediate and Senior
• Construction:
Replaceable steel

Let’s start with the fit of your hockey skate. Bauer performed 3D scans on more than 800,000 human feet to create the best possible fit for their skates. The result comes in the form of three distinct fits that accommodate different feet widths. But they didn’t stop there. Their quarter package is made using 3D Lasted Carbon Curv Composite, which is heat responsive and allows for better heat molding for a completely customized fit.

Additionally, the new and improved Reflex Pro Tongue features a double-injected insert which is also heat-responsive. This constructional design allows for a completely customized fit that’s comfortable, supportive, and protective. The backside of the skate features a Reflex Tendon Guard, which was redesigned from the 2S Pro skates. It also allows for more flexibility and mobility without compromising protection.

The hockey skate interior features a brand new Aerofoam Pro Interior padding, which wraps around the ankle for added protection. Not only does it provide adequate support for the ankle, but it also eliminates any discomfort that might occur with flexing Tendon Guard. This padding technology is a part of Bauer’s Lock Fit Pro liner designed to keep your feet in place, wick away any sweat, and keep your feet comfy.

Last but not least, the holder and runner of the UltraSonic fuse the old and the new. This two-piece system features a popular TUUK Lightspeed Edge holder, which has been part of elite-level skates for years. But, the latest addition is the brand-new LS Pulse TI Steel blade with titanium coating for better edge retention and grip, increased consistency during use, and more consistent speed.

The Bauer Supreme UltraSonic skates are the pinnacle of Bauer’s engineering, aimed at elite-level athletes who seek perfection and don’t mind the cost. All thof these things make them high performance skates

PROS

  • Great support and protection
  • Fantastic high-performance blade
  • Heat Moldable
  • Good energy transfer

CONS

  • Great speed at the cost of maneuverability

2. Bauer Vapor X2.9 Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer Vapor X2.9 Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R  (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior ice hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

Bauer is among the most established manufacturers of elite-level hockey gear, especially NHL players, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t care for beginners. Their Bauer Vapor X2.9 is among the best ice hockey skates for beginners, available on the current market.

The quarter package of Bauer Vapor X2.9 is build using Bauer’s Perform Flex system, which isn’t the stiffest solution in Bauer’s arsenal. Instead, the manufacturer opted to allow little flexibility in the boot’s material, which would enable it to conform to the natural shape of your foot, aiding overall performance and comfort.

This design employs 3D Lasted Tech-Mech material with an X-Rib pattern on the back of the hockey boot, which allows thermoforming for a customized fit. With that said, the boot best fits regular feet rather than narrow and wide. But with proper breaking-in and thermoforming, fitting them really shouldn’t be an issue. The boot’s top features a 48-ounce tongue with injected metatarsal guards, which provide a highly comfortable and protective fit.

When it comes to the interior, the Vapor X2.9 features a hydrophobic liner specifically designed to keep you dry and comfortable. They’re paired with the Aeroform memory foam pads for ankle support and additional memory foam lining and padding for the boot’s foot bed. Collectively, these will keep your feet dry, comfortable, and protected while preventing any slip-ups within the boot that would otherwise impede performance. 

As for the bottom part, or holders and runners, the X2.9 uses the tried-and-tested LightSpeed Edge holder and LS1 runners. The blades are made of exceptionally high-grade steel that provides increased overall longevity for your skates.

Admittedly, Bauer’s Vapor X2.9 skates aren’t overly stiff, which is precisely what recreational skaters and ice hockey beginners need. However, they do perform outstandingly given their price point and intended use.

PROS

  • Two-piece holders and runners
  • Thermoforming for increased comfort
  • Good-quality materials
  • Beginner-oriented

CONS

  • Limited fits

3. Bauer Vapor 2X Pro Senior Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer Vapor 2X Pro Senior Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: N, R  (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior ice hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

Bauer set out to provide ultimate performance and comfort on ice with their new Bauer Vapor 2X Pro skates, aimed at elite-level athletes. However, besides the obvious, their main attribute is the more accessible price than on the newly released Bauer Supreme UltraSonic.

The Bauer Vapor 2X Pro follows the rest of the line and enhances the given comfort with thermoforming for a customized fit. Unfortunately, the initial fitting is more limited towards players with narrow and regular-sized feet and could potentially bring discomfort to players whose feet are wider. The quarter package is built using 3D Lasted Carbon Curv Composite, paired with Dynaflex technology. It allows fantastic energy transfer, despite decreased stiffness, while the X-Rib patterns on the back help lock the heel in place for added support.

The boot’s top is equipped with the Recoil Pro dual-injected tongue, allowing increased range of motion and providing additional comfort. Besides that, it also features a moldable felt and metatarsal guard for better top protection from blocks, pucks, and sticks impact.

Bauer Vapor 2X Pro’s hockey skate interior is lined with a hydrophobic, Lock-Fit Pro liner to help keep your feet dry and comfortable, as well as locked into place. The Aerofoam Pro memory provides additional comfort and support to the feet and, most importantly, ankles. Naturally, the liner also has thermoforming properties, which enhance its comforting capabilities.

The lower segment of the Bauer Vapor skates features an already-mentioned LightSpeed Edge holder, with LS5 high-performance steel blades. It’s worth mentioning that the blades have a black carbon coating on them, which prolongs their sharpening life and prevents any type of corrosion.

Bauer’s Vapor 2X Pro ice hockey skates are designed for players who don’t concern themselves with marginal gains. As such, they’re among the best ice hockey skates for professional NHL and elite players.

PROS

  • Incredibly agility
  • Amazing padding and liner
  • Top-of-the-line blades

CONS

  • Limited fit, not for players with wide feet

4. True TF9 Ice Hockey Skates

True TF9 Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior ice hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

True Hockey has become proof that ultimate performance doesn’t have to burn a hole in your budget, and their skates, the TF9, mirror that. Not only are they exceptional on ice and affordable, but they’re also incredibly comfortable and possibly the lightest pair of pro-level hockey skates. These attributes aren’t simple labels on a box; they’re actually the result of thousands of foot scans and several of True’s technologies.

Firstly, the boot’s one-piece shell is made of True’s proprietary Trueshell co-molded carbon material with thermoplastic properties. The boot allows for the highest level of fit and comfort ever found on stock hockey skates through its thermoforming properties. Additionally, the technology extends to the toe box and eliminates high-impact weak points, providing the user with additional protection layers.

For the second part, the skates’ top features an anatomical T-guard insert tongue with a stiff and contoured design for lightweight but anatomical fit. Naturally, the tongue is adjustable and easily adheres to any style of play and any comfort level while providing ultimate protection from impacts and lace bite.

True lined the hockey skate boot’s inside with a Hydrofoam liner – an antimicrobial and moisture-wicking liner that helps keep your feet dry and comfy. Its multi-density foam design provides superior comfort. However, True completely reinvented their skate’s insole, which now integrates fit inserts for different foot arches. Their proper placement is marked on the insole for easier positioning and a right fit that corresponds to your arch type.

True TF9 skates offer speed in more than one way. Its specifically designed SHIFT holders now feature BenchChange technology that enables lightning-quick blade changes without any specialized tools. These are intended to hold SHIFT Onyx black blades with enhanced longevity, sharper edge, and exceptional durability.

PROS

  • Enhanced comfort
  • Lightweight
  • Good materials
  • Relatively affordable skates

CONS

  • None, given their price tag

5. Bauer Supreme S29 Ice Hockey Skates

Bauer Supreme S29 Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications

  • Fit Profile: R (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

Though released for 2019, Bauer Supreme S29 skates still hold their own against the competition. Sure, they can’t really compete with top-of-the-line models but will provide sufficient support, protection, and performance to recreational players.

Diving right into the construction, the quarter package on Bauer Supreme S29 is made of an incredibly lightweight 3D fiber composite+ material. The material’s lightweight properties allow for better mobility, but its rigidness and resilience provide good protection from a wide array of impacts. On the top, a 2-piece tongue utilizes a 48-ounce felt material and high-density metatarsal guard, which are also in charge of comfort and protection.

The boot’s outsole is made of Bauer’s proprietary Fiber Composite, which improves skating stability without increasing the weight of the shoes. However, on the interior, Bauer used their hydrophobic microfiber liner, which excels at wicking out moisture and provides a better gripping surface for your feet. It pairs well with Form-fit+ footbed material, which also grips the feet, prevents slippage, and enhances energy transfer.

Bauer Supreme S29 Senior ice hockey skates come in a Regular fit, which might not be as comfortable to people with narrow or wide feet. Still, given some breaking-in and some thermoforming, the skates can provide the most natural, anatomical fit on hockey skates for any hockey player.

It’s time to move onto the bottom, which features a TUUK LightSpeed Edge holder that enables lightning-quick blade changes. The holder fits LS1 stainless steel blades with the better edge retention and fantastic overall durability.

Though already an outdated model, Bauer Supreme S29 packs a lot of performance into an affordable price tag. It’s aimed chiefly at elite-level athletes who aren’t interested in marginal gains but require an excellent performing pair of skates.

PROS

  • Comfortable, anatomical fit
  • High-quality materials
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Stiffer than initially expected

6. CCM Jetspeed FT490 Ice Hockey Skates

CCM Jetspeed FT490 Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

Next to Bauer skates, CCM is one of the largest and best-established manufacturers of the best hockey skates and gear on the market. It’s no wonder, given how their FT490 model still holds its price and place among players.

The FT490 skates are based on CCM Jetspeed line with key improvements which help maximize comfort, performance, and durability. Though not the freshest pair of skates inside the rink, their relatively affordable price and elite-level performance puts them toe-to-toe with newer and more expensive models.

CCM made their one-piece boot out of top-of-the-line, LiteFrame 360 EVO Technology, which excludes any stitching or adhesive in high-energy transfer zones. Additionally, to further maximize the energy transfer, CCM removed some parts of the boot’s outsole. This results in the almost unobstructed energy transfer between the foot and the skate for explosive speed and power.

The LiteFrame is made using CCM’s RocketFrame composite material, making the boot super lightweight without sacrificing its rigidity, or reducing durability. Besides exceptional lightweight and top-notch durability, the FT490 also offers unparalleled levels of protection. For this category, at least.

On top-front of the FT490 Skates, CCM implemented their TriTech tongue with built-in lace-bite protection. The design molds around your feet and high ankles for ultimate safety and comfort on the ice. Of course, the lace-bite protection prevents any wear-downs on high-wear areas.

The skates’ interior is lined with the CCM’s best proprietary liner: the TotalDri Pro Liner, a lightweight, moisture-wicking material. Of course, its relative lightweight raises some durability questions, which prompted CCM to include DuraZone Abrasion Protection patches on the high-wear zones of the interior.

Last but not least, the hockey skates are equipped with SpeedBlade XS holders, which allows for quick blade release and replacement. The holders feature a positive-lock mechanism that holds the blade in place and prevents it from loosening during matches.

PROS

  • Fantastic blades
  • Anatomical Fit
  • Excellent support

CONS

  • Requires some breaking-in

7. CCM Super Tacks 9370 Senior Ice Hockey Skates

 CCM Super Tacks 9370 Senior Ice Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior ice hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

Super Tacks 9370 are designed and manufactured to cater to a wide range of recreational hockey players, offering a perfect blend of performance, comfort, protection, and price. With the emphasis on performance, of course.

The CCM Super Tacks 9370 skate boots are constructed using the MetaFrame Technology with a synthetic carbon composite quarter package and ergonomic boot-shaping system. This system ensures a form-fitting 360° fit around the foot and ankle and eliminates any space inside the boot, providing a snug fit. That is quite an improvement, considering that original CCM Super Tacks had a wide-type fit that only catered to a small number of NHL hockey players, hence the need for a snug fit. However, this newly-improved fitting system can be thermoformed for enhanced, fully customized fit, contributing to better energy transfer and better overall performance.

When it comes to the tongue, the 9370 feature a replaceable, asymmetrical felt tongue with embedded lace-bite protection. A 7mm felt tongue comes as a stock option, as it features reinforced layering for added security. But if you require additional options, you can go with either a 4mm option or a thick 10mm felt tongue.

The boot’s insides share similarities with the CCM JetSpeed line and feature a heavy-duty Microfiber liner, with Durazone Abrasion protection, for wear-protection and additional comfort. While on the subject of comfort, the footbed is made of CCM’s Ortholite material, specifically designed to provide adequate support without impeding comfort.

For some reason, CCM didn’t market Super Tacks 9370 with a replaceable blade system, despite equipping its skates with one. The SpeedBlade XS holder features a quick-release mechanism that allows players to switch out their stock CCM XS stainless steel blades.

PROS

  • Replaceable tongue for more comfort
  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Ergonomic boot with form-fitting 360° fit

CONS

  • Non-thermoforming

8. CCM RibCor 80K Senior Hockey Skates

CCM RibCor 80K Senior Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W, EE (Non-thermoforming)
  • Available categories: Senior ice hockey skates
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

The CCM RibCor 80K skates are a thing of beauty, which lets performance do the talking, rather than flashy graphics. However, their design was refined, along with the new key features that blend performance, stability, comfort and fit into one elite-performing concoction.

CCM’s RibCor 80K is actually a complete, one-piece composite boot made using FlexFrame Technology, which significantly reduces the fiber’s weight without sacrificing durability. The boots are also reinforced behind the heel for better stiffness and rigidity and enhanced energy transfer, which helps with mobility. However, they’re more flexible in the front area, which would allow you to lean forward and push outwards, generating more force.

The flexible frontal part includes CCM’s Tri-Tech tongue, with pro-style 7mm felt and lace-bite protector inserts that additionally mold to your feet. Although the skates are classified as Regular fit, RibCor’s contoured heel and ADPT memory foam ankle pads provide excellent heel lock and support. And with the new sizing options, they’ll also fit players with wide or extra-wide feet.

Besides the fantastic ankle and heel support, the insides of CCM RibCor 80K feature CCM’s TotalDri Pro+ liner material with Durazone Abrasion protection. TotalDri Pro+ is a moisture-wicking material that will keep your toes dry and comfortable throughout the match. But the Durazone protection is what keeps the liner operational. Its strategic placement inside the boot prevents wear-and-tear on the liner’s high-wear areas. Since the skates don’t have any thermoforming capabilities, CCM equipped them with the additional ADPT memory foam wraps, which anatomically conform to the shape of your feet.

The boots will keep your feet nice and comfy, but the new SpeedBlade XS1 Black runner is what’ll keep you gliding on the ice. They’re held in place by the SpeedBlade XS holders with a quick-release mechanism, enabling you to rapidly change damaged or dulled blades.

PROS

  • Comfortable for any hockey player
  • Fantastic, corrosion-resistant blade
  • Increased range of forward motion
  • Amazing heel support
  • memory foam ankle pads

CONS

  • Non-thermoforming
  • Stiffer than expected

9. Graf G755 Pro Senior Hockey Skates

Graf G755 Pro Senior Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W (Thermoforming)
  • Available categories: Senior
  • Construction: One-piece holder and runner

In the market dominated by Bauer skates and CCM skates, many manufacturers of high-quality hockey gear remain unnoticed. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given the reasonable price-point/performance ratio those companies tend to offer, compared to their well-marketed competition. This is primarily the case with companies such as True Hockey and Graf. Well, with their G755 Pro model, Graf proves that performance doesn’t have to burn a hole in the budget.

The G755 Pro hockey skates combine all the conformity found in traditional skates with modern-day performance material. The boot quarter package is actually made of a combination of 4K carbon fibers and heat-moldable microfiber, featuring classic-looking stitching. This makes the boots less stiff and exceedingly more comfortable, though at the price of slightly reduced protection.

Now, we’re not discussing high-impact areas like the toe caps or heel and Achilles area. We’re talking about the side panels of the quarter package. The outsole, however, is made entirely of Peakspeed 4K carbon fiber, which provides torsional stiffness for enhanced energy transfer, and reduced weight.

On top, the boots feature a 10-mm felt tongue which keeps the top of the foot as comfortable as possible, matching the comfort of the liner itself. For the liner, Graf used a pre-molded, multi-density liner that extends into the toe cap, providing thermal and physical protection and comfort. Thanks to the specially contoured inner paddings, the boots sit pretty nicely in the ankle area, keeping your heel locked and your feet planted.

Unfortunately, the skates feature a one-piece holder and runner construction, which is rather strange in this price segment—especially considering that some models feature two-piece holders and runners at half the price. With that said, Graf G755 Pro is a performance-level product, and some sacrifices had to be made to keep the price tag affordable.

PROS

  • Relatively affordable
  • Exceptionally comfortable out of the box
  • Thermoforming
  • Great performance

CONS

  • Fused holders and runners
  • It doesn’t really justify its price-point


10.True TF7 Hockey Skates

True TF7 Senior Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

True’s TF7 skates are the manufacturer’s take on a more affordable version of their top-notch TF9 model. Build on the fundamentals of TF9; the TF7 offers the best-in-class fit and exceptional performance for an affordable price.

Starting with the boot, True used their 3D scanning technology and thousands of feet scans to create the TF7 boot. This caters to almost 90% of players across recreational and professional-level categories, making TF7 a comfortable experience right out of the box. The boots’ shells are made of thermoforming Trueshell fiberglass, enabling an entirely customized fit for players with regular and wide feet.

The skates’ top feature anatomical felt tongues, which aren’t as advanced as those on TF9, but some sacrifices had to be made to keep the price down. With that said, recreational players still get to enjoy the traditional fit and comfort that boots provide.

On the inside, True used their Blackwick liner throughout the entirety of the boot’s interior. It’s an antimicrobial and moisture-wicking liner that will keep your feet dry and comfortable. True implemented a personalized fit system within the insole, which now includes fit inserts to help accommodate different foot types. The placements of these inserts are marked on the insole, making it easier to position them properly for a complete fit.

The TF7s use the same SHIFT holders as their big brother, the True TF9. These holders are equipped with BenchChange technology, allowing players to replace the skates blades without using any specialized tools. It’s a simple press-to-release mechanism that will enable you to quickly replace dulled or damaged blades and promptly return on the ice. The holders are paired with SHIFT stainless steel blades made of dense and highly durable material that will hold its edge over time.  True’s TF7s are made explicitly for mid-level players looking for custom-fitting, dynamic-performing products, making TF7 the best ice hockey skates in the respected segment.

PROS

  • Exceptional fit and comfort
  • Good blades
  • Affordable
  • Good price/performance ratio
  • Ultra-lightweight

CONS

  • Mid-level performance

11. Graf PK3900 Hockey skates

Graf PK3900 Hockey skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

The PK3900 model skates from Graf are considered entry-level skates for competitive ice hockey. As such, they’re a perfect choice for any recreational player looking to get into competitive play.

Graf skates are legendary for their incredible comfort and price-to-performance ratio. Their PK390 model continues the company’s tradition of creating high-quality hockey skates. The manufacturer used 2-piece injection-molded quarter panels with a carbon look exterior for the construction. Though admittedly more flexible than the competition, this material provides a secure, and above everything else, a comfortable fit without sacrificing protection.

The skate’s top includes an asymmetrical tongue, which prevents shifting, and enhances the comfort of your foot, along with added layers of protection against shots and high impacts. The skates utilize precision-molded ankle pockets, ensuring a solid and secure fit around the ankle for added control and a better and more comfortable fit.

This is paired with thermoforming heel lock, which locks the heel in place and prevents energy dissipation during skating and maneuvering. Everything’s held together by Graf’s hydrophobic liner, which spreads throughout the entirety of the skate, and helps wick away the moisture, keeping your foot dry, secure, and comfortable. It’s worth pointing out that everything on this skate, including the footbed, can be thermoformed, contributing to better overall fit, control, and energy transfer.

On the bottom end, the PK3900 skates use Graf’s 3500 blade holder, with a quick-release mechanism for speedier blade change. The skate blades in question are Graf’s Cobra 2.0 Stainless Steel runners, with a 10ft radius. Bottom line – the Graf PK3900 are the pinnacle of what today’s technology has to offer to medium-level players.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Good, comfortable fit

CONS

  • Can’t measure up to Bauer or CCM skates

12. CCM Super Tacks AS3 Hockey Skates

CCM Super Tacks AS3 Hockey Skates

Specifications:

  • Fit Profile: R, W (Heat Moldable)
  • Available categories: Senior
  • Construction: Replaceable steel

The Super Tacks AS3 are CCM’s newest generation of groundbreaking skates with a one-piece design, medium fit, and professional-level performance. Naturally, this level of engineering and performance comes at a cost that caters to professional-level athletes whose main concern lies with performance gains.

The AS3 were built using the exact anatomic fit we’ve witnessed across the entire Super Tacks line of products. This form-fitting 360° fit eliminates any negative space inside the boot, ensuring better energy transfer for increased speed and agility. The one-piece boot is built using CCM’s Monoframe technology and RFM composite materials. This combination makes CCM Super Tacks AS3 skates both lightweight and durable.

CCM decided to allow complete customization on their top-of-the-line product and incorporated an XS Tongue on the AS3 model. We’re discussing an easy-swappable tongue that enables players to swap them according to their fit and comfort. The manufacturer provides three different tongue thicknesses: 4mm, 7mm, and 10mm, each with varying degrees of protection and comfort. All three are made of D30 Smart Material with impact-force dissipation, which significantly dampens the impacts received from shots.

The interior is loaded with comfort features, like a TotalDri liner with Durazone Abrasion Protection for elite-level comfort during play. Additionally, all the crucial interior areas, like ankle and tendon areas, feature additional multi-density memory foam padding for better grip and comfy feel.

On the bottom half, you’ll find CCM’s SpeedBlade XS holder system, with a quick-release mechanism for replacing the blades on the fly. SpeedBlade XS blades that you get with the skates are good, but you can swap them out for better ones at one point.

PROS

  • Elite-level performance
  • Unparalleled comfort and protection
  • Feature-packed
  • Interchangeable tongues

CONS

  • Stock blades

Hockey Skates Buying Guide

Purchasing a suitable pair of hockey skates won’t magically enhance your skills, but they will provide you with a significant boost in performance. They’re your connection with the ice, and the better they perform, the better you’ll perform and improve, too. However, purchasing a new pair of ice skates isn’t as simple as buying the best hockey skates with the right fit.

To an untrained eye, all hockey skates look the same, when in truth, they’re not. This buyer’s guide aims to help you discern different types of skates and other factors which might impact your fit and performance. So, let’s break down everything you need to know about hockey skates before buying them.

What Are Ice Hockey Skates Made Of?

Ice skates are an ancient tool that helped humankind cross the icy surfaces for more than five millennia. The oldest skates ever found dated back to around 3000 B.C. and were made from leg bones of large animals, which our ancestors used to tie to their feet.

Luckily, our methods and materials evolved, and modern skates use strong, sharp metal blades attached to stiff, more comfortable boots. The latest iterations of ice skates result from cumulative engineering, metallurgy, and design put efforts put together to create a top-of-the-line product.

Some of the best hockey skates designed for professional play feature technical materials whose properties have an excellent durability/weight ratio. In layman’s terms, they can withstand a great deal of abuse while keeping the weight at the minimum.

Hockey Skates on Stick

Parts of the skate

Ice hockey skates are made of several parts that fit together to create a product that allows you to propel across the ice but also protects your feet. They consist of two main parts:

  • skate boot
  • Holders and runners

Though the skates consist of two major parts, both parts feature their own unique assemblies, which we’ll expand and explain in greater detail.

Hockey Skate Boot

The modern hockey skate boots are made of different high-density plastics and textiles instead of their leather counterparts from the past. Still, the boot features five distinct parts, with each piece contributing to varying levels of comfort and performance.

The quarter package is the central part of the skate boot. It extends from the toe cap to the back, and around the heel, up to the ankles. Naturally, they’re produced in different shapes to accommodate wide and narrow feet and allow the boots to better conform to the player’s feet.

The tongue of a hockey skate boot is what protects the front and top of your foot. It’s also an essential component of comfort and fit. Traditional tongues featured a felt liner, which is incredibly comfortable but not as breathable as modern-day foam materials. Foam liners are increasingly popular because of their increased comfort and breathability because they reduce sweating and odor.

Boot liners are the inside surface of the boot that features strategically placed padding, which ensures protection, and proper fitting. For example, most boots offer enhanced protection to specific areas, like the ankle and the Achilles region.

Footbeds are the removable inserts on the bottom of the boots upon which your feet rest. They come in different configurations to accommodate different foot sizes, shapes, and arches, odor protection, and moisture management. Footbeds are primarily in charge of the comfort part of the boot.

Outsoles are the hard, rigid plastic pieces on the bottom of the boot, which hold the blade assembly. The outsoles on high-end skates are typically made of carbon composite materials to ensure a good weight/durability ratio.

Holders and runners

Holder and runners refer to the blade assembly that attaches to the outsole of the skate’s boot. The holder is usually made of plastic and connects to the boot’s outsole. Its purpose is to “hold” the runner, the skate’s blade, made of metal. Though it may seem like simple parts, some differences can be made from model to model and across different price categories.

Mid-range skates usually feature single-piece holders and runners, with plastic holders fused to the metal blade. These are generally cheaper but may cost more in the long run because you’ll have to swap out the entire assembly if the holder breaks due to impacts. This isn’t the case with the best hockey skates, which usually feature a two-piece system.

The advantage of a two-piece system lies in its interchangeability. If any of the parts break, whether it’s the blade or the holder, you can swap them out separately and on the fly. Also, if your blade happens to dull or breaks, you don’t have to change the entire assembly, only the blade itself. With that said, two-way systems are usually made of higher-grade materials and aren’t as prone to breaking as lower-quality ones. 

Hockey Skill Level

Before sizing and fitting ice hockey skates, it’s worth considering how you’re going to use them, and this mainly depends on your level of skill. Not only that, your skill level and intended use also determine the price down the road; there’s really no use in equipping a recreational player with top-notch high-performance skates.

Recreational Ice Skating

Recreational ice skaters don’t necessarily play ice hockey but prefer ice hockey skates because of their increased stability over the awkwardness of figure skates. With that said, they don’t really need all the padding and protection that comes with high-end models, nor built-for-speed blades, and high-tech materials.  

If you’re looking for a pair of ice hockey skates to skate alone, you don’t really need to spend top-dollar on a high-performance pair. Recreational skaters can go by with more affordable, lower-end skates, and budget-friendly skates and still enjoy the benefits of added protection and stability.

Recreational Ice Hockey

Recreational ice hockey players require skates that are the balancing point between price and performance. They need additional protection over lower-end models but don’t require high-end protection and performance professional models offer.

Competitive Ice Hockey Skates

Due to the aggressive nature of the sport, ice hockey players require the most protection and performance of their skates. So, protection, speed, and performance are considered altogether when purchasing ice hockey skates for competitive play.

Most high-quality skates for competitive play are made of composite materials, including carbon fibers and carbon composites. These combinations allow for maximum protection because of their proprietary resilience to impacts and reduced weight. Heavy skates can wear a player down, but lightweight and durable skates can help players propel across the ice effortlessly.

Additionally, most high-end competitive skates feature two-piece systems for holders and runners. The blades of these skates are made of incredibly durable steel, which withstands prolonged abuse.

What Size Hockey Skates Do I Need?

It’s crucial to size the hockey skates before you buy them. Naturally, you can go to the shop and try several different pairs until you’ve found a proper fit. This includes not only finding the right size but the right fit in terms of comfort. Different skates can accommodate various foot types, so it’s worth factoring in that too. First, let’s start with the size.

Hockey Skates Snow
Identify Your Foot Size

Ice hockey skates don’t follow the same guidelines as your street or dress shoes regarding the size. But, if this is your first time purchasing the best ice hockey skates, your street shoe size can help determine the size of your skates.

As a general rule of thumb, you should subtract 1.5 sizes from your street shoe size to get your hockey skate size. So, if you’re 7.5 US shoe size, you should look into the best hockey skates in size 6. Naturally, these are only approximate measurements, and some variations might occur depending on your feet and street shoe manufacturer.

Additionally, ice hockey skates sized are divided into the following categories:

  • Youth – smaller than Boy’s 1.5 US shoe size
  • Junior – between Boy’s 2 to Boy’s 6.5 US shoe size
  • Senior – above Men’s 7 Us shoe size
Identify Your Foot Type

Foot type, or foot shape, is another important consideration when sizing and fitting new ice hockey skates. Different people have different feet: some are narrow, some are regular, and some are wide. So, the ice hockey gear manufacturers produce different types of skate for players with different types of feet.

Comfort and subsequently performance are on the line here; uncomfortable skates will undoubtedly hinder your performance. So make sure that your skates are comfortable and fit, and above everything else, supportive of your feet. Purchasing skates that are too loose will cause blisters and lack of control, and too tight and narrow will cause pain, cramps, and possibly a permanent foot injury.

A perfect fit is everything, so make sure to consider your instep depth, your mid-foot height/width, and your toe width. As with the size, foot type, or foot shape of ice hockey skates has its own designations:

  • C or N – Narrow Fit
  • D or R – Regular Fit
  • E or W – Wide Fit
  • EE – Extra-wide Fit

In addition to the charts we’ve listed in this article, we’ll provide you with additional fit-testing methods in the section below.

How Do I Know It’s The Right Fit

We already explained why it’s essential to fit your skates in the previous sections of our article. Here’s how to test your fit and ensure that you’re buying the best hockey sticks for you.

The Pencil Test

The pencil test ensures that you have the proper instep depth. You simply put your skates on without lacing them and remove the laces if they’ve been previously laced. Next, pull the boot’s tongue out as much as possible.

Place a pencil across the boot, between the third and fifth eyelets of your boot. There’s no exact spot but put the pencil somewhere in that range. Once placed, the pencil shouldn’t move. If it rolls off, or there’s a big gap between the pencil and your instep (bigger than an inch), you might want to find a skate with a better fit.

The Squeeze Test

The squeeze test confirms the overall stiffness of ice hockey skates. Hold the skate from the back, and squeeze the ankle area with your thumb and index finger. If the skates collapse, they’re too flexible.

This isn’t necessarily bad; flexible skates can be used by recreational players and newbies, but not as flexible to allow too much bending or folding. Elite-level hockey players require stiff skates with almost no give to provide the necessary ankle support for competitive play.

The Finger Test

The finger test is used to confirm the right size of your ice hockey skates. Start by putting one of your skates on, and lace it up as you were preparing to play. Lean into them, and bend your knees slightly, like you’re about to skate. Next, reach back to the heel of the skate.

Ideally, there should be just enough room between your heel and the back of the skate to fit your index finger snuggly. If you can fit more than one finger, your heel and ankle won’t be locked firmly into place, and you’ll be risking injury with those skates. Naturally, some exceptions apply – children can have a slightly looser fit, as long as it’s not too loose. Adults should go for a snugger fit.

The Toe Test

Nothing beats a toe brush test when you’re inspecting the heel-to-toe length of your skates. It really shows the difference between walking shoes and skating boots, apart from the obvious ones, of course.  To perform a toe brush test, put your skates on and lace them up as if you were preparing to play.

Stand up in your skates with your legs completely straight. If you’ve selected a proper fit, your toes should barely touch the toe caps of your skate boots. Next, get into the skating stance, with your knees bent and your weight shifted forward. Now your heels should move back into the back of the skate, and your big toe shouldn’t be brushing against the inside of the toe cap. That means you’ve picked a good fit.

However, if your toes don’t brush against the insides of your skates’ toe caps, then the skates are too big. But if your toes still touch the toe caps when you’re in a skating stance, then your skates are too small, and you should choose another fit.

Price Considerations

Apart from a few elite-level athletes, most people concern themselves with the prices of hockey skates. Naturally, the price/performance ratio is always a good indicator of quality, but things don’t always come down to just that. Purchasing top-shelf high-performance hockey skates for a recreational player is often considered a waste of money. Similarly, equipping an elite-level athlete with low-quality gear will severely hinder his or her performance on the ice. So, let’s break down price considerations.

Cheap vs. Expensive

The price tags of the best ice hockey skates can be segmented into three categories: budget-friendly, Mid-level, and High-end skates.

Budget-friendly hockey skates – Budget-friendly hockey skates are primarily for recreational play and aren’t really suitable for any type of professional hockey. You can mainly identify them with a squeeze test – if they fail the test, they shouldn’t be used for training or professional play, as they won’t provide your ankle with sufficient support. These are generally priced between $50-$200.

Mid-level skates – You should consider this an entry-level if you’re interested in playing any level of competitive hockey. Most skates in this range tend to hold up quite nicely for recreational adult divisions, youth games, minor leagues, etc. It’s also the broadest range in terms of features, e.g., some might have two-piece holders and runners, while others feature a one-piece system. You can expect these to range anywhere from $200 to $450, or even higher, depending on various features.

High-end skates – This is where you’ll find the best ice hockey skates for competitive, high-end ice hockey leagues. High-end skates are usually made of high-grade materials that provide incredible durability and resilience with a significant weight reduction. At the same time, they’re built to provide maximum support and protection against skating abuse, stick impacts, pucks, and other skates.

On top of everything, most high-end skates allow for heated molding to your foot, which ensures a perfect fit. After you pick out an appropriate fit, you can heat mold your skate to your foot and provide a better fit that offers even more protection, stability, and control. This type of additional custom fitting helps prevents injuries and blisters that might occur in lower-grade skates.

Because of their added stability, comfort, and protection, which will have you skate for hours without effort, high-end skates are the priciest of the bunch. The superior workmanship included in the manufacturing process and the top-notch performance come at a price, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $450 to $1000 for a pair of high-end skates.

Do Not Buy Used Hockey Skates

Though tempting, buying a used, second-hand pair of ice hockey skates or any other type of high-performance footwear is not a good idea. The attempt to save money can potentially cost you more in the long run for various reasons.

Over time, the footbed of ice hockey skates will mold and adapt towards the individual fit of the skater wearing them. This is especially true if the skates are customized and heat-molded. Despite the similarities, no one has the exact same footstep or foot shape, and those differences, no matter how marginal, will add up over time, causing physical injury.

Now, it’s true that you can re-mold the skates by applying heat, but you’ll dramatically reduce their longevity in the process. That will prompt you to buy a second pair, which will only increase your expenses in the long run, not to mention potential physical injury and the costs included in treating them. Besides, you can’t put a price on health loss, but you can invest in a new pair of skates and preserve your feet’ health.

Skates that weren’t custom-fitted and heat-molded are seemingly a better option, but they also come with a pre-shaped footbed and used up padding – which significantly decreases their ability to protect you.

Instead of buying a used-up pair of ice hockey skates, you can try and get a pair of less expensive skates. Though they might not offer cutting-edge performance, at least they’ll provide you with a sufficient level of protection.

Breaking in your hockey skates

Unless they’re heat-molded, a new pair of hockey skates might be a bit uncomfortable at first and might require some breaking-in time. If your new skates are heat-moldable, you should bake them to secure a proper fit. But if they’re not, you can expect some minor discomfort at first. To learn more about this topic, please refer to our easy step guide on Breaking-In Hockey Skates.


Final Thoughts

We’re here to help you in your pursuit of the best hockey skates on the market. If you’re a professional-level athlete looking for high-quality skates to hone your competitive edge, we recommend our top pick, the Bauer Supreme UltraSonic Ice Hockey Skates. They offer elite-level performance on ice that will help you conquer the competition.

If you’re not a Bauer fan, we recommend the CCM Super Tacks AS3 Hockey Skates, which is one of the CCM’s best hockey skates on the market. With that said, performance doesn’t have to cost you a limb, and if you’re playing recreational hockey, you’ll do fine with True TF7 Senior Hockey Skates, when considering new hockey skates.

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