How to Buy Hockey Skates

I am often asked questions about hockey equipment––like, what brand names are best? what size to get? how much to spend? I have found that there is no “one single answer” to these questions that is correct for everyone. Taste in hockey gear is a very personal thing… and varies from one player to the next. All I can do is tell people what I like, and hopefully that helps to give a good starting point. So––today I’m going to tell you how I purchase my skates… feel free to comment on anything you agree or disagree with!

There are many different types of skates out there… some cheap, some expensive; some stiff and difficult to break in, others soft and easy to break in, some wide, some narrow… you get the point.

I personally look for 3 things when I’m purchasing a skate:

  1. Comfort: I hate breaking new skates in – so I like a skate that will break in quickly, and won’t kill my feet in the process. I remember crying on the ice as a young kid breaking in new skates at the beginning of the season… With the types of materials available in skates today, breaking in skates doesn’t need to be as painful as it was in the past!
  2. Durability: The only thing worse than breaking in new skates is having to do it again in the same season! I’ve found that if you buy cheap, you usually buy twice… especially with hockey skates. The higher-end skates will typically last longer, and you’ll save money in the long run. NOTE: This advice could vary if you are buying skates for a youth hockey player. Kids often outgrow their skates before they wear them out… so you might not need to purchase at the highest end of the durability scale in that case.
  3. PRO-SHOP: This is the most important step for me. Hockey skates are one piece of equipment I do not recommend buying online. Make sure you purchase your skates from a knowledgeable pro-shop that will help you to get the proper size and to purchase a skate that makes sense for the type of hockey you’ll be playing. A good pro-shop will usually have a skate oven to bake your skates for you. This will custom fit the boot to your foot and will help you break in your skates more easily.

Here’s a quick tip I use to get the “perfect fit” as I’m trying on skates:

I like the tips of my toes to just barely brush the front of the boot while I’m standing with my knees straight. Then, when I bend my knees to skating position, my toes pull back in the boot to the ideal spot. Sizing my skates this way usually puts my skate about 1 size smaller than my shoe size.

Also––don’t be afraid to ask for a wide boot. I have a wide foot, and using a wide boot makes a world of difference for my comfort level.

So… you might be wondering which skate fits my criteria… I personally like Graf. I’ve used Graf skates for about 12 years now and won’t use anything else. I have found them to be easy to break in, very durable, and extremely comfortable when I get them sized correctly and baked.

What skates have you had success with? Which ones have you disliked? Let me know!