First off, a lot of people think they have wide feet, but not everyone does. To determine if you actually have wide feet, measure both the longest and widest parts of your feet. Then, take the length and divide it by the width and you’ll have your length to width ratio.
If the ratio is less than 2.5, then yes, you do have wider than average feet. If it’s between 2.5 and 3 then you have medium width feet and if it’s over 3 then your feet are narrower than average.
The biggest mistake people with wide feet make is buying a skate that’s too long in an attempt to accommodate width. When you do this, the widest part of your feet won’t line up with the widest part of the skate. If a skate is way too long, then part of your wide forefoot could end up in the narrower portion of the boot meant for your midfoot and arch. This can lead to painful pressure on the sides of your feet and arch pain. Going up in size can also result in heel lift.
In case you don’t already know, ideally you want skates to fit so there’s as little negative space as possible without serious pain and your toes should brush the cap when standing straight and just come off the cap when your knees are bent in an athletic skating position.
When you’re trying on skates that are too narrow for your feet, they will put pressure on the sides of your feet, elongate them and make the skates feel like the right length when they are too long, or too short when they are actually the right length. What I’d recommend is, focus on the length first.
In order to focus on the length first, try completely unlacing the skates and pulling the tongue forward. Then, slide your foot into the boot and push it all the way to the front until you can just feather the toe cap. With your toes feathering the cap, lean forward, take a standard number 2 pencil, put it behind your heel and try to push it down to the footbed. If the pencil won’t fit or it’s a painfully tight squeeze where you really have to force it, then that’s the right length. If the pencil easily slides in, but you can’t move it much, you may need to go down a half size in length. If the pencil easily slides in and you can move it back and forth, then the skates are at least a full size too long.
Another tip I picked up from an experienced fitter regarding length is, try on smaller sizes until you find one that’s clearly too short and you have to bend your toes to get your foot in. Then, after you’ve found a size that is too short, go back up a half a size. Many people end up in skates that are too long because they just settle for a pair that feels somewhat snug and don’t bother to try on a smaller size. Skates will open up with baking and you’ll gain a few mm when the padding compresses and the skates break in; if you’re on the fence between two sizes, it’s generally better to go with the smaller size. If the smaller size ends up being a bit short after break in you can have them stretched (if it’s a mid or high-end model), but you can never make a boot that’s too big smaller (and NO, wearing double socks is NOT a good solution for skates that are too large).
Testing the Depth
Once you find the right length in a skate model, you can lace them up and worry about other important facets of the fit like depth. To test the depth, have the skate unlaced, pull the tongue out and then lay a pencil horizontally across the 3rd and then 4th eyelets from the top. If the pencil touches both sides of the skate and is just above your foot, that’s perfect. If your feet are more than a cm beneath the pencil then the skate is too deep and if the pencil can’t touch both sides without hitting your foot (meaning your foot is sticking up above the eyelets and the pencil is rocking back and forth on your foot) then the boot is too shallow and you need something deeper.
Using skates that are too shallow can lead to lace bite and using skates that are too deep can cause creasing and premature breakdown of the boot.
Width and Heel Lock
Assuming you’ve found a model that’s both the right length and depth for you foot, you can now lace them up and test for heel lock and width. Once they’re laced up, try skating around and pay attention to any heel lift. Your heel should be locked in the boot and shouldn’t move up and down in the skate (your ankle needs to move, but not your heel). Snugging up the middle laces (around the 3rd and 4th eyelets) can help with heel lock, but you shouldn’t have to crank them so tight that you’re cutting off circulation or giving yourself lace bite.
As for the width, you want the boot to feel snug and if it’s a mid or high-end skate, then minor hot spots usually disappear with a bake, but if your foot feels like it’s being crushed in a vice then that likely won’t bake out and the skate is too narrow. On the other hand, you don’t want the skate to feel sloppy where your foot is moving around from side to side as that can lead to blisters and a loss of energy transfer. You want to feel moderate, but not extreme pressure on the sides of your feet; snug, but not painful. When you step into a skate, your foot should be able to sit flat, but still have snug contact to both sides. If the skate is so narrow it’s bending or bowing your foot and it won’t sit flat, the skate probably won’t work.
If you’re trying on a recreational or entry level skate, don’t count on a bake or even punching or stretching to alleviate major pressure points. Entry level skates aren’t very responsive to heat and can’t handle extensive punching or stretching. They’ll break in a bit with use, but if they feel like they’re crushing the sides of your feet, that definitely won’t go away.
What do R, D, E and EE Skate Widths Mean?
While we’re on the topic of recreational skates, those often come in one standard width (usually R) instead of D and EE like a lot of mid to high end skates. With skates built with the same last or in the same line, the R width is slightly wider than D, but not as wide as E or EE. So, you don’t have as many fit options at the lower end of the price spectrum and those with truly wide feet usually have to go up to mid-range or higher models to find something comfortable.
The General Fit of Different Inline Skate Models
- A D width Vapor is a narrow, low volume boot. People with wide feet won’t fit well into a Vapor D. This width is good for those with low volume feet and a ratio of 3 or higher.
- An R width Vapor is slightly wider than a D Vapor, but still doesn’t fit wide feet well.
- Vapor EE skates are slightly wider than D width Missions, but it’s still a shallow boot. They’re usually a good option to consider if you have an above average width forefoot, but skinny ankles and a low volume foot.
Bauer RS and RSX
- Bauer RS and RSX skates use the Bauer Supreme last, but are only available in R width; they’re slightly wider than D Mission/Supreme skates, but not as wide as E or EE Mission/Supremes. They’re medium volume and width boots. Being softer boots, they can expand enough to accommodate a fairly broad variety of feet.
- Mission skates are built using the Bauer Supreme ice hockey boot last (so if you can’t try on Missions locally, but know your Bauer Supreme ice boot size; the Mission boot should feel similar in the same size) and a D Mission/Supreme is wider than both D and R Vapors. The boot is a medium volume boot. This is a good boot for those with average volume feet and a ratio in the 2.5-3 range (likely at the higher end of the range.) An E Width Mission is similar in depth, but slightly wider than the D.
- Mission EE skates are a bit wider than EE Vapors and are the deepest Mission option. They’re a good consideration for people with average, to a little more than average, depth and a width ratio on the low end of the 2.5-3 range.
- Tour offers higher than average volume boots that are slightly wider than a Mission in D. They’re good options for those with a ratio in the 2.5-3 range that need a fairly deep boot, but not ideal for a super wide foot.
- Alkali boots have a similar fit to the Mission D, but have a more generous toe cap and most people find they feel a half size shorter in the same size vs. Mission/Bauer (in other words, people often go up a half size vs. Bauer). Like the Supreme/Mission skates, Alkali boots are also medium volume boots.
- True boots in R, offer a medium volume fit, moderate width through the arch and forefoot, a snug heel and a wider than average toe box. The True boots are very thermoformable; they can potentially work for a larger variety of widths than a lot of other skates. With that said, if you have a foot with a ratio under 2.5, the R width True skates may be too narrow, but the W would be a great option to consider.
- True skates in W are probably the best option currently available for those with average volume feet and a width ratio under 2.5. They provide good heel lock in the right size, but have a wide forefoot and toe box and are very thermoformable. They may feel too small in the correct size, but open up a lot after being properly baked.
Ice to Inline Conversions
Ice to inline conversions are a great option for those who can’t find a stock inline boot that fits their feet well. It also allows you to choose the chassis you prefer and the wheels that work best for the surface you’re playing on. The True boots that CTCHS is currently offering are ice to inline conversions – they’ll also have the stock inline versions in stock later this summer and that’s why I’ve left them in the inline boot section.
- CCM does have some Tacks based inline boots, but CTCHS doesn’t currently carry these models. They basically use the Tacks ice boots and put on a flat chassis with wheels that are all the same size. The CCM inline boots don’t recess the second wheel on their chassis like Tour and Alkali used to with their all 80mm setups – this means that the stock CCM setup raises your center of gravity which isn’t ideal for balance and agility.
- The Tacks boots have a similar fit to Bauer Supremes/Mission skates, but have a bit more depth.
- Jetspeeds are narrower like Vapors, but are a medium volume boot.
- Ribcors in D are a low volume, narrower boot.
- Ribcores in EE may work for people with wide feet with their thermoformability and more flexible materials than the average skate. Some people who used to wear the very wide and deep Bauer Nexus skates have moved to Ribcores in EE.
Discontinued Ice Boots
- Nexus ice boots used to be a good conversion option for those with a length to width ratio under 2.5 that needed a deep boot, but that line has been discontinued. The Nexus boots also had wider heels though; they didn’t work well for people with narrow to average heels, but wide forefoots. Your feet needed to be wide all over. I have a very wide forefoot myself and they were wide enough in the forefoot for my feet, but my heel wasn’t locked in at all when I tried them on.
- Easton Mako ice boots in EE were a good conversion option for people with wide forefeet, average depth and average heels. That’s my foot shape and I’m currently wearing converted Makos. Those boots were discontinued years ago though and the closest current fit is the True skates in W (but in a half to full size smaller – the True retail skates fit much longer in the same size vs. the old Makos, but the depth and width is similar); I’ll be trying those soon and will provide detailed feedback on the fit and performance after I’ve had a chance to bake and use them.
The New Bauer 3D Fit System Ice Skates
High end Bauer ice skates now come in three Fits.
- -Fit 1 is similar to a Vapor D
- -Fit 2 is similar to a Supreme or Mission D
- -Fit 3 is similar to a Supreme or Mission EE or the old Nexus D
I hope this helps my wide footed brethren find some skates that allow them to focus on playing the game instead of their painful feet. I realize this is a lot of information and it may take a few reads for it to soak in. If it’s a little overwhelming, just fill out the skate fitting form and a member of the CTCHS team will work with you to come up with some great skate options.
@althoma1 on forums like Modsquadhockey, Reddit, Sports2k
A recreational inline and ice player and official who is far from a pro, but as a gear nerd who constantly reads and watches everything I can about equipment, I’ve built up a base of knowledge and enjoy helping others who share my love for the great sport of hockey.