Pandemic related restrictions have led many ice hockey players to buy, or consider buying, inline skates so that they can do some skating outdoors. Unfortunately, some of those skaters found out the hard way that buying a recreational skate isn’t always a great choice if you’re an experienced skater who skates hard, if you’re a heavier player or if you have very wide feet.
Sean’s previous blog, Bauer RS vs RSX Roller Hockey Skates, what's the difference?, already notes that one of the weak points of the entry level skates is the two piece chassis. There’s a picture in the blog and a link to the reddit post that shows a chassis that was destroyed by a newer, but heavier player. Entry level skates will also offer less support and break down faster for heavier, hard skating players.
No matter what you weigh or how hard you skate, entry level models likely won’t work for people with very wide feet. Low end skates are usually only offered in one width (usually R), instead of in a standard and wide width like some of the mid and high-end models. This is a compromise width that’s slightly wider than D in the same skate line (or a skate built using the same last), but not as wide as an E or EE. People with a moderately wide foot may be able to squeeze into lower end Bauer or Alkali skates, but those with a truly wide forefoot will have to jump up to something like a True skate in a W or a high-end Mission in EE.
You really have to ask yourself if it makes sense to buy a cheaper model that won’t last long and/or may cause you foot pain or if it makes sense to spend a bit more up front, get something that’s comfortable and will hold up to heavy, hard skating. The old saying, “Buy Cheap, Buy Twice” definitely applies to this situation.
I’m not saying you have to spend over a thousand dollars on top end or custom skates, but consider spending in the $400-$600 range instead of just getting the cheapest skates you can find. Another option is to find a mid or high-end ice boot that fits you well, buy a good chassis, the wheels of your choice and have the ice boot converted to inline. You could use your old ice boots for this if they’re still in good shape and use it as an excuse to get new ice skates if your primary sport is ice hockey.
I find it mildly amusing that there are ice players spend money for top end ice skates and think the best choice for inline skates is the entry level model. I know for those players, ice is their primary sport and they just want to stay in shape or practice outdoors when they can’t get to an ice rink, but it’s not realistic to expect low end boots to be able to handle the stress an experienced or heavy player can put on them. You don’t have to go high end, but you should be looking at mid-range skates if you want them to last.
@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.