Womens Inline Skates Buying Guide
Inline skating is seeing a resurgence in popularity, which means that now, more than ever, women are gaining exposure to this fun, physical activity that improves endurance, coordination, and cardiovascular health. But for first-time buyers, purchasing your first pair of inline skates may appear intimidating. To make the process easier, we’ve created this guide to help you learn everything you need to know about buying women's inline skates.
What Type of Skater Are You?
Before delving too deeply into the subtleties of women's inline skates, first, it's essential to have an honest conversation with yourself about your experience level. If it's your first time strapping on a pair of inline skates, you're a beginner. But if you have some experience on wheels, you may want to advance your skill level. Here's a quick guide to help you assess your experience level.
Beginners or novice skaters are just learning to how to inline skate. Although you may start skating, braking may be challenging, and turning takes slow, concentrated effort. As a result, you may be wary of high speeds until you develop balance and confidence maneuvering different elevations.
Beginner/Intermediate skaters aren't entirely unfamiliar with inline skating. They've practiced a few times on skates, are beginning to develop their confidence to start, stop, turn, and accelerate. This person has been out a few times on skates. They are finding some confidence to start, stop, turn, and go a bit faster.
By the time you reach the intermediate level, you've developed confidence in skating. You're no longer worried about whether you can stop, manage turns with ease, and can navigate accelerating and changing speeds.
The intermediate/advanced skater has mastered different types of turns, and they can easily avoid obstacles and other skaters with finesse. The intermediate/advanced skater is looking to take their skating more seriously and will want to invest in comfortable inline skates that can manage long distances.
Once you've graduated to the advanced skating level, you may want to develop your technique to master tricks at the park or take on increased speed. Spending more money on higher-quality bearings, wheels, and boots may be a worthwhile investment for this category.
Experts virtually live on their skates. Expert skaters are looking to generate as much speed as they can handle and are likely training to qualify for professional-level events. At this point, investing in high-end inline skate technology is essential to achieving high performance.
How to Choose the Right Inline Skate For You
The skating you want to do will reflect the kind of inline skate you want to purchase. For example, as a beginner, investing in advanced frames and wheels will not be conducive to learning. On the other hand, as you gain experience, entry-level skates may no longer offer the same glamour they once did. So before heading to the skate shop, find out which inline skate suits your preferred skating experience.
Recreational Inline Skates
These skates are great for beginner to intermediate skaters interested in developing a new fitness hobby without a lot of time and investment. Instead of looking for high-grade bearings or precise wheels, recreational skaters will want to focus on comfort and control so that they can glide on trails, pavement, and rinks with ease.
Want to increase your cardio workouts without irritating your joints? Then consider adding this type of inline skate to your exercise regime to boost low-impact cardio workouts. Compared to other beginner skates, these skates will have a larger wheel and more advanced bearings to enable you to generate higher speeds for longer skate sessions and a better cardio burn.
If you're an experienced skater and are looking for an extra challenge, aggressive skates are your go-to. Aggressive inline skates are designed to take abuse, which means they're great for landing tricks, hitting ramps, and grinding on rails. For these, look for small wheels with a plate on the bottom frame to help make landing tricks more manageable.
If you've got a need for speed and a place to duck and weave through traffic and pedestrians, then you're going to need a skate that can stop, start, and turn on a dime. Urban skates, also known as speed skates, are equipped with a shorter frame which maximizes maneuverability, while the aggressive skate boot offers supportive control for city skating through streets and sidewalks.
Roller Hockey Skates
Roller hockey skates are a specialty inline skate category. We advise consumers to buy skates specifically labeled for roller hockey for peak performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, you've determined what skating you want to do and what your experience level is, but you probably have more questions to ask before you're ready to settle on purchasing a pair of skates. To help you, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed inline skate purchase.
What's the difference between men's and women's inline skates?
Like regular street shoes, the difference between women's and men's inline skates seems minimal but can significantly impact performance.
First, women's inline skates are more narrow to accommodate the average width of a woman's foot. Next, a man's inline skate will have a taller boot cuff to support the calf muscles, which are higher relative to women's legs. And finally, the most significant difference is size. Although some sizes between women's and men's inline skates will be relatively similar, women's skates offer a smaller range of sizes than most men's lines.
How do you choose inline skates?
Only you know what's the perfect skate for you. You may have brand preferences, have specific closure system requirements, or no expectations at all. Evaluating your skill level and skate medium will help you narrow down which types of skates you should look at. Generally speaking, you should look for women's skates that fit your feet snugly but aren't too tight.
Which wheels should I buy?
When selecting wheels, you should first consider whether you'll be skating indoors or outdoors more often. For inline skating in indoor rinks, softer wheels are more suitable because they have less friction with the ground, providing better speed and control. For outdoor skating, harder wheels provide more friction with the ground, which helps navigate trails or sidewalks with cracks or light debris. Here's a quick guide to determine wheel quality:
When purchasing wheels, you'll notice that wheels are classified by wheel size (measured in millimeters). Wheels are measured in millimeters and can range from 54mm to 110mm. Smaller wheels will have a lower center of gravity, making them easier to balance and are faster to accelerate and decelerate. Comparatively, bigger wheels help to sustain speed. However, because large wheels raise your center of gravity, it may be more difficult for novice or beginner skaters to develop balance.
Recreational and fitness skate wheels typically range from 76mm to 90mm. However, for most recreational inline skaters, wheels closer to the 76mm range are preferred unless you're interested in sustaining more speed.
Advanced skaters using aggressive skates will want to purchase wheels in the 56-59mm range. Small wheels of this size that can quickly gain and lose speed are great for performing tricks and jumps.
Beyond wheel size, there's also hardness or wheel durometer. The lower the wheel durometer, the softer the wheel. For example, a 72A to 80A hardness range is most suitable for indoor or light outdoor recreational skaters and offers better grip, whereas 82A to 86A is harder and better suited for outdoor skating. For aggressive skating, a range of 90A to 110A may be more desirable because the hard wheels are more equipped to sustain impact and abuse.
Why are bearings important?
Bearings directly impact the friction the wheels experience; the less friction, the faster the speed. Bearing grades typically operate on a nine-point scale – the higher the number, the higher the level of manufacturing precision.
Higher-numbered bearings work best in larger wheels; however, matching bearings to wheel size is always good practice. Look for higher-numbered bearings if you are buying skates with wheels over 80mm.
What skate boot is right for me?
Boots come in three main styles: soft shell skates, hardshell skates, and skeletal skates. Different boots serve different purposes. However, regardless of the type of skate boot you choose, fit is most crucial. Boots should snugly fit the foot, ankle, and calf but not be uncomfortable. Boots that are too tight will be painful to wear over time, while a boot that's too loose can be more challenging to control and compromise the safety of the foot and ankle.
Skates with a soft boot are a great beginner skate because they're comfortable, more breathable, and feature smaller wheels. Soft boot skates with small wheels are also more agile but won't go too fast while you're learning the basics of skating. Soft boots also have more flexibility, which is excellent for casual skating on indoor rinks and outdoor trails but isn't recommended for performing tricks.
Stiff boots, on the other hand, are great for more experienced skaters. Stiff boots have less flexibility than soft boots but can withstand impacts from falls and jumps to help prevent injury.
Skeletal boots are best suited for advanced or expert skaters who want a soft boot's flexibility and control but with more durability. Skeletal skates are preferred by aggressive skaters who skate across different mediums, such as park and vert (vertical) skating. Skeletal boots enable skaters to swap out their skate liner so they can grind one day and get some air the next. In addition, some skeletal skates will allow skaters to use their shoes to dial up the customization features.
What skate frame do I need?
The frame of a skate is the unsung hero of the skate. No one brags about owning a particular type of frame, yet the frame does the heavy lifting of transferring the energy from the skater to the skate itself. Cost is a significant factor in separating the different types of frame materials. The frame material also largely determines how long a skate lasts (assuming wheels are replaced from time to time.)
Although plastic is less durable than other materials, it still allows for many miles of enjoyable skating. You may notice that plastic frames are heavier than higher performance frames, and because they are the least expensive type of frame, they are often entry-level skates for those just starting and having fun.
Aluminum is a strong yet light material that is ideal for inline skates. Although you will pay a bit more for aluminum frames, they usually last longer than plastic. In addition, the lightweight feel is appealing to intermediate some more advanced skaters.
Carbon frames are the strongest and most lightweight frames on the market, meaning that they are very long-lasting compared to aluminum and plastic frames. Of course, carbon frames are more pricey, but for those seeking to make a substantial investment in their skills or competitive goals, carbon represents the best of the best.
Are 3 or 4 wheels better for inline skates?
That depends on your personal preference. The four-wheel skate is most common and preferred by beginners. However, for urban and speed skaters, three wheels offer several benefits. First, to accommodate the surface area of the foot, they have larger wheels, which make them faster than four wheels. In addition, three wheels are smoother and provide greater power transfer and better shock absorption, which will help keep your legs fresh for longer. Lastly, three-wheel skates offer greater maneuverability and precision.
Why don't some skates have a brake?
As a beginner, seeing a skate without a brake can induce terror. However, as you develop your abilities, you'll learn how to stop by turning. Also, removing the brake increases the amount of real estate on the skate, which helps to reduce weight and eliminate obstacles when performing tricks.
How do you know what size inline skates to buy?
Inline skates, like regular shoes, can range in size from brand to brand but should fit within one full size of your standard shoe size. Although you don't want your toes to be too crowded or uncomfortable, a snug fit will allow more support and control. Much like shoes, the skate type can differ based on the structure and size of your foot.