Ice skates are intricate pieces of sporting gear, and there are a ton of options for every kind of ice skater imaginable. You might be curious to know how comfortable ice skates are supposed to be, or you might be looking for the best ice skate options to maximize your comfort on the rink.
The 10 most comfortable ice skates are:
- Riedell Opal 110 Recreational Skates
- Rollerblade Bladerunner Ice Zephyr
- Lake Placid Cascade Women’s Figure Skates
- Jackson Ultima Softec For Ladies
- American Ice Force 2.0 Hockey Skates
- Riedell 615 For Kids
- Jackson Ultima Women’s Artiste
- CCM Super Tacks 9350 Hockey Skates
- Rollerblade Women’s W Bladerunner Aurora Adult
- Bauer NS Skate Men
Any skater needs to understand what makes their skates comfortable, so we’re going to explain these factors in detail. We’re also going to analyze the suggested skates above, so you can understand what the best picks are for your goals.
Do You Need To Break Ice Skates In?
It’s necessary to “break-in” any new ice skates. Breaking in means getting your feet accustomed to wearing your new skates, you’ll need to do this because most ice skates come out of the factory quite stiff.
A break In Takes Time
It’s a common mistake to get some new ice skates, and in a hurry to try them spend a whole afternoon on the nearest rink. This will nearly always result in bruises, blisters, and generalized pain or aches throughout the foot.
It’s recommended by most experienced skaters to gradually build up the amount of time you spend on your new ice skates. You could try wearing the skates for half an hour and then come back later. Think of it like getting a suntan, if you spend a whole day in the sun when you’re not used to it, you’ll get some lousy sunburn, not a nice tan.
Sometimes people will give well-intentioned advice that’s not helpful. One such piece of advice is to walk around on your boots outside of an icy surface. Unless you have high-quality ice guards this is not a good idea, as walking around on hard surfaces can chip the blades down or damage the bottom of the boot.
Some veteran skaters will also put their skates in the oven, as this can help make the material more pliable, giving the boot an easier time shaping to your feet. If you’re new to ice skating you should avoid putting skates in the oven, because your specific boots may get damaged, especially if they’re exposed to heat for too long.
Overall, it can take weeks and sometimes months to get comfortable in a new pair of skates. You shouldn’t be discouraged if it’s taking longer than you think to break your new skates in, especially if you’re new, as you’ll need to give your feet the time they need to adapt.
Are Ice Skates Supposed To Be Comfortable?
Ice skates, once broken in properly, should feel comfortable. Your skates after a decent time should not be causing you any discomfort, they should fit very well to your feet and they should keep your feet warm.
Ice skates are not designed to be uncomfortable, because it would further increase the complexity of an already complicated activity. Your ice skates are there to protect your feet from the elements and support their structure when moving around.
Your skates need to have a slightly more snug fit than your normal shoes. For adults, your skate size is usually 1 size to 1.5 sizes down from your normal shoe size, this is so your foot doesn’t slide around and it also makes you feel more stable.
Sometimes beginners worry that their skates will be too tight, but it’s very important for your overall comfort that you have the correct size skates. If you get the right size now, you’re saving yourself from huge problems later down the line.
There’s one caveat to this though, children can be a little bit more difficult to buy skates for. Their feet can grow so fast, especially true for very young children, getting them slightly bigger ice skates may be better for the future.
One important factor that beginners should remember is that it takes time to learn how to balance on skates. Teething issues and beginner struggles can all translate into a feeling that your skates aren’t supporting you, but it takes a long, long time for a beginner to get proficient at ice skating.
The only way to get past the beginner stage is to practice and eventually, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable on the ice. You’ll also understand your ice skates much better, and as your confidence grows you’ll know if you have the right skates for you or not.
Overall, ice skates are designed to be comfortable, but if you’re a beginner and feeling wobbly and shaky on your skates this could be explained by you learning the basic skills. Your body and nervous system are also adapting to the balancing demands that a good ice skater needs.
Don’t Wait Too Long
It’s very important to start taking steps to amend your skates if they are causing you significant pain in your feet after 3 or 4 weeks have passed. If you are still getting blisters and grazes on your feet despite being diligent about breaking your skates in gradually, that is also a cause for concern.
What To Do If Your Ice Skates Are Uncomfortable
There could be some situations where your skates feel uncomfortable. If your feet are in chronic or continuous pain from any ice skates then there are steps you can take to understand why and prevent this discomfort from continuing.
Heel To Toe
You’ll want a little bit of space in your heel when you’re sitting down. There should be enough room for a finger, this is because when you stand up, your heel will have a snug fit into the heel pocket. This gives your toes at the front a little bit of room.
If your heels have no room and your toes are squished then the skates are too tight and most likely too small for you. While it’s true that skates need to be snug to help with stability, there should still be some space, crushed toes and sore heels do you no good in the long run.
Lack of space in the toes and heels can be the cause of consistent grazes, bruises, blisters, and all sorts of uncomfortable pains. While ice skates are getting more and more sophisticated, the materials need a little bit of wiggle room to work properly.
There are other reasons you need space around the heels and toes especially. While many (but not all) ice skates come with materials that absorb sweat and help keep your foot dry, these materials may not be universally applied throughout the inside of the boot.
A build-up of sweat, combined with rubbing surfaces of skin away from the heels or sides of the foot makes a perfect breeding ground for microorganisms. This can cause a potential infection in your foot, which could cause you to feel sick, but it has to be said that this is not likely to happen.
To sum up, ice skates indeed have to have a snug fit, but depending on your specific skates you have to ensure that your feet have a small amount of room. This will prevent any rubbing or friction-based injuries and ensure that insulation materials can work optimally.
If you’ve worn skates for a while and then had generalized pain throughout your feet, you may have suffered from a lace bite. It’s a symptom of inflammation that causes your feet to have horrible aches and sore feelings.
Lace bite happens because your skates are laced up so tight that they’re crushing the connective tissues in your feet. This makes your whole foot feel crunched up, hence the term lace bite.
Lace bite happens because a lot of beginners are scared of their skates falling off mid-session, so they overdo it and lace up their skates so tight that they’re crushing their feet. This is why the term “snug” gets thrown around a lot when you hear people discussing skate fitting, it’s not a case of tighter is always better.
The arch of your foot is the middle bit of your foot at the bottom, it almost looks like a bridge or an arch. Your foot is constructed this way because it allows your feet to hold your weight all day with minimal effort, but when wearing skates your arches might need support.
It’s not uncommon to experience pain in your arches after wearing skates for a prolonged time, and it’s probably one of the most common causes of ice skater discomfort. If you’re experiencing pain in the bottom of your foot, usually from your heels to your toes, it can be alleviated with some small changes.
One of the reasons for arch pain or discomfort at the bottom of your feet is thin insoles. When ice skating you’re maintaining balance through two thin blades while on a relatively hard surface, this can translate into a lot of pressure running through your feet.
This pressure causes a lot of force and strain on your arches, one way you can help your arches is by ensuring that your skates have thick enough insoles. This is very individual, some people will have robust arches and never have much trouble, but if you’re a little flat-footed you might need to pay special attention to this area.
You can also buy insole inserts to help your arches, or you can get socks that are designed to support your arches. A lot of beginners and even veterans get seriously concerned about arch pain, as it’s very unpleasant and can negatively affect your life. However, just a few adjustments to your skates and you will see a quick improvement in any arch discomfort.
We’ve talked a lot about skates being too tight, but there are problems you can get from your skates being too loose. If your skates aren’t packed enough around your feet you’ll have serious balance and stability problems.
Wearing skates on the ice that aren’t snug enough will be incredibly uncomfortable, your feet must be mounted upright on the blades, and be as stable as possible. If there is lots of room in your skates, it’s going to feel like you’re dancing on ice cubes.
Make sure your skates fit tight enough, there should be a small amount of room for your toes at the front, but that’s it. There should be zero wobbling around the skates when you lift your legs.
The big reason to make sure your boots are tight enough, possibly more important than balance and stability concerns, is to support your ankles. While you should expect a little discomfort in the lower leg muscles, especially if you’re a beginner, pain in the ankles is a sign of loose skates.
The big risk of loose skates is that you will have to exert much more effort to remain balanced and to keep your feet stable and upright. This can cause your ankle to cave in slightly, and over time this could cause a lot of ankle pain. The easy way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to make sure you buy the right size skates.
However, not everybody’s feet are equal, you may have bought the correct ice skate size (usually 1 size down from your normal shoe size). You might still experience a little wobble or ankle pain from looser skates. You can combat this by wearing extra layers of thick socks, or getting specific winter sports socks, this also affords your feet an extra layer of protection.
A final word about rental skates, it’s highly recommended to avoid them. Rental skates are notorious for banging up newbie skaters more than anything else. It’s very hard to vouch for the overall quality of a rental, they’ll have had countless numbers of feet in them, which means they haven’t been broken into your specific feet.
How To Choose Comfortable Ice Skates
While it may seem that there’s a lot to consider when it comes down to choosing good, comfortable ice skates, most of it mainly boils down to having a correct fit for you. You’re looking for good quality padding while having a little space for your toes, you also want a fit that supports your foot.
Your skates should be snug enough that there’s no movement around the foot, but at the same time, your foot is not constricted. You might want to have padding at the front or look for thick lining, depending upon what feels most comfortable for you.
Depending upon what kind of material is used to line the skate, you might also want to look for a vented outsole. The outsole of the skate is what the blades attach to, a vented outsole releases a build-up of sweat and liquid, which keeps your foot dry and adds to the comfort factor. However, some skates have absorbable linings, so you might not need this.
The 10 Most Comfortable Ice Skates
1. Riedell Opal 110 Recreational Skates
Riedell is well known for making durable skates for beginners, they get as near to the quality as they can to professional-grade figure skaters, but they don’t have anywhere near the same expense. However, these skates are designed to be high-quality recreational skates for beginners, they are not a replacement for figure skates.
The Riedell Opal 110 series is the specific skate built with beginners in mind, these skates have excellent value for beginners and intermediates. The ankle support on these skates is exceptional, you’ll feel strong and sturdy.
Riedell is a well-known and trusted brand in the ice skating world, they have a reputation for building durable and comfortable skates. These skates require minimal maintenance, which is great for the hobbyist and they have heat-moldable reinforcements (you can bake these in the oven to break them in faster).
2. Rollerblade Bladerunner Ice Zephyr
Despite the name, these are not rollerblades, the name of the brand is Rollerblade. The cooly named Bladerunner skates certainly has a futuristic touch about them. The zephyr skate is an all-around skate, best for the hobbyist or beginner.
These skates come with Thinsulate materials (this material makes the skate weigh less without negatively affecting the padding and insulation). The zephyr series has a reputation for having sturdy but lightweight structures. The stainless steel blades are of good quality and will last a long time.
These are an excellent choice for a beginner, but it should be noted these are not suitable for ice hockey, zephyrs are hybrid skates – which can look similar to hockey skates to a beginner’s eye. These skates don’t offer enough protection to play ice hockey.
3. Lake Placid Cascade Women’s Figure Skates
Lake Placid is known for making reasonably priced and aesthetically pleasing skates, they’re well known for their high-quality women’s beginner series. The boots are constructed from a synthetic material and come with reinforced ankle support to make you feel robust on the ice.
They have a stainless steel blade, which means the blades will last a long time, especially for a hobbyist. A waterproof sole adds an extra layer of comfort and protection for your foot. Overall, these are an excellent value-for-money option for women, but the skate itself runs on the larger size.
4. Jackson Ultima Softec For Ladies
Jackson Ultima is a brand known for using more advanced materials, the price range goes up, but they are comfortable and durable skates that will protect your feet. These skates are designed for maximal comfort while learning to ice skate.
They have a collar padded with Nylex, which feels very soft and gentle while cushioning your feet. A sturdy outsole and tons of padding make learning stops, starts, and turns a lot easier on your feet.
5. American Ice Force 2.0 Hockey Skates
These are fantastic skates for any beginner to learn in. American Ice Force skates are known for being reliable, well made, and sturdy. The only caveat is that they’re on the very stiff side of the scale when fresh out of the box. It might take some time to break these skates in.
These skates come with a nylon toe box, which is going to ensure the front of your foot is comfortable and well protected. A PVC injection mold also makes these skates fit your feet much more easily. These are sturdy, comfortable boots for a beginner, and they can be used inside a rink or outdoors.
6. Riedell 615 For Kids
The Riedell kids series takes everything that Riedell knows about designing skates for adults and turns it into an excellent option for kids. These skates are some of the best and most comfortable options for children.
The Riedell 615 has a wider boot, designed to accommodate kids growing feet. They also come with a Thinsulate layer, which means the skates stay warm even as they get wet, which can be a real plus for kids new to ice skating.
Velcro closers make these boots easier to suit up, it also stops you from worrying about laces coming undone, or if the boots are too tightly laced and hurting their feet. The Riedell 615 is an excellent choice when it comes down to comfort.
7. Jackson Ultima Women’s Artiste
The second Jackson Ultima option, these are much pricier beginner skates, but these skates are the most a hobbyist or beginner will ever need. These skates are suitable for beginners who may want to venture into more advanced skating but not have to worry about breaking in new skates.
The Jackson Ultima Artiste has memory foam ankle padding, which will keep your foot stable and your ankle secure. Foam-backed vinyl and a mesh tongue mean your feet should be snug but cozy. These are an excellent choice for both comfort and performance.
8. CCM Super Tacks 9350 Hockey Skates
CCM skates are known for being versatile, innovative, and reliable. They’re a good choice for both comfort and performance. The boot is ergonomically designed to accommodate your feet.
These skates are also padded with thick foam, which acts as an extra layer of stability and safety. The Super Tack 9350 comes with a felt tongue, which greatly reduces the risk of lace bite, this is a versatile skate built for both comfort and performance.
9. Rollerblade Women’s W Bladerunner Aurora Adult
The Aurora skates by Rollerblade are another great option for women. They’re designed for a mix of performance and comfort, the materials used will support your feet comfortably and keep them warm.
Reinforced ankle support makes your foot stable and protected, while the synthetic fur liner keeps your foot warm while being soft to the touch. A PVC outsole also gives you a sturdy amount of support, while keeping the pressure off your arches.
10. Bauer NS Skate Men
Bauer also offers a series of sturdy skates for beginners. The NS skates are hockey skates, hockey skates are a great choice to learn ice skating comfortably as they’re the most sturdy boots.
Bauer skates come with a carbon-fiber structure, making them very solid but lightweight skates. It also comes with a microfiber lining, which is both durable and comfortable. Overall, these skates are easy to wear and resilient.
Ice skates should be comfortable, but it can take some time to break them in. There are so many different kinds of ice skates that it can be difficult to know what to look for. As long as you have skates that fit well, have good quality durable materials, and take the time to break them in, your ice skates should feel great in no time.