Recently jumped on the skating craze? If you're confused about what gear to get, our recommendations on skaters, helmets, and more can help.
PANDEMIC-INSPIRED HOBBIES HAVE run the gamut from baking to electric biking. Fueled by cooped-up folks itching to get outside, roller skating is another that's been trending for quite some time this year. If you're fresh on the scene and don't know where to start, these are the best roller skates we've tested and other necessary gear. Veteran roller? Don't worry, we have recommendations for you too.
Just keep in mind that roller skates are in short supply due to their popularity. You may have better luck purchasing them through your local roller rink if our picks are out of stock. As the weather turns colder, demand will die down, so it'll be easier to snag them. Also, you don't need a big, open space to practice skating. Your hallway or kitchen floor can work just as well as a garage, parking lot, or public park.
nline vs. Quad Skates
Your Questions, Answered
We focused mostly on quad skates in this guide, but we'll be testing and adding inline skates too. What's the difference? Inline skates have four or five wheels arranged in a straight line, while quad skates have four wheels arranged in a box shape. Inlines have brakes at the heel and quad skates use toe stops to brake at the front. Inline skates tend to offer better ankle support and more speed, but quad skates are better for overall stability. Inlines are generally easier for beginners to learn with, but quad skates are both highly customizable and better for artistic movements like strutting or spinning.
At the end of the day, which type of skates you go with largely comes down to personal preference. If there's a way for you to rent or test skates out locally before buying, try a range of inlines and quads to see what you prefer (but please, wear a mask).
Impala Quad Skate
I (Lydia Horne) have been skating for years, and I felt like an ’80s Brooke Shields sailing through Central Park in the Impala Quad Skates. They're a great pick for hitting the roller rink; novice skaters will enjoy the ankle support and big gummy toe stop. Impala packs a lot of boot here, but you get an uber-comfy interior and well-padded sides. Fair warning, I went half a size up from my normal shoe size, and it's a good fit. Being a quad skate, I felt like I had to take wider turns and come to more gradual stops than inline skates. But take heart: The Impalas are lightweight enough to practice crossovers and spins, neither of which I mastered, but I did manage my first strut.
As a newcomer, I (Louryn Strampe) have been using thinner skate boots since I joined the fad in April 2020. Impala's quad skates felt awkward at first. The boot is heavier and more rigid than some other skates I've tried. Once you get used to the heft, you'll appreciate the stability around the ankle; it's great for beginners. If you find that you want these skates to be more flexible for better artistic movements, try taking them to your local roller rink and ask the folks there to adjust your mounting plate. Another plus for the Impalas? They're gorgeous. I tested the holographic rose gold pair and felt like Princess Peach's badass older sister.
Another Great Option
Sure-Grip's Boardwalk skates are another beginner-friendly option, especially for outdoor skaters. The wheels are big and bouncy, they can conquer minor obstacles like gravel or twigs without causing a crash, and they smoothly transition to indoor use. Since the suede upper is thin, you can lace these skates really tightly. That thinness also makes for a shorter break-in period. They're lightweight and won't hamper your ability to complete transitions, turn-around toe stops, or crossovers. Simply put, I love 'em. Unfortunately, they're the most expensive skates in this guide. And my only gripe is the gummy bolt-on toe stops, which seem to be eroding quickly. — Louryn Strampe
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