How To Choose The Right Ice Hockey Skates & Find The Ultimate Fit
Getting the perfect fit
Why is getting the right hockey skate fit important?
Well-fitted skates not only help you to perform your best, but they’ll help you to avoid pain and injury whilst you’re on the ice. It may seem a daunting choice from all of the available skate models in store and online, but we want choosing your next skate to be an enjoyable experience, so we’ve put together this guide.
A skate that isn’t properly sized can be uncomfortable and painful, impacting on your performance and enjoyment. An ill-fitted skate can cause blisters, damage the vital support in the boot, or ruin your enjoyment of the game.
We’ve used our expert knowledge to advise on how to choose the best ice hockey skate for you and to help you to avoid these issues.
- Don’t presume you require your usual shoe size! Typically, you will end up in a skate that is smaller than your regular shoe size.
- Fit is key. When purchasing skates for younger players, compensating for growth and buying bigger skates, may hinder your little one's enjoyment and development. It is better to choose a mid-price skate that fits now instead of a high end skate that will fit next year.
- The ideal fit for ice hockey skates is snug with the least amount of negative space. This may feel strange to some people initially, as this is much more fitted than regular footwear.
- Top tip: when you’re trying on a new skate, make sure you wear the skate socks you plan on wearing during skating. We recommend a thin performance skate sock. Whether you opt for a low or high sock is personal preference.
- Ice hockey skates are designed for exactly what they say - playing ice hockey. Ensure you buy a player or goalie skate - don’t buy a recreational skate, a speed skate or a figure skating skate; they are used for different sports and require a different fit.
- Skate stiffness is important. Usually the stiffer boots are a better choice for experienced or heavier players as they have strong ankle support and enhanced power. Although a reasonable level of stiffness is required for newer and lighter players so there’s enough support, a very stiff boot can impact movement on the ice for beginners.
Size up at home
There are two ways to find your hockey skate size if you’re ordering online. The first is quick and simple. The second is much more accurate and is recommended.
- Using your shoe size
The simplest way is to use your shoe size to find what size skate is likely to be the best fit. Assuming your shoe size is correct, we would recommend selecting a skate box size half to one size below your shoe size.
However, in our experience we have found that the majority of players are not wearing the correct shoe size. In most footwear, you can accept a little more space without any detrimental effects on performance. This is certainly not the case with ice hockey skates.
Therefore, if you cannot visit a local store to be sized by fitting experts, we would highly recommend using the method below.
- Accurate measurements
Length and width
- Put on the socks you would wear to play hockey and trace around your foot onto paper (do so on a hard, flat surface). Make sure you keep your pen/paper straight so you don’t trace underneath your foot.
- Measure in millimetres (mm) from the furthest point of your toes to the back of your heel, giving you your foot length measurement. Using this measurement, take a look at our conversion chart below to find the most suitable size.
- When selecting your width fitting online (regular/D/EE etc.), if you typically have no width issues with normal footwear, we would recommend selecting a regular/D fitting.
- If you do have trouble with regular footwear widths, we would suggest trying the EE width option to cater for the wider foot.
Now you know what skate size you require, it’s time to choose a skate type based on your fit profile. The fit profile of a skate refers to the combination of volume within the skate, heel depth and fit dynamics.
Vapor line = The narrowest fit. Caters for a flat in step with a shallow heel pocket.
Supreme line = A standard fit. Caters for a neutral in step with a mid-heel pocket.
Nexus line = A wide fit. Caters for higher insteps with a deep heel pocket.
Jetspeed = Narrower than standard. A tapered fit.
Super Tacks = Standard. An anatomical fit.
Ribcor = Wider than standard. A flexible fit.
How to test if your skate fits properly
The finger test
It’s vital that your ankle is supported when you’re on the ice to avoid injury. The finger test is a great test used to check that your skate fits properly around your ankle.
For junior players:
- Loosen the skate laces to allow the foot to be pushed to the front of the skate with the toes brushing the end.
- Slide to the edge of the seat so that you can see down the back of the skate.
- From this position, check how many fingers can be slid between the hockey skate and the heel.
- The ability to slide just one finger down and no more, is the optimum fit.
- Should the skate be ill fitting, it will result in blisters, premature skate wear and a decrease in skating ability due to a lack of ankle stability.
For senior players:
- As the requirement for growth room is no longer necessary, we are looking for a snug fit.
- With the heel pushed in to the back of the skate, tie the laces as you would for skating.
- When stood straight, your toes should brush the end of the skates.
- Once you bend your knees and adopt the skating stance, your toes should no longer be touching the front.
When the skates are tied, you should experience no heel lift when walking/skating. If your heel does move, this is a sign of an ill-fitting skate and your performance and comfort could suffer.
Scan your foot in store
Alternatively, you can visit a local hockey store, as many have fitting experts that can scan your feet. These foot scanners provide precise, accurate information to assist in finding the perfect skate fit for you.
Bauer Custom Skates
MyBauer custom skates are a one-of-a-kind customised skate engineered for your feet. Utilising laser precision with the 3D Skate Lab scanner, it can be tailored to every detail of your feet.
MyBauer creates a 3D model, the measurements are scanned and the skate is built to the exact shape of your foot, ensuring the best in fit and performance.
What’s more, you can even customise them with your name and number on the tongue and also choose from a selection of liners, runner and eyelets.
TRUE Custom Skate
TRUE also offer a fully custom fit skate for ice hockey players. The state-of-the-art TRUE software scans your feet in-store, to produce a highly accurate and detailed, digital 3D model of your feet.
This technology highlights any problems with your feet, such as those from injuries or just where they may not be comfortable in other skates.
Next, you can further personalise your skates with a variety of colours, different tongue types, additional shot blocking protection and custom embroidery.
Your foot scans and personalisation requirements are then sent to the TRUE engineers to build them using a custom 3D foot last shaped to your exact foot.
Utilising either the in-store TRUE or Bauer scanners allows for the best fit possible to your feet - eliminating any loss of energy and helping you to experience maximum comfort and control.
Having your skates heat moulded or baked helps to break your skates in quicker so they hurt less, and also fit your foot better. The heat fitting process helps to mould the stiff upper part of the boot to the shape of your foot. This helps to ensure an even better snug hockey fit, and aids in shortening the break-in period. We don’t recommend baking your skates at home.
Not all skates are suitable for heat moulding, but most mid-level skates up to high-end models are.
Brand, level and price comparison
You may have your fit in each brand – but then how do you decide which brand and price point to choose?
Hockey skates are available at a range of price points. The more you pay, the more advanced the skate, but the choice depends on your budget and also level of play. As a beginner, you may not need a top of the range skate, and in fact will likely benefit from a softer performance level skate, whereas a competitive player may choose to invest in a top-quality skate.
Level of play – beginner players usually suit an entry level skate while they learn to play (unless the beginner is a heavier build and needs more support – see below).
For regular players that play at an advanced level, consider the higher level, stiffer skates with new innovative technology to enhance performance.
Ice time – Entry level skates are ideal for the ice one or two times a week. If you skate more than this per week, it would be best to choose an intermediate or advanced skate as they’re more durable.
Weight - The more weight you carry, the stiffer and more supportive your skates should be – whether you’re a beginner or not. Heavier players should consider a higher level of skate than entry level for extra support.
Entry level, beginner skates
(Between £50 and £120)
Entry level skates are ideal for beginners. They have basic features, and are not too stiff - ensuring movement on the ice isn’t impacted.
Bauer NS Ice Hockey Skates
Bauer NSX Ice Hockey Skates
CCM Tacks 9040 Ice Hockey Skates
(Between £120 and £350)
Mid-level skates provide extra ankle support and are generally more durable skate than entry-level. They come with a few of the higher end features, such as trigger release on the holder. Mid-range skates are ideal for both beginners or more experienced players, who take to the ice fairly regularly.
CCM Jetspeed FT460 Ice Hockey Skates
Bauer Supreme S29 Ice Hockey Skates
Bauer Vapor X2.7 Ice Hockey Skates
CCM Ribcor 76K Ice Hockey Skates
High level skates
(Between £350 and £780)
High level skates will be the lightest, stiffest and most durable on the market. They benefit from a thicker, more protective tongue and the most innovative properties. They are suitable for experienced players who are looking for a high-performance skate with top-end features to enhance their play.
Bauer Vapor 2X Pro Ice Hockey Skates
Bauer Supreme 2S Pro Ice Hockey Skates
CCM Jetspeed FT2 Ice Hockey Skates
CCM Ribcor 80k Ice Hockey Skates
With so many elements to consider when purchasing a pair of ice hockey skates, it’s worth prioritising what’s most important.
Here’s the priority order:
- Budget/level of play
Good luck choosing the perfect skate!