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How to buy roller skates

You've decided it'll be fun to buy some roller skates. No problem, the internet will make this easy!! Right? ...right?

But why is there so MANY different types? and why do so many look like budget children's shoes? and what is Roller Derby?

Let's keep this simple; we've listed the most popular styles of roller skates / quad skates below and what each is best for, minus the budget child-shoe styles!


Vintage Style Roller skates:
Right now most people are buying what we'd call 'VIntage Style' roller skates. These are skates which have a fairly high ankle like a boot and a raised heel. The upper is made from some kind of textile like suede, leather or vegan leather (but not hard plastic). The most popular brands are Moxi, Impala and Chaya but there's also some decent cheaper skate brands like Rio Roller, Playlife and Rookie. They are almost exclusively marketed at women and there is SO many cute designs out. They are just as home outdoors OR indoors and can be used for general recreational skating, skate dance (Tik Tok style) and even in skateparks for tricks.

Disco Style Roller Skates:

You can also buy roller skates with a lower ankle and flatter foot position. Think 80's Roller disco. There tends to be quite alot of these available at a lower price point, so good if you're not trying to spend big coin. These can be used on all terrains but they're definitely most at home on the rink / sports hall.

Jam Skating / Dance:

Jam skating describes dancing on skates, usually hip-hop / breakbeat style. You'd classically find serious Jam skaters using fairly high spec skates, more often than not made by the brand Reidell. However in the age of TikTok you can see the culture shifting. Most of the effortless skate-dance videos you've been scrolling through on your gram show skaters in vintage style skate; like Chaya, Impala and Moxi skates. (see above). It seems that women have adopted a preference to this style of skate for Jam / rhythm skating while men, lacking these options, tend to be sticking to Reidell skates (and similar). These come in a low ankle or high ankle option depending on preference. Low ankle is better for breakdance style while a higher ankle is sometimes preferred for more upright dancing styles.

Hard boot style Skates:

Not exclusively; but hard boot skates seem to be more embraced by men, probably because men don't get the same choice in the vintage style skates, plus culturally men are less used to a substantial raised heel (and hard boot style skates have less of a raised heel). If you were part of the 90's skate crew then you'l probably remember Bauer roller skates and big puffy hockey socks. You could probably live without those hockey-socks these days but the hardboot style still offers the great advantages of having even and sturdy support across your whole foot and ankle. Again, these are fine for both indoors and outdoors and also for roller hockey.

Skatepark Style Roller Skates:
For riding bowls and grinding rails. There seems to be some inconsistency in what is considered 'the best' style of skate for skateparks. In the California scene the most popular is the Moxi Lolly skate. This is largely down to the endorsement of this model by Michelle Steilen AKA 'Estrogen' AKA the Greatest Of All Time (think roller skating's version of Tony Hawk). In Europe though, skaters like Barbie Patin are pushing the limits with low-ankle, flat-footed skatepark skates with added grind-plates. Meanwhile, Italian brand Roces have a hardboot skate made for skatepark tricks which uses the same boot as the Roces M12 (which is the best selling inline skate for skatepark/street tricks). The best decision here is probably to base your choice on your own personal criteria, give us a call if you get stuck.

Roller Derby Style Skates:
Roller Derby is a sport with pretty specialist skates. They have low ankles which helps for tight, low turns and wide hard wheels for the best combination of speed and grip. We recommend you visit a Rollerderby specific shop if you want skates like this (not us!, we focus on recreational)

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