Hockey Skate Buying Guide
Here is some advice from HockeyGiant.com on how to buy Ice Hockey Skates
Ice hockey skates are the defining piece of hockey equipment that makes our sport unique. Figuring out which ice hockey skates will provide the best fit for you is the most crucial decision you will make when buying hockey gear. They say that a good skater can skate on anything, but it would be a huge mistake to underestimate the importance of taking time to choose the skates that will enhance each hockey player's specific style and needs based on their experience level and foot shape.
Hockey Skate Construction
Before you start looking at all of the different hockey skates that are available, it is important to understand the basics about how a hockey skate is built. There are three distinct but equally important parts of a hockey skate; the boot, the holder (plastic) and the runner (steel). Every manufacturer uses this same 3-piece construction model (2-piece, if you count the holder/runner as one) but there are many variations on each part of the skates that help distinguish one skate maker from the next.
%img src="http://www.sportsgiant-dev.com/universalimages/buying-guides/skatediagram.jpg%3E%3C/p%3E%0D%0A%3Ch4%3EHolders" /%
Bauer uses TUUK holders and runners, Graf uses Cobra holders and runners, and CCM uses SpeedBlade Holders with HyperGlide runners. They accomplish the same key goal, which is to mobilize the skater, despite the small visual differences in design. Most introductory level skates use a one-piece holder/runner. The one piece holder/runner is appropriate for introductory level skates, but the two-piece design is better suited for competitive skaters. Typically, runners and holders only break when a high velocity shot is taken directly at the holder/runner. This is why intermediate and elite level skates use the two-piece design; the two-piece design allows you to replace the runner if it is broken.
If you break a runner with the one-piece system, then you have no choice but to replace both the holder and runner. If you do happen to break a runner or holder on a lower-priced pair of hockey skates, it's often more cost-effective to simply take the opportunity buy a new pair of skates altogether, especially if you've gotten a fair amount of use out of them prior to the holder/runner breaking. The cost of purchasing the new holder or runner along with the cost of mounting the new holder will likely end up costing you about $40-50, which isn't much less than another brand new pair of introductory level skates.
Hockey Skate Boots
Hockey skate boots have evolved into a rather complex piece of equipment when you consider the amount of technology that goes into
building them. Manufacturers are constantly looking for innovative ways to create the lightest, most supportive and responsive skates. High quality boots are now made with materials like texalium glass, carbon composite, thermo-formable foam and anti-microbial hydrophobic lining. The quality of a boot can be measured by taking into account the weight, durability, comfort and protection offered. Elite level skates employ a few key features that will be discussed in more detail later. Here's a simple breakdown of the boot components:
- Quarter package - the boot shell, which holds the padding and support inserts. The quarter package is stitched with precision to target specific areas for optimal flexibility and support in the boot
- Ankle padding - foam inserted into the quarter package for comfort and support
- Heel support - anatomically shaped "pocket" built into the quarter package which helps secure the foot inside the skate boot
- Tongue - protective coverage for the top of the foot and front of the ankle
- Outsole - rigid underside of the skate boot to which the holder/runner is mounted
- Footbed - removable, padded insert in the bottom of the skate boot upon which the foot rests
- Liner - surface material inside the boot which contains the padding and provides a secure, comfortable fit
Over time, every skater develops his own set of preferences as he becomes more familiar with the options and features that are offered with each skate model.
Identifying your foot type
When choosing ice hockey skates, the first thing a hockey player needs to identify is his foot shape. There are many companies that make ice hockey skates, such as Bauer, CCM, Reebok and Easton. Skates are generally assembled by similar processes, but there are some distinctions to be made regarding the overall fit and designs that make each skate manufacturer and model unique. For example, certain manufacturers make their hockey skate boots deep and wide, while others make their skates shallow and narrow. If you're thinking about buying a new pair of hockey skates, do your best to find a friend who has the model you're looking for so you can try them on or at least ask him about how the skates have performed. Everyone has a unique foot shape, and every manufacturer has uniquely shaped skate boots; so make sure you consider all of your options before deciding on a specific brand or model. What works well for someone else may not be the best fit for you.
Here's a quick breakdown of the general fit provided by some of the popular skate lines available today:
Hockey Skate Fit Profiles