Hockey skates are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any hockey player. Buy the wrong ones, and you risk problems with stability and turning ability, not to mention lack of protection against hits and tripping. The most important consideration when choosing skates is fit. Unlike other footwear, hockey skates must fit snugly.
Hockey skates should not feel comfortably loose, but rather tight and somehow "short," with a noticeable pressure on the forefoot area. While this may sound painful, remember that the skates will stretch as they break in, but even if they don't, it's still possible to have them stretched for length at specialty shops. Skates that are too large, however, cannot be fixed and can result in blisters and even injuries. Another option is to buy a “soft boot," which consists of a hard outer shell with a soft lining. These types of hockey skates break in more quickly, since the inner lining can mold to the player's feet almost immediately.
Prices for hockey skates increase in proportion to the level of hardness of the boot, which is indicated by a number. Number 1 skates can be found for about 150 US dollars (USD), while elite level hockey skates will cost in the ballpark of 500 USD. Hard skates are not recommended for people who weigh less than 180 pounds (82 kg), as it is unlikely they will be able to break them in appropriately. Buying the most expensive model is not necessarily the best choice for everybody, particularly children, who will grow out of the boots quickly, and beginners, who will not be spending a lot of time on the ice.
Because fitting is so important, buying hockey skates online is a great risk. Still, many people do, as it is difficult to beat online deals and clearance sales. You can ensure a proper fit by trying the skates on at a local shop before ordering them online.
Another important consideration when buying hockey skates is upkeep. Good shops offer free sharpenings and heat stretching. Since these skates are not sharpened until they are sold, and afterwards require resharpening every five hours of ice use, this can become a considerable expense if not included in the price of the skates.