Proper fit is critical factor when it comes to skate choice
Choosing the right size is by far the second most important thing when buying a skate - right after selecting an appropriate model.
- How to choose the right size?
- What to consider?
We will try to answer these and several other questions with this article using our combined years of experience - both practical and theoretical.
Before we get to the point, we have to disprove a myth, which to this day is haunting various online forums and to make matters worse, is still used by the people advising on the purchase of skate equipment.
NEVER BUY SKATES WHICH ARE TOO BIG.
Inline skates, just like ski or snowboard boots are responsible for energy transfer and control, which then translate into comfort and safety. Poorly chosen size is equivalent to bad foot position in a skate.
Most of skates of well-known brands available in the market have anatomical construction of the liner. This means that the internal structure of the liner is adapted to the shape of the foot and has a number of solutions affecting its correct position, and support while skating.
Purchase of a skate in the wrong size causes an unnatural position of the foot, causing discomfort, lack of control during skating and quick wear of the liner - a situation similar to that of walking in too big or unlaced shoes. Therefore, the kids skates are produced in adjustable sizes while specialized skates are available also in very small sizes. Buying bigger skates „just in case” is not saving. When skates are too big, they will wear out faster and may lead to serious injury.
How to choose a size of the skate
Several years of experience in skate sales both in a front-store and via the internet showed that the only option to choose the correct size is just to try them on adequately:
To do this:
- Always try on both skates. When standing in only one skate, the entire weight of the body is transmitted to the leg without the skate, thereby causing the unnatural foot position.
- Skates should be carefully tightened and laced. All components such as buckles, laces and Velcros are responsible for adjusting a boot to the shape of a foot. Only with properly tightened skate our foot will be placed in the correct position. Loose skates may seem good, but after fastening and positioning feet in the right place, it may turn out that skate will be a whole size too big!
- After putting on the both skates and tightening them properly, set up yourself in skating position i.e.:
- knees slightly bent (lower center of gravity)
- ankle bent forward (heel withdrawn)
- Make sure that the heel is not detached from the bottom of the skate (not even the 1 mm!), and the outstretched fingers feel both front and rear pads - we are sure that the skate size is properly selected.
Of course, many people are now asking themselves a question - how to do it all when buying skates at online store? At the beginning it should be noted that no matter what shop you buy from, Polish law guarantees 10 days (from the date of purchase of the goods) to return or exchange an unused product without giving any reason. This is consistent for other EU countries and multiple countries outside of EU have similar laws in place. It is a sufficient amount of time to accurately try on the skates. It's better to pay for postage, returning the skates, than skate ones too big!
Most professional shops provide so called "Size Chart", which contain data on the length of the skate liner. This is very useful when choosing the size over the Internet, however, we must remember that the manufacturer or service shop can measure the length of the insert in a slightly different way than we do. The difference in the "lines" or selection of other points of measure causes variations in the range of 1-4mm, which may be important when choosing the appropriate size.
It should also be noted here that if we measured foot length falls between two sizes in the table given on the page, it is always better to buy a smaller size. A skate which is few millimeters too big initially will seem more convenient, but with time it will break-in. If you choose a smaller size and turns out to be too small we have 100% confidence that the model size bigger will be our right. Choosing the border size is very important for the construction of skates with Hardboot mentioned below.
Now that you know the correct way to try on a skate and excluding the option to buy too big skates we can move the last major issue affecting the selection of the correct size: design and construction of the skate.
Construction of the skates available in the market can be divided into:
- Hardboot with a removable liner
- Softboot without a liner
- Softboot with a liner
- Carbon skates and others without a liner
We'll start with the most complicated issue - the selection of sizes for a hard boot skate with removable liner.
Hard boot skate construction is based on the hard shell (plastic / composite with various additives), in which the liner is embedded. Similarly to the ski boots, external shoe mold (shell) is produced to accomodate two or even three sizes. This means that for the two sizes of a skate, we have one shell size and two different sizes of the inner liner (liner), eg:
Sizes 40 and 41 of Seba FR 1 skate have the same length of shoe design but different size of the liner inserts.
Information about what shell size corresponds to which liner size is very important especially for people with foot length on border between sizes. For example, the same skate - Seba FR 1 for sizes 45, 46 and 47 have the same size of the shell. When selecting the size of between 44 and 45 in this model really choose between:
- shell 44 with liner size 44
- shell 47 with liner size 45
The larger shell is, the more weight and more space between the liner and the construction of the shell (worse feet support) it have. It is worth mentioning that the skates with Hardboot construction has the greatest break-in range of all the above-mentioned groups. The inner liner can be broken-in as to extra 5mm, especially when we choose the size of the model 43 Seba FR 1, which has a size of 44 shell.
Skates of softboot design (with or without liner) can be assigned to one group. These models are based on a solid framework that delivers stiffness of skate bottom (place of mounting the frames) and ankle area(cuff / lining). The remaining part of the structure is made of soft material, which after careful fastening and tightening fits perfectly to the shape of the foot.
This design greatly reduces the weight of a skate, increases comfort and provides better cooling. It is unfortunately also less resistant to shocks and protects your feet less. In the case of softboot skate it’s very important to match the size. At first try-on, the skates of this type can pinch your foot from the top or side. This is due to the lack of formation of the outer material that will soon put perfectly to the shape of the foot.
Good quality models of this kind should begin to take shape after 10-15 min, thus giving the opportunity to assess whether the model will fit. The phenomenon of "breaking-in" also exists here yet with less extent in the case of Hardboot skates (from 1 to 3 mm). In case of skates with removable liners it is additionally possible to try on the liner itself which can greatly facilitate the selection of a suitable size.
The last group are carbon skates (or made of a different material, but with the same design) without removable liner. It is used in the construction of specialized models of speed skating, slalom, freeride and aggressive. They are characterized by very low weight, high rigidity and perfect fit - all this translates into greater control while skating. Skates of this type have the lowest tolerance to the formation and breaking-in due to the very thin layer of material inside the shoe. Size in such skates should be selected very carefully given the fact that their shape and fit will not be significantly changed. Some skates of this type allows thermal-forming, but it is a factor which should not be taken into consideration as a decisive when selecting the size.
In summary, we have clearly pointed out that, unfortunately, not every model will fit a particular foot. Feet anatomy and Achilles tendons, the raise, the shape of the heel, and many other factors affect whether a particular skate model will be comfortable for us and meet our expectations. Unfortunately, even perfectly paired skate size may be not suitable for us, so we advice to always try at least two types of a skate or one model in two sizes. However, when shopping online, please bear in mind the law that gives the opportunity to return or exchange the product for 10 days without giving a reason.