How to Choose the Right Roller Skates to Step Up Your Game

December 25, 2020 — by Valeriya Vimon

Remember all those disco videos from the eighties where people wore shiny clothes and roller skate shoes and enjoy their time to great music while rolling and laughing? They proved that no matter your age, roller skating will always be great fun. All of us wanted to try that at least once. So, if you’re thinking of getting your first roller skates and have already started checking roller skates online shops, you’ve come to the right place.

Choosing the right roller skates isn’t an easy thing. You should consider many things, not just the size and fit. Wheels, hardness, protection, braking are just a few of the things you should keep in mind.

Hard Boots vs. Soft Boots

picture of girls in different roller skates near the beach

When looking for roller skates online or at local stores, you’ll come across two types of boots – soft and hard. The hard shells and soft shells have many differences and their good and bad sides.

Hard-boots are suitable for fitness use and long rides. They provide stability to your foot and will keep it supported. Also, the liner can be replaced once worn out. Soft-boots on the other hand are a better choice for the disco where you can maneuver more easily. Soft-boots are also great for better ventilation and are not so heavy as the hard-boots. Now, let’s see the benefits of each model:

Hard Boots:

  • Keep your center of gravity low, which will keep you balanced and stable;
  • Help in standing straight by supporting your ankles;
  • Protect your feet against hard surfaces;
  • Thick liner cushioning for comfort and responsiveness;
  • Durable.

Soft Boots:

  • Great for speeding and skating longer distances;
  • Comfortable like a pair of sneakers;
  • Breathable;
  • You can pick a model with laces for a compressed fit.

When it comes to the downsides, hard-boots are heavy and will require more effort to roll in them. The hardness makes them not so comfortable. Soft-boots, on the other hand, are harder to balance because of their light weight. Also, there’s less support on the ankles which may lead to pronation or supination.

Size and Wheels

picture of a man with roller skates on the street

Picking the right size and wheels shouldn’t be taken lightly – don’t be led by the belief that the skates’ size will be the same as your shoe size. When searching for roller skates online, always read the size guide. The rule of thumb says that you should always go with one size bigger than your regular shoe size (unless it’s stated otherwise in the size guide). If the model you like has a design that’s on the smaller side, you may even go with two sizes up.

It’s important that the skates have a firm fit around your feet. They shouldn’t be too tight nor too loose. Every person is different; so make sure to always try the skates on before buying. When trying on the skates, your toes shouldn’t touch the nose of the skate – it means they’re too small. If you’re shopping online, measure your feet and compare them with the dimensions the site lists in the size guide.

The wheels on roller skates come in two pairs on both ends, which makes them stable to stand on. There are soft and hard wheels. The hardness depends on the durometer scale that goes from 0-100A. The closer to 100 the harder the wheels will be. Harder wheels will last longer, but their grip and shock absorption won’t be so good. Softer wheels, on the other hand, don’t last as long but have a better grip and shock absorption.

Trucks and Plates

picture of girl in jeans, leather jacket and roller skates

Similarly to how choosing the right trucks is important for a skateboard, the same goes for roller skate too. Roller skates have a truck and a plate underneath. Most plates are made of nylon which adds to the skates’ lightness. The trucks are made of aluminum which makes the skates strong and heavier. Quad skates come with cushions underneath that can be replaced and determine how agile the skates are. If the cushions are softer, the skates will be more agile, while harder cushions will give more directional stable skates.

Toe Stopping

picture of a girl in outfit and roller skates

Your roller skates, apart from the four wheels, will have a toe stop. Its purpose is to help you stop your acceleration and it’s used as a brake.
The toe stop should be replaced if it gets completely worn out. In case you fail to do that, your breaking may become very difficult even impossible and this can result in a fall or injury.


Bearings aren’t a feature that should make any big difference when choosing your model. However, the way you treat your bearings will affect your skates’ performance. This means avoid rolling with them in water and mud as well as sand and dirt that can cause the bearings to rust or otherwise damage them.

Don’t Forget About Protection!

picture of girl in park on roller skates and with protection

Roller skates aren’t shoes, which means that no matter how experienced and good you are at this, you shouldn’t risk and roll on them without suitable protection. Always get protective equipment when buying your roller skates. At a minimum, you should have a skate helmet. You can expect to fall at least once. Your head shouldn’t be exposed to any injury and that could easily happen if you don’t wear a helmet.

Full protections such as wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads (in addition to the helmet) will help you enjoy your skating without worries that you may end up with fractures in case you fall. Safety will lead to more confidence which would help you learn faster and become better.