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In this side-by-side product review Outside Pursuits leads you through everything you need to know in order to pick the best ice hockey skates for your specific needs and type of play.
We’ll take a look at what makes the best skates for hockey for the money and what to avoid. Also see How To Choose The Best Ice Hockey Skates later in this article. What are the best ice hockey skates?
Best Ice Hockey Skates
|Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skate||Botas DRAFT 281 – Men’s Ice Hockey Skates||American Athletic Senior Cougar Soft Boot Hockey Skates|
|Level||Entry-level ice hockey skate||Entry-level hockey skate||Good-value recreational skate |
|Blade||Stainless steel blade with carbon edge||Botas Icehawk Carbon Ultra Steel white blades||Steel hockey blade |
|Special Features||Soft microfiber liner , Anaform ankle padding||PENAT padded, microfiber lining, Anatomical tongue||Speed lacing loop system with strap |
|Customer Ratings||4.0 / 5.0 Stars||5.0 / 5.0 Stars||3.5 / 5.0 Stars|
Also see: Ice Hockey Skates Comparison Table
Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Ice Skates For Hockey – 2021
- Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skate
- Botas DRAFT 281 – Men’s Ice Hockey Skates
- American Athletic Senior Cougar Soft Boot Hockey Skates
- Bauer Supreme S140 Junior
- American Athletic Men’s Ice Force Hockey Skates
Ice Hockey Skates Reviews
To help you choose the best hockey skates for you, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 top-rated ice hockey skates for the upcoming season. Have a look through the products reviewed here and consult our buyer’s guide below to see which pair are best for you.
- Entry-level ice hockey skate
- Stainless steel blade with carbon edge
- Soft microfiber liner
- Anaform ankle padding
The Bauer Senior Vapor X300 are beginner’s hockey skates, but come with features that are not far off pro quality. In terms of design, the Bauer Vapor skates have the classic ice hockey look.
Bauer’s Senior Vapor X300 offer great all-round foot support, but especially in the heel, so you can practice for extended periods without getting sore feet. The unremovable stainless steel blades have a strengthening carbon coating. This results in better grip on the ice for that all-important acceleration.
The boot is a one-piece manmade mold giving you that crucial strength and stability which helps beginners get accustomed to the ice. It makes a boot that will not only last a long time, but will be more comfortable on the foot.
The thick tongue protects the upper part of the foot and lower part of the ankle from both collisions and lace bite — the tendon pain caused by excessive pressure from the laces.
A soft microfiber inner lining is a thick, soft and warm cover all over the interior, including the inner ankle pads.
All of these factors combine to make a skate that is lightweight, strong and comfortable — a great mix for a beginner’s set of skates.
This is not the kind of flimsy, half-hearted entry-level model you might find in other places on the internet. They can be used frequently and pushed to their limits without showing signs of wear and tear.
To summarize, the Bauer Senior Vapor X300 manages to combine comfort, quality and aesthetics to make a skate that is perfect for those who are getting into hockey as a sport.
Botas DRAFT 281 – Men’s Ice Hockey Skates at a Glance
- Entry-level hockey skate
- Botas Icehawk Carbon Ultra Steel white blades
- PENAT padded, microfiber lining
- Anatomical tongue
One potential problem with brands you’re unfamiliar with is the sizing element — especially when buying hockey skates online. With the Botas sizing guide, you should have no problem finding the right sized skates for you.
Like the Bauer Senior Vapor X300, the Botas DRAFT 281 feature microfiber liners which wick sweat away effectively and are quick to dry.
The tongue is designed to fit around your ankle to provide maximum comfort with minimum lace bite. Under your foot, you’ll find a two-piece felt sandwich insole to give you enough comfort to get out on the ice as often as possible.
In terms of design, the Botas DRAFT 281 has a similar style as the previous Bauer. The black boot and thick white laces give you the pro’s look, even if you’re a total beginner.
What’s more, they have a combination of gold and silver touches on the boot to give them a unique feel.
It’s not just style, they also have substance. The plastic toe is made with TST (Total Stability Technology), which protect your toes in the event of a collision.
Botas use DDP padding on the ankles, that provides two different levels of stiffness and the interior features a padded ankle lining. All of these elements put together improve both comfort and durability.
As Botas don’t have such a vast market share as Bauer, they are pushing themselves forward by keeping prices relatively low.
This basically means that buying the Botas DRAFT 281 gets you a skate that is high quality, but more reasonably priced than brands that have already established themselves.
If you’re looking for a beginner’s skate with excellent value for money, look no further.
American Athletic Senior Cougar Soft Boot Hockey Skates at a Glance
- Good-value recreational skate
- Steel hockey blade
- Thick foam padding for warmth and comfort
- Speed lacing loop system with strap
It has a soft shell, rather than the hard shell structure on other models and it is a great choice if you want to skate for the love of skating.
With good support around the ankles and a thick inner lining, these skates will provide you with comfort for long periods of time on ice.
Many users suggest, and I agree, that these are recreational skates rather than hockey skates, so if you’re just skating around with friends, or need something better than the rental skates to take your kids to the rink, they are an ideal option.
It has reinforced lacing loops, making it far quicker to lace up than eyelets, and there is a velcro strap at the top. This means you can create quite a large gap around the ankle joint, reducing lace bite.
Above the heel, you have a handy loop to help you slide your foot into the boot. Another good feature of American Athletic skates is that they are true to size, which is quite rare in the world of skates.
The Cougar Soft Boot does not give you the same protection from collisions as other models in this list and is therefore more suited to recreational skating, not the rough and tumble of hockey matches.
To this end, they have thick foam padding on the interior, which will keep your feet warm and comfortable on frozen lakes as well as on ice rinks.
While the American Athletic Cougar Soft Boot cannot compete with more focused hockey skates on this list in terms of performance, it is a skate that prioritizes comfort above all else.
The soft shell and luxuriously thick padding on the interior means this is a high-quality recreational skate at a very reasonable price.
Bauer Supreme S140 Junior Ice Hockey Skates at a Glance
- Entry-level kids ice hockey skate
- TUUK Super stainless steel blade
- Microfiber lining
- Anatomical felt tongue
With a classic fit, these Bauer skates have a wider upper boot, allowing each user to adjust the boot to their size using the laces.
Another advantage of the wider fit is that when you’re skating outside, for example on a lake, you have room for a thicker pair of socks, or even two pairs. Bauer have created a rare thing in the ice hockey world — a skate that is a great fit, straight out of the box.
The microfiber liner is high in quality and great for wicking away moisture. This really improves comfort when spending a lot of time on the ice.
The anatomical one-piece felt tongue is another aspect which improves the comfort of the Bauer Supreme S140, while reducing lace bite. Underneath your foot, you have a shaped foam insole, which creates an all-round comfortable boot.
The nylon exterior is tough, so it can withstand a considerable amount of punishment, but soft enough to make beginning to skate an enjoyable experience, rather than a grueling test. Aside from being resistant, the quarter is very light and stiff, without becoming uncomfortable.
Stiffness is what sets these skates apart from other junior skates. They keep their shape very well and make speeding up and slowing down much easier.
The blade is attached to the boot via a lightweight holder — the type you see in the NHL. The stainless steel blades themselves are non-removable.
The Bauer Supreme S140 is a great model for kids who want to get into the sport. With a classic design and all the quality you can expect from Bauer hockey skates, the Supreme S140 Junior ice hockey skates are among the best options for kids to get into the sport.
American Athletic Men’s Ice Force Hockey Skates at a Glance
- Entry-level ice hockey skate
- Stainless steel blade with carbon edge
- Moisture-resistant Cambrelle lining
- True to shoe size fit
They are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, on the pond and on the rink, so you can try them out in a range of situations.
The American Athletic Ice Force skates are at the lowest end of the price range in this list. Perfect for beginners and intermediate hockey players, they are true to your regular shoe size, taking one of the major complications out of the equation.
They do have some features that equal their pricier rivals, such as the carbon steel blade. Like the Bauer Senior Vapor X300, this composite blade offers better grip on the ice, allowing you to accelerate quickly, confident that you won’t end up flat on your face.
Where they lack in quality is in the foot protection. While they have cut resistant material on the toe, these skates don’t have the reinforced toe that you can find on the Bauer and Botas models.
They just are not made for constant collisions three or four times a week, and you are likely to come off worse should such an incident occur.
However, think about what you are going to use them for. If it is for taking the kids down to the lake in winter, competitive aggression is likely to be on the lower side, and the Ice Force skates will be more than enjoyable.
If you aren’t looking for competitive quality and pro performance, the American Athletic Men’s Ice Force Hockey Skates are a safe bet. Stiff and sturdy, they will protect your feet and do the job for a fraction of the price of other models at this level.
Ice Hockey Skates Comparison Table
|Best Ice Hockey Skates||Level||Blade||Special Features||Customer Ratings|
|Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skate||Entry-level ice hockey skate||Stainless steel blade with carbon edge||Soft microfiber liner , Anaform ankle padding||4.0 / 5.0 Stars|
|Botas DRAFT 281 – Men’s Ice Hockey Skates||Entry-level hockey skate||Botas Icehawk Carbon Ultra Steel white blades||PENAT padded, microfiber lining, Anatomical tongue||5.0 / 5.0 Stars|
|American Athletic Senior Cougar Soft Boot Hockey Skates||Good-value recreational skate||Steel hockey blade||Speed lacing loop system with strap||3.5 / 5.0 Stars |
|Bauer Supreme S140 Junior||Entry-level kids ice hockey skate||TUUK Super stainless steel blade||Microfiber lining, Anatomical felt tongue||5.0 / 5.0 Stars|
|American Athletic Men’s Ice Force Hockey Skates||Entry-level ice hockey skate||Stainless steel blade with carbon edge||Moisture-resistant Cambrelle lining||3.8 / 5.0 Stars |
How to Choose the Best Ice Hockey Skates
- Sport or Leisure?
- Ice Hockey Skates – Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
- Boot Maintenance
- Blade Maintenance
Ice hockey is one of the top winter sports in North America and for good reason. This high-paced, physical game is fantastic both to watch and play.
But underneath every great player in the NHL these days is a great pair of hockey ice skates. If you want to get started in the game, you’ll need to follow suit.
Choosing the right skates to meet your needs can be very difficult, especially if they are your first pair.
Although there are not too many major differences between skates at this level, these are the major factors you need to take into consideration before you choose your skates.
Sport or Leisure?
Have a think about what you want out of your skates. Do you want to take ice hockey seriously, and maybe even join a club, or are you just in it to get comfortable on the ice?
As you’ll see throughout the product descriptions, skates made for competitive hockey are not as soft on the foot as recreational skates, the former sacrificing a little bit of comfort for rigidity. This gives you more control when accelerating and turning.
Leisure skates are far more focused on the comfort side of things and often have thicker linings. They are likely to have little to no exterior protection and a soft boot.
Hockey skate sizing is always quite a tricky business — especially when buying them online.
As a general rule, you should take your regular shoe size and count 1.5 sizes down. For example, if you are a size 10 in your daily shoes, you would be around an 8.5 in hockey skates.
However, a far more reliable way of getting the right skate size is to use the sizing guides provided by many brands. Botas has their own sizing guide, so you can measure your feet to perfection and find out which size you should go for.
In terms of width, each model is aimed at a different foot type. The four main types are narrow, regular, wide and extra wide. On advanced skates, you can find the foot width using the following codes:
Narrow Fit – C/N
Regular Fit – D/R
Wide Fit – E/W
Extra Wide Fit – EE
In reality, for more entry-level skates, there is not so much precision in the fit, so I would recommend choosing skates based on other factors, and using the baking process to assure a good fit.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Lace Bite, and How do I Avoid it?
A: If you have ever rented skates at the local rink, the chances are you have an idea of what lace bite is. In reality, you don’t even need laces to suffer lace bite. It is simply a combination of sustained pressure on the tendons connecting your feet to your shins and the movements required in skating.
It is a very common injury associated with skaters and can be seriously painful, so how can you avoid it?
All of the skates in this list come with relatively comfortable tongues that play a large part in reducing lace bite, but for those who can’t stay off the ice, it is an almost inevitable part of skating.
If you find you are suffering from lace bite, try identifying the laces that are contacting the pressure point. Then, remove your laces to the eyelet underneath the part that is causing you pain before reinserting the laces, avoiding the eyelets around the pressure point.
A quick search online will show you specific ways of tying your laces to avoid lace bite.
There are also, as you might expect, various protective socks on the market that will mitigate the tendon pressure.
Q: How do I “Bake My Skates”?
A: To get a really comfortable, personalized fit, many skaters and the manufacturers themselves recommend literally putting your skates in a preheated oven that has been turned off.
By gently heating your skates, the hard exterior becomes soft and malleable. While is it still warm, you can put your foot in, lace it up and sit for around 15 minutes so the skate molds to your foot.
While I highly recommend you look at the specific instructions given by the manufacturer of your skate, here’s a quick list of general tips:
- Most ovens are only big enough for one skate at a time. Do not try to squeeze two in at a time.
- Use oven gloves.
- Once you have molded the skate for around 15 minutes, let it sit for 24 hours so it can harden.
- Do not touch the blades or metal lace eyelets. Oven + metal = very hot.
- Do not leave the oven on when your skate is inside. Direct heat will almost always cause warping damage to the boot.
- Do not pre-heat the baking tray, or let your skate touch the surfaces of the oven. This may also cause irreparable damage.
Q: How Do I Care For Ice Hockey Skates?
A: Keeping your skates in good condition is not only beneficial from a performance perspective, but also from a safety perspective. Dull or damaged blades, for example, can case serious injury by sliding sideways on the ice or abruptly stopping while your upper body does not.
There are two main parts to any ice skate, so I have split my maintenance guide into two corresponding sections.
Due to the materials used in hockey skates, maintenance of the exterior is relatively easy.
They are unlikely to get dirty in the same way as running shoes will, so a simple wipe with a cloth is enough to clean the exterior.
I recommend you to only use water, as this is more than enough to clean the outside of your skates. Avoid all detergents, unless specifically mentioned by the manufacturer.
While after an hour on the ice they will be almost spotless on the outside, the interior is not so pretty. Ice hockey is a high-octane sport, and warm, bulky boots cause a lot of sweating.
Fortunately, the interior materials in the ice skates in this guide are of a high quality. Fabrics like microfiber mean you can simply remove the insoles, and let everything dry at room temperature.
Important note: Remember not to use direct sources of heat, as this could warp materials.
To make sure your skates perform to the best of their ability, keeping your blades sharp and well-maintained is essential.
Most new skates will arrive at your house without sharpened blades, and we would recommend taking your skates to your local ice rink or ice hockey store to sharpen your blades for the first time.
A good way to test how sharp your blades are is to lightly brush your fingernail across the blade at a 90 degree angle. Blades that are well sharpened should shave your nail slightly, taking the shine off. If they don’t change the texture of your nail, they probably need to be sharpened.
As you gain experience as a skater, it is a good idea to learn how to sharpen blades yourself. Being able to maintain your blades at home will save you time and money in the long run.
Important note: The majority of manufacturers will not accept returns that have been used on the ice or had their blades sharpened. Therefore, before you use the blades, make sure the boots fit your feet, at least in terms of length.
Whether you want recreational skates for casual puck shooting, or you’re looking to get into the sport in a competitive setting, one of the skates on this list will work for you.
We hope you have found this guide useful in deciding on which ice hockey skates to purchase.
Thanks for reading The 5 Best Ice Hockey Skates Reviewed. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best choice for ice skates for hockey that meet your needs and level of play.
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How We Researched
To come up with the top ice hockey skates, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, EVO along with our own personal experience.
We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.
With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The author, Robert Baker, has been skating since he was a toddler and is a keen follower of ice hockey.
To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from ice hockey enthusiasts.
After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.