Hobby & Sports

The 5 Best Roller Skates For Men, Women & Kids – [2018]

The disco era of the 70’s popularized roller skating. Roller skating rinks became hugely popular and from there developed into a professional sport with different styles such as racing, roller hockey, roller derby and jam skating.

Regardless of style, it’s an easily activity to do for kids and adults alike where you don’t need much equipment to enjoy a workout or smooth gliding.

Roller skates date back to the 1700s and the first models imitated ice skates with wheels. The quad skate with the four-wheel configuration we still use today was invented over 100 years ago!

Let’s take a look at the best roller skates to get you started skating!

If you are looking for inline skates, be sure to check out our recommended inline skates here.

Best Men’s Roller Skates

  1. VNLA Tuxedo Jam Roller Skates
  2. Riedell Demon EDM Roller Derby Speed Skates
  3. Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate
  4. Riedell Boost Rhythm Indoor Roller Skates
  5. Riedell Dart 2 Tone Ombre Roller Speed Skate

Best Women’s Roller Skates

  1. Riedell 220 Epic Womens Artistic Roller Skates
  2. Chicago Women’s Leather Lined Rink Skate
  3. Roller Derby Women’s Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate
  4. Riedell Citizen Outdoor Rhythm Roller Skates
  5. Riedell Skates Dart Roller Skate

Best Kid’s Roller Skates

  1. Chicago Skates Adjustable Quad Roller Skates
  2. Kandy Skates Delish Roller Skates
  3. Roller Derby Roller Star 350 Girls Roller Skates
  4. Roller Derby Girl’s Laser Speed Quad Skate
  5. Roller Derby Boy’s Trac Star Adjustable Roller Skate

Our guide and comparison table of the top rated roller skates will help you choose the right pair for you. Here is a feature comparison of my 3 favorite roller skates for Men, Women and Kids.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Best Roller Skates

 VNLA Men's Tuxedo Jam SkateRiedell Citizen Women's Rhythm Roller Skates Chicago Skates Adjustable Kid's Roller Skates
For:MenWomenKids
Best Use:Indoor, Artistic, Jam, Rhythm, RecreationalOutdoor, Recreational, RhythmBeginner Indoor & Outdoor
Wheels:Height: 62mm, Width: 32mmHeight: 62mm, Width 40mmHeight: 60mm
Bearings:ABEC-9ABEC-5608 Recreational

Roller Skates Reviews

Now let’s take a look at the skates in more detail and we’ll guide you in selecting the model that’s right for you.

Best Men’s Roller Skates

#1 VNLA Tuxedo Jam Skate

VNLA Tuxedo Jam Skate Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Indoor, Artistic, Jam, Rhythm, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 62mm, width 32mm (narrow), 95A Wheels
  • Boot: Reinforced boot from high-quality leather, low profile, Drilex liner
  • Closure: Velcro strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-9 Race Spec
  • Toe-stop: Jam Plug

The VNLA Tuxedo Jam Skate roller skate is a classic indoor model and our editor’s choice for the best men’s roller skates. Although it actually is a unisex skate, ladies just need to go down a size.

With a high quality boot and components, it’s designed for indoor rink skating. Whether you’re just doing recreational laps, artistic dance or jamming to music and rhythm, this model will do it all.

You can also buy outdoor wheels and use the skates and go anywhere, now that is versatility! The Backspin Tuxedo wheels feature a high durometer rating of 95A, perfect for indoor surfaces.

With a diameter of 62mm and a width of 32mm, these wheels are slightly smaller and more narrow, allowing you to execute precise maneuvers and tight turns. Standard bearings by Vanilla make for smooth rolling.

The high-quality leather boot is reinforced for extra support and features a low profile design and a thin yet comfortable Drilex liner.

Be advised that these skates come with a jam plug instead of a toe stop brake. Beginners might want to switch this out for a traditional brake.

The VNLA Tuxedo Jam Skate look slick in black and white, but are also available in red leather. The red version features red trimmed wheels.

These are great value skates that allow you to show off your moves and learn new ones – ideal for more advanced and demanding indoor skaters.


#2 Riedell R3 Demon EDM Roller Derby Speed Skates

Riedell Demon EDM Roller Derby Speed Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Roller Derby, Speed, Jam
  • Wheels: 4 x 62mm, width 43mm, 95A Urethane Sonar Demon EDM
  • Boot: Low profile, vinyl upper, comfortable and padded
  • Closure: Traditional laces with cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608 Kwik
  • Toe-stop: PowerDyne adjustable toe stop

The Riedell R3 Demon roller skate is an excellent indoor model for roller derby and speed skating. You get high performance and value for an amazing price with these rink skates.

The low-cut precision-fit soft boot comes with traditional laces and an extra cuff strap to secure your ankle. Ample padding make these comfortable and perfect for derby sessions, while a durable PowerDyne Thrust nylon plate ensures flexibility and performance.

The Sonar Demon EDM wheels are made from Urethane and have a durometer rating of 95A, offering good grip and roll while lasting long time.

They feature a diameter of 62mm and a width of 43mm, allowing you to build up plenty of speed fast.

The standard Kwik bearings strike a balance between durability and precision. Metal double action trucks give you good maneuverability, no matter if you’re doing laps, jam skating or roller derby matches.

The Riedell R3 Demon are the best roller skates for beginners for a very reasonable price!


#3 Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate

Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Roller Derby, Speed, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 58mm, width 40mm, Urethane
  • Boot: Low profile, vinyl upper, foam lining and padding
  • Closure: Traditional laces with cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608
  • Toe-stop: Soft toe stop

The Roller Derby Viper M4 is an ideal quad roller skate for beginners. It is built for indoor roller derby and speed use, but with relatively soft wheels, recreational skaters could also take them outside to practice on smooth surfaces.

The boot features a low cut with traditional laces and a cuff strap. The vinyl upper and the skate in general come with a retro design. Inside, the shoes give you lots of comfort with ample foam padding.

The low profile allows you to move your ankle freely and generate force to get up to speed.

Mounted on a nylon base plate, durability is not an issue with these skates. The wheels are 58mm by 40mm and are therefore wider than artistic skates for good balance.

The actual durometer rating is not specified by the manufacturer, but the wheels are of medium hardness and could therefore be used outdoors as well. The soft toe stopper is great for beginners.

If you want to try and see if roller skating go with the Roller Derby Viper M4, they are the best roller skates for adults at a bargain price.


#4 Riedell Boost Rhythm Indoor Roller Skates

Riedell Boost Rhythm Indoor Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Rhythm, Dance, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 57mm, 96A Radar Riva
  • Boot: High profile, Cambrelle liner
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608
  • Toe-stop: Jam plug

This is an entry-level roller skate for a great price. The Riedell Boost Rhythm is designed for indoor use and recreational skating as well as Rhythm and Dance skating.

Despite the affordable price, the features on this model are exceptional. The high profile boot is comfortable and forgiving, providing sufficient ankle support and a Cambrelle liner.

Equipped with Radar Riva wheels of a 57mm diameter and 96A hardness, you will have great control thanks to slightly narrower wheels while not losing out on stability and smooth rolling.

However, this model comes with a jam plug instead of a brake, so beginners will have to learn braking technique or switch to a proper toe stop.

The Riedell Boost Rhythm is a great skate to initiate beginners into rhythm skating. Thanks to the features of this skate, you’ll soon be able to impress with your moves.


#5 Riedell Dart 2 Tone Ombre Quad Roller Speed Skate

Riedell Dart 2 Tone Ombre Roller Speed Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Speed
  • Wheels: 4 x 62mm, width 43mm, 93A
  • Boot: Low profile
  • Closure: Traditional laces with cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608 Regular
  • Toe-stop: Adjustable Midi Gripper toe stop

With the Riedell Dart 2 roller skate, you get a solid quad roller speed skate for indoor use. Built for racing from the ground up, these skates enable you to move aggressively and confidently.

The boots feature traditional lacing and a cuff strap. The low profile allows you to move freely, and a thin liner gives you excellent feeling.

The shoes are mounted on an aluminum plate for lightweight durability and excellent performance (note that size 12 and up come with a Nylon plate instead).

Four 62mm by 43mm wheels with a durometer of 93A allow you to attack indoor surfaces with grip and speed. A standard 608 ABEC-5 bearing ensures smooth rolling at all speeds.

The Midi Gripper toe stop can be adjusted, making braking easier for beginners with this skate.

The sizes for this model go up to 14, and four kids sizes are available. If you’re looking for speed at the skating rink, the Riedell Dart 2 skates are the best quad speed skates.


Best Women’s Roller Skates

#1 Riedell 220 Epic Artistic Roller Skates

Riedell 220 Epic Womens Artistic Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Artistic, Indoor
  • Wheels: 4 x 57mm, width 31mm 101A Varsity
  • Boot: High profile, leather upper, reinforced quarters, split leather lining
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: ABEC-9 608 Kwik
  • Toe-stop: Adjustable toe stop

The Riedell 220 Epic roller skate is a high-end model and our editor’s choice for women’s skates. This artistic roller skate is built for precision and performance and comes with a higher price tag.

The leather boot has a retro design and leather-lined interior. It is carefully crafted to provide a precise fit paired with comfort.

The traditional laces allow you to fully dial in the fit, and then you’ll experience competition-level response and control over these skates to let your skills shine.

The plate is made from nylon and aluminum for a maximum of stability and durability.

Four Varsity wheels of 57mm diameter and 31mm width with a hardness of 101A allow you to execute fine movements and sharp turns during your artistic or dance routine.

The 608 Kwik bearings feature an ABEC-9 precision-grade rating for the smoothest rolling. The toe stop is adjustable to your needs.

Make use of the manufacturer’s sizing chart to get the best fit for your feet. Gliding on these skates will feel like nothing you’ve experienced before.

The Riedell 220 Epic are the best artistic roller skates you can get for the money.


#2 Chicago Women’s Leather Lined Rink Skate

Chicago Women’s Leather Lined Rink Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Indoor, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 58mm
  • Boot: High profile, leather upper, leather lining, padded ankle collar
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608 Kwik
  • Toe-stop: Large toe stop

The Chicago Skates Rink skate is a recreational indoor model geared towards beginners. Experience effortless gliding on wheels and enjoy laps at the skating rink with friends.

With a high top boot with leather upper and leather lining, these skates look great and feel good. A padded ankle collar provides support and stability, while the traditional laces allow you to adjust for perfect comfort.

The boot is mounted on a sturdy and lightweight aluminum frame. The trucks can be adjusted to your liking, and you also get a jump bar for soft landings should you be doing airborne tricks in these skates.

The wheels are 58mm in diameter and slightly more narrow than regular wheels for good turns and sufficient stability. The medium hardness is a compromise between shock absorption, durability and performance.

The large toe stop makes braking easy and straightforward, even for beginners.

The Chicago Skates Rink roller skates are the best women’s roller skates suitable for beginners as well as intermediate riders. You get good value for a very affordable price.


#3 Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate

Roller Derby Women’s Viper M4 Speed Quad Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Roller Derby, Speed, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 58mm, width 40mm, Urethane
  • Boot: Low profile, vinyl upper, reinforced support, padded collar
  • Closure: Traditional laces with cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608
  • Toe-stop: Soft toe stop

This recreational skate is perfect for beginners. It is primarily designed for indoor use, speed skating and roller derby, but the softer wheels will work fine on smooth streets.

The low cut boot allows for ample ankle movement to gain speed quickly, yet with reinforced support and a padded collar, you will have plenty of stability.

You can use these for derby matches as well. The shoe is comfortable and you can adjust the fit with the traditional laces and the cuff buckle.

The durable RTC Pro chassis offers support for all kinds of skating, and on 58mm by 40mm wheels, you have a stable base for good balance.

These wheels have a medium durometer rating between 85A and 90A. They perform well indoors while offering sufficient grip outdoors, although they will wear out quicker on concrete. Braking is easy with the large toe stopper.

The Roller Derby Viper M4’s are the best outdoor roller skates for beginners.


#4 Riedell Citizen Outdoor Rhythm Roller Skates

Riedell Citizen Outdoor Rhythm Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Outdoor, Recreational, Rhythm
  • Wheels: 4 x 62mm, width 40mm, 85A Sonar Zen
  • Boot: High profile, vinyl upper, ankle support, Cambrelle liner
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608 Kwik
  • Toe-stop: Bolt-on toe stop

The Riedell Citizen roller skate is a traditional model designed for outdoor use. You’ll absolutely enjoy recreational skating on concrete or the streets with these skates.

For an entry-level price, you get great outdoor skates for beginners or intermediate skaters with the Riedell Citizen. The high profile boot comes with a vinyl upper, additional ankle support and a comfortable liner.

Traditional laces allow you to lace up as tight or loose as you prefer. The boot is on the soft side, giving you enough support but also free movement and a good feel.

The nylon base plate is sturdy and rugged for outdoor use. The wheels are 62mm in diameter and slightly wider than artistic skates for consistent rolling.

With a hardness of 85A, you’ll master the city streets with good grip and without wearing out the wheel too quickly. The standard Kwik bearings are built to last.

Riedell delivers the best outdoor roller skates with the Citizen’s.


#5 Riedell Skates Dart Roller Skate

Riedell Skates Dart Roller Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Speed, Indoor, Roller Derby, Recreational
  • Wheels: 4 x 62mm, 93A
  • Boot: Low profile, ample padding
  • Closure: Traditional laces, cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-5 608
  • Toe-stop: Adjustable Midi Gripper toe stop

The Riedell Skates Dart is a highly versatile quad skate. It is built for rink use with speed and roller derby in mind, but you can use it for most recreational skating and outdoors on smooth pavement.

The skates feature a low cut boot with ample padding, making it very comfortable and well suited for derby. Your ankle moves freely to let you gain speed.

Laces and a cuff strap enable you to tighten the fit as needed. A nylon base plate is rugged enough to withstand use and abuse, and you’ll be rolling on 62mm wheels with a 93A hardness.

Again, this mainly qualifies these as indoor skates, but you can also move aggressively and confidently outside as long as the surface is not too abrasive.

With the adjustable toe stopper, you customize the braking to your preference.

The Riedell Dart comes in six colorful designs with matching hubs to grab attention. These skates offer good value for the money and will make a wide range of skating activities enjoyable and fun.


Best Kids Roller Skates

#1 Chicago Skates Adjustable Quad Roller Skates

Chicago Skates Adjustable Quad Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Indoor & Outdoor, beginners, growing kids, girls
  • Wheels: 4 x 60mm
  • Boot: High profile, two-piece construction, padded collar, breathable nylon mesh liner, multi-adjustable
  • Closure: Two micro-ratchet buckles
  • Bearings: 608 recreational
  • Toe-stop: Built-in toe stop

The Chicago Skates adjustable quad roller skate is our editor’s choice as the best roller skates for kids. This pair is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and allows kids to learn skating.

The purple-silver color scheme is geared towards girls.

The skates are available in small and medium, but what sets these skates apart is they are adjustable. That means as your kids grow you don’t have to replace them!

The easy-adjust button allows you to control the size from 1 to 4.

The boots are sturdy and constructed from two hard shell pieces. A padded collar and a breathable nylon liner provide support and comfort, and you can adjust the fit with two buckles.

The 60mm wheels provide good traction for indoor and outdoor skating and are paired with recreational bearings for smooth rolling. A built-in toe break makes stopping safe and reliable.

The Chicago Skates adjustable quad roller skates are the best roller skates for kids.


#2 Kandy Skates Delish Roller Skates

Kandy Skates Delish Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Outdoor, beginners, recreational, girls age 6 and up
  • Wheels: 4 x 58mm, 82A polyurethane
  • Boot: Medium profile, soft PVC, foam padded tongue, mesh liner
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: ABEC-7 bearings
  • Toe-stop: Replaceable toe stop

The Kandy Skates Delish roller skates are designed for beginners and advanced kid skaters. Their fresh pink, green and black color scheme is geared towards girls.

These skates are well-suited for outdoor use, but you can use them at the rink as well. The soft boot comes with traditional laces and features a medium profile.

Thanks to the soft material, a foam padded tongue and a mesh liner, they’re very comfortable. A secure fit and breathability means kids can wear these for hours at a time.

The wheels have a diameter of 58mm and are mounted farther apart than on women’s artistic skates, so children have a stable resting position and a solid base.

They’re relatively soft and provide good grip outside, yet are not too soft for indoors. With an ABEC-7 rating, the bearings are surprisingly smooth.

The Kandy Skates Delish model is a colorful and retro skate and the best girls roller skates!


#3 Roller Derby Roller Star 350 Girls Roller Skates

Roller Derby Roller Star 350 Girls Roller Skates at a Glance:

  • Best For: Outdoor, beginners, recreational, girls
  • Wheels: 4 x 54mm, soft polyurethane
  • Boot: High profile, comfort fit, padded lining, heel support
  • Closure: Traditional laces
  • Bearings: Recreational
  • Toe-stop: Toe stop

With the Roller Derby Roller Star 350, you get a beginner’s skate for girls. With the low price, this makes for a great gift and a chance to see if your child is into roller skating.

This is an all-round outdoor model which can also be taken to the skating rink.

The high profile boot has traditional laces and a comfort fit thanks to padded lining and extra heel support. The wheels are small with a 54mm diameter, meaning your child won’t feel lifted off the ground and can find their first rolling movements easily.

The wheels are quite soft to absorb shocks and bumps and provide good grip on a wide range of surfaces.

The frame is made from nylon and goes over into sturdy, rigid trucks, which gives beginners good stability. The material is durable and can take lots of abuse.

These skates are great for young girls who want to start rolling and don’t need all the features of adult skates.


#4 Roller Derby Girl’s Laser Speed Quad Skate

Roller Derby Girl’s Laser Speed Quad Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Indoor & Outdoor, Speed, Recreational, girls
  • Wheels: 4 x 54mm, polyurethane
  • Boot: Low profile, comfort fit, padded collar, heel stabilizer
  • Closure: Traditional laces, cuff strap
  • Bearings: ABEC-7
  • Toe-stop: Toe stop

The Roller Derby Laser is a girl’s speed skate that offers comfort and grip. It’s a very inexpensive yet high-quality pair of skates suitable for beginners and more advanced skaters. Their main purpose is rink skating, yet they can be used outside as well.

The low profile boot allows kids to experience the nuances of speed skating without lacking support. The comfort fit comes with a padded collar to secure the ankle, and the heel stabilizer further fixed the foot in the right position.

Proper adjustment is possible with the laces and the cuff strap. A Tru-Trac nylon plate is paired with metal trucks for good turns.

The low diameter of 54mm means children don’t have to ride very elevated above the ground, and the durometer is a good mix of speed capability and outdoor use. A toe stopper allows for safe braking.

The Roller Derby Laser speed skate enables beginners to take to the rink for the first time with comfort and confidence, while more experienced skating girls can show off their skills in style.

The boy’s version of this skate is the Roller Derby Boy’s Laser Speed Quad Skate.


#5 Roller Derby Boy’s Trac Star Adjustable Roller Skate

Roller Derby Boy’s Trac Star Adjustable Roller Skate at a Glance:

  • Best For: Indoor & Outdoor, beginners, growing kids, boys
  • Wheels: 4 x 54mm, polyurethane
  • Boot: High profile, molded hard shell, hinged cuff, washable liner
  • Closure: Two buckles
  • Bearings: 08Z Excellerator bearings
  • Toe-stop: Toe stop

The Roller Derby Trac Star adjustable roller skates prove that quad skating doesn’t have to be for girls only.

Their futuristic design in silver, red and black will definitely appeal to boys, and their features make it easy to take the first glides outside or at the rink.

The very inexpensive skate is geared towards beginners, yet it can stay with your child for a long time thanks to an easy adjustment system. With the push of a button, you can change the size.

The hard shell boot provides support with a hinged cuff and high profile. Two buckles guarantee a secure closure, and the washable liner ensures that everything inside will stay fresh.

The wheels feature a lower diameter of 54mm, so kids won’t feel high off the ground. The durometer is balanced to give good grip on concrete outside, yet the wheels are durable enough to take them to the rink as well.

A big toe stop means coming to a halt is always a safe option. The Roller Derby Trac Stars are the best boy’s roller skates. With time, they can move on to racing, hockey or rhythm skating.


Roller Skates Comparison Table

Roller Skate ForBest UseWheels H x WBearingsRating
VNLA Tuxedo Jam SkateMenIndoor, Artistic, Jam, Rhythm, Recreational62mm x 32mmABEC-9 4.6 / 5.0
Riedell R3 Demon EDM Roller Derby Speed SkatesMenRoller Derby, Speed, Jam62mm x 43mmABEC-54.0 / 5.0
Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad SkateMenRoller Derby, Speed, Recreational58mm x 40mmABEC-54.3 / 5.0
Riedell Boost Rhythm Indoor Roller SkatesMenRhythm, Dance, Recreational57mmABEC-54.4 / 5.0
Riedell Dart 2 Tone Ombre Quad Roller Speed SkateMenSpeed62mm x 43mmABEC-54.3 / 5.0
Riedell 220 Epic Artistic Roller SkatesWomenArtistic, Indoor57mm x 31mmABEC-95.0 / 5.0
Chicago Women's Leather Lined Rink SkateWomenIndoor, Recreational58mmABEC-54.1 / 5.0
Roller Derby Viper M4 Speed Quad SkateWomenRoller Derby, Speed, Recreational58mm x 40mmABEC-54.2 / 5.0
Riedell Citizen Outdoor Rhythm Roller SkatesWomenOutdoor, Recreational, Rhythm62mm x 40mmABEC-54.1 / 5.0
Riedell Skates Dart Roller SkateWomenSpeed, Indoor, Roller Derby, Recreational62mmABEC-54.5 / 5.0
Chicago Skates Adjustable Quad Roller SkatesBoys & GirlsBeginner Indoor & Outdoor 60mm608 Recreational4.6 / 5.0
Kandy Skates Delish Roller SkatesGirlsOutdoor, beginner girls age 6 and up58mmABEC-74.8 / 5.0
Roller Derby Roller Star 350 Girls Roller SkatesGirlsOutdoor, beginner girls54mmRecreational4.7 / 5.0
Roller Derby Girl's Laser Speed Quad SkateGirlsIndoor & Outdoor, recreational girls54mmABEC-74.4 / 5.0
Roller Derby Boy's Trac Star Adjustable Roller SkateBoysIndoor & Outdoor, beginner boys54mm08Z Excellerator4.5 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Roller Skates For You

Best RollerSkates

In our guide, we’ll give you an overview of different types of roller skating and important components of skates.

You’ll then know what to look for and can select a model that is right for you and your needs. The wrong combination of features can result in discomfort, sprained ankles and taking the fun out of skating.

Start by looking at whether you want to use your skates primarily indoors or outdoors, where you’ll skate and what kind of roller skating you prefer.

Type of Roller Skating

Roller skates are basically shoes mounted on a metal or plastic plate with four wheels attached, a pair of two in the front and back. Yet there are nuances and different skates fit varying activities.

Indoor: These skates are meant to be used at rinks and gyms and on indoor tracks. Designed to glide smoothly, they have hard wheels and work best on hard and even surfaces.

They are sometimes called artistic skates because they perform well when practising artistic routines. They feature high boots and often slightly more narrow wheels.

Outdoor: Softer wheels work better on concrete and surface with imperfections. Outdoor skates minimize vibration, bounce and lateral movement.

Depending on the wheels and surface, they can be used indoors, but more at indoor skate parks with ramps than at the classic rink. Soft wheels tend to wear out faster.

Jam: This form of roller skating combines aspects of gymnastics or aerobics, dance and skating. Jam skates are low-cut and light-weight for free movement.

In order to perform dips and tricks, they commonly have a “jam plug” instead of a toe stop – or no brake at all. Jam skating can look like breakdancing on skates.

Rhythm: These skates are designed for dancing and gliding to music. A high boot gives you control and ankle support. Depending on the wheels, they can be for indoor or outdoor use.

Racing: Quad skates built for speed come with a boot that resembles a close-fitting and low-cut sneaker with little padding for good control of the skate. Racing skates allow for great maneuverability and free movement and quickly gaining speed.

Derby: Roller derby is a contact sport on skates that also involves racing. These models look similar to racing skates, but have more padding to withstand bashing and bumping into others.

With modern skates, there is often no clear distinction between a racing and derby skate.

best outdoor roller skates

Size & Fit

Adults will generally choose roller skates according to their regular shoe size and use a sneaker or running shoe as a model. Skates should not fit too loosely as you’ll not be able to properly gain control.

A too tight fit will be uncomfortable and result in pressure points. For racing or rhythm skates, a close fit will increase performance and the feel for the skate. Keep in mind you can dial in the fit with the closure system.

For kids, sizing can be more difficult as they’re still growing, meaning a growth spurt could leave them in need of a new model. There is a tendency to buy skates larger to allow them to “grow into” the shoe.

However, “wiggle room” results in a loose-fitting skate – a possible cause of injuries. Skates that don’t fit properly are not fun to ride and mean your child cannot fully control them.

Wearing multiple socks means unnecessary moisture and not sufficient ankle support. To counter your child outgrowing skates too quickly, get an adjustable model that will last them longer.

Wheels

For quad roller skate wheels, both size and hardness are important. A typical wheel size is 62mm, which makes for a low and stable center of gravity, perfect for beginners.

A larger wheel allows you to travel faster but is slightly more difficult to maneuver. Smaller and more narrow wheels increase your ability to perform nimble movements and tricks.

The hardness of skate wheels is expressed in durometer. A higher number indicates a harder wheel. Soft wheels provide more grip but will wear out faster. A rating of 73A to 85A is considered soft and great for outdoor skating with good grip on uneven surfaces.

You can use them indoors if the surface is somewhat sticky, like a mat or a laminated floor. A durometer rating of 85A to 103A is considered a hard wheel primarily for indoor skating.

They perform well on hard, slippery and even surfaces. On an extremely smooth surface, they can be used outdoors. Indoor wheels should rarely be used outdoors.

Inversely, the effect of an outdoor wheel indoors will be too much grip, slowing you down.

Boot

Roller skates come with high or low boots or shoes. A higher boot will give you more control, similar to an ice skate or high inline skate boot. They will also support your ankles better.

A lot profile skate shoe can be found on recreational models as well as racing and roller derby models, as give you more freedom of movement. Competitions might require a certain profile.

Hard boots can take more of a beating and are great for beginners and kids, because they’re more durable. Soft skates are more flexible and less resistant to abrasion and damage.

They can be quite comfortable, but might offer less support, especially for the ankle.

best roller skates for beginners

Liner

A liner provides comfort through padding and some support in the form of a footbed. Quad roller skate liners tend to be more minimal than those of inline skates.

Closure

Most roller skates are lace-up models. Low-profile shoes lace similar to sneakers and tennis shoes, while the lacing on higher shoes and artistic skates follows the example of ice skates.

High-performance models with a low profile shoe such as racing or derby skates typically feature a cuff strap for further tightening and support.

Bearings

Skate wheels have bearings at their center, which influence how smooth your rides are and how much speed you can gain. They’re rated on the ABEC scale (Annual Bearing Engineers’ Committee).

A higher number signifies a more sophisticated, smoother bearing, but also means it is less resistant to dirt, dust or water entering. For most skaters, rating of ABEC 5 to ABEC 7 is sufficient.

roller skate bearings

Toe Stop

Unlike inline skates, quad roller skates feature the brake at the front. More advanced models come with an adjustable brake that allows you to fine-tune the braking to your needs.

Jam skates and some Rhythm skates feature a so-called “jam plug” instead, which is a round knob. These can be used to perform tricks and the absence of a brake increase maneuverability. You can swap the jam plug for a regular toe stop.

For Kids

best roller skates for kids

Adjustable skates are great for kids because they can accommodate growth spurts and will last them longer. A harder boot will make it easier for kids to learn skating as they’ll have better support.

Kids commonly just skate for fun, so the type of skate is less important as long as it fits, they can ride it well and like the model.

However, if your child expresses the wish to figure skating or roller dancing, an artistic, indoor or rhythm skate is best, with a high boot and wheels fit for the respective surface.

FAQs About Roller Skates

Q: What’s the difference between roller skates and inline skates?

A: Roller skates commonly have a wheel configuration like a car, two parallel wheels in the front and back of the shoe. They are also called quad rollers or quad roller skates.

As the name indicates, inline skates feature a line of wheels of three, four or even five wheels. Their wheels are much more narrow than those of traditional roller skates, giving you less surface area to ride on.

The feeling of riding on inline skates is closer to riding ice skates.

Inline skating is also referred to as rollerblading – for two reasons: the line of wheels is like a blade (again, like that of an ice skate), and the company Rollerblade was the most popular manufacturer for a long time, making the term rollerblades synonymous with inline skates.

Q: Why should I start roller skating instead of inline skating?

A: Much like inline skates, roller skates come in different variations for indoor or outdoor use as well as for racing, derby or hockey.

Roller skates provide a wide wheelbase due to the design with two wide wheels in parallel, making it easier to stand or lean to the sides a bit. However, the wheelbase of inline skates is longer, making front and back balance easier.

The beginner techniques for both skate types are nearly identical. Both require balance, strength and stamina.

Nowadays, some people view roller skates as more retro, associated with aerobics, dance and skating rinks, while inline skates have a more hightech and aggressive image.

You can perform tricks and stunts in both of them, and ultimately it comes down to your preference.

Q: What size should I get?

A: It’s important to get the right size and achieve a good fit and support and avoid discomfort. Look for sizing tables and recommendations from the individual manufacturers, but as a general rule, adults should base their choice on their current shoe size for regular, casual shoes.

For children, the right fit is equally important, yet once they have outgrown a pair, they’ll need new skates. Adjustable models can grow with children’s feet.

Any new pair will initially take some time to break in and adapt to your foot. Once they’re worn in, roller skates will be more comfortable and supportive.

Q: Where can I skate with roller skates?

A: Roller skates come for indoor and outdoor use, or both, and all you need is basically a large, flat and smooth area.

Watch out for areas that prohibit skating, and don’t put yourself or your kids into harm’s way in terms of traffic – parking lots are not a safe bet.

Some curling clubs and ice skating rinks convert into roller skating rinks in the summer months, and there are dedicated roller skating rinks, of course. Check the Roller Skating Association to see what’s available in your area.

Q: Do I require additional gear?

A: Safety is important! Protect your head with a helmet and wear protectors or special gloves on your hands. There is also protective gear for your elbow and knees, and of course plenty of safety gear for kids allows your children to skate safely.

For transporting your skates, an affordable quality bag like the Epic Skate Bag or the Athletico Skate Bag protects your rollers.

Best Brands of Roller Skates

best roller skate brandsRoller skates have been around for over 100 years! So you can imagine may manufactures of roller skates have come and gone. The few that are left are making some very good roller skates. Here are my favorites:

Chicago Skates: Founded by the Ware brother in 1905! They have since been bought out by National Sporting Goods but still retain the name and the quality.

Riedell: Maker of quite a wide variety of outdoor sporting goods. Their roller skates are some of the best around!

Roller Derby: With a name like Roller Derby you better make some good skates and they do! Best known for making value skates at very reasonable prices.

Conclusion

Let the type of skating you want to do guide your decision. Think about if you’ll be skating outdoors or indoors, and if you want to specialize with rhythm skates or speed skates, for example.

Pick something that suits your skills, yet allows you to improve. For children, safety and comfort are important. We hope our guide will be useful in getting a pair of roller skate that will keep you satisfied for a long time, regardless of your skating style.

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Rich Remick

I work part time as an IT security consultant. Luckily I can work from anywhere so I go back and forth between Colorado and Florida. I get my fix of skiing, hiking and camping in Colorado in the Dillion area, and when I am in Florida you can usually find me on the water either paddleboarding or kayaking. My recent passion is scuba diving, I got certified a few years ago and "get wet" as frequently as I can.

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