What Inline Skate boots are best for me?
There are many different types of Inline skates for a multiple disciplines like Speed, Skatepark and Slalom Skating for example. All of these disciplines need a different type of skate to perform the way they should. As you can imagine, skates build for a skatepark will be robust whilst a skate designed for speed would be as light as possible. Here we will go into great detail about which upper boots are best for what and the key differences between them.
What are Soft Boot Inline Skates?
Soft boots are most common on recreational skates designed for easy cruising in the park on on the beach front. These skates are normally cheaper and a good option for someone who is considering getting into Inline Skating to see if the sport is for them or not. These are also a great option for kids as they are super comfortable, easy to put on and can have a simple adjustable system allowing them to change sizes with your kids feet.
The Soft boots are designed like a trainer which makes them very comfortable straight out of the box unlike most other Inline Skates. This is very beneficial for those who are trying skating for the first time as the break in pain from other types of skates could put some people off getting their skates on. It would be great to know you like the sport before going through some discomfort.
These boots will allow your foot to breathe as they usually come with a nice breathable material on top like most sport trainers but there will certainly be brands that offer better quality materials than others. We recommend the K2 and Rollerblade recreational skates to most of our customers due to both companies having many years of experience when it comes to producing skates and due to the high quality materials they use.
Soft boots have their downslides when it comes to using them for anything other than going for a casual skate. The soft material allows your foot to move around a little above your wheels causing you to have less power transfer in your pushes and also less control when trying skills. On some of the cheaper models, lot’s of beginner struggle with something called pronation where the skates bend inwards on to their inside edge and this can make it extremely difficult to learn how to jump, go backwards or perform turns. Sometimes you can even see peoples toes pointing out the side of the boot due to them being soft and malleable.
Soft boots usually come up true to size (depending on the brand) and expand the same way a shoe would over time so if they are a little tight brand new then you probably have the correct size.
These Boots usually come with non removable parts. This helps to keep the price down but can be a problem if a buckle, strap or cuff breaks. You could do some DIY to fix it yourself but other types of boots will have replaceable parts to make this process much easier.
Some of the recreational skates come with cool lacing systems to help get your skate on and off quickly. K2 is famous for having a pull strap system and the almighty BOA Strap. BOA is a company that makes lacing systems for Ski/Snowboard boots and more. The system allows you to simply twist a knob and just like that, your skates are tight. These are featured on some of the kids skates too which comes in very handy for young children who cannot tie their own laces yet.
What are Plastic Shelled Inline Skates?
Plastic boots are a huge upgrade up from soft boots and have many benefits. They come in many different shapes and sizes for different disciplines of Inline Skating and most of them have removable liners inside which can be replaced.
There are many different styles of plastic boots. We have aggressive skates which are strong and have soleplates attached to allow for grind tricks. These are a great choice for high impact aggressive skating on the streets and in the skatepark. Then we have the urban freeskates which are very similar to the aggressive skates but without the soleplates at the bottom. These are still strong but have less wait making street skating easier along with making them lighter to help with jumping and slalom skating.
Most brands will include metal mounting plates at the bottom where the frames attach to the skate to make the skate not only stronger but to give you better power transfer between your feet and the wheels.
Another difference between the freeskates and the aggressive skates is that most free skates will have a 165mm or Trinity frame mounting system at the bottom only allowing for frames that are raised at the back whereas aggressive skates will have the Universal Frame System(UFS) allowing for frames that are completely flat on the top. UFS plastic boots can be great for Wizard Skating as your heel will be lowered to allow you to control those wizard movements better.
Plastic boots are much more responsive than soft boots as the plastic holds your foot in nice and tight. This can depend on which liner you have inside as thicker liners will be more padded but will allow your foot to move a little inside whereas thinner liners will be more responsive and will keep your foot nice and still inside assuming you get the sizing correct.
Plastic shells typically come in two sizes allowing people to get 2, sometimes 3, different sized liners in one boot size. These boots typically have a break in period where they will be super tight until the liner gives way but after that they become super comfortable. Some skaters can have them on for 10 hours straight with no issues. There are a few companies that use heat mouldable liners which can be placed in the oven to expand them before strapping them up to let them shrink down to the shape of your foot.
Just about everything that is attached to a plastic boot will be removable and replaceable in most case. There are a few exception of course where some boots will have cuffs and frames that are riveted on. It is not impossible to remove these but it is certainly not as easy as removing a screw like most plastic boots. Some boots even have adjustable parts like cuffs and buckles that can be moved to fit you better and to enhance your skating. They usually have replaceable sliders on the side of the boot that will take the most impacts when falling over which is very handy. It is very easy to customise a plastic shell boot to make it perfect for you which will be another reason for them being so popular.
Soft/Plastic Hybrid Boots
What are Soft/Plastic Hybrid Inline Skates?
For someone who seeks great comfort and less pressure on their feet yet who likes to have good power transfer and and replaceable parts maybe Soft/Plastic Hybrid skates are the answer for you. These boots have an open plastic shell around your foot with nothing on the top except the soft material. These skates are great for cruising through the streets or in the park.
Due to the skates not having plastic on the top of your foot, this allows your foot to have less pressure on the top and will also allow it to breathe easier. All in all the skate should feel as comfortable as a soft boot but perform a little more like a plastic boot.
Soft/Plastic Hybrids usually come up true to size (depending on the brand) If they have no liner inside then the soft material will expand a little over time but the plastic will still hold your foot in nice and tight around the bottom. With a liner they will expand more and react in a similar way the plastic boot liners do. They will start really snug then expand to allow for your foot shape.
Another upgrade from the soft boots is that these skates usually have removable buckles, straps and liners which can all be replaced. The skates most commonly have a 165mm or Trinity Mounting system but there are one or 2 examples of UFS aggressive skates with this hybrid technology.
What are Carbon Inline Skates?
Carbon Fibre is used on inline skates as it is an extremely strong yet light material. These skates are usually used by those who compete in skating competitions or those who are just looking to unlock their full potential with some disciplines of skating. They are extremely popular in Speed, Jumping, Sliding and Slalom skating due to their weight and how responsive they can be. There are examples of carbon aggressive skates that are still robust yet lighter than the plastic alternatives.
Carbon skates are designed to make the user feel like they have wheel attached to their own feet. The space between your foot and the edge of the skate and also the space between your foot and the frames is minimum to achieve as much responsiveness as possible. Your feet should be locked in so tight that they virtually don’t move at all causing you to have the best power transfer possible. This could save you seconds in a race or help you control a slalom or slide skill with much more precision.
Carbon boots do not stretch too much like soft boots or plastic skates with liners inside but they will still expand slightly. Some Carbon models will have lots of padding inside so the padding will get thinner over time but the boot itself won’t change shape due to carbon fibre being so sturdy. There are some models that are heat mouldable to help with the fitting process. You ca place the whole skate in the oven and expand it, strap them on afterwards and sit with them on until they shrink down to the shape of your foot. This can removed any unwanted pressure points.
The components on carbon skates are usually removable and replaceable. As these skates are typically used by athletes they can come with adjustable parts to adjust to the users needs like movable cuffs and buckles.
The skates we have mentioned above can come with different frame mounting systems. We have Universal Frame System(UFS), 165mm, 195mm and Trinity Mount. Most soft boots will come with non removable frames and will not have a mounting system but almost all plastic and carbon skates will have a mountain system.
Universal Frame System (UFS)
The UFS system was the first system to allow skaters to remove frames and replace them with another to allow more customisation for the user. This happened over two decades ago. This is most commonly found on aggressive skates as this system doesn't allow the frames to move in any direction which allows the user to smash the frames against the ledges and rails they are skating without worry of their frame moving from their correct position.
165mm mounts are probably the most common nowadays, being used on most speed, slalom, slide and urban skates. This mount will come in different forms. Some cheaper plastic models will come with a metal thread imbedded in the plastic where the bolts will go to hold the frame on whereas better quality skates will come with 2 plates of metal under your foot with multiple threads. The metal allows for better power transfer when skating and the multiple threads lets the user place their frame in different positions and facing different directions when needed.
195mm mounts are not so common. They came into the skating world when bigger sized wheels like 100mm and 110mm became more popular with speed skaters who were in the racing industry. Having a further distance between the two mounting points helps reduce the centre of gravity in the frames resulting in a more effective platform to skate on with the bigger wheel sizes.
The trinity mounting system was brought to us by Powerslide who’s mission was to have a frame system where the user could be as close to the ground as possible. Removing the front bolt allowed the wheels to get closer to your foot. They replaced this with 2 bolts either side of the frame.