It is no secret that over the years the price of ice hockey skates has steadily risen. Now they are investments, meant to last for years. So, as a new skate buyer, what can you do to ensure you get the most life out of your skates as possible?
This article will go over the process, from start to finish, on how to achieve just that!
After purchasing a brand-new pair of skates, it is recommended that you get your skates baked, or in other words, heat moulded. However, it is important to note which skates can and cannot be baked. All skates can physically be heat moulded, although due to the inner liner and materials of mid to high end skates, they will react much better than lower-end skates when it comes to break-in periods and fit. Baking low-end skates can have the opposite effect. Due to lower-end skates not having the same quality materials in the interior of the boot, baking them can cause them to break down a lot faster and decrease the support within the skate. We dont recommend this - but if you do wish to have them done It is recommended that this process be completed by trained Power Play Sport staff member.
Baking skates is a common process that helps to break the skates in faster, meaning less time to get rid of that rough “new skate feel.” This process also allows for the inner liner of the skate to better form to your exact foot shape, thus eliminating any negative space within the boot and maximising your energy transfer in each stride.
After determining whether you want to proceed with the baking process, the Power Play Sport staff member will then take your skates and place them into our “oven” and let them sit in there for right around three minutes ( depending on the brand - True custom skates go in for up to 15 minutes ) Following this, you will immediately put the skates on your feet, quickly but carefully lace them up, and sit stationary for seven minutes. Around the seven-minute mark. After the process is complete, it is recommended that you wait a full 24 hours before skating in them.
Following the heat moulding process, if you still have any type of pain in your feet while wearing your skates, it could mean that the fit of the skate does not match with the shape of your foot. Certain skate models have a narrower fit while some have a wider fit, so when shopping for skates it is important to talk to one of the specialists at our Power Play Sports store to determine which model will be your best option. Bauer’s 3D foot scanner is also a great tool to help point you in the right direction. Another viable option if you still have minor pain would be to rebake the skates or possibly look at "after market" innersoles like Superfeet. Although, if you choose to rebake the skates, it is recommended that you only do it that one other time. Doing it more than two times could negatively affect the integrity of the boot, thus decreasing longevity.
Once your skates have been heat moulded, the next order of business would be to get your blades sharpened.
When you arrive at our store to get your skates sharpened, our next question will almost always be, “What do you want them cut at?” But, what exactly does this mean? This essentially means what do you want the radius of the hollow cut. The sharpening process consists of a hollow groove that is cut in the middle of the bottom of the blade, thus forming the two edges on each side. Typically cuts range from 1 inch to 3/8’s of an inch, with each one having their own pros and cons. If you get them cut at a 1-inch radius (very flat hollow) it will increase top end speed and glide and cause less fatigue, but it will also negatively affect your ability to turn and stop on a dime. The opposite end of the spectrum, a 3/8ths inch cut, will give you the ability to make quick turns and accelerate faster, but since your edges are digging deeper into the ice, you lose out on a little bit of speed and glide. It is all a matter of your play style and preferences.
Frequency of blade sharpening is up to player preference and how often you are on the ice. Some players might want them sharpened after every game, but other players might get them sharpened once every three months. A general rule of thumb is every 12 hours of use. Certain instances, though, can cause you to need a sharpen to make them skateable again. For example, you will want to avoid surfaces like concrete and metal drains in locker rooms. These types of surfaces will knick the blade, giving you an unbalanced skating surface. Occasionally, during play, your skate blades will get nicked due to things like the boards, goal posts or other skates. If this is the case, you can pick up a handy tool such as the A&R Re-Edger, which will help eliminate any small blemishes on the blade, although this will not suffice as a “regular” sharpening. Blade quality will also play a factor into how often you need to get them sharpened. Aftermarket steel such as Step Steel is constructed of harder materials and feature an outer coating on the blade to increase longevity.
If you are not on a schedule, the common way to tell if your blades need to be sharpened is the age-old “fingernail” test. For this test, you will want to lightly run your fingernail across the edge of the blade. If your nail does not get “caught” on it, and runs easily across it, that means your blades could use a sharpening. Another simple way to check would be to simply just run your finger along the top of the blade very lightly. If you do not feel an edge, and feel nicks or rounded areas, then that is another indication that your blades need sharpened. Be extra careful any time you make contact with your fingers against the steel runners.
More information can be found in our Skate Sharpening 101 gear guide.
Following the sharpening, you will probably want to relace the skates to your preference with either the same laces or with a different pair. There are two different options you can go with when choosing laces: waxed laces or non-waxed laces. Both have their pros and cons.
Waxed laces have a better tendency to stay tight after being tied and tend to last longer, as well. They are easier to grip and tie, giving you a more controlled feel in specific areas. On top of that, they feature fused tips, meaning they won’t fray and become difficult to get through eyelets. On the downside, they can sometimes be hard to untie, can be uncomfortable to the touch, and get stiff in the cold, giving them the potential to snap.
Some advantages of non-waxed laces are they are inexpensive and soft to the touch. Disadvantages include being harder to get tight and stay tight, they are not as durable, don’t have fused tips and fray after a while, and are susceptible to water soak.
You can find more info on skate laces in our Should i get waxed or unwaxed laces guide.
After determining what type of laces you want to go with, you will want to determine the best way to lace up your skates. There are various methods, but the most common are the inside criss cross and the outside criss cross.
To find out more info check out our post 5 Tips to help you lace up your skates.
What kind of skate socks to wear may not seem like the most important gear decision you’ll make, but getting the right skate sock can affect your comfort level and the feel of your foot inside your skate. It’s not a straightforward choice. Some hockey players simply wear whatever socks they wear for everything else; others buy special socks that are super thin or extra thick; still others wear no socks at all.
For a more in depth look at skate socks check out our post What socks should i wear with my hockey skates?.
After finishing up a skating session, you will want to do more than simply just throw your expensive skates in your equipment bag and be on your way. Treating them properly is essential if you want to get the most longevity out of them.
To start, one thing that you will always want to do is remove them (along with all other equipment) from your hockey bag and let them air dry. This will help air circulate around them and help them dry faster. You can also use a few sprays of deodoriserin each one before going on your way. This spray helps to eliminate odours, keeping your skates fresher, longer. Another helpful tip is to remove the footbeds from the skates. Not only will this give them a chance to air dry, but it will also eliminate the chance of any rust forming on the tops of the rivets that attach the holder onto the bottom of the skate. Lastly, when removing your skates from your bag and letting them air dry, be sure that the area they are in is not too hot and humid. Storing them in areas like this will cause the drying process to significantly slow down or even stop. If this is unavoidable, it is recommended to use a blow dryer, on a cool setting, to help speed up the drying process.
Not only are the skates themselves important, but the blades on them are just as important! After getting off the ice and removing your skates, you will want to use a pair of skate guards or soakers. Firstly wipe off your blades, ridding them of any remaining ice. This prevents against any rust from forming. From there, I like to let the skates lie on top of the blade soakers while I get the rest of my gear off, giving the blades the time to air dry. After this is when I put on my blade soakers.
At some point in your hockey playing career, you will unavoidably need a new pair of hockey skates. So how do you know when that time has come? While there is not a set number of hours you should skate in them before it is recommended to get a new pair, there are a few clear signs that will help you determine if you need to purchase a new pair.
Typically, it all comes down to how often you skate and the level of competition in which you are participating. Casual, rec league players might go decades with the same pair of skates, while players playing competitive hockey will only go one season. The obvious factor is how they look and feel. All skates, regardless of if they are entry level or pro level, should have some level of stiffness to them. You do not want the boot to bend or change shape much while skating. If the boot feels “flexible,” then it might be time for a new pair. The other indicator is how they look. While they will inevitably get scuffed up over time, if you have pieces of the sides of the boots ripping off, or holes anywhere on the skate, that is another key sign that you might need a new pair.
Some people might stick with the same pair for years because they love how they feel and fit, but disregarding both aforementioned issues can result in declined skating ability and protection.
Buying a new pair of hockey skates can be a little bit overwhelming, regardless of age or experience. There are multiple different processes you must complete in order to get them exactly how you like: baking them, determining how you want them sharpened, choosing the type of laces you want, and so on. While there is not one perfect pair for everyone, throughout this guide, our goal was to give you as much information as possible to aid you in the skate buying process. After reading through, and after getting your skates how you like, you are now ready to get out there on the ice and score some goals!