The 6 Best Skates For Beginners (Hockey, Figure, and Recreational Skaters)

Once winter rolls around, nothing beats picking up a pair of skates and getting out to your local rink.  Whether you are playing hockey, figure skating, or just learning and need a pair of general purpose skates, strapping some skates on and going for a skate is and always will be a winter tradition.  So you are now ready to buy your first set of skates, but what should you look for?  Based on your needs and where you want to go with skating will change what you should be looking for in a skate!  Read on below for our in depth breakdown of the best hockey skates, figure skates, and recreational skates for beginners.

We will go through what you should be looking for in your skates, how much to spend, pros and cons of each pair, and overall value to you as a first time skate buyer.  We have our top three picks just below, and in depth reviews below!

Our Recommendations

Best Beginner Recreational Skate

A comfortable and warm liner with easy to adjust straps and a hockey style blade – this is an economic all-rounder!

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Top Hockey Choice

A great all around skate for someone new to skating or hockey, with a microfiber liner for comfort and a 90 day satisfaction guarantee!

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Best Beginner Figure Skate

Hook laces, a comfortable lining, and a great set of blades – if you are looking to get into figure skating this is an excellent choice!

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How We Did Our Research

Buying a pair of ice skates online can be a bit of a scary thought – Will they fit?  Will they be comfortable?  Will they last?  We searched high and low to bring you picks that we think will hit all of those demands and won’t leave you regretting your decision!

Spending over three decades on the ice helps us at Going Bar Down spot a high quality pair of skates.  We also took into account user reviews and price point to determine which skates are worth your hard earned money!

Read on to see what skate will be best to start your skating journey, as well as some common questions answered!

What To Look For In Your First Pair Of Skates

What Are The Different Types Of Skates?

There are four main types of skates and they are as follows – 

Hockey Skates –
Developed for the game of hockey but also very good for recreational skating.  Shorter length blades, light weight boots made with hard plastic or carbon fiber to deal with blows from sticks and pucks.  Higher end models will have advanced sweat resistant and form fitting liners and footbeds, along with carbon coated blades.  The boot also goes past the ankle for ankle protection from blows and sprains.

Figure Skates –
Typically a leather boot, a longer blade with a toe pick on the front and a flat long blade out back for gliding.  The boot is taller to help prevent ankle sprains.

Speed Skates –
Very long blades to allow for maximum glide and power transfer for every stride.  Boots are typically very small and compact and look much more similar to a pair of running shoes compared to the boot style of Hockey and Figure skates.

Recreational Skates –
These are skates designed specifically for comfort and to go for leisurely skates on the lake or in a rink.  Some have adjustable straps for sizing.  Typically made out of plastic and fabric to make them more inexpensive while still being comfortable

How Much Should You Spend On Your First Pair Of Skates?

As with anything in life, you get what you pay for.  This is why we do not always recommend the cheapest skate out there.  In general you should be expecting to pay at least $50 dollars for a skate and if you are dedicated and want a pair that will last, $100-$200 dollars should get you a higher end set of beginner skates.  Top end figure skates and hockey skates can reach $1000 dollars so don’t worry, you are still being pretty thrifty!

How Are Ice Skates Sized?

Hockey skates are (for the most part) 2 sizes smaller than your shoe size.  For figure skates, you will generally find a sizing guide with the skate’s online listing to help you measure your foot and size it properly.  Recreational children’s skates typically have a size range.  This allows for you to tighten the skate to the foot with whatever the tightening system is, and makes sure the kid doesn’t outgrow the skates in a matter of months!

What Type Of Skates Are Easiest To Learn On?

Generally hockey skates are easier to learn on as they do not have a pick on the front like figure skates do.  Recreational skates tend to have hockey style blades that extend further out than hockey skates in order to make balancing easier.  So we would rank them from easiest to hardest – Recreational Skates, Hockey Skates, Figure Skates.

How Old Should A Child Be To Learn To Skate?

There is really no perfect age to learn, but a child should be able to walk before learning to skate.  As soon as the child can walk and shows an interest in skating, get them on out there!  Just make sure they are wearing some nice puffy winter gear, gloves, and a helmet in case they take a spill!

Want to know what we think the Top Best Performing Hockey Skates are?  Click here to see our reviews!

CCM Ribcor 74k - Best Hockey Skate For Beginners

Specifications and Features:

  • MicroFiber Liner –  A brushed microfiber liner for an amazingly smooth feeling and comfortable fit
  • High Profile Boot – CCM’s Ribcor lineup has the largest boot volume so you don’t have to worry about getting your foot pinched by an anatomic fit
  • 90 Day Satisfaction Guarantee – A really attractive part of these skates, if you don’t like them, you aren’t stuck with them!
  • Great Price Point – No, these aren’t 50 dollar skates you will find at Wal-Mart, but for the price you are getting a skate you can afford and still perform while playing!

Pros – CCM’s most comfortable skate lineup, Advanced features while maintaining a low price point, Stainless Steel blades that will hold an edge very well

Cons – Not many cons with this pair, but it is on the higher end of pricing for skates recommended in this article.  It is still a great value skate and will perform!

BOTTOM LINE:

CCM’s Ribcor lineup is well known for being the most comfortable CCM skate line.  If you are familiar with Reebok it is interesting to know that the Ribcor line once offered the famous Reebok pump system!  Over time they have refined their fit and materials however and the pump is no longer needed to really lock your foot in.  This is a great skate to buy and take up the sport of hockey with! 


Bauer Vapor X2.7 - Best Youth Hockey Skate For Brand New Players

Specifications and Features:

  • Memory Foam Padding – The X2.7 has super soft memory foam padding in key rub locations to ensure your child does not get blisters!
  • Microfiber Lining – Although this seems to be standard nowadays, it can’t be understated how much more comfortable these style of liners make skates!
  • Great Price Point – No one wants to be buying top of the line skates over and over as children outgrow them.  This skate has a great price point that won’t hammer your wallet

Pros – Great price point, Very comfortable, High quality, This skate will last longer than your childs feet will fit in it I can guarantee that!

Cons – If your child has very wide or flat feet for his size / age the boot may be a bit too narrow

BOTTOM LINE:

Buying skates for up and coming hockey players can be tricky.  You don’t want to spend a ton of money knowing they will outgrow them, but at the same time you don’t want to buy them a low performing skate that will hut their feet or weigh them down.  The Vapor X2.7 helps find the best of both worlds by utilizing some Bauer tech borrowed from more expensive skates while typically staying in the 2 digit price range!  If you need a skate for your new little hockey player, measure their feet up and grab a pair with confidence!


Lake Placid Summit Boys Skate - Best Recreational Skate For Beginners

Specifications and Features:

  • Warm Liner – If you are getting a skate strictly for fun family skates and outdoor lakes, Having a warm liner is imperative 
  • Locking Buckle w/ Power Strap – Multiple tightening options to ensure a snug yet comfortable fit
  • Adjustable Sizing Button – One really great feature meaning your child will not outgrow these after one year!
  • Large Hockey Style Blade –  Longer blade with hockey style dimensions to allow for better stability and easy turning
Photo of the Lake Placid Ice skate

Pros – Great fitment thanks to straps, buckles, and laces all in one, Adjustable sizing for growing feet, Warm boot for winter time comfort

Cons – This skate will be quite a bit heavier than hockey skates, Warm liner will absorb sweat and will get wet over time compared to moisture wicking materials found in hockey skates

BOTTOM LINE:

Want to get the family out on the ice but not ready to commit to a certain sport?  The Lake Placid Summit skate is a great option.  Coming in at a great price point, this skate has received shining reviews on Amazon to date.  Get your little skater going with this adjustable and affordable skate!

Want to see what a completely custom top of the line hockey skate looks like?  Check out our True Pro Customs Skates article here!

Jackson Ultima Excel Figure Skate - Best Figure Skate For Beginners

Specifications and Features:

  • Microfiber Liner – Built for comfort and moisture wicking
  • Foam Backed Comfort Tongue – a 48 oz tongue made of HD foam and polyethelene plastic help take impacts from shots and prevent lace bite
  • PVC Outsole – This boot outsole is made of plastic and is extremely durable
  • Great Price Point – As with most beginner skates, you don’t want to be spending an arm and a leg!  The Jackson Ultima Excel comes in at a very affordable price 

Pros – Microfiber liner and Foam backed tongue create a very comfortable package, Outsole and boot are very durable, Great value price point

Cons – No form fitting footbed, PVC boot takes longer to break in but the microfiber lining helps reduce the discomfort of breaking in

BOTTOM LINE:

If you are leaning towards learning to figure skate, the Jackson Ultima Excel offers a great option for children and adults alike to get into it without spending an arm and a leg.  They offer sizing all the way from Toddler to Adult, and a sizing guide on their product page so no matter your or your child’s age you should be able to find a boot that fits!

Bauer Lil Champ Ice Hockey Skates - Best Skate For Toddlers and Small Children

Specifications and Features:

  • Soft Liner – The top priority for any young child (after safety) should be comfort – Bauer put a great soft liner in to ensure your kid loves slipping these on!
  • Adjustable Strap – A convenient adjustable strap to make sure you childs foot is locked down and ready to go!
  • Extra Room – Each skate covers two different sizes so your child can likely use them for a couple seasons
  • Great Reviews – The Lil’ Champ (Blue) and Lil’ Angel (Pink) have great reviews online giving us the confidence to recommend these for your child! 

Pros – Wonderful Colors, Comfortable boot with adjustable fit, Fantastic price point, Warm boot to ensure no cold toes!

Cons – These skates won’t be suitable for children once they start to play competitive hockey, we would suggest upgrading to hockey specific skates such as our recommendation above, the Vapor X2.7’s

BOTTOM LINE:

Looking to buy a pair of skates for your toddler our young child that they will be excited about strapping on every time?  Look no further!  The Bauer Lil Champ and Lil Angel skates look great, will keep your childs foot warm and comfortable, and have a great adjustable strap to keep them locked in.  The price is excellent as well and is a very affordable entry into the world of skating!

Curious what we think are the Top Inline Hockey Skates are? Check out our article to find out!

Bauer RS Inline Hockey Skate - Best Adult Inline Hockey Skates For Beginners

Specifications and Features:

  • Microfiber Liner – You’ve seen it on other skates and you see it here, a staple to improve foot comfort
  • Flexible Quarter Package – The quarter package is the back part of the skate, and having one be too stiff can cause foot cramps and a hard break in period – The RS has a softer Quarter package
  • Anaform Ankle Padding – Anaform is a type of foam that is soft and supportive, providing extra comfort in the boot

Pros – Flexible boot for fantastic comfort while skating, Anaform Padding and Micorfiber liner great fantastic in boot comfort, Good protection from pucks from boot, HI-LO wheels and steel wheel chassis are high quality

Cons – Not heat moldable like higher tier skates

BOTTOM LINE:

The Bauer RS inline hockey skates are Bauer’s lowest level model (meaning affordable!) so it lacks some of the high tech features other models have, but what it delivers is a comfortable and reliable skate that can be skated on for a few seasons without any concerns!  This is a fantastic budget option that offers tons of value.

Conclusion

Learning to skate can be fun and challenging, but is ruined if your skates don’t fit and cause pain or give you blisters.  We hope the choices we provided help you make an informed decision on your first pair of skates.  Happy skating!