The Ultimate Guide to Best Hockey Skates

Best Hockey Skates Review 2017 – Junior and Senior

High-performance hockey demands high-performance hockey skates. Purchasing a quality pair of ice skates is a necessary part of reaching your competitive peak. When looking for an ice skate, each skater should take into three essential aspects: user skating style, skating performance level, and foot shape.

My name’s Dan Edwards, former pro player and coach of over 20 years, in today’s guide I’m gonna share with you some of the top picks for hockey players of all shapes/sizes and skill levels.

I do realize this is a long review, so if you want the expedited version just scroll down to my top picks or see my top brands on Amazon.

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Men’s Hockey Sizing Chart

BrandModel StanceInstepHeel FitMidfootToebox
Bauer VaporAggressive Slightly shallow Slightly narrow RegularRegular
Bauer Supreme Traditional RegularSnugSnug Slightly wide
Bauer Nexus Traditional Slightly deep RegularVery wide Very wide
Reebok Traditional Slightly deep RegularRegularSlightly Wide
Easton Mako AggressiveRegularRegularRegularSlightly Wide
Easton Stealth Slightly Aggressive Slightly Shallow RegularSlightly NarrowSlightly Narrow

Width and depth are the two most critical aspects when deciding which skates to use. When buying, you will see sizes that have D or R representing standard width boot. Sizes E, EE, or W represent a wide boot. Additionally, for narrow fits sizes will show C.

If you haven’t had issues buying athletic footwear, you will likely be using D or R width skates. If regular shoes don’t work for you or if you find them uncomfortable you should choose E, EE, or W width skates.

Because each player is different, trying on different skates is crucial to finding the desired fit. Visiting a store to try on multiple pairs of boots is recommended. When buying a first pair of boots, buying online is a bad idea. Online retailers often have difficult return policies and the customer will have to take time to return the package through the mail. A retail store will almost always allow users return or exchange a pair of skates that has not been used.

An experienced hockey player may be able to buy online if they are familiar with their foot type and the fit differences between brands and manufacturers. Other than that, it may be dangerous for your wallet to buy skates online.

What I Look For

  • Lightweight materials to give maximum agility and speed
  • Durable boots and holder/runners
  • Thermo-formable foam padding- many high-performance skates can be baked, giving a customized fit
  • Stiffer boots for increased ankle support
  • Increased padding and protection to prevent injury especially with bones and tissue

Ice Hockey Skate Sizing

For some reason when shopping for bowling shoes, hockey skates or other athletic footwear, there isn’t one universal sizing system. As a general rule, a properly fitting pair of hockey skates run 1-1.5 sizes smaller than your normal street shoe though some run true to shoe size. For children, you should allow about ½ size for the growing feet.

A skate that is too small can cause serious damage to your feet. Shoes that are too tight can cause injuries to the tendons or bones in your feet. A shoe that is too big can cause blisters and ankle injuries.

When putting on hockey skates, your toes should barely touch the toe cap. On the back end, there shouldn’t be more than a quarter inch of space in the heel. After lacing up, your foot should be flat on the footbed and securely snug.

Hockey skate sizing age groups fall into three categories:

  1. Youth– ages 9 years old and below with shoe sizes below a boys’ 1.5.
  2. Junior– ages 8-12 with shoe sizes between boys’ 2.0-6.5.
  3. Senior– ages 13 and up with shoes sizes Men’s 7.0 and above.’

 

For comprehensive info checkout CCM’s awesome guide to sizing.

CCM guide to men's hockey size chart

Best Hockey Skate Brands

Bauer is the top hockey supplier currently. They provide everything from skates to goalie gear to hockey sticks. They even allow customers to customize their own gear. Bauer is well represented in the National Hockey League (NHL) and among amateur skaters. They have been in business for over 80 years.

Bauer offers two primary models for recreational skating. The Supreme and Nexus lines provide quality skates for beginners to improve their skills. A step up is the Vapor series. Vapor shoes seek to provide competitive and experienced skaters with more precise, high-performance experience.

Other quality skating companies include CCM Hockey, Easton, and Graf. Here are my top picks:

Product DescriptionUsers ScoreOverall Score
Bauer Senior Vapor X300

Bauer Senior Vapor X300

Representing the best value for money the Bauer Senior Skates come in at around only a hundred dollars which is ...

User Rating: 2.57 (7 votes)
2 Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates

Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates

The Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates are a pair of high quality, high-performance ice skates. These skates are the best ...

User Rating: 3.08 (2 votes)
3 Bauer Vapor APX2

Bauer Vapor APX2

These high-performance skates are designed to provide the quality and skill necessary for high intensity, ...

User Rating: 3.47 (3 votes)
4 CCM Ultra Tacks

CCM Ultra Tacks

The CCM Ultra Tacks ice skate is a pair of shoes designed to deliver comfort, power performance, and style. Made by the ...

User Rating: 3.07 (3 votes)
5 Bauer Supreme 190

Bauer Supreme 190

The Bauer Supreme 190 ice skates are a part of Bauer’s high performance, competitive ice skating line. The 190s are ...

User Rating: 4.2 (1 votes)
6 CCM Tacks 3092

CCM Tacks 3092

The Tacks 3092 ice skating shoe by CCM is another good example of a quality recreational shoe. The shoe boasts good ...

User Rating: 3.67 (3 votes)

Best Hockey Skates for the Money – The Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skates

  1. Bauer Senior Vapor X300

    Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skate

Representing the best value for money the Bauer Senior Skates come in at around only a hundred dollars which is significantly cheaper than most other options, however they still come with the same great quality that you expect from a brand like Bauer.

The Vapor family of skates has become the most widely purchased model in Bauer’s easy 3-fit platform series. Basically the Vapor line, uses a standard V-put profile (standard width all the way through the toebox to an eventual narrower fit in the ankle and heel). This means the Bauer Vapor X300 has a more classic style fit.

Another great feature of this model is the great X-rib pattern, which was inspired by earlier versions of their OD1N concept skates. Labatory studies have shown this unique X-rib design offers massive improvements in the heel and ankle area, which augmented faster cross overs and really tight turns.

Basically what you are getting is a really cheap pair of skates that are tested for safety and performance. This is why they are our top pick for the best hockey skates for the money.

The stainless steel blades provide the player with a good mix of agility and balance. The ThermoPlastic Rubber (TPR) outsole construction provides support and power as you push off the ice.

Bauer lined the Vapor X300’s with a brushed nylon liner and completed the boot with thermoformed X-rib pattern tech nylon for a comfortable glide across the ice. The tongue is made from one piece felt for protection against lace bite and on-ice collisions. The Bauer Vapor X300’s also provide a one year warranty on the holders and 90-day warranties on the runners and boot.

Here is a full list of the Vapor X300’s specs:

  • Tech nylon boot construction with a thermoformed X-rib pattern
  • Brushed nylon liner
  • ThermoPlastic Rubber (TPR) outsole construction
  • One piece felt tongue
  • Tuuk Stainless Steel runners
  • Tuuk Stainless Pro holder
  • Weight: 770 grams
  • Warranty: one year – holder, 90 days – runners, 90 days – boot
Bauer Senior Vapor X300 Skate

The Bauer Senior Vapor X300 is a combination of agility and balance. The tech nylon and thermoformed X-rib pattern keeps your feet protected during rough play.

PROS:

  • Lab-tested
  • Best Skates for the Money – Hands down
  • X-Rib Design
  • Performance Enhancing
  • Ankle Support

CONS:

  • Not recommended for narrow, low-volume feet

2. Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates

Bauer Senior Supreme 140 Skate

The Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates are a pair of high quality, high-performance ice skates. These skates are the best product to enhance hockey performance. These shoes were made to provide an experienced skater with the precision and durability necessary in a highly competitive environment. These skates are made for comfort and power with the skater in mind.

Easton made comfort a priority on the Stealth RS. The RS features the new comfort edge technology. At the top of the foot opening, the edge is designed to provide comfort during tight turns and hard stops. The edge does not dig into the ankle during these high-performance maneuvers reducing discomfort and abrasions.

Inside the shoe, Easton placed more padding near the heel and on the tongue. The extra padding on the tongue is helpful for collisions or taking a puck to the laces. This additional padding also completely prevents any lace bite you may experience on other skates. The RS also comes with three different sized arch inserts. Depending on foot shape and preference, any of these three inserts will provide the best support.

The RS were also designed to deliver a high-performance experience. The shoe provides enough forward flex to get the most out of every stride, while also providing enough stiffness to support the foot. The tendon guard on the back of the shoe provides support the foot during hard strides and difficult maneuvers. In addition, the RS skate is highly heat moldable. In general, the RS works better for more high-volume, wider feet, rather than a pair of narrow feet.

The Easton Stealth RS skates are a high-quality, best product for any ice skater to use. They are dependable and durable, allowing you to be on the ice without worrying about losing performance or destroying a new pair of skates. Any skater can turn to these skates and find a trustworthy boot and quality matched by few others. The Stealth RS is the best product you can find on the market right now.

To summarize, here are some of the Easton Stealth RS most important features:

  • Exceptional heat moldability
  • Three different arch support inserts
  • Extra padding on tongue for protection
  • Stiff quarter panel for added performance
  • Injected tendon guard for support during strides
  • Lightweight design
Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates

The Easton Stealth RS Ice Skates is a lightweight boot that has a deep heat moldability. The snug fit allows skaters to get more power in each stride.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Top of the light support for high-volume, wide feet
  • Supernatural fit system insole
  • Great value
  • High-performace, good durability

CONS:

  • Not recommended for narrow, low-volume feet

3. Bauer Vapor APX2

Bauer Senior Nexus 4000 Skate

These high-performance skates are designed to provide the quality and skill necessary for high intensity, high-level skating. The Vapors are a good option for someone looking to switch brands or move from recreational shoes to competitive. If you find yourself in situations that require quick, high-performance footwork and fast breakaway speed, the Bauer Vapor APX2 is a solid pick.

The APX2 gives your feet and ankles enough flexibility to make quick turns and impressive maneuvers. The Vented Carbon Composite that makes up the outsole provides the protection and maneuverability to make this a top of the line shoe. Another component of this shoe’s high-performance capabilities is the Tuuk Lightspeed Edge runners. One of the most important features of the Bauer Vapor APX2’s is the Tuuk LS Fusion Blade. These high tech, aluminum blades are more than 25% lighter than regular blades for easier maneuvering.

The APX2 do not sacrifice performance for comfort, though. The Hydra Max liner is a high comfort, moisture wicking padding to keep your feet dry and your performance up. Inside the boot, the toes are snugly held by the ErgoToe toebed. Designed for comfort, ErgoToe provides not only comfort but also protection. The Form-Fit tongue is made of Three Piece Pro Felt with an Abrasion Resistor for added protection from a puck glancing off the laces.

Here is a complete summary of the Bauer Vapor APX2’s specs:

  • Hydra Max 2 inside liner
  • 3D curve composite boot construction
  • Vented carbon composite outsole
  • ErgoToe footbed with FormFit
  • Three Piece Pro Felt tongue with Abrasion Resistor
  • Tuuk LS Fusion runners
  • Tuuk Lightspeed Edge holder
  • Weight: 776 grams
  • Warranty: one year – holder, 90 day – runners, 90 days – boot
Bauer Senior Nexus 4000 Skate

The Bauer Senior Nexus 400 Skate is a great skate for entry level skaters with higher volume, wider feet. The traditional “Deep-V” heel shape provides a comfortable fit right out of the box. Additionally, these skates are heat moldable and very lightweight which adds comfort.

PROS:

  • Great comfy fit for wide feet
  • Lightweight
  • Great affordability
  • Ideal for beginners

CONS:

  • Not good for low-volume, narrow feet

4. CCM Ultra Tacks

CCM Ultra Tacks ReviewThe CCM Ultra Tacks ice skate is a pair of shoes designed to deliver comfort, power performance, and style. Made by the Canadian hockey manufacturer, CCM, the Ultra Tacks are a world class ice skate. If you are looking for a skate that can provide high-level performance without losing comfort or style, consider purchasing the Ultra Tacks.

CCM Ultra Tacks

Made by the Canadian hockey manufacturer, CCM, the Ultra Tacks are a world class ice skate. If you are looking for a skate that can provide high-level performance without losing comfort or style, consider purchasing the Ultra Tacks.

The Ultra Tacks incorporate heat moldable materials and padding to ensure a customized comfort fit. The inside padding is made from TotalDri comfort liner to reduce moisture keeping your feet dry all throughout the game or practice. The 7-millimeter tongue is crafted from TriTech Pro felt to protect from lace bite and a stray slapshot.

The Ultra Tacks use Speedblade 4.0 holders in conjunction with Speedblade Black’s as runners. The boot is constructed from the stiff AttackFrame 2 carbon composite for added power and boot control during intense, high-level hockey play. The stiffness and heel cup provide each player with high-speed capabilities. Overall, the Ultra Tacks are a great shoe for players who are wanting to really up their performance and win more games.

In addition to comfort and performance, the Ultra Tacks feature a sleek black design with yellow accents.

Check out this list of the CCM Ultra Tacks complete features:

  • AttackFrame 2 carbon composite boot construction
  • TotalDri Liner with Durazone Abrasion Resistor
  • Carbon composite outer construction with vented exhaust
  • Air System footbed
  • TriTech Pro 7mm felt tongue
  • Speedblade Black runner
  • Speedblade 4.0 holder
  • Warranty: 90 days

PROS:

  • Great value best hockey skates for the money
  • Lightweight
  • Enhanced features for safety
  • Ideal for all levels of players.

CONS:

  • Should purchase additional hockey insoles

 5. Bauer Supreme 190

Bauer Supreme 190

The Bauer Supreme 190 ice skates are a part of Bauer’s high performance, competitive ice skating line. The 190s are a moderately priced shoe with an efficient, high-quality design. If you are looking for a pair of skates to up your game, but you are still on somewhat of a budget, the 190s will serve you well.

Bauer Supreme 190

The Bauer Supreme 190 ice skates are a part of Bauer’s high performance, competitive ice skating line. The 190s are a moderately priced shoe with an efficient, high-quality design. If you are looking for a pair of skates to up your game, but you are still on somewhat of a budget, the 190s will serve you well.

The Bauer Supreme 190s work well for improving your performance. The Tuuk Lightspeed Edge paired with the Tuuk LS3 Stainless Steel runners provide a precise and balanced feel to them. Another perk of this runner and holder combination is their ease of use. The 190s make it easy to change blades when they have become dull.

As for comfort, the Supreme 190s offer padded luxury. The tongue is crafted using a set of FormFit 3 52 ounce three piece felt. This will prevent lace bite and reduce the force from a wayward slapshot to the foot. The inside lining of the 190s is Hydra Max, a moisture reducing comfort padding. The lightweight vented composite which makes up the outsole is designed to keep your feet cool during play and practice.

Here is a complete list of the 190s specs:

  • 3D Anaformable Curv composite boot construction
  • Hydra Max inner liner
  • Lightweight vented outsole construction
  • Form-Fit footbed with stabilizer grip
  • Form-Fit 3 52 ounce three piece pro felt tongue
  • Tuuk LS3 Stainless Steel
  • Tuuk Lightspeed Edge
  • Weight: 790 grams
  • Warranties: one year – holder, 90 days – runners, 90 days – boot

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Top hockey skates for the money – great value for the price
  • Designed to avoid moisture buildup

CONS:

  • Requires additional insoles

6. CCM Tacks 3092

CCM Tacks 3092The Tacks 3092 ice skating shoe by CCM is another good example of a quality recreational shoe. The shoe boasts good performance and comfort for the amateur and lower level player. If you are looking to play for fun and enjoy yourself on the ice, then the 3092s are a good option to choose.

The boot is constructed using a synthetic tech form for comfort and stiffness. The stiffness of this boot will help to transfer every unit of energy from your legs to the ice. The one-piece SpeedBlade design will keep maintenance simple, but also does not allow you to switch blades as easily if necessary.

Inside the boot, two-tone brushed microfiber lines the foot for comfort and support. The footbed follows the standard CCM comfort footbed design. The tongue is made from 7 millimeter felt with lace bite protection. Overall the Tacks 3092s are a good boot for their price, and they offer good performance.

CCM Tacks 3092

The Tacks 3092 ice skating shoe by CCM is another good example of a quality recreational shoe. The shoe boasts good performance and comfort for the amateur and lower level player. If you are looking to play for fun and enjoy yourself on the ice, then the 3092s are a good option to choose.

Here is a list of complete specs for CCM’s Tacks 3092:

  • Synthetic tech form boot construction
  • Two tone brushed microfiber liner
  • Injected outsole construction
  • Standard CCM footbed
  • 7 millimeter felt tongue
  • Speedblade Pro one piece holder and runner set
  • Warranty: 90 days

PROS:

  • Designed to avoid excess moisture.
  • Great performance
  • Safety tested
CONS:
  • Slightly more expensive

FAQ’s for Hockey Skates

What size should I buy?

When purchasing hockey boots, it is helpful to go into a store and try on multiple pairs. To start looking at sizes, though, look for skates that are about 1 size smaller than your average shoe size. If you are buying for young players that may grow, consider allowing a half size to extend the life of the shoe.

Will I need to sharpen the blades?

It is recommended to sharpen the blades once every 10 to 15 games. Some blades may need to be sharpened out of the box, while others may come sharpened already. You can purchase a sharpening tool online or visit a local hockey shop, and they can sharpen skates for you.

How can I make my skates fit better?

One of the techniques that many skaters use to get a more snug comfortable fit is called “baking.” Baking involves putting your skate in an oven at a low temperature. The heated material will be able to mold to your specific foot. Many skaters do this to get a perfect fit for their new skates, while other prefer to break in skates the normal way.

Is braking dangerous for my ice skates?

Baking can be dangerous for your ice skates. Overbaking a pair of skates may cause the material on each boot component to separate. This can destroy a pair of boots before you even get a chance to use them.

When looking for a shoe, how should they fit on my foot?

When it comes to wearing ice skates you want them to be snug but not extremely tight. A pair of skates that fits well can increase your speed and agility. A loose shoe will not be a responsive to your foot, while a tight shoe will provide that responsiveness and power. The tighter the shoe, the more power is transferred from your leg to the runners. This power goes to the ice and directly affects how fast you can move and how quickly you can speed up.

Do be careful, though. Shoes that are too tight can cause serious injury to your foot, while shoes that are too loose can increase the chance of ankle injury. Make sure that your sole is flat against the bottom, and your toes slightly touch the front of the shoe. The back of the shoe should gently hug your heel. Always remember that most shoes are heat moldable so you can always bake them later to get a good fit.

Hockey Skate: Three Components

Before making a decision about hockey skates, a basic understanding of how the shoes are made is helpful. Every complete skate contains three components: the boot, the holder, and the runner.

The Boot

The boot is the part of the shoe that actually comes into contact with the foot. It is a critical part of the shoe because it transfers the energy and power from the player’s legs to the blades to the ice. This transfer of energy is what propels the skater forward.

Hockey skate boots continually undergo a transformation as the research and technology that goes into them continues to improve. Brands and manufacturers are continually looking for ways to innovate to create the lightest boot possible, as well as provide a supportive and responsive skate.

The higher quality boots use materials such as carbon composite, thermo-formable foam or anti-microbial lining. To measure the quality, users should look at the weight, comfort, protection and durability of the boot. While this may all seem overwhelming the core components of a boot are as follows:

Different Parts of the Skate

  • Quarter package– this is the boot shell which holds the padding and support inserts. This part of the boot is stitched at certain areas to provide flexibility and support.
  • Ankle padding– this is the foam that goes into the quarter package, providing comfort and support.
  • Heel support– this is a pocket inside the quarter package that secures the foot inside the boot.
  • Tongue- this is the coverage over the top of the foot and front of the ankle.
  • Outsole– this stiff underside of the skate boot is where the holder/runner is mounted.
  • Footbed– this removable insert is put at the bottom of the skate below the foot.
  • Liner– the material inside that boot that contains padding, providing a secure and comfortable fit.

As you increase your use and experience with skating, you will develop your own familiarity and preference to what type of boot you want.

The Holder and Runners

picture of The Holder and Runners

Holder and Runner

Holders are the piece attached to the bottom of the boot. The holders house the runners (blades) which come into direct contact with the ice. Holders and runners do the important job of transferring energy from the boot to the ice.

Holders come in many different colors, brands, and materials. Some holders are made of plastic while others are made of lightweight metal. In general, manufacturers try to gain an optimal balance between the height of the holder and the length of the blade. A good balance produces a skate that can be quick while also not losing the ability to make sharp, precise turns. Tuuk is currently one of the most popular brand of holders on the market today, and many of the other companies copy their design and specifications to produce similar holders.

When your leg muscle generates power, it sends energy through your foot to the boot to the holder and then to the runner. This is what gives you a solid push off. If any component of the skate is not made correctly or fits snugly, some of that energy will be lost as it travels downward.

It is easy to see the importance of quality runners and holders. Poor design on either of these components and you will lose that vital edge over your opponent. It may result in a lost race to the puck or even less power to a shot.

It is important to maintain the runners well because dull blades can cause performance failures. For instance, a dull blade may cause a player to slip and fall when going around a tight corner.

Every brand and model of skate comes with its own set of holders and runners. Depending on the price and performance level of the skate, the runners and holders may be higher tech or lower tech.

For entry level skates there is usually a one-piece holder/runner. For those at intermediate levels and at higher levels of competition, a two-piece design is more appropriate. The use of a two-piece design allows for replacement of the runner if it somehow breaks. This usually occurs through higher impact use.

Foot Type

Unlike other types of footwear, when shopping for ice hockey skates, it is very important to identify your foot shape. Many
manufacturers have specific models and series that are specific to your foot type. For example, Bauer’s Vapor series is for narrow and slim feet. These particular skates have a low-volume boot. For wider feet, Bauer created the Nexus series. This is a high volume boot.

Take a look at the chart below to get a better idea of foot types/fits.

Foot Type Diagram

Beyond the width of your feet, there are other considerations for foot type. Here are the three specific identifiers for foot type:

  • Width of ankles and heels
  • Depth (or thickness) of your feet
  • Width of the front quarter of your feet, toe box

Recreational vs. Competitive

When looking to buy hockey skates, knowing how they are going to be used is an important factor. Recreational play does not require a pair of high-performance shoes. On the other hand, high-performance hockey skates are important for those who want to engage in intense, competitive hockey.

Recreational Skate Guidelines

If recreational play is all you plan on participating in, a high-performance shoe is not necessary. This is not to say that recreational skates are low quality, but the added functions of a high-performance skate are just not applicable to recreational environments. Most manufacturers provide a certain line of skates for lower level play. Quality recreational skates can generally be found for less than $100.

Competitive Skate Guidelines

Because of the high intensity, physical nature of hockey, finding a pair of quality hockey skates to match is important. 1/8” thick blades must hold up the weight of the player and all his gear. This makes a comfortable, durable pair of skates necessary for players looking to keep up with high-level competition. Competitive hockey skates are designed to provide players with an edge over their competitors. A competitive skate should have high quality in the following areas:

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