When you are nurturing a young skater, the most important piece of equipment that you will buy for them is a good pair of hockey skates. Not only will this influence how they are able to move around the ice, but a bad pair of skates is the thing most likely to cause them an injury.
So, how do you choose the best hockey skates for your kids?
It is not a straightforward process, as they will likely need something specific for their size and their level of experience. Younger children just starting out need something very different than older kids who may be dreaming of going pro.
Below you will find the essential information that you need for choosing the right kids’ ice hockey skates.
We have put together a list of recommendations, with the best premium and affordable pair of skates for each age group: Youth (3-8 years old), Junior (7-13 years old), and Intermediate (11-14 years old).
We have also put together a complete buying guide that covers all the jargon used when it comes to hockey skates, and the key things to consider when finding the right pair of skates for your little hockey player.
At a Glance:
|Product Name||For||Key Features|
|CCM Super Tacks 9350 Ice Hockey Skates||Best Youth Skates|
|Bauer Lil Champ Ice Hockey Skates||Best Affordable Youth Skates|
|CCM Super Tacks 9380 Ice Hockey Skates||Best Junior Skates|
|Bauer Supreme S35 Ice Hockey Skates||Best Affordable Junior Skates|
|CCM Super Tacks AS3 Ice Hockey Skates||Best Intermediate Skates|
|Bauer Supreme 3S Pro Ice Hockey Skates||Best Affordable Intermediate Skates|
Best Youth Hockey Skates (Years 3-8)
CCM Super Tacks 9350 Ice Hockey Skates – Best Youth Skates
These skates are designed for recreational players, or young players just getting into the game, so they are affordable and have fewer features than some of the high-end options.
The skates, which are available in sizes 6 to 13, have a medium-volume fit designed for a standard forefoot, instep, and heel depth to cover most young skaters.
The boot features a 7mm-thick tongue for extra protection from impacts and has a brushed microfiber liner that adds another layer of protection and also comfort.
- Sizes 6-13
- Medium-volume Fit
- 3D Injection Boot
- Pre-Sharpened Stainless Steel Runner
- Microfiber Liner
If your child is new to skating and you aren’t sure what kind of skates to get them, this is a good place to start.
Bauer Lil Champ Ice Hockey Skates – Best Affordable Youth Skates
These highly affordable skates are designed for beginners, with a one-piece, molded plastic shell and easy-to-use locking buckle.
The removable lining is designed for comfort, and also lets you adjust the size a little to keep your kids in the skates for longer.
This is one of the few skates that tend to fit the same as standard shoe sizes.
- Sizes 6-11
- One-Piece Molded Boot
- Easy Lock Buckle
- Removable Liner
- One-Piece Holder-Runner
The ideal affordable pair of skates for young, newbie hickey enthusiasts.
Best Junior Hockey Skates (Years 7-13)
CCM Super Tacks 9380 Ice Hockey Skates – Best Junior Skates
These junior skates from CCM have been designed with many of the technologies used for the top-line elite skates, but at a much more affordable price tag for junior skaters.
The boot itself has a MettaFrame lightweight, composite construction and injected, smooth comfort padding that means the shoe hugs the foot in an ideal way. This is matched with a Total Dri Pro Lier that is moisture-wicking, keeping feet dry and reducing odorss.
It uses a stainless steel runner that should deliver long-term performance, no matter how much time your kid spends on the ice.
- Sizes 1-5.5
- Medium Fit Design
- Lightweight Composite Construction
- Injected Moisture-Wicking Padding
- Stainless Steel Runner
If your child is a serious player who likes to spend hours on the ice, they will get the best performance and comfort from these boots.
Bauer Supreme S35 Ice Hockey Skates – Best Affordable Junior Skates
These affordable skates use a lot of the same technologies as more expensive options, but at a fraction of the cost.
They feature a 3D flex composite last that is heat-moldable if you choose that option. This is coupled with a LockFit liner with aero foam ankle padding and a hydrophobic microfiber liner for maximum comfort and minimum odor.
The stainless steel runner is highly durable and will survive even the keenest skaters.
- Sizes 1-3.5
- Medium Fit
- 3D Flex Composite Last
- Aero Foam Ankle Padding
- Stainless Steel Runner
If your kid wants professional skates, and you want something budget, this is a skate the two of you can agree on.
Best Intermediate Hockey Skates (Years 11-14)
CCM Super Tacks AS3 Ice Hockey Skates – Best Intermediate Skates
If your young player is ready to upgrade to professional-level skates, and you have the budget to pay for them, they probably already have their eye on these premium skates from CCM.
They are made with a one-piece carbon composite MonoFrame for better energy transfer and performance. It simultaneously offers 360-degree support for the foot with an anatomical form-fitting last. The Total Dri Pro liner provides comfort and reduces smells.
It features a separate holder and runner, so you can swap out the blade as desired. But the black blades made from oxide treated steel are sure to last.
These skates are available in both D and EE sizes, and so they are ideal for both medium and wider feet.
- Medium and Wide Fit
- Carbon Composite Frame
- Total Dri Pro Liner
- Separate Holder and Runner
- Oxide Treated Blades
These are professional-level skates that serious young skaters will love to use, and will last and last.
Bauer Supreme 3S Pro Ice Hockey Skates – Best Affordable Intermediate Skates
While we have classified this model from Bauer as affordable because it is half the price of our first choice, this is still not a cheap skate. Intermediate players looking for more affordable skates can continue to use the Bauder S35 line.
With this upgraded line, the first thing you get is a broader selection of fits, with options for narrow, medium, and wide feet.
In addition to all the features of the S35 line, you get a two-piece holder and runner to change out the blade. It comes with a unique four-zoned blade that provides optimum performance. It is also made from engineered steel with a high mirror finish for superior glide and speed.
- Sizes 4-6.5
- Variety of Fits Available
- Two-Piece Holder and Runner
- Engineered Steel Blade
- 4 Zone Runner
This is an affordable professional skate for growing players and that young skaters will respect and love to wear.
Kids’ Hockey Skates Buying Guide
If you aren’t familiar with ice hockey skates, finding the right pair can be made even more challenging by the jargon used to describe the different parts. So here is a quick rundown of the most important elements of the skate.
This is the main part of the skate boot, which extends from the toe to the heel and around the rear and sides of the ankle. It is generally made from a high-density plastic “last,” which is molded to the shape of a foot.
This is the part that protects the front of the foot, and is usually lightly padded with a felt or foam liner that provides a bit of cushioning and is also breathable.
This is the fabric inside the boot that sits against the skin. It provides padding in certain areas, for example around the ankles, for a better fit, and also needs to be breathable to keep feet from overheating inside the skate.
Footbed Or Insole
This is the removable insert that sits in the bottom of the boot and serves as a base for your foot. This can be designed to suit different foot arches. Good ones are designed to be moisture-wicking and not hold onto the odor of smelly feet.
This is the hard piece on the bottom of the boot to which the blade assembly is attached. The best skates have outsoles that offer a good balance of weight and rigidity.
Holder And Runner
The holder attaches to the outsole of the boot to hold the runner, which is the blade of the skate. These usually come as a single piece, though elite skaters might use a two-piece system so that they can change the runner as desired. Runners are made of metals of different hardnesses, and usually the more expensive the skate the harder and more durable the steel is, which will hold its skating edge for longer.
If you are the parent of a new player, you should also check out our ultimate guide for parents of new players.
OK, now that we understand skate speak, what are the most important things to consider when choosing the right skate for your kids?
Price is an important consideration when choosing a skate, not only for your wallet but because it helps you understand the type of skate you are getting.
The fact is that beginners, developing skaters, and advanced skaters need different things because they skate differently. And one of the easiest ways to determine whether a skate is designed for a beginner or an elite skater is the price point.
More expensive skates are generally more durable and are designed for more advanced players, while cheaper skates are better for recreational play and beginners.
But with that in mind, don’t be afraid to spend on skates, as it is the most important piece of equipment. This is true not only in terms of gameplay and getting around, but the wrong pair of skates is also the thing most likely to cause your child injury.
Size And Fit
You wouldn’t let your child spend the day hiking in a pair of walking boots that didn’t fit right and was going to leave them with blisters. You also shouldn’t let your kid out on the ice in skates that aren’t the perfect fit.
Yes, sadly, that means there isn’t much leeway for buying a bigger pair of skates and letting them “grow into them.” They will be needing new skates on a regular basis.
The only way to find a pair of skates that fits right is to try them on. You can start with a good understanding of your child’s foot: Do they have wide feet or narrow toes? But after that, it is a matter of trial and error.
When trying on the skates, they should feel snug. There should be less negative air left around the feet than you would expect with regular shoes. But at the same time, the forefeet and ankles should feel like there is enough space to breathe, and the skater should be able to properly move their ankles.
Remember, when trying on skates, always use the pair of socks that you will use when skating. It is also best to try on skates in the afternoon, as feet have a tendency to expand a little throughout the day.
New skates will always feel a little hard and uncomfortable when trying them on because they do need to be broken in. But if they are still causing sore feet after several uses, then they probably are not the right size and fit.
If you do plan to buy online, it can still be good to go to a local store and try on a few options to get an idea of size first. You will generally find that the sizing of your child’s skate is one or two sizes smaller than their regular shoe.
The stiffness of a skate is essential to the speed and control of movements, but can also be quite hard on young feet.
Elite skaters will use stiff skates for aggressive playing, but excessive stiffness can prevent young layers from developing the ankle strength and support they need. But if their skates are stiff enough, it can quickly cause foot fatigue. So they need a moderate level of stiffness.
Determine the stiffness by holding the boot on either side of the ankle and squeezing. If it folds easily, it isn’t stiff enough. If it doesn’t bend at all, then it is too stiff. Somewhere in between is the Goldilocks of hockey skate stiffness for most kids.
Obviously, the blade is an essential element of the skate, and the quality of the blade will make a big difference in how your child feels on the ice.
With smaller children, maybe you don’t need to be too concerned about the quality of the blade metal, as they are likely to outgrow the boot before they wear out the blade.
But with bigger kids, who are more serious about hockey and skate a lot, it is worth paying a bit extra for a more durable blade made from harder steel.
Can Ice Hockey Skates Be Used To Learn To Skate?
Ice hockey skates have narrower blades than figure skates, so it can be more difficult for new skaters to learn to use them, but there is no reason why they can’t be used for learners as well.
Can You Use Regular Skates For Ice Hockey?
It is not a good idea to use regular skates for ice hockey. In the first instance, this is a question of protection. Regular skates don’t have the extra protection you need when you are hit in the foot by a fast-moving puck. The blades are also different, so it can be challenging to execute some of the necessary hockey moves in regular skates.
Should I Buy Used Hockey Skates?
Since kids grow out of their skates so quickly, there is a pretty big market for used skates. You can find ice hockey skates that are almost like new. However, it is important to try them on for fit. The skate has probably already molded to the foot of another child. If they have a very different foot structure than your child, the used skates will never mold to your child’s feet.
Regardless of whether you buy used or new skates, always purchase from reputable sellers including those on our list of top places to buy ice hockey equipment.
What Is Baking?
Higher-end skates can be baked in a special oven that helps ensure they mold perfectly to your feet. This is something that requires a lot of skill and is done by a professional. It is not usual to bake kids’ skates at home.
For more information on this heat molding process and how to avoid ruining a pair of brand new skates, see How to Bake Hockey Skates.
Finding the right pair of hockey skates for your child depends on where they are in terms of their skating and their gameplay. This will determine the level of stiffness they need, the types of blades they would benefit from, and how much you really need to spend.
And, of course, on top of this, finding a boot that is the right size is essential.
Whatever you do, take the time to find the right skates. Nothing causes more injuries than ill-suited boots, and nothing steals their passion for the game more.