Congratulations on starting your skate journey! This is a special time in a young person’s life, and you’ll be noticing some new feelings and changes in your body… wait, what are we talking about? Still skating! I love to see how much joy skating brings people. It’s fun, it’s aerobic exercise, it lifts your spirits. Exactly what we need in a year like this.
So where to start? Far and away the most common question I get! I always encourage all skaters to kit themselves out in full gear. Your body will thank you in fifty years.
Priority of where to spend money:
A certified helmet (ASTM/CPSC, MIPS, HECC), cause you only get one brain. Every helmet line is shaped slightly differently, so the “right” one is the one that fits your head properly. I don’t sell uncertified helmets anymore. Yes, they’re a bit cheaper, but there are few places I’m not willing to sacrifice safety and this is one of them. The Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings Research Study is a terrific place to start sorting through independent ratings.
Knee pads. Good knee pads aren’t cheap, but they’re cheaper than knee surgery. I do recommend putting good knee pads on from the get-go. In this arena, you absolutely get what you pay for, and there is a noticeable difference between the cheap stuff and the good ones. If you’re considering roller derby and full-contact sports, get the absolute best knee pads you can. If you’re heading into parks and pools, check out the pads that are designed to work with you (not against you) as the ramps and bowls catch you. If you’re just looking for something recreational, there are plenty of great options that won’t break the bank but will still provide some solid protection.
Wrists – this is what we’re hardest on (and for whatever reason they always smell the worst?!). I recommend ensuring that your wrist guards have a stabilizing plate on the front AND back of your hand. This is to distribute the force of your fall across as much surface area as possible — rather than your bones taking the brunt of it. I hear the occasional complaint about how a wrist guard snapped when someone fell. Yes, that’s annoying! But it’s a lot better than your wrist bones cracking instead!
Elbows – Should stay put and be comfortable!
For skates, which boot is “correct” is the one that fits your specific foot shape best. Different companies build boots based on their own proprietary foot shapes, so what works for one person in one brand will not work for someone else. Sizing is all over the map, every brand does it differently. Hop on over to our School of Skate to start thinking about the process.
Mouthguard – You’ll need this for roller derby or hockey. Protect your smile!