Everything You Need To Know Before Buying Your First Pair of Roller Skates

It’s a fairly shortlist, but there were a couple of good things that came out of the pandemic: 1) We got to bond with our dogs and 2) roller-skating made a comeback. 

A Brief History of Roller Skates

Even though it’s only just now witnessing a TikTok-driven revival, roller skating has been around since the early 1700s. That’s when Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin famously debuted a pair of roller skates at a party. Legend has it, Merlin made his grand entrance by rolling into the event while playing the violin, then immediately crashing into a mirror — so wear a helmet, y’all!

Related: This Is How to Get Out of Your Workout Slump

Roller skating rose to popularity during the 20th century, when drive-in waitresses would skate food out to diners. The practice peaked in the ‘70s and ‘80s thanks to the marriage of disco and roller-skating. During this time period, over 4,000 roller discos were in operation. 

After dipping somewhat in popularity since its heyday, the roller skate made a triumphant return during the pandemic, offering a reasonably safe, socially distanced activity for staying active and getting out of the house. Roller skating’s comeback was fueled by TikTok, where users started posting videos of themselves coasting around neighborhoods, showing off fancy tricks in their driveways and sharing tips. 

The Case for Roller-skating 

It’s easy to understand the roller skate’s astronomic surge in popularity. Roller-skating is a beginner-friendly, low-impact way to get in an awesome cardio workout. Besides being great exercise, roller-skating is just so dang fun: it’s one of those workouts that doesn’t even feel like a workout. Oh, and did we mention — skates come in a variety of colors, patterns and styles and look ridiculously hip, even when you’re flailing around in them? 

Things To Consider When Shopping for Roller Skates

Whether you’re shopping for your first-ever pair of skates or a replacement for your old ones, here are the most important qualities to look for:

  • Wheels: Roller skate wheels typically come with a durometer rating between 70A and 100A. The durometer rating essentially tells you how hard the wheels are: the higher the number, the harder the wheel. Smaller, harder wheels are recommended for indoor skating, while larger, softer ones are best for outdoor skating. 
  • Boot: The cut and material of the boot-like section of your skates will affect the amount of support and longevity offered. As a general rule of thumb, a high-top boot will provide greater ankle support, while low-top boots give you more flexibility and speed. Similarly, leather and suede boots ‌last longer, but are ‌more expensive than synthetic materials like vinyl. 
  • Plates: The bottom part of your skates, plates can be made from metal or nylon. Metal is heavier and sturdier, while nylon is lighter and less expensive. 
  • Size: It’s a good idea to read the product size guide before purchasing a specific pair of skates. In our experience, however, roller skates often follow American men sizing — so if you’re looking for women’s sizing, ‌look for skates that are a step down from your usual shoe size. 

Men’s and Women’s Roller Skates: Our Editors’ Picks 

Now that you’re basically an expert on roller skating history and what to look for, here are a few of our favorite roller skates to launch you on your skating journey. 

Moxi Roller Skates: Lolly Outdoor Complete

lolly outdoor complete
Image: Moxi

Lauded as some of the finest wheels around, Moxi Roller Skates are a compelling choice if you can swing the relatively steep $369. Designed to be used as both indoor and outdoor roller skates, these colorful skates come with 78A, 65-millimeter wheels.

The high-top boots have a sturdy suede in a huge range of vibrant shades: including Poppy Red, Clementine and Taffy. If you are ordering women’s roller skates, ‌order one to one and a half sizes down for your usual size. So, for example, if you typically wear a size 7.5 in women’s shoe, ‌order a size 5 skate. You can also download the manufacturer’s sizing guide

Price: $369 at Moxi Skates

Impala Roller Skates: Impala Quad Skate

quad skate
Image: Impala

At a more wallet-friendly $59.95, Impala Roller Skates are ‌a solid, reputable pick. The wheels are slightly harder and smaller than the Moxi Roller Skates, with a durometer rating of 82A and a diameter of 58 millimeters.

However, like the Moxis, the Impala quad skates are suitable as indoor and outdoor roller skates. The high-top boots are made from PETA-approved vegan leather. Size selection is based on women’s sizes; to convert to men’s roller skates, go up two full sizes.

Price: $59.95 at Impala Roller Skates

Moonlight Roller Skates: Peridot — 1st Gen Plate

peridot skates
Image: Moonlight Roller

Moonlight Roller Skates designs models for indoor and outdoor use, with 82A, 58-millimeter urethane wheels. The Peridot skate has genuine suede and a sturdy aluminum alloy plate. Note that skates come in men’s roller skates sizes, so if you’re purchasing a woman’s size, ‌size down one to one and a half sizes from your regular shoe size. 

Price: $250 at Moonlight Roller

Reewind Men’s Roller Skates

reewind roller skates
Image: Amazon

Although advertised as men’s roller skates, women can order them and go down one size. With a durometer of around 85A and a 66-millimeter diameter, the wheels on these skates are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The boot has from sturdy synthetic vinyl, and comes in several shades, including black, pink and teal. 

Price: $64.72 and up on Amazon


Lenexa MVP 2.0: Converse Roller Skates 

lenexa roller skates
Image: Amazon

Full disclosure: Since they technically aren’t affiliated with the brand, these Converse roller skates are really Converse-inspired roller skates. They’ve got a canvas, high-top sneaker-style booth with lightweight nylon plates.

With 54 millimeter wheels and an 82A durometer, these skates are a solid choice for beginners who want to skate indoors and outdoors. Plus, they’re available in some super pretty colors: Seaside Blue, Lilac and bright red. Handily, the brand provides sizing details for both men’s and women’s roller skates. 

Price: $79.99 at Amazon

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