If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Roller skates have been making a speedy comeback over the past few years – on the boardwalks, beaches, and social media. Strap some on your feet, and it’s easy to see why. While the basic concept is the same as skating in the Seventies, the best new roller skates have made some significant improvements recently, and they’re nothing like the ones the rink makes you rent.
Roller Skates Buying Guide
Here’s what to know when you’re ready to get your own set of roller skates:
Materials: Nylon is often what you’ll find that the cheaper models are made from (or even plastic), with vinyl at the mid-level, and the expensive skates getting into suede and leather that forms to your foot as you sweat. Higher-priced models are often lighter too, with more efficient parts like an aluminum plate that are meant for getting into performance-based skating like jumps and spins. But even if you’ve got the cash as a beginner, don’t go straight for the top skates – these can seriously hurt your feet if you don’t have the prior experience. Inside, having a fabric that’s supportive and comfortable is crucial, but also that keeps your feet cool on hot summer days.
Indoor vs. Outdoor: Be aware that there’s a difference between the two, but it’s primarily just in the wheels. Different wheels are measured by hardness, with around 75-90 being common, give or take. Plus, in most skates, you can change them out if you change your mind.
Structure: High-top skates offer increased ankle support, which is great for beginners, and can often prevent an ankle sprain for when you take that inevitable fall. A good heel helps push your shoulders forward and put you on the ball of your foot, giving you support for when you first get up on your feet without slipping. Padding inside will also cushion your feet and keep blisters away, and a cheaply made skate usually lacks on the cushioning inside. An adjustable toe stop lets you angle it exactly so it hits the ground low or higher on the boot, whichever feels more comfortable.
Size: It’s advised to go a step down from what you’d normally wear in a street shoe, but manufacturers usually provide a measurement chart, so be sure to use it to find the best fit for your feet.
What Are the Best Skates to Buy Online?
From colorful styles to comfortable designs, here are our top picks for the best roller skates you can buy.
1. Riedell Skates R3
Riedell is one of the OGs of skate makers, stretching back to 1945 when they started crafting ice skates in Minnesota. The company, still owned and operated by the same family, puts out a winning product, literally – Olympic medal winners and national champions have worn their skates all the way to the top.
Their timeless, classic R3 is a man-made masterpiece, with durable and breathable vinyl, a strong nylon plate, and braking is reliable with the adjustable toe stopper. Its high-quality wheels provide a frictionless ride, and are ideal for any level. Lace them up, strap the velcro, and you’re ready to hit the streets or rink.
2. Chicago Skates Bullet Skates
These iconic skates have tough 62mm urethane wheels with precision bearings and fixed axels that respond to even minor shifts and movements. The low-cut ankle gives you more control, flexibility, and freedom to move around, while the vinyl body can stand up to damage and falls. They’re easy to lace up and tighten, even when rolling, and the wheels are durable enough to handle the streets while retaining a smooth ride.
3. Riedell Skates Crew Outdoor Skates
This eye-catching option from Riedell is more than just aesthetics (though it does win the fashion show here). The Crew are a solid pair of outdoor skates with tough urethane Sonar Zen 62mm wheels, while still taking it easy on your feet thanks to a nicely soft leather high-top boot. There’s extra padding on the ankle, making it ideal for beginners, and providing the additional support a newbie needs to get rolling. The skates glide smoothly on streets and sidewalks, with an adjustable toe stopper for reliable braking, that can be replaced when it wears down.
4. Sure-Grip Stardust Glitter Skates
These supremely sparkly skates feature a nylon plate, wood heel, and durable wheels that can be used indoors at the rink or even outdoors. They can also hold up to tough training and learning new tricks, with sturdy, soft lining inside. This pair is completely free of leather or animal-made materials, with a hard vinyl body that fits fine once it’s broken in.