Come the cold and freezing weather, thoughts of ice skating are more frequent, especially in countries where ice skating sports are a prized Olympic discipline. I’ve had my first experience ice skating on an ice rink in Poland, and it didn’t start on a good note, leaving me with the sensation I was the only beginner that evening.
However, over time, you get the hang of it, but you have to be consistent about it. As a recreational activity, ice skating is a wonderful pastime where families bond and enamored couples create fun memories by laughing at each other’s falls. Put simply, ice skating is awesome.
In this article, we’re going to review 6 beginner and intermediate-friendly ice skates, none of which contain animal-based leather within its construction. We’ve gathered a list of high-quality, comfortable, and protective ice skates that will take your skills to the next level.
6 Best Vegan Ice Skates
Jackson Ultima Softec Sports
The Softec Sports are a recreational model ideal for use on outdoor rinks by people seeking comfort when taking the first steps. The boots are made from quality synthetic materials and are certainly a great investment for entry-level skaters that don’t want to spend too much.
They have a solid foam padding that provides users with exceptional comfort, more so if you’re the type of person that spends hours on the ice rink.
The boots also feature a Thinsulate-lined upper & tongue with cushy foam padding, removing any potential to feel cold during recreational activities. Like most entry-level skates, these offer beginner-level support, so you have to steer free of aggressive movements like spins or flips.
It features a classic lace and loop system that keeps the laces from coming undone, as well as a velcro ankle strap which is designed to keep your ankles stable. The blade and holder are specifically designed for recreational skating, and are made out of stainless steel.
Jackson Ultima Mystique
The Jackson Ultima Mystique are a notch-up in quality when compared to the Excel (ice skates that we’ll mention later), which something that is also reflected on the price.
The added padding in the boot and tongue provide the ankles with optimal support, and you can also find the flex notch system that allows your foot to bend so that you’re able to more easily move your knees to get down and get more spring for jumps or other tricks.
The flex notch system also guarantees that you have increased flexibility in your ankles, while still maintaining the same level of ankle support. The extra padding also ensures the break-in process is smoother and less painful than what you will experience with cheapskates.
Overall, these boots are ideal for entry-level and intermediate skaters that are willing to take ice skating more seriously.
Jackson Ultima GS180
This is hands down the best choice for beginners, and the pricing is actually quite affordable for the value these ice skates provide.
The GS180 are made from synthetic materials, including nylon lining, its charcoal PVC outsole, an all-purpose nickel blade, vinyl uppers, and a padded tongue, all components that contribute to comfortable and functional ice skates that also do a good job of protecting your feet.
The nylon lining, for example, is useful for wicking away moisture, keeping your feet fresh and dry, preventing the accumulation of bacteria and fungus which may lead to bad odor or athlete’s foot.
The charcoal PVC outsole is quite easy to maintain, which is convenient for casuals. Also, the charcoal helps with odor absorption, leaving the boots with a clean scent, whilst the PVC components, although not as environmentally-friendly, are quite flexible and provide the ice skates with decent abrasion resistance.
Although we’re talking about beginner-friendly skates, the materials are designed to last. The all-purpose nickel blade is known for its toughness and durability, as it’s resistance to deterioration or any sort of corrosion is high, according to the manufacturer.
The GS180’s have a vinyl outer, and a tongue made of a thick foam padding that provides you with exceptional comfort. Plus, the boots, if you choose the right size, have a good, snug fit, which maintains your feet and ankles in a stable position.
Overall, great ice skates for beginners or recreational skating.
Lake Placid Summit
Do you want to teach your kid/kids to skate on ice? The Lake Placid Summit are a sensational purchase for parents that wish to skate with their children.
This is essentially possible because of the adjustable push-button sizing feature that allows up to four extra sizes without swapping skates.
If you want to teach your kid to skate but don’t want to regularly change skates, the Lake Placid Summit is a truly adjustable skate.
They’re equipped with insulated Sof-Tec foam lining to provide increased warmth and softness, so it keeps your kid’s feet warm and comfortable. In addition to that, it also provides him/her with solid ankle support, as well as stability on the ice.
Lastly, they’re super affordable when compared to the other ice skates on this list. Plus, there’s always the fact they’re adjustable and can last for a longer time.
Jackson Ultima Excel
The Jackson Ultima Excel are excellent all-around ice skates available for an affordable price, providing you with the comfort and support you need at an accessible price. In addition, the nicely padded collar and tongue keeps your ankles well-supported and protected.
Excel’s closure system is essentially made up of laces, which isn’t a bad thing because you can easily adjust the tightness to fit your preference. On the other hand, by not having a velcro strap, there’s a chance the laces might come undone.
They come with Mark II blades, which edge really well and provide a solid base for beginners and intermediate skaters alike. In addition, they glide tremendously well. Fortunately for vegans like us, the Jackson Ultima Excel is built with a durable vinyl coating, synthetic lining, and PVC outsoles.
Lastly, they’re very affordable, even if you’re just starting out.
Bauer Supreme 2S Pro
Bauer has always been a reliable brand. In fact, they specialize in creating equipment for professional hockey players and goalies, so it’s no wonder these ice skates are on the list.
The Supreme 2S Pro has several different features that provide performance and comfort-enhancing benefits that will improve your recreational experience on ice, or while playing hockey.
That being said, the Supreme 2S Pro is not the most affordable ice skates out there, in fact, at a chilling $600, they’re certainly the most expensive ice skates on this list.
They feature plenty of advanced features, such as the Reflex PRO Tongue which adds spring to your stride and thermoforms to the shape of your foot. At the same time, the Carbon Curv offers support, comfort, and 360-fit, delivering both speed and power as soon as you step on the ice.
The high-grade LS5 steel blade is designed for ultimate performance. With carbon coating and a soft inner core, the blades on the Supreme 2S Pro allow you to get on your edges easier and maximize your game. Plus, the footbed is a SPEED PLATE 2.0 that offers a customized fit by thermoforming to your foot, helping increase your energy transfer for explosive strides.
Again, these are high-end ice skates made for more advanced hockey or recreational ice skaters.
What To Consider When Looking For Ice Skates
Yes, ice skates must allow you to skillfully glide over the ice, but there are other equally important key benefits to take into consideration. Support and protection are crucial to ensure your safety on the ice and in preventing injuries when potential accidents take place.
Here are a few supportive features to look when purchasing ice skates:
Ankle support: One of the main things you should look at is ankle support. Is the ankle stiff, or does it provide you with enough room to maneuver? If you’re a casual skater, a more supportive option that limits your range of motion might be ideal but if you’re a hardcore skater and want to perform tricks, then perhaps you should go with an option that gives you more freedom to move.
Heel counter: Medium and advanced pairs feature a stiff heel counter, a feature that promotes control over the rearfoot and also provides the user with additional support, which is important for proper placement on ice, especially after performing tricks. A heel counter also locks your heel in, so it’s a cool feature for those looking to take up figure skating or hockey, even though they’re not as experienced.
Laces and buckles: There are different closure systems, from buckles to laces, but regardless of the one you choose, great skates will always have a closure system that provides you with a perfect fit. Once you tie up your skates, you shouldn’t be left with extra room inside the boot, but it shouldn’t also feel extremely tight to the point it cuts off your circulation. Generally, we like to suggest buckles because, in some cases, skates with a lace-up system might come undone and cause you to trip or fall. That said, it’s really up to your personal preference.
Fit: The reason we often recommend that people try out the shoes in-store first is due to the fit. However, there are also some considerations you must have. For instance, ice skates are unlike regular footwear because they take longer to break-in, and it’s quite painful.
Naturally, certain ice skates do come with technology that facilitates this process but you generally have to go through a break-in period.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s a break-in period where the ice skates adapt to the feet. This is because ice skates are built with sturdy materials that are not as flexible as regular footwear but are there to protect your feet in the event of an accident. The break-in period varies based on the ice skates you purchase, but it’s usually quite lengthy.
Here are a few things to consider when adapting to your ice skates:
- Make sure you break into the ice skates before any major competition, otherwise, it will hinder your performance;
- Leave the top eyelets unlaced to facilitate the initial break-in process.
- During the break-in process try to repeat the same motions you would apply regularly on the ice rink (slightly bending the knees).
Lastly, you want to pay attention to the type of socks you wear. A rule of thumb is to NEVER wear ice skates without socks, otherwise, you’re in for an inevitable rubbing.
The type of activity you will be performing dictates the type of ice skates you choose in end. That is to say— if you’re speed racing, then you have to choose a pair of ice skates that do well in that scenario, and the same goes for an activity like figure skating.
For instance, if you’re interested in figure skating, then you should have a toe-pick. Or, if you’re planning to play hockey, picking ice skates with a long blade is a must.
Technology plays a big role in sports, and like any sports equipment, ice skates come with a variety of features designed to increase the amount of comfort you feel, and more importantly, they enhance your performance on the ice rink.
Here are a few examples of nice features you might find useful in your future ice skates:
- Some boot models come with heat moldable materials, which essentially means that you can have an easier time breaking into the boot. For example, heat-moldable insoles are designed to conform to the shape of your foot at a much quicker tempo than traditional wear-moldable insoles.
- Extra padded boots can be a great feature to have, especially because it helps prevent blistering and rubbing, plus, it helps with the break-in process. It also means that your feet have an added layer that protects your feet from shock/impact.
- Moisture-wicking linings are an important feature for those that skate for longer periods or perhaps have a tendency to sweat from their feet. When you skate for long, your feet tend to sweat, and with sturdy footwear (like these ice skates), the moisture gets concentrated inside the boot, which creates the perfect environment for bacteria or fungus that may lead to your feet stinking, or even a condition like athlete’s feet. Having a moisture-wicking lining will help speed up the moisture evaporation process, preventing your feet from sweating as profusely.
- Hinged ankles are a feature present in some ice skates, and they are included to provide the user with a higher range of motion in the rearfoot, without sacrificing support and stability.
- The weight of the skates influences your ability to perform tricks, as well as how quickly you start to feel fatigued. Even though ice skates are generally heavy, you want to find the one that packs the least amount of weight, as it will allow you to more effortlessly perform.
Skating equipment usually comes with a high price tag, so if you’re planning to ride once and leave it, then perhaps you should stick to cheap ice skates or rent. However, if you want to take up ice skating as a regular activity, then you should be prepared to make a better investment.
Ice skates can be divided into three pricing tiers: entry-level, mid-range, and top of the line. You can find entry-level and mid-range skates that cost between $50-$150, however, elite equipment can go up to $1000 or more. If you’re not playing professionally, you should be fine with entry-level and mid-range equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are ice skates sized?
Technically, ice skates have the same sizes as you’d find in shoes. For instance, in the United States, sizes go from 6 to 10 and beyond, and the same goes for ice skates. However, ice skates generally run 1-1.5 sizes smaller than regular shoes, so if you wear an 8 in shoes, then you should opt for a 6.5 in ice skates. (Do test it out first, though)
How should my ice skates fit?
Ice skates should fit tighter than regular shoes. They are purposefully designed to provide you with adequate ankle support, which is especially important when standing on a single blade. When you slip-in your feet, it should feel snug on both sides, but at the same time, you should have enough room in the toe box to move your toes.
If you note that it’s very hard to slip your foot into the boots, or if you feel like there isn’t a snug pressure on both sides after lacing up or tightening the buckles, then it’s probably the wrong size.
Can beginner skates handle jumps and spins?
The ice skates in this review are considered entry-level or mid-range, so they have a level of support designed for recreational skating (except for the Supreme 2S Pro). If you wish to execute spins or jumps (akin to Olympic figure skaters), then you should look for higher-priced skates.
Are ice skate blades pre-sharpened?
Most ice skates are not pre-sharpened when they come from the manufacturer. You have to head out to a skate shop and have them sharpened by a professional skate sharpener.
Whether you’re getting your first pair of skates or purchasing your tenth pair, shopping for sports equipment is a highly personal process that depends on a variety of preferences you’re still developing or have developed over time.
One thing is for sure, regardless of the model you choose, you need to understand which one fits the best, and you have to give it some time to break-in.
We recommend that you try out the pair first before committing fully to a purchase. That’s why we would recommend you purchase in-store before purchasing online. The only exception is if you’re familiar with the model or brand, and feel confident in making the purchase.
If you’d rather get products online, we advise you to closely look at the product features, sizing, and customer reviews to have an idea of what to expect.