This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
Intermediate and advanced boots and blades are sold separately and
mounted by the skate shop. Beginner boots may be sold in pre-assembled
sets, but avoid those that have the blades riveted to or molded into a
plastic sole. For adults, the boots should fit snugly on your feet
such that the tips of your toes just brush or can stretch to reach the
toe of the boot. Good quality beginner boots are moderately stiff to
provide adequate support, and the more advanced boots get
The advantage of stiff boots is that they may last many years and
provide good support. Their disadvantage is that they have a long and
perhaps painful break-in period and they are more expensive. If you
buy *too much* skate, you may find them virtually impossible to break
in. Lighter boots on the other hand are more comfortable and break in
faster. They also wear out faster.
Before choosing boots, here is a checklist of some questions to ask
yourself. The boots you buy will depend entirely upon the answers.
1) How much do you enjoy skating? Do you feel that in time you will be
skating daily or is it something you just want to do once a week or
2) How long do you envision yourself skating? Do you think you have
found a sport that will keep you happily exercising for the next 20
3) What are your future expectations. Many skaters who initially can't
imagine ever doing a three-turn progress farther than they ever
imagined! What you need to ask is "What are my FANTASIES!" Also, what
about ice dance and synchronized skating? Do you have any dreams in
If you feel that you could easily end up skating every day, you will
probably want to skate for the next 20 years, and in your deepest
darkest heart of hearts you'd love to skate like Torvill and Dean and
maybe land a double Salchow, then the cost of your boots will in all
likelihood be the LEAST expense you have to worry about over the next
three years. And a good boot will probably last that long.
Whatever make of skating boots you buy, it is most important that the
boots fit properly (your foot should be held firmly by the boot) and
show first class workmanship. When trying on boots, wear the same
socks/tights that you will skate in. Thick socks are not a good idea
as they will allow the foot to move in the skate.
The construction of the boot tongue is important, since a relatively
stiff padded tongue will stay in place and keeps the pressure of
individual laces injuring your feet. Some tongues have a padded lambs
wool lining, but tongues of higher level skates are generally padded
with a foam rubber. The foam rubber should be about 3/8 - 1/2'' thick
and fairly stiff with small pores.
It is difficult to relate the size of the boot to your shoe size as
this varies from one manufacturer to another. Ask to be measured by a
competent vendor. They should have you sit and put a little pressure
on the measuring board. Try on the boots before having the blade
mounted, and don't hesitate to try others if you're not satisfied with
Custom fitted boots are not necessary unless your foot/ankle is shaped
unusually or has been injured, you require extra support for your
weight or are doing advanced jumps.