Equipment and Gear Overview
Rental skates are usually available at the rink where classes are held. Pants that have a little flare at the bottom will fit over the top of the skates. Tight legged jeans may hinder boot fit and flexibility. Shorts are not recommended as the skater will from time to time land on their knees. Knee pads can be used but interfere with free body movements. Wrist guards are always a good idea when first starting out.
Skates are usually only stocked in Men's sizes so women will want to try one size smaller than they normally wear. Skates should be laced up to the top and should be a snug fit for good control. If your feet move about inside the skate you will loose control and have a more difficult time learning.
Basic equipment could be described as just about anything you can wear with wheels on the bottom. I have seen Cowboy boots fitted with roller skates as well as “heely's” shoes with retractable rollers mounted underneath. Of course there are inline and hockey style skates.
Below you will find more details about the different types of skates available and what there specific uses tend to be. Roller skating has been and continues to be a sport with the simplest equipment needs, even less than soccer! One can describe a basic skate as a boot or shoe with some kind of “plate” mounted underneath with some sort of wheel attached to the plate. Although the equipment requirements are simple the equipment itself can be very advanced and made of high tech materials with sound engineering principles backing it.
Artisitc boots, plates and wheels
These boots usually have a higher top that covers the ankle. The plates will have adjustable king pins, toe stop mounts and hardened axles. Wheels will be 63mm in diameter and have several different durometers to choose from based on the skating surface. Soft for slick surfaces, medium for tighter floors, and harder for the tightest floors. Harder wheels will roll faster than soft wheels. Freestyle will use a smaller diameter wheel to lower the C.G. of the skater and may vary the softness at each corner based on the maneuvers they will be preforming.
Figure boots, plates and wheels
These boots have a stiffer ankle sections, the plates typically do not have toe stops and the wheels will be harder, slicker and faster rolling. Some use ceramic bearings for better rolling.
Dance boots, plates and wheels
These boots will be softer and have relief cuts in the back for greater toe points. Refer to Artistic above.
Speed boots, plates and wheels
These boots tend to be only ankle high similar to tennis shoes. Some have carbon fiber shells that are quite stiff. Wheels tend to be wider and harder for greater speed and better grip. The wheels will be smaller in diameter than artistic.
Roller Derby boots, plates and wheels
These boots tend to be only ankle high similar to tennis shoes. They are soft and pliable with less king pin angle for stability. The wheels tend to be similar to speed with wide, soft and smaller diameter than artistic.
Speed boots, plates and wheels
These boots tend to be ankle height or lower made from carbon fiber and are very stiff. The plates have sideways adjustment and can mount various different diameters of wheels. The trend has been to larger diameter wheels for less rolling resistance and 110mm seems to be the normal size for adults now. Smaller diameters for kids are important as they just cannot raise their feet high enough for the larger wheels.
Hockey boots, plates and wheels
These boots tend to be high, almost mid-calf with stiff uppers and the plates tend to have smaller diameter wheels for better maneuverability and quick turning. This lower center of gravity helps in defensive skirmishes and quick accelerations.
Combo boots, plates and wheels
These boots tend to be softer and easier on the feet. This is what most sporting goods stores sell to the public for outdoor recreation. They are still above the ankle in height but much more padded than the speed skates. They tend to have mid-range diameter wheels for good speed, good maneuverability and usually come with some sort of breaking mechanism to help the novice slow down or stop. This is a good starting type for most people. Pay close attention to the bearings as some of the cheaper inlines have some really poor bearings that cannot be changed out and allow the wheels to wobble. This can be a little dangerous and a good waste of money.
The average indoor quad roller skater doesn't have much gear to speak of.
One might have various wrenches that fit your plates, a few different styles of wheels depending on where and what you skate on and a towel for wiping the sweat of your brow kept handy in a skate bag for when needed.
For the Inline skater it can get more interesting as they usually like to be decked out in helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, gloves and a great pair of shades. All this is quite necessary when skating outside if one hopes to avoid the inevitable road rash generated by sliding on concrete or asphalt surfaces. They will carry wrenches and wheels in their pack similar to the quad skater but usually need a bigger pack for all the extra protective gear.
There is standard apparel for just about every hobby imaginable and roller is not much different.
Artistic skaters tend to be in stretch attire that is fast drying for practice. Nylon stretch fabric for pants allows falls to slide some on the urethane coated indoor surfaces. Velvet jackets, pants and skirts for the ladies are required for competition. Some of these outfits are jeweled with crystals, mirror and sequins to ad glisten and sparkle for the audiences.
Speed skaters usually have shorts of stretch nylon and fast drying stretch shirts in team colors much like biking attire. Some wear gloves, helmets are usually required for safety reasons.
Roller Derby takes the medal for most provocative and outlandish costumes. The sky is the limit with these ladies. Usually shorts over some colorful stockings with helmets, elbow pads, knee pads and color coded gloves to match. Some sport temporary tattoos while others go for all the tats they can stand. Stripes swirls and odd combinations are common.