What are the best ice skate boots for beginners when when you are just starting to skate? Ice Hockey or Recreational boots are the best ice skate boots for beginners because they offer the ultimate change in direction and comfort.  The blades are shorter with no toe pick, so they allow quicker stops and alternative movement.  They provide an element of improved acceleration vs the longer blades on ice figure skating boots, which are designed for spins and jumps and longer gliding.  

We are beginners at any age!  Stepping into ice skating boots for the 1st time is a daunting expedition. We’ve all been there at Christmas in the town centre ice rinks with our girlfriends or families as a beginner – hoping we don’t fall face forward.  You step into those standard issue ice skate boots and you say “ouch”, is it attached properly, are my feet about to go numb?  You might find you enjoyed the experience and wish to purchase your own pair of boots for that occasional weekend. Your children or teenagers enjoyed the day out too and now you have a decision to make, what are the best ice skate boots for beginners?  Let’s start with the basics first. 


Its best to start with your number 1 query – what is the ice skate boot size vs shoe size?  Should ice skate boots be a bigger size?  For an adult this is not rocket science, simply buy the boot as close to the shoe size as possible.  For growing children and teenagers, think ‘back to school’ shoe shopping, if in doubt go 1 size up and you are good to go.  Most semi pro’s would be fine with 1cm gap behind the heal, so this is ideal for juniors as their feet grow, this provides approx. 1 year of life on the boot.  Don’t go above this size as it will be difficult to perform comfortable flowing movement on the ice.  Most brands have size charts with CM’s underneath each size.  You can find your foot length by drawing around your foot on paper, then measuring from the front to back in centimetres. 

Diagram to show how to measure your foot for ice skate size
Jacksons Sizing Recommendation


With a loose boot there’s an increased risk of blisters or injury. If you can shake your foot inside then you are way off.  Your toes should not be able to slide left to right inside the width of the boot.  Brands come in Narrow, Medium and Wide widths, Medium is most common if you feel comfortable in most of your trainers.  In the UK expect to see C = Narrow, D = Standard, R=Wider Standard, E=Wide, EE=Widest.  The difference between each size is 5mm.  We all have variations in foot width, around the ankle, heel, instep and toes.  

If you want to know your foot width, then take your foot drawing (mentioned above) and measure across the widest part.  Divide the foot length by the width to arrive at your foot/width ratio.  i.e. 3.0 or 2.5.  Any good retailer will have size charts to help you make a decision if you are outside the Medium fitment.


Do not add thick or additional socks to make the boot fit, this will make it feel uncomfortable after 2 minutes of skating.  Socks do not change how the boot will fit.  Thick socks also slightly position the blade too much ahead of the toes, hampering your stability. Any standard sock is fine, but the thinner the better.  We recommend cotton stretch socks, with no wrinkles inside.    


Use the finger test to ultimately decide.  Simply loosen the skate laces and push your foot up to the top of the boot. Whilst in a sitting position, look down into the back of the boot, down into the heal.  Now see how many fingers can fit in-between your heal and the back of boot.  One finger distance is the ultimate aim and no more.  For older skaters this isn’t required because they have finished growing, you just need to find a snug fit.

When laced up, you should not be able to raise your heel off the sole when you bend your knees or walk.  Many brands have their own size charts – i.e. Edea, Graf, SFR, Bauer, so do consult these.  Read consumers feedback (i.e. Amazon reviews) and they can give you confidence in purchasing, everyone is in the same boat as you.  If price is an issue purchase a mid-range boot which is spot on in size for now, which does not hinder your kids’ enjoyment on the ice vs. a high-end skate boot which will fit in 6 months.  That way you can see whether your children are 100% dedicated to ice skating, before your spend too much.


When you are lacing the boot for the first time, at home or in the shop, make sure to wear the same socks as you would on the ice, this makes a huge difference.  When lacing keep your toes comfortable, not too tight.  However, lace tightly towards the instep and ankle. This will position your heel into the correct area.  As you come up the upper ankle you can tie a little looser.  If the skates feel loose, the laces are not tight enough.  Make sure the tongue is straight and has not slipped under. 


You have 3 main types to choose from, each with links:

Figure Skating boots – soft leather.

Ice Hockey Skating Boots – synthetic leather / plastic.  

Recreational Skate boots – hybrid.

Figure skating boots will be more expensive due to in-built additional flexibility and being lighter weight. Figure skating is all about the ultimate top speed and tricks.  With the longer blade and short tail, they feature a toe pick so you can jump and spin in a choreographed way.  Their blades are very sharp to match the skill of the skater’s accuracy.  There are entry figure ice skating boots from SFR which have synthetic materials and PVC soles and also come with a good range of designs / colours.  The problem for younger kids is that they don’t provide the same level of comfort as ice hockey versions.

Ice hockey skates will have firmer plastic that restricts movement to a degree, but delivers more protection.  Expect to feel a hard-stiff shell on the outside yet still feel comfortable within with a lighter weight feel to the boot.  These stiffer boots were originally designed for heavier players with strong ankle support for explosive power.  Ice Hockey boots have a shorter blade underneath which is usually bolted to the boot, they are curved at the front and back.  This type of blade will allow quicker stops, changes of direction and ultimately faster acceleration from a stop position.   These blades have a deeper hollow in the blade, this means you will get less speed but a lot better grip because the points will cut down deeper into the ice. Ice Hockey players can stop and change direction the best, watch them on YouTube how their blades plough into the ice with ease. You can source the option of purchasing a double runner blade under the boot, but we these are really only for infants. Ice Hockey boots are great for beginners, but as soon as the basics are mastered i.e. you don’t fall over anymore and you feel braver, then move onto Figure Skating boots to master more advanced moves and turns.

As a third choice there are pure recreational style skate boots for kids, teens.  These are hybrids of Figure Skating and Ice Hockey.  Some come adjustable in width and length with sharpened hockey style stainless steel blades.  They also come with a ratchet style buckle and velcro ties.  Other recreational skates have furry liners for a warm snug fit.  Ultimately, they are designed with fantastic rigid ankle support with the blade riveted underneath.  So if you visit the ice rink only once a month and you practice with hundreds of other skaters around you, these are a strong viable option.

Finally, we hope there is adequate information here to make sure you buy the best ice skate boots for beginners.  One day you might be performing on ITV’s Dancing on Ice, so make sure you start developing your skill the right way.  Once you have your favourite pair, make sure you learn how to look after the blades on our earlier post.