Elite skates vs. performance skates: Which is best for hockey?

Hockey & Ice Skating

You want your skates to be snug with your toe barely touching the toe cap. Once you lace them up and stand, your heel will sit back further, moving your toes away from the toe cap and creating the perfect fit.

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Which skates are best for hockey?

Hockey is a fast-paced sport that requires lots of equipment to keep the players safe and comfortable on the ice. Arguably, skates are the foundation of the sport. The ice is what makes this sport stand out from all the rest, and finding the right pair of skates can help you perform to the best of your abilities.

Picking out the right pair of skates has a lot to do with preference, but it also has to do with your skill level and how much you play. Your position also has a significant influence on what style of skate you should purchase. If you play forward, your main goal is speed, so a lighter skate may work better than the more sturdier skates that defensemen prefer.

Elite skates and performance skates are not known for being beginner skates. They’re more expensive than recreational skates and are made to withstand the baking process, which most beginner skates cannot. Baking your skates means setting them in a special oven so that they can mold to your feet, ensuring the best fit possible.

Fitting hockey skates

Before deciding between elite or performance skates, you will want to figure out your fit style. More often than not, skaters have the wrong skate size. This is because skate sizes run a little differently than shoe sizes. It might be hard to believe, but your skate size should be smaller than your shoe size. Yes, smaller. Skates that are too big will cause your foot to move around, causing blisters and preventing you from reaching your top speed more difficult.

Of course, tight skates will be uncomfortable, so buying skates a size smaller than your shoe size can feel wrong, but skate manufacturers go by a different size guide. This size guide is bigger than a shoe guide, which is why most players are dealing with blisters due to their feet shifting around. So, when in doubt, size down.

The brand you choose will also have a big impact on how the skate fits, so knowing your foot’s profile is important. Determine if you have a narrow, standard or wide foot and choose a skate fit type based on your foot profile. Your foot profile could mean that one skate brand may work better for your foot than another skate brand.

What is the difference between elite and performance skates?

The difference between elite and performance skates is comfort and affordability. If it falls within your budget and is comfortable, then the hockey skate is right for you. If you are an experienced player who finds yourself on the ice once or twice a week, you can benefit from a performance-level skate’s durability and extra support. Elite skates are the next step up from performance skates, built with professional players in mind. Elite-level skates are for advanced skaters who are on the ice multiple times a week and need a hockey skate that can keep up.  

Elite-level skates usually have a longer lifespan and the extra protection needed for advanced hockey leagues. The outsole of elite skates is often more durable than performance skates and elite skates have ventilation that allows for faster drying time for skaters who are on the ice multiple times a week.

Both elite and performance skates are heat-moldable, guaranteeing that they will be more comfortable than beginner skates. The difference between performance and elite skates has more to do with your play level than your foot profile.

If neither of these skate levels sounds like you, then a recreation skate might be best for you. Recreational skates are for beginners or casual hockey players, and to find some recreational options check out this ice hockey skates buying guide created by BestReview.  

Best performance level hockey skates

Bauer Senior Vapor X2.7 Ice Hockey Skate 

Bauer Senior Vapor X2.7 Ice Hockey Skate 

If you are a competitive player looking for a reasonable price, check out these hockey skates by Bauer. The boot is stiff and supportive to help you put power into every stride. Changing out the runners is easy with the most popular holder in the NHL, known as Tuuk Edge technology. They have a microfiber lining with a thick memory foam padding around the ankle that will keep you comfortable and dry. Sold by Dick’ Sporting Goods

 

CCM Junior Jet Speed FT470 Ice Hockey Skates 

CCM Junior Jet Speed FT470 Ice Hockey Skates 

These lightweight skates will give you the power to glide down the ice with comfort and ease. If your steel gets damaged during a game, these CCM skates have a quick-release hold that will get you back out on the ice. They have air vents to help manage moisture in the boot and a felt tongue with foam injection that will protect the top of your foot. The padding around the ankle will prevent the boot from digging in and causing blisters on the ankle. Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Best elite level hockey skates

Bauer Senior Vapor 2X Ice Hockey Skate 

Bauer Senior Vapor 2X Ice Hockey Skate 

Elite-level performance Bauer skates will give you the best fit and range of motion. These skates have an asymmetrical design that provides players with the best support and comfort. They are flexible and have thick padding that extends into the toe box to provide more protection. The elite-level performance technology will enhance your stride and allow you to play at the top of your game. These Bauer Vaper 2X Skates are also available in junior sizes. Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Take away

Hockey requires a lot of gear, and it all comes in a wide range of prices and performance styles. When it comes to skates, both performance and elite skates will offer more comfort than low-priced recreational skates, but elite skates are known for having material of the highest quality. The deciding factor comes down to who you are as a skater and how much you want to spend.

Something to consider

Elite-level skates are more expensive, but if you are a performance-level skater who wants to continue advancing, you might want to invest in an elite skate. Especially if your foot is no longer growing.

When trying on skates, remember to wear the socks that you plan to use as your skate socks so that when you mold the skate, it not only molds to your foot but also to the skate sock.

CCM Youth S100P Core Ice Hockey Socks

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Bailey Gates writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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