The Ultimate Skate Buying Guide

The Ultimate Skate Buying Guide

If you’re looking to increase your on-ice performance, it starts with your skates. Simply put, your hockey skates connect you to the ice. The right skate will help you level up your game by providing proper support, grip on the ice and speed – while making the most of your skating style. 

Since 1927, we have developed some of the most forward-thinking skates that have empowered generations of hockey players around the world. Our skate experts have spent thousands of hours in our RD&D Laboratory perfecting a variety of skates for every type of player.

Read on to discover how to choose the right skate for you based on your skating style, level of play, foot size and shape, and your goals for the next season.

JUMP TO SECTION

Finding the Right Skate

Getting the Right Fit

Building Performance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FINDING THE RIGHT SKATE

young hockey player skating on ice

When shopping for a new hockey skate, there are a few questions you’ll want to start thinking about:

  • How many times per week do you skate?
  • What is your current skate model?
  • What do you like and dislike about your current skates?
  • Do you have any hotspots or pain points in your skates?
  • What would you like to achieve with your new skates?

Once you have contemplated some of these questions, it’s time to find the skate family that best matches your skating style.

STEP 1: Find the Right Skate Family

When it comes to choosing which skates are the best for you, the first thing you need to consider is your skating style. This will help determine which family of skates best match how you perform on the ice.

If you are a player who:

  • Accelerates fast off the line
  • Is reactive side to side
  • Uses quick changes in direction

Vapor skates are probably best for you.

Some examples of players that are quick and agile include: Jack Hughes, David Pastrnak, Patrick Kane & Marie Phillip Poulin.

 

If you are a player who:

  • Has a longer and more technical stride
  • Uses deceptive footwork
  • Leverages strong and efficient cross overs

Supreme skates are probably best for you.

Some examples of players with technical and deceptive skating style include: Cale Makar, Charlie McAvoy, Nick Suzuki & Hilary Knight.

 

Vapor and Supreme skates are engineered to enhance different skating styles:

VAPOR SKATES


VAPOR skates are made with softer, more flexible materials in the lower portion of the boot and stiffer, more responsive materials in the upper portion of the boot. This creates a flex point in the lower portion of the skate for quick and agile players. The stiff upper portion helps players shift their weight quickly and responsively.

 

SUPREME SKATES


SUPREME skates use stiffer, responsive materials in the lower portion of the skate and softer, more flexible materials in the top of the skate. This creates a flex point in the upper portion of the skate for the technical and deceptive skaters. The flexible upper portion allows for more range of motion, deeper forward flex, and longer leg extension for skaters.

STEP 2: Find the Right Skate

Once you’ve chosen which family of skates best match your skating style, it’s time to find the model of skates that match your level of play. The right skate model will have the right amount of flex and features that allow you to progress as a player.

There are 5 levels of skates within the Supreme and Vapor families. Find your level of skate based on which level sounds the most like you. Keep in mind that you may want to move up a level (for example, from Competitive to Performance) if you are planning to skate more next season.

Recreational Skates
New skaters and hockey players
Designed for players who skate 1-3 days per week in a casual and fun environment. These players are usually playing in introductory hockey leagues or playing hockey with friends on outdoor rinks & ponds. These skates are focused on comfort and flex to allow you to progress more efficiently.

Shop Bauer X, Bauer X-LP, Bauer X-LS

Competitive Level Skates
New hockey players
Designed for players who skate 2-4 days a week primarily through team practices and competitive games. These skates are generally a combination of injected materials and fiberglass composites that are much softer and easier to flex. Competitive Level Skates bridge the gap between premium comfort and support.

Shop Supreme M3 and Vapor X3

Performance Level Skates
Intermediate & developing hockey players
Designed for players who skate 4-6 days a week primarily through team practices and games. These skates are made with lightweight composite materials for thermoformability but have a softer construction for easier, more forgiving flex.

Shop Supreme M4 and Vapor X4 Skates

Elite Level Skates
Elite hockey players
Designed for players who skate 6-7 days a week through a combination of team practices and games. These skates feature a lot of the same lightweight, supportive and thermoformable materials as Pro Level Skates, but are generally a little softer to allow for skating development.

Shop Supreme M5 Pro, Vapor X5 Pro

Pro Level Skates
Pro-level & pro-aspiring players
Designed for players who skate 7-days a week through a combination of team practices, team games and individual skill sessions with personal coaches. These skates are engineered with a combination of lightweight, most supportive and thermoformable materials possible.

Shop Supreme Mach, Vapor HYPERLITE 2

 

Finding the Right Vapor Skate

 Skate Best For Width Options Sizes
X3 Competitive powerful skaters D (Standard fit)
EE (Wide fit)
Intermediate
Senior
X4 Performance powerful skaters FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Youth
Junior
Intermediate
Senior
X5 PRO Elite players FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Youth
Junior
Intermediate
Senior
HYPERLITE 2 Pro-level & pro-aspiring players FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Intermediate
Senior

 

Finding the Right Supreme Skate

 Skate Best For Width Options Sizes
M3 Competitive powerful skaters D (Standard fit)
EE (Wide fit)
Intermediate
Senior
M4 Performance powerful skaters FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Youth
Junior
Intermediate
Senior
M5 PRO Elite powerful skaters FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Junior
Intermediate
Senior
MACH Pro powerful skaters FIT 1 (Narrow fit with low volume)
FIT 2 (Medium fit with mid volume)
FIT 3 (Wide fit with high volume)
Intermediate
Senior

 

Custom Skates

Custom skates are a great option for players who want to experience one-of-a-kind skate performance. With custom skates, you will get made-for-you skates that meet the specs, features and qualities of your feet. We offer two options for players: Supreme and Vapor.

Learn More About Your Custom Skate Options

GETTING THE RIGHT FIT

Getting the right fit for your skates will help to maximize your performance on the ice. You’ll want to find your right size for both your foot length, foot width and volume.

Skate Sizing

Hockey skates are available in Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Youth sizes reflected in a universal sizing chart.

How to Find Your Size: Female players will want to go down three sizes from your running shoe. Men usually find the best fit by going down two sizes. Children who are still growing will want to go down one size.

Foot Width Options

Five different fits accommodate a variety of foot widths and volumes.

D
Standard fit.

EE
Wide fit.

FIT 1
Fits feet with narrow width and low volume.

FIT 2
Fits feet with medium width and medium volume.

FIT 3
Fits feet with wide width and high volume.

If you’re not sure about your foot type, a Fit Lab retailer will scan your foot and set you up with the most precise fit.

Find a FitLab Retailer

Trying on Skates

When trying on skates, keep the top two eyelets unlaced to slide your foot into the skate easily. Pull the tongues forward and look inside the skate to position your ankles properly. When lacing the skate up, try to mimic a “firm handshake.”

Fully lace up both skates before making any decisions on fit. A fully laced up skate applies force on the foot to lock it back in the skate which can alleviate initial pressure points and will give you the right fit.

The ideal feel of a properly fitted skate out of the box should be similar to a firm handshake. When you stand up with skates laced up, your toes should be brushing the front of the toe cap of the skate. When you bend your knees, your toes should feel like they are lightly touching the front of your toe cap. Keep in mind that over time, the materials in the skate will begin to compress, creating a little additional space in the skate.

Some things to avoid

  • Avoid buying skates that are too big or small
  • Avoid ignoring comfort for performance
  • Avoid overlooking proper maintenance and care

Need a Custom Fit? Try FitLab

If you experience foot discomfort or pressure points in your current skates, you may want to get a custom fit with Fit Lab. Fit Lab is our newest state-of-the-art fitting solution: a foot scanner backed by a database of over 50 million unique scans.

The foot scanner captures a wide array of foot data points and summarizes the data into unique product recommendations based on the unique characteristics of your foot. The integration of these tools allows FitLab to uncover the unique qualities of your foot, movement, pressure distribution, and overall biomechanical nuances for a customized and enhanced skate fitting experience.

Data Points

3D Measurements
Foot length & width
Instep height and width
Ball height, width and volume
Heel width and volume
Arch height
Ankle volume
Foot length
Max toe height

Pressure Map
The scan also identifies pressure zones under the foot with a pressure map.

Gait Analysis
Looks at how the transfer of weight occurs in the foot during movement, as well as how pressure is distributed during movement.

The FitLab specialist will help you select the right skate family and model for you based on your skating style and level of play. Finally, your skates will be heat molded for the most comfortable and precise fit.

Learn more about FitLab

BUILDING PERFORMANCE

Now that you’ve chosen your skate, it’s time to enhance your overall fit and on-ice skating with the right pieces of performance. Think: the right steel and profile for your skating style, orthotics to dial in the fit to your foot, and the right socks to keep your feet warm and comfortable in your skate.

Socks

Skate socks allow you to experience more feel, support the foot and provide a closer skate-to-foot interaction. We offer five different types of skate socks:

Vapor Socks
Thin compression socks that give you more feel and performance.

Supreme Socks
Designed with thicker compression yarns for added comfort and support in toes and heels.

Pro Cut-Resistant Socks
Cut-resistant fabrics provide added protection from the top of the sock to the heel.

Warmth Socks
Insulate the foot without adding weight.

Performance Socks
Strike the balance between performance and feel.

Explore Skate Socks

Orthotics

Orthotics reduce negative space inside the skate for more foot-to-skate contact, redistribute your foot pressure throughout the skate and correct body alignment to create a more powerful stride, more efficiency in movement and agility and increased balance. We offer three different orthotic options that can increase comfort for players with high pronation, low arch support or forefoot pressure:

FIT A

For flatter arches. A posted heel helps correct over rotation.

FIT B

For medium arches with standard heel and forefoot.

FIT C

For higher arches. Includes a metatarsal pad for pressure distribution.

If you’re not sure about your foot type, a Fit Lab retailer will scan your foot and set you up with the best fitting orthotic. 

Explore Orthotics

Steel & Holder

Your skate’s steel and holder provide the interface between your foot and the ice. And the right steel and holder can help you gain an edge over your opponents. Choose from two holder and two steel options to fine tune your skates for peak on-ice performance.

Steel

The right steel will elevate all aspects of your skating motions. Every steel fiber is engineered purposefully for edge retention, blade security and overall durability. We offer two steel options:

FLY-TI
Titanium coated runner that offers the most bite.

FLY-X
A polished finish provides a premium glide.

Many Performance, Elite and Pro players opt to get a second set of steel to keep on-hand during games.

Holders

We offer two options for holders–each with a quick release trigger so you can quickly swap out your steel.

Lightspeed Edge
The standard holder in the NHL for over a decade. A symmetrical flex profile provides a consistent stride.

POWERFLY
A completely reimagined holder — featuring a stiff front post for more responsiveness when accelerating, a flexible back post for quicker pivots and transitions, and a hyperbolic bridge to optimize balance and power in every stride. Learn more about Powerfly.

Explore Holder & Steel

Sharpening & Profiling

Whether you’re playing at an elite level or just starting to play hockey, profiling and sharpening your blade provides a better on-ice experience. By combining the right profile with the right sharpening for your style and play, you’ll feel an immediate difference in your performance.

Profiling

Profiling is the shaping of the steel skate blade from heel to toe, customizing the blade shape to your body position, skating ability, and stride. Profiling maximizes your blade’s contact to the ice, and the 4 key aspects of skating: acceleration, transition, speed, and stability. In practical terms, this will help you get to the puck faster, and increase your agility and balance!

Thanks to PROSHARP BAUER, profiling is more accessible to everyone. The profiling options are:

ZUPERIOR AGILITY
Helps players feel more on their toes for enhanced acceleration.

ELLIPSE DYNAMIC
Ideal for players looking for seamless transitions between speed and agility.

QUAD POWER
For balanced and powerful skating strides.

Explore Profiling & Sharpening

Sharpening

Sharpening is the operation of placing a hollow on the bottom of a skate blade creating two even edges that grab the ice. A deep hollow will offer more bite and grip on the ice, while a shallow hollow will allow for more glide.

TLC for your Steel

Keeping your steel sharp and freshly profiled will maximize your performance on-ice. But how often should you sharpen and profile your edges?

When to sharpen: How often you sharpen your blades is up to you. If your skates feel like they’re no longer performing well, gently run your finger along the edge of the blade. Any small nicks and defects you feel will affect your on-ice performance. A good sharpening will grind those flaws away. For competitive players looking for the best possible performance from their skates, Bauer recommends sharpening your skates after every 2 to 3 hours on ice.

When to profile: A great rule of thumb is to profile your skates three times per year: at the start of your season, at mid-season and before the playoffs.

MyBAUER Custom Skates

 

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind way to experience skate performance, custom skates may be for you. Designed to meet the specs, features and qualities of your feet, there is no better way to make your skates you. There are two options to choose from:

CUSTOM
Feature spec options for half-size differences between left and right feet and additional tongue models with personalization and color options.

PRO CUSTOM
Allows you to fully customize the specs of your skates just like the pros for the best fit possible. You will have ¼ size length options as well as options for ankle padding, eyelets, facing, toe caps, stretching, holders, steel, a full tongue menu, boot colors, and personalization.

Explore Fit Lab Custom Skates

What separates good players from great ones isn’t how they shoot. It’s how they skate. Having the right skates will push you as a player and help you play a cut above the rest. As you can see, choosing the right skate will depend on a number of factors. If you are ever in doubt, feel free to chat with us online, or visit a Fit Lab retailer to ensure you are getting the best skate for your game.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

What is the rule of thumb for fitting into ice hockey skates?
If there is too much room in the skate, you may want to try a smaller size. If you feel pinching in certain areas, you may want to address foot width and volume with a different BAUER FIT.

Should ice skates be tight or loose?
Skates shouldn’t fit too big or small. Instead, you want the fit to mimic a firm handshake around your foot.

How to fix my ankles from leaning inwards on hockey skates?
If your ankles are leaning inwards, you will want to look at Fit A orthotics, which can help to correct over pronation.

How can you tell if your skates are too tight?
If you experience pain, numbness and/or loss of feeling when wearing your skates, they may be too tight. Visit a Fit Lab retailer to get the most precise fit for your next hockey skate.

Will breaking into hockey skates hurt my feet?
If your skates are fitted properly, you should find the breaking in period to be less painful. However, most skates will relax and “pack out” slightly after a few shifts.

What hockey skates have wide toe boxes?
BAUER skates available in Fit 3 (Performance, Elite, Pro) offer the best fit for feet with wide width and high volume.

Should toes touch the end of my hockey skates?
If your toes are pressing against the toe box of your hockey skates, you will likely need to go up one size. When in doubt, visit a Fit Lab retailer to get a custom fit.

How to measure skate size?
BAUER hockey skates are available in Senior, Intermediate, Junior and Youth sizes which are reflected in a universal sizing key. Female players will want to go down three sizes from your running shoe. Men usually find the best fit by going down two sizes. Children who are still growing will want to go down one size.

How to lace hockey skates to avoid lace bites?
Keep the top two eyelets unlaced to slide your foot into the skate easily. Pull the tongues forward and look inside the skate to position your ankles properly. When lacing your skates, try to mimic a firm handshake.

How long will my skates last?
This is very dependent on the level of play and growth of the foot. In general, players who play pro or elite level hockey (and take care of skates) can expect the skate to last 1-1.5 seasons of play. Players who are performance or competitive level who generally don't skate as often can potentially get 3-4 years out of their skates.

Will the most advanced skate help me progress faster?
No. If you are a developing hockey player and purchase a skate that is designed for pro-level players, you will have a difficult time getting enough ankle and knee flex. This will lead to an inefficient skating technique. If you are an elite player and purchase a hockey skate made for recreational use, the skate will break down more quickly. This will lead to durability issues and a loss of output.

Should I buy a skate for my position?
It’s best to find a skate that is matched to your skating style. The right skate for you will depend on a few factors like your foot shape and size, your skating style, and your level of play.