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Published Sep. 12, 2021

Whether you’re an ’80s kid at heart or you just can’t shake the need to hop aboard the latest TikTok trend, roller skates are a great way to get moving (and groovin’). First seen gracing a London stage in 1743, old school skates used to strap directly onto your shoes. Nowadays, single-unit “quad” skates are much more popular; they consist of four wheels, a toe stop, and a lace-up boot fixed to a plate on top of the wheels. Roller skates became particularly popular during the disco era and resurfaced once again during the revival of roller derby in the early 2000s. In 2020, skating made yet another comeback as folks were searching for fun outdoor activities and scrolling through seemingly endless online videos of roller dance. Thus, our search for the best roller skates was born. 

We’ve put together this guide to help you identify which pair of roller skates will be best for your skill level and style. 

How We Picked the Best Roller Skates

Methodology

It’s easy to only look at color and style when shopping for new roller skates, but we made sure to consider other features before recommending them. We paid particular attention to the overall build of the skate, looking at the boot, plate, and wheel type to ensure a selection that would be suitable for indoor, outdoor, and hybrid skating. We also looked at adjustable hardware for more advanced skaters, analyzing toe stops that aid stopping or turning, trucks that affect balance alongside skate style, and bearings that impact exertion and effort. We researched the recommendations of professional skaters and made sure to investigate reputable brands, casting a wide net to suss out value, and only recommended skates we felt were worth the price. 

The Best Roller Skates: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall for Beginners: Moxi Skates Rainbow Riders

Ride the Rainbow

These feature a vibrant print, soft lining, and comfortable wheels for outdoor fun. Moxi

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Why It Made The Cut: The Rainbow Rider is specifically designed for beginner outdoor skaters, but will still satisfy those with a bit more experience. The boot is extremely comfortable and the standard hardware will keep you safe with an adjustable toe stop and sturdy boot. 

Specs:

  • Wheel Size: 58 millimeters 
  • Wheel Hardness: 82A
  • Wheel Material: Polyvinyl Chloride
  • Closure: Lace-up
  • Plate: Die-cast aluminum  
  • Bearing: ABEC-5
Pros:Cons:
  • Curved collar for support 
  • Only comes in whole sizes
  • Additional ankle padding 
  • Not suitable for a skatepark  
  • Price 
  • Adjustable toe stop 
  • Moxi Skates is dedicated to making roller skating accessible, stylish, and fun, with options for every skill level. Moxi partners with roller skating stalwart Riedell to produce high-quality pairs that meet the current moment. The Rainbow Riders are a top-tier option for outdoor skates designed with beginners in mind. The additional ankle padding, foam-backed lining, and sturdy vinyl provide an additional layer of support for those who aren’t used to wearing skates.  While they may not have the flexibility you need for advanced twists and turns, these are the best overall for beginners to help develop strength and stability. 

    Best for Rhythm: Sure-Grip White Fame Skate

    Shake, Rattle, and Roll

    These wheels offer an effortless roll and are ideal for indoor rinks. Sure-Grip

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    Why It Made The Cut: The 95A wheels really make a difference when it comes to executing artistic movements. The hand-poured urethane is hard enough to increase speeds on the rink, and ABEC-5 bearings support a smooth roll, making them the best for rhythm skating.

    Specs:

    • Wheel Size: 57 millimeters 
    • Wheel Hardness: 95A
    • Wheel Material: Urethane 
    • Closure: Lace-up
    • Plate: Sure-Grip Rock Nylon
    • Bearing: ABEC-5
    Pros:Cons:
  • Artistic Fame Wheels are top of the line
  • Limited color options
  • Upgradeable cushions 
  • Only comes in whole sizes
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable toe stop 
  • Sure-Grip’s classic Fame skate features hard wheels ideal for rolling around a rink, showing off your best dance moves. The durable wheels are specifically designed to increase speed and gracefully handle spins, turns, and exaggerated footwork. Though you’re only able to choose between a black and white boot, you’ll be able to choose from over five wheel colors when you order replacements. While everything will be smooth sailing indoors, these skates are not designed for outdoor use and are not considered a hybrid skate. 

    Best for Roller Derby: Riedell R3 Skates

    Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

    A breathable, durable boot designed for beginners who are ready to take over the rink. Riedell

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    Why It Made The Cut: The Riedell R3 Derby skates understand the rough and tumble sport. With reinforced boot durability, tough scuff leather toe caps, a firm, reinforced base, and grippy, Radar Villain wheels, you can stay comfortable and in control. 

    Specs:

    • Wheel Size: 59 millimeters 
    • Wheel Hardness: 84A
    • Wheel Material: Urethane 
    • Closure: Lace-up with velcro closure
    • Plate: PowerDyne Thrust Nylon 
    • Bearing: ABEC-5
    Pros:Cons:
  • Special-grade vinyl boot
  • Limited color options 
  • Reinforced toe cap
  • Getting the right fit can be tricky 
  • Velcro cinch 
  • Low fit
  • As entertaining and exhilarating as it is, roller derby can be an intense (and, dare we say, dangerous) sport. While there is some risk involved, you don’t need to experiment with your skates. The R3 Derby skates are built to be the best for roller derby: they come with a lower rise than other roller skates so that you can use your full range of motion to push off the ground and speed around the rink. Though the low rise leaves your ankle exposed, the fit is snug, and the velcro cinch is sturdy, so you’ll still be able to stay secure. The Radar Villain wheels are suitable for indoor and outdoor use—they won’t leave you tripping over every bump on the track, but they also won’t have you careening around the turns. Keep in mind, the company only recently switched to the Radar Villain wheels, so check the model to see if yours will come with the older Sonar Cayman wheels. 

    Best for Outdoor: Moxi Skates Lolly

    Belle of the Roller Ball

    A super stylish way to bust a move and complete a trick from the sidewalk to the skatepark. Moxi

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    Why It Made The Cut: The Lolly skates from Moxi are one of the best for outdoors on the market due to their quality build (featuring a genuine leather boot) and overall aesthetic. 

    Specs:

    • Wheel Size: 65 millimeters 
    • Wheel Hardness: 78A
    • Wheel Material: Hi-rebound urethane with urethane core
    • Closure: Lace-up 
    • Plate: PowerDyne Thrust Nylon 
    • Bearing: ABEC-5
    Pros:Cons:
  • Style and color options
  • Expensive 
  • Genuine leather boot 
  • Color Matching Wheels  
  • We really can’t get enough of Moxi Skates, and the Lollys have us jumping (or rolling) for joy. Not only are they available in eight colors, but the retro vibes grab all the attention you deserve. You’ll immediately look like the latest TikTok roller skate star, regardless of your skill level. The updated 2021 version features a narrower wheel for agility, increased thickness for support, and improved color fidelity over time. The boot is made from genuine leather, which will form to your foot and lead to a more supportive, comfortable skating experience. The Lolly skates come with Gummy wheels, which are super soft and great for beginners trying out recreational skating. While the boot itself is suitable for the skatepark, the Moxi Gummy wheels might need an upgrade. 

    Best Value: Impala Women’s Quad Skate

    Budget-Friendly and Beautiful

    A hybrid model available in various designs that won’t break the bank. Impala

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    Why It Made The Cut: With a quality build, excellent bearings, and multiple style options, the Impala Quad Skates give you the best value.

    Specs: 

    • Wheel Size: 58 millimeters 
    • Wheel Hardness: 82A
    • Wheel Material: Urethane with nylon core
    • Closure: Lace-up 
    • Plate: Aluminum 
    • Bearing: ABEC-7
    Pros:Cons:
  • Excellent bearings 
  • Toe stops aren’t adjustable
  • Vegan materials 
  • Padded collar for extra comfort 
  • Price
  • The Impala Quad Skates took the decade by storm after being featured on the feet of celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Sasheer Zamata. After scoring a collab with designer Cynthia Rowley, it’s a miracle these skates don’t cost more. This is a hybrid model, so it’s suitable for beginners who want to boogie at a roller disco or street skate on a sunny afternoon. The hard boot is waterproof with extra padding for comfort and support, and the hardware components will keep entry- to intermediate-level skaters happy. 

    Things to Consider Before Buying Roller Skates 

    While you don’t need to be an expert to strap on a pair of roller skates, there are a few things to consider before hitting up the skate park. Think about what type of skating you want to do, your experience level, and your style before you browse so you can find a great pair that fits your feet and your needs. 

    Skate Type 

    While the differences may seem obvious, it’s important to make sure you’re looking for the right wheels. Rollerblades, or inline skates, are generally better for speed, stability, and sports. The wheelbase is longer and consists of a straight line of four large yet thin wheels, which makes skating over rough surfaces smoother. Blades are commonly used for cardio, roller hockey, and commuting. Skates, on the other hand, have a wider wheelbase which can prevent falling sideways. The toe base increases quick maneuvering, making them suitable for executing fun tricks like spins, jumps, and sharp turns. 

    Wheels 

    The wheel you select has a lot to do with the kind of skating you’re looking to try out. Wheels are classified by hardness on a durometer scale, ranging from 72A to 102A, or softest to hardest. Outdoor skating benefits from a softer, bouncier wheel that can handle cracks, pebbles, and uneven ground without throwing you completely off balance. Indoor skating on smooth surfaces succeeds with a hard wheel, which increases speed and fluidity. Hybrid wheels in the middle of the scale are great for indoor-outdoor skating. 

    Boot

    The boot on your roller skates can make or break your disco, dancing, or derby experience. A hard boot typically provides more ankle support and is sometimes recommended specifically for beginners. Often made out of vinyl, a hard boot fits securely and can support your joints while you try out new moves on the rink or at the skatepark. A softer boot gives you more mobility, but less ankle support. Better for more advanced skaters looking for comfort, soft or short boots increase flexibility which can be helpful for quick turns and stops. Remember, most skates only come in whole sizes, so check out reviews and read the specs to decide whether you should size down or up (most choose down). 

    Generally, you want your boot to fit snugly. A boot with too much room can lead to blisters from your foot sliding around, trying to find a grip to push off of. Most skate companies will offer narrow or wide toe box options so you can get the right fit without squishing your toes. Skates come in standard shoe sizes, so if you typically wear an 8.5 in tennis shoes, you can order an 8.5 in skates. Just remember, the boots will need to be broken in, so if you try them on and they feel a little bit too tight, you just need to give them a few tries before the material relaxes a bit. If you notice your toes are jammed up into the front of the skate, you may need to go up a size. 

    Hardware

    When you purchase a pair of roller skates, you’ll see specs related to additional hardware like toe stops, plates, trucks, cushions, and bearings, which fit inside the wheels to help them roll. If you’re a beginner, you’ll be totally fine with the standard settings that come with your skates. As you advance, you may find you want to make adjustments depending on your skate style. However, any skater can benefit from adjustable toe stops that allow you to control the height. This will ensure you can rely on the stop even when they start to erode, or you need a little more help reaching the ground. 

    FAQs 

    Q: Is roller-skating a good form of exercise? 

    Yes, roller skating is an excellent form of exercise. Gentle on joints, roller skating engages your core, glutes, and legs as well as your cardiovascular system. Anytime you lace up your skates, you’ll be preparing for at least a little bit of a workout. Of course, it’s up to you to set an intensity level you’re comfortable with. Speed skating, aggressive park skating, roller derby, and aerobic dancing are all excellent ways to burn calories while increasing strength and stability. 

    Q: How do you learn to roller skate? 

    Practice, practice, practice. Unless you sign up for in-person classes, learning to roller skate is a trial by error activity. Make sure you wear all the proper safety equipment, such as a helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbows pads, then set out to find a flat area for practice. Before you start taking off with big strides, try duck walking first, so you can get used to keeping your balance, then you can practice gliding and turning. For additional help, you can find online tutorials and in-depth articles that will have you zooming through the parking lot in no time. 

    Q: How much do quality roller skates cost? 

    A quality pair of roller skates can cost anywhere from $90 to $300, but you can generally expect to pay between $100 and $130. While cheaper skates are available, safety is a primary concern. You want to make sure you are investing in sturdy, well-constructed models, even if you don’t plan to make a career out of roller skating.

    Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Pair of Roller Skates 

    Whether you’re setting off on a lifelong roller skating journey, or you just want to see what all the commotion is about, strapping on a great pair of roller skates can be a fun way to get out of the house and get moving. Before you buy, make sure you understand the build of a roller skate, figure out where you’re going to be zipping around, and browse accordingly. Select a pair of retro-chic skates in a bold color or a psychedelic print, and get ready to take a few tumbles on your way to becoming roller disco royalty. 

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