Things to consider when choosing a boot. Do you prefer synthetic or leather? Leather will last longer and breaks in easier, but if you are vegan or are looking to save some money, some of the synthetic boots might be more appealing. If cost is the only factor, it is usually preferable to go with a lower-end leather boot than a synthetic boot. It tends to pay off in the long run. There are some fantastic boots available now, you are welcome to contact us for advise on which are the best to go for.
You can get boots made by the manufacturers that are made to measure, in most cases this is not necessary and doesn't work as you'd hope. Skaters with boots like this often get just as much of a breaking in period as a normal boot. Some skates are generally wider or slimmer in the foot than others, there is a short list below as a guide;
Riedell, Bont: Slim/Medium
Jackson, Luigino Vertigo, Vanilla Renegade, Antik: Medium
Vanilla Brass Knuckles, Vanilla Straight Jacket, Suregrip Skates: Medium/Wide
Don't go for the size up because you think they will be more comfortable, it is important that your skates fit like a glove - you should be touching the end. Your skates will perform best if they are able to hold your feet snuggly in place. Skates will never mold properly to your feet, or perform properly, if you are moving around inside the boot. We have sizing guides for some of the brands at the top of the page. If you are in doubt about a particular brand you can contact us for advice.
Don't get too caught up on getting the lightest boots on the market, it is far more important to get a boot that is well made, will mold to your foot and will last you years. If you can stretch to a light weight set of plates and wheels for your skates, this is where you will feel the difference. The leverage that the weight of your plates and wheels have, hanging off the bottom of your boot, will affect your agility and foot speed. Heavy weight, low range metal plates are a waste of money. You are better off with a good nylon plate because it will be much lighter. Only go for a metal plate if you intend to shell out for a light weight set.
There are a lot of different opinions going on what wheels you should buy, it all depends on what the individual prefers.
A light skater will need softer wheels to get the same level of grip as a heavier person. If you are a heavy person on soft wheels, you will feel like you are stuck in the mud. This is because the rubber is flexing too much and gripping when you don't need it to.
Durometer / Hardness
Softer wheels are more grippy, and because of this will not loose as much traction on the corners or on your stride. If your wheels are too hard for you, you will notice some of your energy being soaked up just to keep the skates from slipping when accelerating or on bends. Softer wheels will also give you more control and be more reactive. A harder wheel will roll faster and slide more easily. This doesn't mean you will get around the track faster though - it takes a lot of effort to hold on the bends if your wheels are too hard and you wont be able to trust the grip when doing the sudden sharp manoeuvres that are expected in Roller Derby.
A narrower wheel will allow you to cut and change direction much more easily than a wide wheel, as well as rolling faster. Because they are more agile, they will make your manoeuvres easier too. If you choose a narrower wheel you will need to go softer to make up for the lost grip of having less surface area on the ground . Wider wheels will feel more stable, more surface area touching the ground will result in more grip, so you will want a slightly harder wheel if you are coming from a slim set.
A smaller 59mm wheel will accelerate better and feel more stable. A larger 62- 65mm wheel will offer more high end speed. Roller Derby wheels are usually sold in 59mm or 62mm. There really is not much difference but it is noticeable to a experienced skater.
There are lots of good wheels out there, these are some of the good ones. Please call or email us
for more help on your wheels.
A light skater looking for agility and grip = aim between 84 and 88a , slim or slim and low. A heavier skater looking for a bit more speed and stability = 92a+, medium to wide width, 59 or 62mm.
When it comes to your skates, you’ll usually end up replacing parts as needed. With regard to protective gear, it’s in a skater’s best interest to be more proactive. Replace helmets according to manufacturer’s guidelines. Replace any gear when it becomes damaged.
You should replace elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads at least once a year. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced it, you should replace it now. If duct tape is critical to the performance of your protective gear, replace it.
There is probably a greater variety of mouthguards available than any other type of equipment in roller derby. Mouthguards can start at £2 for basic youth-size boil-and-bite guards and can easily go over £50 for custom-made guards. It just depends on personal preference. If you are only wearing a mouthguard because the refs say you have to, stick with the low end and save your money to put towards other gear. If you have already dropped a lot of money on corrective or cosmetic dentistry and want to protect that investment, or you want to try to avoid having to do so in the future, definitely spend more and go for a custom job.
Helmets are really a matter of personal preference. There’s not one that substantially outperforms others. If it fits properly, it’s good.
How do you know if it fits properly?
It should be snug but not so tight it makes your head hurt or leaves marks on your forehead. Your strap should be snug, and the helmet shouldn’t be wobbling around on your head. If you are to the point where you are doing full-contact hitting with experienced skaters, you shouldn’t be using second hand gear. Depending on construction, some helmets are rated as single-impact, and some are rated as multi-impact. You can usually find out on the manufacturer’s website which yours is, but if they don’t have it listed, a short email to their customer service should get you the info you’re looking for.
Popular Helmet Brands:
Triple 8, TSG and Bullet
You’ll find that your elbow pads will last longer and take less of a beating than the rest of your gear. For the most part, there isn’t a huge variation in price among different brands of elbow pads.
Popular Elbow Pad Brands:
Bullet, TSG, Scabs
Wrist guards tend have the shortest useful life of all protective gear, especially when you’re new to the sport. Ask around, and the veteran skaters will point you in the right direction, since some brands last longer than others, though you’ll probably still end up replacing them a couple of times a year. Just keep in mind that you want ones that fit properly and cover nearly all of your palm. Also, while the glove-style wrist guards are popular, they don’t breathe well, so you’ll likely end up with stinky, sweaty hands.
Popular Wrist Guard Brands:
Triple 8, 187, Bullet
Knee injuries are arguably the most common injuries in roller derby, and they can end your derby career in an instant. Even if they aren’t career-ending, they can result in months of pain and limited mobility. This is definitely one area where you don’t want to go cheap. Buy good knee pads from the start and look after them. Look for pads that provide sufficient cushioning, fit well, and stay secure. One of the determining features for a lot of skaters is whether the knee pads are open-backed (strap-on) or closed-back (slide-on). Most people prefer open-backed so they can put them on or take them off without removing their skates. Fortunately, the most popular brands, that also happen to afford the best protection, are open-backed. If you have weak or damaged knees, consider some gaskets, they will keep your knee supported and hold your pads in place, Scabs and 187 are very good.