Should I buy my own ice skates for casual weekly lessons?
July 30, 2010 2:47 AM   Subscribe

I've recently started ice skating lessons, and I'd like to continue taking lessons for a while. How long can I hold out in rental skates for lessons before I need to buy my own?

One of the more advanced students suggested I could wait until Level 4 (on the Skate UK 10-Level system) before it was really necessary, which would not be for at least 6 months or so. Can I wait that long? Will I be holding back my progress in those blocky rental skates that don't really fit all that well? Could they hurt my feet over time? I do want my own skates, but I'd want to get a good pair that won't fall apart quickly. I'm having trouble justifying the expense for a casual, once-or-twice-a-week-at-most kind of hobby.
posted by Eumachia L F to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No, you can't wait that long. Get some now. Get a basic matched set.
posted by tel3path at 4:19 AM on July 30, 2010

BTW in order to make progress you should really skate three times a week, for an hour and a half each time. And have an adequate pair of skates to do it with, i.e. not rental skates. Otherwise you won't get anywhere. Sorry!
posted by tel3path at 4:20 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

rental skates suuuuuck. I've been learning to skate this year and I got my own skates after maybe my fourth lesson and it's been great.

At our rink the skating school instructor sells used skates, might be worth looking into.
posted by ghharr at 5:01 AM on July 30, 2010

The rule of thumb I've heard before for rent vs. buy, particularly for sporting equipment, is to spend as much money on rentals as the total purchase price would be; if you're still into the sport/instrument/whatever at that point, then go ahead and buy. However, I have never considered the finer points of owning ice skates so I couldn't say if there are additional benefits to owning your own.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:06 AM on July 30, 2010

Rental skates are actively bad, rather than just not very good. And skating is not a sport where you can make progress with inadequate tools. You don't need something state-of-the-art, you just need a bog standard matched set (i.e. no special blades, just generic ones preattached to the boots in the factory).

The boots will fit and provide adequate support, meaning you aren't flopping around the rink on the sides of your ankles. The blades will be sharp enough without nicks or damage, meaning that you have enough of an edge to learn the absolute basics correctly and aren't skidding all over the place thinking it's your fault when it's not. The basics of skating are about edges, therefore you can't learn if the edges of your blades are damaged as rental skates invariably are because they're only intended for shlemiels whose idea of fun is to spend the afternoon hugging the boards shrieking "waaaah I can't skate heeeelp! this is sooooo scary shriekkkk! I am soooo easily amused waaah!"
posted by tel3path at 5:26 AM on July 30, 2010

Buy now. You can't learn how to skate properly in those bricks.

I am (or I guess was...) a skater. Don't get a super solid pair for your first though, I would suggest a singles weight boot and MK Pro or Wilson Coronation Ace blades. ie, buy them separately. ebay is a good source for lightly used blades. Get the boots new.

That was the kind of set most of my friends started out with. I made the mistake of getting boots that were indestructible in the beginning, and they were agony. I now skate in SP-Teris and MK Phantom.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:35 AM on July 30, 2010

Rental skates? Ouch!

Do your feet (and your skills) a favor and get yourself some skates. Used is ok as long as the boots aren't totally broken down; ask your instructor, fellow skaters, or the pro shop at your rink if you can't tell.
posted by nat at 6:56 AM on July 30, 2010

Why would you want to wait? Once you have your own skates, and they are broken in and comfortable, that alone will make skating that much more enjoyable.
posted by Flood at 7:06 AM on July 30, 2010

Definitely get skates; if this is a long-term goal (and assuming your feet are finished growing), this is an investment, not an impulse purchase. Rentals are fine if you go skating once or twice a year, but in the long run you will save money if you buy a pair and break them in (or buy used), as well as be more likely to go forward because of the investment and probable decreased frustration because you don't have to use bad skates. You can also sell your first pair in the future, should you decide to get something more advanced.

A simple equation should help you decide how worth it it would be to buy new skates - how long before rentals equal the price of a new or used pair of your own?
posted by urbanlenny at 7:55 AM on July 30, 2010

Do you have a Play It again Sports or similar used sporting goods store nearby? I got a great pair of hockey skates there. The stuff they sell is usually way better than those beaten down rental skates, and much less expensive.

Hell, if I were skating even once a month I'd probably get some of my own.
posted by Madamina at 8:17 AM on July 30, 2010

I took up skating not too long ago with the intent of playing hockey, and have some thoughts to share. I definitely agree with the person saying 'rental skates are actively bad', I feel like they will all on their own make you HATE skating.

On the topic of expenses, on top of 'leisure' I would see this also as useful exercise, which in general warrants its own relatively generous expense account, since your health is pretty important. For any casual sport someone takes up basic investment is always required, for at least attire and maybe transportation. If you take up simple running, you still need proper running shoes. If you take up casual skating, you need proper skates.

When I was looking for various skates I found most brands have a very definite relatively flat price curve from $30 to around $900. I imagine this is so people can comfortably price themselves skates without putting them out of the brand. In general, like so many other things in life, the more you spend on them, the better they are. Also there is nothing wrong with getting cheap skates from a reasonable brand for leisure skating and it being a solid purchase for your purpose. Cheaper skates will be heavier, less stiff, and wear out more quickly (at least for hockey skates, what I look at!). If you're not doing a lot of crazy jumps or getting whacked on by hockey sticks, a $30-$60 pair of skates from a known brand should last long enough for you to know you need to spend more, or to get tired of skating.

I dropped a lot on a pair of skates a couple months ago, but for leisure skating my girlfriend got a $30 pairdelivered from Target (buying online can save you money, and they can have an easy return-shipping policy if you get the wrong size). In our case, she initially got the wrong size, but she can just return them to a local Target store, and got the next size shipped, which fit perfectly, no hassle.

Also, I learned today if you get blisters, forget the blister bandages - get burn bandages, the ones that are like jelly. put those on your feet and you can skate with much less pain, since the burn-jelly stuff prevents friction on the blister much better than blister bandages.
posted by BurnMage at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2010

You need to buy skates. I say this as formerly competitive ice dancer. I'm not sure if this is the case at your rink, but the rental skates at the rinks I skated at all had the toepicks shaved off and were dull as anything. In order to learn how to skate properly, you need blades that are sharp and that also have toepicks. There is a huge price variance and quality variance on skates but you will probably notice a significant difference even by going to a relatively cheap pair. Have fun! Skating is a great sport.
posted by just_ducky at 9:53 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth: I found a new-looking pair of skates in my size at the second-hand store. It might be easier than you think to get a cheap pair for beginner-hobby-level skating if you look at "previously owned" options. It's not like the ones you rent from the skate shop are custom-fitted.
posted by Ys at 10:24 AM on July 30, 2010

Wow. This is as close to a consensus as I've seen in a while. I have done the research and I think I know what I'm looking for. The only reason I am hesitant is the extra expense (skate rental is free with the lessons). It's a relief to know that it wouldn't really be an unnecessary purchase. I am easily taken by the "ooh shiny!" side of things and I don't always trust myself to know the difference between want and need. Thanks for all of the input.
posted by Eumachia L F at 11:24 AM on July 30, 2010

Update, in case anyone else ever has this question: I took the advice of the thread and bought my own skates. IT WAS A GOOD IDEA if for only one reason. The toepick. My new skates have easily twice as much toepick as the rental skates did. Apparently I had gotten used to skating with only so much toepick in the front, and I wasn't picking my feet up enough. I discovered this when I kept tripping (and falling. so much falling) over my skates the first time I used them. Apparently I had a lazy push into the glide, which is much more deliberate and controlled now that I have to be aware of the longer bit of sharp jagged metal at end of my blades. This is a problem I didn't even know I had, and I'm glad I took care of it early. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to make the transition to proper figure skates if I had waited a few more months (muscle memory being what it is, and all).

(also, I've been skating 3 times a week. heh)
posted by Eumachia L F at 4:36 AM on August 12, 2010

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