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Skate advice for a hapless rookie Englishman

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Old
01-01-2011, 10:31 PM
  #1
Thresh
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Skate advice for a hapless rookie Englishman

Apologies in advance for a possible long post, it's been a long struggle to find a pair of skates that fit me, so i've greyed out the non-essential blurb!

So, where do i start?

I'm 23, from England, and have always been interested in ice hockey. I don't really know why, but perhaps it's got something to do with not having the proper opportunities to do it in this country and not living very close to a rink when growing up - so going ice skating only happened twice in my life until i was an adult!

I'm currently at university and have the intention of skating once a week to learn better and perhaps training with the uni team, but i won't be playing any rec/competitive games any time soon. I can skate to a moderate speed, but my balance is poor and technique needs a lot of attention.

As you may have guessed, i'm looking for a great pair of skates that will hopefully see a lot of use for a couple of years until i can decide how much i want/can afford to get into hockey. My specifics are:


Height: 5'4''
Weight: 10 stone 6 (~145 lbs)
Foot size: 7/7.5 (i have odd feet)
Preferences: I don't like my toe touching the toecap of the skate - not sure if it really should or not, but i've heard it's down to preference as long as your toe isn't hurting

I went to the only LHS anywhere near my hometown the other day to try skates on and the only ones that fit me quite comfortably were the Easton Synergy EQ1's in a size 8. There was no width description, but by checking Hockey Monkey online, i think the entry level skates are measured in D.

Now this is where it gets complicated...

I've had my eyes on getting a pair of Mission Fuel 90 or 120 AGs for a while now, because they're in my price range of <100 ($160) due to my LHS trying to get rid of all their leftover Mission stock. And luckily these are the only models they have left anyway.

There are two main problems:

1. They only have limited sizes remaining and they'll soon run out.
2. The company no longer has their remaining Mission skates in the shop itself, but they are trying to shift them online, which means i couldn't try them on for fit.

The ones available to me are:

90 AG: Size 7D 8E
120 AG: Size 7D 8D 8EE

The guys in the shop are around my age and have played hockey a while, saying that Mission are likely to fit closest to Eastons, so i'm using that as a guide to judge which Mission size to buy. From what a guy told me at hockey practice, Eastons are usually a more narrow in fit than other brands and i read somewhere on these forums that Missions are quite narrow too - is that true?

I know i shouldn't buy skates without trying them on, but because they are a complete bargain from my LHS, seeing as they're still $100-200 + hefty import tax if ordered from the US, i feel like i should attempt to get a pair if i possible. I can return them if they don't fit and only have to forfeit the postage price, but that will cost me enough to only want to risk it once before settling for the EQ1s if they don't fit.

So the advice i'm really hoping to get from you guys is some insight into which pair and which size i ought to get based on my foot size. Most of the skates i tried on that were the same size as my foot size (7) usually rubbed against the toecap at the front or outer side, or hurt on the arches or just felt completely uncomfortable. Hopefully i can get some general advice too as i'm sure plenty of you have many years of hockey/skate-buying experience!

Again, sorry for the massive post, but hopefully you can see it's all relevant and why i'm a bit stumped with what to do. Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give me!

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01-01-2011, 11:00 PM
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The Spicy Shrimp
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You're right about not buying skates without trying them on. The best piece of advice, and one that comes up a lot on here, is to go with what fits and feels best, not the brand or style you want. After figuring out your price range, have the guy at the LHS show you everything they have in it, and go with what feels best.

A few sizing guidelines- your toes should GRAZE the toecap. You can take the footbed out of the skate and see how much room there is between your toes and the end of it. A fraction of an inch is good. Pencil test is good too. Lace 'em up, lean forward. If you can barely fit a pencil in between your heel and the back of the skate, that's good.

Width is an odd thing. I can't fit into a Bauer D, but I can fit into a Reebok D just fine. The only way to know is to try it on. Word of mouth is not a good thing to go on regarding skates.

It's better to go too small than too big. If they're too small/narrow they can get punched out. If they're too big, your foot will lift up while skating and you'll get blisters and be a poor skater. Skates stretch, so go with something that feels snugger than you're used to over something that feels more like a shoe would feel.

Another piece of advice that you'll find on here is to not go too cheap on skates if you're just starting out. I made that mistake and had almost no support wile learning crossovers and had no confidence. Mid range (around 200 US) is the way to go. Higher end skates aren't for recreational players.

Hope this helps. Welcome to the world of obsessing about your gear!

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01-01-2011, 11:17 PM
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adaminnj
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Mission skates sizes are in US size, Easton uses a common Canadian sizing system.
Your skate size with exception of mission usually is 1 to 1.5 size smaller than your shoe size. if you are using US shoe size.

With that said the UK size compared to Canadian skate size charts would be hard for most of us to give you good advice besides try on skates and see what fits.

Skates should be tight or snug but no pressure points. As far as toes touching the toe cap you are not growing at this point and the toes should just feather the toe cap (Slightly touch)

I wear an 11 EEEE US size shoe but my current skates are Bauer vapor XXXX size 9 EE.
Hopefully A brit will chime in here to give you some advice.

Good luck and keep us posted on your hockey adventures.

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01-01-2011, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Spicy Shrimp View Post
Pencil test is good too. Lace 'em up, lean forward. If you can barely fit a pencil in between your heel and the back of the skate, that's good.
I thought the pencil test was to test your instep height? You put your foot in the boot and then you lay the pencil across horizontally over the 3rd or 4th eyelet down. If your foot is touching the pencil then the skate is not deep enough for you. If you have high insteps, then you need to get skates that are deeper, like the Graf Ultra G 70s or the 709s for example. Shallow insteps are ok with CCM or the Graf 703s.

To the OP, getting new skates should not be rushed. Don't forget to make sure you have the appropriate arch support or your stance will be either pronated or supinated. Your feet do not have to touch the toe cap but there should not be a huge gap either. All skates fit differently. I also heard Eastons fit a bit wider than most skates. Check this link to help you -

http://www0.epinions.com/content_3832651908

Buy the way which uni team in the UK are you looking to get started with? I used to play for the Edinburgh Eagles team a few years back. Good times, you won't regret taking it up! You will need to skate more than once a week if you expect to progress to the level of playing hockey though. Try at least twice a week, 3 times if you can.

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01-02-2011, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Spicy Shrimp View Post
After figuring out your price range, have the guy at the LHS show you everything they have in it, and go with what feels best.

Mid range (around 200 US) is the way to go. Higher end skates aren't for recreational players.
Ah, i had so much to say but had to keep the post less than essay length haha, so i must have missed out on mentioning that i did try everything in a 7 and 8 in the shop.

The Easton Synergy EQ1s were the best fitting, but i had to stuff an insole in there to make it fit well. And it felt loose on the ankle until i really tightened the laces up! The EQ3s felt uncomfortable, but now that i think more about it it was probably because the boot was stiff at the ankle and i couldn't tie them up tight enough there. Also i'm just not used to how a hockey skate should feel; the heel padding felt narrow and weird. Regardless, they were 170 which is quite out of my price range!

And thanks for the low/mid-range/high-end clarification. I did fear that the 120AG would be too stiff for me because of its original retail price, so i think it's best that i avoid it now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by adaminnj View Post
Mission skates sizes are in US size, Easton uses a common Canadian sizing system.
Your skate size with exception of mission usually is 1 to 1.5 size smaller than your shoe size. if you are using US shoe size.

With that said the UK size compared to Canadian skate size charts would be hard for most of us to give you good advice besides try on skates and see what fits.

Skates should be tight or snug but no pressure points. As far as toes touching the toe cap you are not growing at this point and the toes should just feather the toe cap (Slightly touch)
Cheers for the advice. As for the US to UK sizing, a US shoe size is simply +1 to a UK shoe size. So a UK 7 would be a US 8, and normally both of those would wear a 6.5 skate (right?).

Except when buying skates in the UK, i think most people buy like-for-like because the manufacturers have put size labels in english shoe sizes on the skates. This is where i'm getting really confused in the size conversion because the Missions are like-for-like too in US and skate sizes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vexXed View Post
To the OP, getting new skates should not be rushed. Don't forget to make sure you have the appropriate arch support or your stance will be either pronated or supinated. Your feet do not have to touch the toe cap but there should not be a huge gap either. All skates fit differently. I also heard Eastons fit a bit wider than most skates. Check this link to help you -

http://www0.epinions.com/content_3832651908

Well i've actually spent close to 3 months looking into skates now, the only problem is that prices are high in the UK and there are very few shops in the country for skates and equipment. The closest one to me is Sheffield, which is a 2 hour drive. Although that's probably nothing in the US and other countries, here it's pretty ridiculous haha, so basically i only had once chance to try stuff on and get a feel for the skates available to me.

After reading your link though it gave me a better insight into skates and what i should be looking at, so thanks for that. I now realise that skate fitting is even more unique than i thought!

And the uni team would be the Manchester Metros, but i'm unlikely to play with them tbh, depending a lot on skill and finance. I would settle for getting to train alongside them if my skating gets good enough in the next few months. I'd love to do it a lot more often, but it will cost me close to 10 a session to skate at our local rink, including transport, so stepping up the number of times a week is out of the question sadly.


Thanks for all your advice. I ordered the Mission Fuel 90 AGs in size 8E, i think it was the best option available to me. If they don't fit, i'll return them and buy the Eastons that fit me in the shop.

I'll let you all know how it turns out!


Last edited by Thresh: 01-05-2011 at 12:15 PM.
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01-05-2011, 12:09 PM
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Okay, so my Missions arrived this morning, which was way quicker than i expected!

They were the 90AGs in 8E like i'd ordered. I slipped my foot in and.... snug. Really snug, and when i wiggled my toes and they brushed the toecap! I couldn't have been more excited.

I laced them up and realised the boot was too stiff out of the box, meaning i couldn't get enough length out of the laces to tighten the boot at the ankle and stop them wobbling when stood up. Do you guys think baking them would help? Or how about skipping an eyelet or two lacing them up around the toes so i can keep them the same at the toe, but have more lace to tighten up the ankle?

The second thing to concern me was the width - my wider foot got slightly choked when i laced the boot up, but sadly there isn't an EE width left so i can't get a wider fit. Do you guys reckon the width on the outer forefoot (not the top cap) can be punched out?

Finally, i got a little screwed over. After the amount of time i spent trying to work out size conversions, i noticed the label on the tongue said "8E US". Haha, they were a damn 7 UK size all along! Thank god i didn't buy the 7s!

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01-05-2011, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hexagonal Blue Bear View Post
Okay, so my Missions arrived this morning, which was way quicker than i expected!

They were the 90AGs in 8E like i'd ordered. I slipped my foot in and.... snug. Really snug, and when i wiggled my toes and they brushed the toecap! I couldn't have been more excited.

I laced them up and realised the boot was too stiff out of the box, meaning i couldn't get enough length out of the laces to tighten the boot at the ankle and stop them wobbling when stood up. Do you guys think baking them would help? Or how about skipping an eyelet or two lacing them up around the toes so i can keep them the same at the toe, but have more lace to tighten up the ankle?

The second thing to concern me was the width - my wider foot got slightly choked when i laced the boot up, but sadly there isn't an EE width left so i can't get a wider fit. Do you guys reckon the width on the outer forefoot (not the top cap) can be punched out?

Finally, i got a little screwed over. After the amount of time i spent trying to work out size conversions, i noticed the label on the tongue said "8E US". Haha, they were a damn 7 UK size all along! Thank god i didn't buy the 7s!
Having skates baked is always a good idea for a better fit, though it won't really make them more flexible. As for the laces, a lot of skates come with sh*tty laces, too short and not waxed. Get yourself some long, WAXED laces, this will allow you to tighten them far better, and get them long enough so that you can wrap around the ankle and still have plenty of lace left to tie a good knot.

As for the width, getting them punched might help, baking might help a bit too. I'd say get some proper laces, get them baked, then give them a few skates, see where the pain is and get them punched based on that.

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01-05-2011, 01:15 PM
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Jarick
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Why would you wrap new skates around the ankle?

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01-05-2011, 01:23 PM
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Why would you wrap new skates around the ankle?
I do this with all skates, but I like an extremely snug/responsive fit, personal preference I suppose, I guess it could be seen as a bad habit since it's more common not to wrap. Regardless, having longer, waxed laces should help his problem (not being able to properly tighten the skates, not having enough lace to tie a knot).

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01-05-2011, 01:42 PM
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Thresh
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Ah, thanks for the advice ponder, i'll pick up some waxed laces from the net asap.

Out of interest, is it okay to bake your skates in a regular kitchen oven? I've heard plenty of people do it, then i've heard it's really unadvisable, so i'm not sure what to do. Getting back over to the skate shop from here takes hours and is expensive, so i wouldn't want to go unless i really needed to.

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01-05-2011, 02:01 PM
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wrapping laces around your ankle on any skate is not the best idea from what I have been told. On a new modern skate with a stiff boot and a new skater I don't think getting waxed laces is a good idea either.

Wax will lock the boot tight and while he is braking in the boot he will want the laces more forgiving loosen a bit while he skates.

As for baking, take them to a shop to have them baked. It's worth the little bit of money to get them baked as opposed to baking them and taking a chance on ripping out an eyelet or worse. (Especially since you are not familiar with skate technology)

Make sure that the person who is baking them laces them up for you. There is a talent to lacing hot boots.

I use wax laces and I agree that I like them but I like my laces to fit and not have extra lace everywhere.

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01-05-2011, 07:25 PM
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I managed to 'bake' some skates by using a hairdryer, it took a while to get it really warmed up but they were definately much comfier afterwards

If you want to have them done properly then hop on a train to Sheffield & head to Puck Stop (Inside Ice Sheffield, next to the second rink). They have a proper skate oven & charge around 20, but go when a public session is on & you can then sneak onto the ice to try them out

I had a load of trouble with a pair of Missions that hadn't been baked. Best 20 I ever spent!

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01-05-2011, 08:52 PM
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As for baking, take them to a shop to have them baked. It's worth the little bit of money to get them baked as opposed to baking them and taking a chance on ripping out an eyelet or worse. (Especially since you are not familiar with skate technology)
Yeah, good point well made. I'll do that, thanks!


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Originally Posted by MushyBushy View Post
If you want to have them done properly then hop on a train to Sheffield & head to Puck Stop (Inside Ice Sheffield, next to the second rink). They have a proper skate oven & charge around 20, but go when a public session is on & you can then sneak onto the ice to try them out
Haha, i like your thinking! And i've already thought about doing that. I may as well too seeing as i need to get a cheap pair of inline skates for roller hockey and would need to choose them based on fit. Also this is where i went originally to get my Missions anyway!

Any idea what bus would get me from the main train station to Ice Sheffield? On the assumption that you know the area well, haha.

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01-06-2011, 05:21 PM
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It's very close to Meadowhall, so getting off the train there would be a good start. There is a place called Valley Centertainment 1/2 a mile away that has a few restaurants & a cinema, Sheffield Arena is next to that & then Ice Sheffield is next to the Arena. You could get a bus or tram from Meadowhall & find it without any bother at all, I'd personally use the tram as the bus station is a bit of a maze

Take your receipt/purchase details with you, you might get a discount on the baking if you bought them from Puck Stop. Good guys in there, family business who I've used for years & years


Edit - The tram stop is Arena/Don Valley

http://www.travelsouthyorkshire.com/...ffield/448.htm

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