A Detailed, Hands-On Review of 10 Beginner Roller Skates
Are you an adult who is just getting started roller skating for the first time?
Or, maybe you’re coming back to roller skating again after decades away from this great sport and hobby.
Or, maybe you’re like me and you need to lose 25 lbs but you hate to run on the treadmill. (Roller skating is super healthy by the way).
Or, are you working with your child or grandkid to teach them how to roller skate for the first time?
If any of these are you, then you’re going to need a good pair of roller skates to get started roller skating, but where do you start? There is so much information on the web, how do you choose?
I wrote this article to help you, the beginner skater (or the returning skater after a long hiatus), cut through the cruft, get the pertinent information you need so you can get your skates and get rollin’!
I’m on a mission to get more people roller skating. I hope this helps you get started, too!
Beginner Skates for New Skaters
So, if you’re just starting out and you need a pair of beginner roller skates, then you’ve come to the right place.
Also, if you are new to roller skating and need help learning how to skate for the first time, please be sure to check out The Roller Skate Dad Podcast and my Getting Started Roller Skating series. It has everything you need to teach yourself how to roller skate for the first time (or again if you’ve been away for awhile).
The Getting Started Roller Skating series is also a good place to start if you are confused about what skates are right for you – quads, rollerblades or aggressive inline skates.
Best Skates for Beginners
Okay. Let’s dig in to each type of roller skate – quads, rollerblades and inline skates – and find you a great skate! Woo hoo! I’m excited for you.
Quick Note on Type of Skates & Boots
The quad skate listed below are broken into 2 sections: low cut boots and high top boots. Inline skates also have this distinction as most rollerblades come in the high-top boot variety and the aggressive inline speed skates all come with a low cut boot.
As you are just starting out, most of you are going to want maximum stability. Therefore, I would highly recommend a high top quad as your first pair of skates. Quads are going to give you the most stability because it more easily distributes your weight on 2 axles and more surface area. If you have fairly good balance, venture off into a low top quad. When I first came back to skating after 15 years away, I started off with the GT-50 skate below. It’s a good overall skate if you are just getting back to skating. It doesn’t provide as much ankle stability as a hightop boot will, but I already knew I would have enough control over my skates so this wasn’t an issue.
If you really want to skate on inline skates to start, then go with a high top pair of rollerblades. There are a couple of beginner rollerblades listed below that are both under $100. I also have listed a couple of good aggressive inline skates for those beginners who are both adventurous and have pretty good overall balance. It is much harder to start off roller skating for the first time on aggressive inlines. So, you have been warned. 🙂
Best Quad Skates for Beginners
First, a Quick Note about Low Cut Skate Boots
If you have decent balance and you are just starting out, then you will be fine in a low cut or high top quad skate. If you are interested in eventually doing speed skating, jam skating or roller derby, then you will also want a low cut boot as all 3 sports typically use low cut skate boots.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you choose to click on a link below and make a purchase, then I will earn a small commission from Amazon. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies and products. And, more importantly, I only recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Most importantly, please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you.
1. GT50 Motion Outdoor Roller Skate Package
The GT-50 Motion Outdoor roller skate is a good beginner skate. It has a Rock GT-50 boot that is made by Sure-Grip. Rock is a skate product line by Sure-Grip. The boots aren’t actually made of rocks. They are a pretty comfortable boot for the price.
The GT-50 boot were my first skates that I had after my 15 year hiatus away from roller skating. Back in the 90s, I had stupidly sold my Riedell artistic figure skates in a garage sale right before I got married (stupid as I think I sold these $1000 pair of skates for $100). So, when I got back to skating with my kids, I needed something use as I was NOT going to wear rental skates. I prefer to keep my foot funguses to myself (thank you very much).
Anyways, this boot is comfortable. Besides the typical skate laces to tighten your skate boot, this skate also has a velcro strap across the top that allows you to make the boot extra snug. I found this useful in the beginning as I was rebuilding up my calf and ankle muscles.
Sure-Grip Motion Wheels & Bearings
This skate package comes outfitted with the Sure-Grip Motion 78A outdoor wheels. One of my favorite outdoor wheels. The 78A is the hardness (or durometer) of the wheel. These wheels are soft outdoor wheels, which is what you want when you are first starting out.
Soft wheels give you more control and stability. They also will roll more smoothly on rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete. The wheels are 62mm in diameter. For beginners, you want a soft, short and wide wheel when just starting out.
The wheels are also made right here in the good ‘ol USA, so you can feel good about rolling with American pride.
This particular package also comes with ABEC-5 skate bearings which are good enough for any kind of skating you will be doing. As I’ve stated on the podcast and in numerous articles about bearings, the most important thing for beginners to remember about bearings is that you want to keep them clean.
If you’re looking for a good pair of starter skates and want a low cut quad skate, then the GT-50 Motion Outdoor skate is a solid choice.
2. Jackson Roller VIP Outdoor Package
Another good pair of beginner roller skates for under $200 is the Jackson Roller VIP Outdoor Package. This skate package comes with a black boot with sizes ranging from size 4 to 14 – so those of you with big feet like me (I wear a size 13) can still wear this skate. 🙂
Also, this boot comes in women’s sizes. So men, you need to go up 1 size if you want these skates. So, if you wear a size 10 fellas, you’ll need a size 11 in this skate.
The boot is a Jackson Vantage boot – which can be a little hard to find these days. I know a number of people, though, who have and like these boots.
These skates for beginners come with my absolute favorite outdoor wheels – the Atom Pulse. Atom makes some excellent skate wheels – both for indoor, outdoor and for aggressive inline skates. And, the Atom Pulse are a really nice outdoor wheel.
The Atom Pulse come in a 78A hardness (durometer), which means they are super soft and perfect for the outdoors. They also come in a variety of cool colors like blue, pink, green, gray and purple. As I stated in the first skate package, you want a short, wide and soft wheel when you are first starting out as that gives you the most stability.
These skates also come with really nice Bionic ABEC-7 skate bearings. These bearings are nicer than the ones that come on the first GT-50 skate package.
The only downside to this skate is that you do need to put it together. The box comes with the plates already mounted on the boots. However, the bearings and wheels are not on the skate, so some installation is required. It only takes about 5 minutes to put the new Bionic bearings into the wheels and then slide them onto the axle and tighten them down. You will need a 1/2″ socket wrench or the PowerDyne Y tool to tighten it down properly.
If you are looking for a good overall outdoor skate, you can’t go wrong with the Jackson VIP Outdoor Package.
3. VNLA Junior
The last pair of low top quad skates for beginners that I want to recommend are the VNLA Junior skate package. I honestly saved the best skate for last. While the GT-50 and the Jackson skate are nice, I personally really like the VNLA (pronounced Vanilla) skate package the best. Especially for those who want a low top boot to start and want a little pizazz.
The VNLA Junior skates are the first quad skates my two kids wore when they were learning how to skate. These skates come in a variety of cool boot colors with equally cool names like Code Blue (Blue), Code Red (Red), Stealth (Black), Zona Rosa (Pink), Mint, Tuxedo and Royalty (Burgundy and Gold).
The boots come in sizes 3-12. So, sadly, I have never actually worn this particular skate before – it won’t fit my big feet. However, I have worn almost every other pair of VNLA skate out there, and most of the boots are similar (except for the Vanilla 360 – that one was a nightmare).
Even though I have not worn the VNLA Junior, both my daughters have worn multiple pairs. We’ve owned a pair of Tuxedos, 2 Grapeades (these were purple) and a pair of Altitudes (Green and Black) for years now. My oldest daughter, Lily, still skates with me every weekend in her Tuxedos. She has been skating in them 2-3 times a week for over 3 years now. They are a bit beaten up now, but they are still going strong.
I personally use a more expensive pair of these skates by VNLA called the Diamond Walker Pro as my personal skates. They have red and white diamonds all over the boots. They are my favorite skates to date (though, I am secretly saving up from some new high top artistic boots like I used to own).
One Difference for the Beginner about the VNLA Junior Skate Package
One thing to understand about the VNLA Junior is that the wheels that come with this skate are really made for indoors. All of VNLAs skates come with a 90A+ hardness skate wheel. And, as I’ve said above, a harder skate wheel is going to be harder to control. It’s also not going to be as good outdoors on rough asphalt – your legs will shake from all of the bumps from the asphalt surface.
So, if you’re going to be skating outdoors (which you should be doing if you are a beginner so you can get lots of practice), then I highly recommend you pick up an additional set of Bones Super Reds bearings and an extra set of either Sure-Grip Motion or Atom Pulse outdoor wheels (as mentioned above).
It will cost you a little bit of extra money, but in the long run, you can have wheels for both indoors and outdoors which is a big added plus. Then, you just switch out your wheels depending on the surface you are skating on. I do this myself every time I switch from outdoors to indoors. It’s super easy to change your wheels on a pair of skates. If you know how to use a socket set or a wrench, then I can show you how to change your wheels in less than 5 minutes.
They come in 7 different colors:
- Code Red – Red
- Code Blue – Blue
- Zona Rosa – Pink
- Mint – Mint Green
- Stealth Jam – Black
- Royalty Jam – Burgundy
- Tuxedo – Black & White
Best High Top Quad Skates for Beginners
Next, lets talk about the very best roller skates for beginners – high top quad skates. I believe these are the best beginner skates for 2 reasons:
- The high top boot gives you more ankle and calf support. The extra boot going around your ankle and calf allows you to lace up your skates higher and more tightly giving you more support.
- A quad skate more equally balances your weight on 4 wheels across 2 axles. Rollerblades and inline skates require that you learn how to balance on 1 axle of wheels in the middle of your skate. This added task makes it that much harder for a beginner to get started.
Let’s take a look at 3 quad high top skate recommendations.
1. Sure-Grip Boardwalk Skates
These outdoor skates by Sure-Grip are one of the best beginner roller skates on the market today. First, they come in a variety of different colors including red, pink, blue, purple and tan. The non-tan versions come in men’s sizes 4-10. The tan version going up to size 13.
I personally bought and have used a pair of the tan Boardwalk skates, and they are good all-around outdoor skate – especially for a beginner. If you want something super colorful and fun, then the colorful versions of these skates are certainly something to check out. They will definitely catch people’s eye.
More importantly, the boot is comfortable. Next to Riedell boots, Sure-Grip usually makes a pretty comfortable skate boot, and the Sure-Grip Boardwalk are comfortable.
This skate package comes with a Rock nylon plate, rubber toe stops and ABEC-3 skate bearings. It also comes with Sure-Grip’s Boardwalk Outdoor skate wheels. These wheels are 78A in durometer and are 65mm in diameter. So, they are a little taller than the Atom Pulse and Sure-Grip Motion outdoor wheels that I mentioned earlier.
I really like these beginner skates. They are comfortable, look nice and they roll pretty well. I think they are perfect outdoor roller skates for beginners that you can also pull into your local skating rink for a session.
These skates come in 5 different colors including:
2. Moxi Skates – The Lolly
The Moxi Lolly roller skates are made especially with the lady skater in mind. If you are looking for something fun to wear outdoors, then Moxie may be just what you are looking for.
These skates are handmade right here in the USA, so if you care about buying local, then this may be for you.
Much like the VNLA Juniors, I’ve personally never worn a pair of Moxi Skates because they don’t make them in my size. I would try them out if they made a size 12 or 13. And, fellas, I don’t care. I would totally wear pink skates if they made them in my size.
The boots come in a bunch of fun sounding colors like Floss, Poppy, Strawberry, Pool Blue, Fuchsia, Taffy, Clementine, Honeydew, and Pineapple. Even though some of them sound good enough to eat, please don’t eat your skate boots. 🙂
These skates are hand-made using a soft suede leather material that is designed to be broken in with minimal discomfort. The skates have a high-impact PowerDyne Thrust nylon plate with strong metal trucks for optimal support.
They also have ABEC-7 bearings and 78A outdoor wheels – just like the Atom Pulse, Sure-Grip Motion and Sure-Grip Boardwalk wheels. The wheels are fairly tall at 65mm in diameter. But, what I really like about the wheels is that they are 40mm wide – which is pretty nice for a soft, outdoor wheel. They also come with adjustable toe stops.
While I have not tried these skates out, I know several ladies who have a pair and they love them. I think they are a great first pair of skates – especially for the ladies out there that want to stand out when skating outdoors or at the rink.
And, these skates are durable. If you don’t believe me, check out the Moxi Skate Girls over on YouTube. These girls skate in skateboard bowls outdoors and do all kinds of cool jumps and tricks on their skates.
3. Sure-Grip Fame Roller Skate
Last but not least in the high top category, we have the Sure-Grip Fame roller skate. This is one of the best roller skates for beginners. It’s one of my personal favorites.
First, out of the 3 high top quad skates I mention in this article, the Sure-Grip Fame is the cheapest quality skate I’ve been able to find. Right now, you can get it for under $130 on Amazon.
The boot on this skate is called the Sure-Grip Fame boot and they come in black (men’s size) and white (women’s sizes). The black boot comes in sizes 9J (for kids) – mens size 14. So, if you got big feet, you can still wear these skates. The white boot ranges from 8J – womens size 11.
Like the Sure-Grip Boardwalk skate, these beginner skates also come with ROCK nylon plates. And, it has ABEC-5 bearings and toe stops.
The only downside to this skate is that they come with harder indoor wheels – the Sure-Grip Fame wheel which is a 95A in hardness (durometer). That is a pretty medium-hard wheel for indoors. This means the wheel will also be more slippery and harder to control.
If you are going to be skating outdoors on asphalt, this wheel isn’t going to be very good, so you’ll want to buy yourself an extra pair of Bones Super Reds bearings and either the Sure-Grip Motion or Atom Pulse wheels for skating outdoors. But, as I’ve said before, having 2 sets of wheels is super nice as it lets you change out your wheels for your skating surface.
Even with that one downside, these skates are super nice for the price. You really aren’t going to find a pair of artistic beginner roller skates with this quality for less money. So, if you aspire to shuffle skate or do artistic skating, the Sure-Grip Fame roller skate is a good place to start.
Best Rollerblades for Beginners
As many of you who follow my podcast and blog know, I am more of a quad skater. I have skated rollerblades, and I plan to do it more here in 2019, but I spend most of my time on quads. It’s just what I prefer.
With that said, I am not anti-rollerblade or inline skate. I just personally don’t find them as enjoyable because of the tricks I like to do on my skates.
However, if you are really into outdoor skating and you have less than $100 to spend, then you can get a good pair of beginner roller blades cheaply. Below I have recommended 2 different pairs of rollerblades, both of which I or my daughters have used and are both less than $100.
1. Roller Derby AERIO Q-60 Men’s Inline Skates
My youngest daughter Violet used these when she was first learning how to skate on inlines. Now, first, let me say that these are definitely beginner rollerblades. There are much more expensive and nice rollerblades out on the market. However, for the price (around $70), you really can’t beat it.
These are the highest quality and cheapest blades that we have used in my family to date. My daughter even sold these to a friend after a few years of use for $30. She decided to sell them as I had bought a pair of aggressive inline skates for her.
These rollerblades come in black in men’s sizes 5-12. They have a soft boot design. My daughter says they are pretty comfortable. These rollerblades have memory foam padding on the inside. The skates also have locking cam lever buckles to make the boot extra snug like many rollerblades have today.
They come with 80mm diameter wheels which is a pretty standard durometer on a rollerblade. Almost all inline skate and rollerblade wheels are taller and skinnier than quad wheels – something that makes them a little harder to control for a beginner skater. The wheels are also 78A hardness (durometer) so they are perfect for outdoors.
They also come with Bevo Gold 7 Race bearings and a toe stop on the back of the skate for stopping.
If you are looking for a good pair of beginner roller blades at a cheap price, you can’t really go wrong with this skate.
2. Bladerunner Advantage Pro XT Men
Next up, we have the BladeRunner Advantage Pro XT. There are 2 different rollerblades here – one for men and one for women. The men’s sizes range from size 7-13 and the women’s are sizes 5-10. The boot colors on the men’s and women’s are a little different, but besides the color and the shoe size, everything else is the same.
I bought a pair of these rollerblades and have been using them for the past couple of weeks at my local park and they have been great so far. I like how tightly the boot fits around the ankle and lower calf. The strap-locking mechanism allows you to really tighten the boot to a snug fit. This gives you extra stability when you’re skating.
This skate comes with 80mm wheels and an ABEC-7 bearing. It also has a toe stop on the back of the right skate for stopping.
Best Inline Skates for Beginners
Next, we have the aggressive inline skates. I have said this numerous times now in this article and on the podcast. If you are a beginner and do not have good balance, do NOT buy the skates below. They are really made for aggressive inline speed skating (indoor or outdoors). If you have been skating for awhile or have really good balance, then these might be something for you to consider at this stage. If you are not ready, you can always upgrade to these later. I highly recommend that if you want to be a speed skater, you start on rollerblades and work your way up to aggressive inlines. Your ankles (face and other body parts) will thank you for it.
1. VNLA Carbon
These are the first aggressive inline speed skates that my daughter, Violet, ever wore. She wore and competed in them at numerous speed skating competitions for a couple of years.
These skates come in men’s sizes 1-13 in black, blue or green. The boot is 1/2 Fiberglass 1/2 Carbon Fiber. Because of the materials the boot is made out of it makes the boot heat moldable – meaning you can put the boot in the oven and then mold the boot to your foot. Please make sure your foot is not in the boot when you stick it in the oven. 🙂
These skates come with an Aluminum Frame and have 4 wheels all running in 1 vertical axle. They are super cool looking and they are super fast. But, they are super hard to control – especially for a beginner. You need really strong ankles (or be a glutton for punishment) if you’re trying to learn to roller skate in aggressive inline skates.
The VNLA Carbon skates have an 85A indoor/outdoor wheel. The wheels are also super thin. All aggressive inline wheels are thin and have a super tall diameter. There are some aggressive inline wheels that go all the way up to 130mm in diameter. If you want to have a fun time falling as a beginner, go give those on for a try. They take a lot of ankle and leg strength to control.
That is why I’m urging you to NOT start with these skates. I want you to love and enjoy roller skating. And you will enjoy it if you’re not falling all of the time.
Roller Skate Dad Aggressive Inline Skates – Take 2
Back many years ago, I used to have a similar pair of skates to the VNLA Carbon called the VNLA Spyder. After skating in them for 4-5 sessions, I realized I just didn’t like them. They weren’t my thing. I gave these brand new $350 pair of skates to one of the skating regulars (a kid) at the skating rink. They were 2 sizes too big for him, but he didn’t care. I think he eventually grew into them, and he loved them.
However, because I love you all and I want to be able to do valid research for this article (and to try something new again that I sucked at), I went out and got myself another pair of VNLA Carbon’s just a couple of weeks ago and I’m trying again at my local park. It’s pretty touch and go, but I’m surviving. (No broken bones….yet.)
The first thing that is hard in these skates is stopping. There are NO toe stops. Zero. So, you better know how to t-stop, plow stop or hockey stop (yeah, right! Face meet pavement). If you are a beginner and you are like, “I don’t care what Roller Skate Dad says. I can do this even if I haven’t ever skated before. I’m going to do this!” Then, please, please, please make sure you get yourself some good protective gear – helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. You’d be smart to have a mouth guard and maybe even a tailbone protector (butt pad), too. Good luck!
Anyways, I’m trying aggressive inline skates again and there are some huge positives. First, they are super fast. I mean, way faster. Like night and day. It takes half the effort to keep these things rolling vs. a rollerblade or especially a quad. This is why almost all serious speed skating is now on these skates. They still have quad speed skating, but it is nowhere near as popular.
Again, stopping (especially quickly) takes quite a bit of practice. And, standing up in them correctly is also difficult. However, it is fun to try something new. So, if you are a serious contender, then go for it!
2. Luigino Pro Inline Skate
After about 1 1/2 years of speed skating regularly, my daughter, Violet, wanted to upgrade from her VNLA Carbons to a new speed skate that we saw most of the people at our rink using – the Luigino Pro Inline Skate.
These skates have a slightly nicer boot and a better set of indoor wheels from Atom. They are 100mm and are 86A durometer. This skate also comes with an aluminum frame and Bionic Abec 7 Bearings.
My daughter still skates in these inlines today – even though she isn’t doing much speed skating anymore. They are a good all-around inline skate and my daughter likes the boot and these wheels better than the VNLA Carbon. With that said, if you are skating outdoors, the VNLA Carbon wheels are going to be better as they have a softer outdoor wheel. If you are going to be mostly indoors, then this Luigino package with the Atom wheels is better for you. They are both similarly priced – around $250-$300.
We’ve had one durability issue with both the VNLA Carbon and the Luigino. My daughter was rough on the buckles that come on these inline skates. The buckles are on the boot and is used to tighten the flap that comes across the boot. My daughter would crank the buckle too hard from time to time and snap it off. It’s fairly straightforward to replace, but it was something that happened a few times.
The Best Roller Skates for Beginners Wrap Up
So, that’s all I have for you in this article. I hope it was useful for you beginner skaters out there. If you have read through this article and you are still confused about what to buy, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. You can leave me a comment in the comments section below or send me an email by clicking the Ask Dad link in the main menu. I answer every correspondence I get within 2-3 days.
I want to get more people out there roller skating, so please, please, please get yourself a pair of skates and let’s get you rolling. You are going to have so much fun and you can do this!
So, in the comments section below, tell me what skates you are going to get (or already have)? I love to hear what other skaters are rolling on.
Until next time, Get on Out There & Skate!