There are several things to consider when purchasing roller skate boots. In effort to not confuse anyone, I'm going to keep this real simple and answer the most basic questions.1. High Tops or Low Tops? What is the difference???
Most high top boots come with a heel, as shown in the red skate above. Outdoor and dance skates have heels. I like to wear heeled skates for outdoors. This may seem silly, but I just feel a little prettier in them,.. as if you were on high heels compared to flats.
A higher heel is better for spinning and not as effective for leverage on your stride, which is why most speed and derby skates are flat. A flat sole allows you to dig deeper in your stride, using both the ball and heel of your feet to pick up speed. Where as a higher heel makes it a bit easier to turn into a spin on the balls of your feet.
Just because a boot has a low top does not mean it is meant for speed. For example, this skate is a low top, but made for casual skating.
You can actually turn any pair of skates into a pair of roller skates, and at Moxi we can do it for you. A basic pair of plates, wheels, bearings and installation will run you between $120 and $2oo.
Most casual sneaker type skates like the one shown above will not last you for every day use.
If you want speed for roller derby or competition, you need guts! And what I mean by guts, I mean built-in stiffeners that make the boots sturdy to withstand a good beating. Stay tuned for my article on derby boots.
2. Vinyl or Leather
Leather is far better but it is more expensive. The reason that leather is better is because it breaks down to the shape of your feet. To avoid getting blisters and for the most comfortable ride, you want your skates to fit GREAT! Almost as if your feet sprouted wheels :)
When the leather becomes softer and breaks to the shape of your feet it is called the 'break-in' period. Back in the day the break-in period for a pair of roller skates took about 3-4 weeks, but with recent boot technology, you can get a pair of leather roller skates and feel virtually no break-in period. What does a break-in period feel like? well, at first the leather is stiff and will rub against the curves in your feet until it remembers and builds pockets for the curves.
Vinyl roller skate boots are decent for casual usage. If you like to skate just a few times a month, find a vinyl boot with padding. Vinyl without padding can be painful since it is not very flexible and can rub and create blisters. Vinyl is also not breathable like leather is, so you're feet tend to sweat.
Stay tuned for more advanced info. on the different types of boots.