Cheap Hockey Skates vs. Expensive Hockey Skates: Which Ones Are Right For Me?Posted by Drake Martin on Dec 7, 2017
Hockey skates are often available in seven to nine price points per manufacturer line. It goes without saying that the more money you spend, the better the skates will be. But, do you really need to spend $949.99 on a pair of skates to be a good skater? Let's take a look.
Entry-Level Skates ($49.99 - $79.99)
Entry-level skates will be the cheapest skates in the line and will have the most basic features. The quarter package, or boot materials, will be very soft and not offer players much support. The skates will break down quickly and will often need to be replaced after a few seasons, depending on how often you play. If you are on a very tight budget and plan to skate with the family at your rink's public skate once or twice a year, entry level skates are all you'll need.
Upper-Entry-Level Skates ($69.99 - $149.99)
Upper-entry-level skates will be made of slightly stronger materials than the entry level model. While they may last a bit longer than entry level skates, they won't hold up forever and will still need to be replaced after a few seasons. The quarter package will be stiffer, made of plastic, like polyurethane, and will provide a little bit of ankle support. They are ideal for beginner-level players who want an improved entry-level skate, or for players on a tight budget who don't need any high-tech features.
Lower-Mid-Range Skates ($149.99 - $199.99)
Lower-mid-range skates are the lowest models in the line that will have some of the "fancier" features found in higher-end skates. For example, mid-range Bauer skates, such as the Vapor X500s, Supreme S160s, or Nexus N7000s, will have the same trigger release on the holder that enables players to swap their steel in a matter of seconds. This can also allow players to upgrade their standard, stainless steel runners to higher-end steel, such as LS1, LS2, LS3, or LS4.
They will have a reinforced polyurethane quarter package that will be stiffer than the entry-level skates' and will have a tongue with some soft padding. Lower-mid-range skates are generally 70g - 90g heavier than lower-end models due to the more durable materials used. Lower-mid-range skates also have an improved liner on the inside that wicks away moisture and keeps feet dryer during play. These skates are perfect for players in lower divisions who want a more durable skate with one or two "high-tech" features.
Mid-Range Skates ($209.99 - $329.99)
Mid-range skates are slightly-improved versions of the lower-mid-range models. Generally speaking, mid-range skates will be the lowest models to have composite materials in the quarter package. These materials make the quarter package significantly stiffer and more supportive than the models beneath it, but still soft enough to provide a comfortable experience. Again, they will be slightly heavier than the model beneath them, but that is because of the stronger materials used in the quarter package and outsole.
Mid-range skates are great for beginners and experienced players alike. They have good durability and a great price-to-feature ratio. Newer players will get the additional ankle support to develop better skating technique and experienced players will get a supportive boot that won't hold them back when performing advanced skating maneuvers.
Mid-range skates are also the first price point that can be baked to provide a more comfortable fit right out of the box.
Upper-Mid-Range Skates ($199.99 - $399.99)
Upper-mid-range skates are where the newest features and designs begin to appear in the skate line. For example, these skates might have basic versions of the top-of-the-line model's liner, tongue, and steel. Occasionally, skates at this price point will have features found on top-of-the-line models from about two generations prior. They will have a stiff and supportive quarter package that is ideal for players who want a support without the insane price tag. At this price point, skates will start becoming lighter than the models beneath them.
Upper-mid-range skates are great for adult league players who want a comfortable and supportive boot.
Third-Tier Skates ($399.99 - $549.99)
Third-tier skates are extremely stiff, as they often use the same quarter package material as the top-of-the-line model. For example, the top three Bauer Vapor and Supreme skates all use their flagship Curv® composite material. Third-tier skates will have better steel (usually LS2 for Bauer skates), a thicker tongue with stronger padding, and are generally lighter in weight than an upper-mid-range skate.
Third-tier skates are designed for players looking for their first high-end skate. While they don't have all the features of a top-of-the-line skate, they have enough features to keep any intermediate- to advanced-level player happy in terms of performance and price.
Second-Tier Skates ($449.99 - $749.99)
Second-tier skates are nearly identical to the top-of-the-line model except for a few features. They almost always have the same quarter package material, a similar liner, and high-quality steel. Second-tier skates are preferred by most NHL players, as they have classic brass eyelets, great durability, and a faster break-in time. Players will get a comparable skate to a top-of-the-line model at a few hundred dollars less.
Second-tier skates are perfect for players who want a high-performance skate without the top-of-the-line price tag. Their durability will last players for several years with proper care.
Top-Of-The-Line Skates ($599.99 - $999.99+)
Top-of-the-line skates are the best that money can buy. They will have all of the newest features, extra padding for comfort and protection, an extremely stiff quarter package, and the highest-quality steel on the market. The tongue will be thick, padded, and very protective. These skates always have exclusive features like locking eyelets (Bauer), black steel (CCM), and high-performance footbeds (Bauer SpeedPlates).
Top-of-the-line skates are designed for advanced-level players, travel players, or players who want nothing short of the best. They will have an excellent level of durability and will last for years of regular use. The price tag will be high, but it can be seen as an investment. They will deliver unmatched performance that can't be found in lower-end skates. Players in top-of-the-line skates won't need to upgrade to a better skate after each season - unless they want (and have the funds for) the next generation model.
Special Make Up (S.M.U.) Skates
Players who can't decide between two price points should check out our selection of S.M.U. ice skates. These rare skates are designed and manufactured by Bauer and CCM in collaboration with Sports Excellence for retailers like Discount Hockey. They are based off three separate price points and are upgraded to have features found on higher-end models at a more-affordable price.
Lower-Mid-Range S.M.U. Skates ($179.99 - $229.99)
These S.M.U. skates, like the Bauer Vapor XLTX, Bauer Supreme Ignite, CCM JetSpeed XTRA, or CCM Tacks Classic models, are upgraded versions of the lower-mid-range catalog price point. For instance, the Bauer Vapor XLTXs start out as the X500, but are upgraded to the X700's liner, the X600's stiffer outsole for support, the X600's thicker tongue, and the X700's more durable LS1 steel. Compared to the $100 price difference between the X500 and X600, the several upgrades for only $20 more make the XLTX a great option for players looking for a more-affordable mid-range skate.
Upper-Mid-Range S.M.U. Skates ($229.99 - $349.99)
These skates, like the Bauer Vapor XLTX Pro, Supreme Ignite Pro, CCM JetSpeed XTRA Pro, or CCM Tacks Classic Pro models, are upgraded versions of the mid-range catalog price point. The XLTX Pros are based off the X600 model but have been upgraded to the X800's liner, stiffer outsole, and higher-quality LS2 steel. Once again, compared to the $220 price difference between the X600 and X800, players are getting a significantly better skate for only $20 more. This level of S.M.U. skates is ideal for players looking for a third-tier skate at a mid-range price point.
Second-Tier S.M.U. Skates ($449.99 - $599.99)
These S.M.U. skates are the best value skates on the market. They are based off the third-tier model but are upgraded to have second-tier and top-of-the-line features for nearly $300 less than the top-of-the-line model. The Vapor XLTX Pro+ skates are upgraded to have Comfort Edge foams - a feature found exclusively on the 1X model in the Vapor line - the X900's LOCK-FIT+ liner to keep the foot stabilized, the X900's FLEX-LOCK+ tongue, and the X900's LS3 steel.
Second-tier S.M.U. skates are highly comparable to the top-of-the-line models, especially when most of the differences can be purchased separately. For example, The biggest differences between the XLTX Pro+ skates and the 1X skates are the LS4 steel, SpeedPlate footbed, LOCK-FIT Pro liner, and FLEX-LOCK tongue. The LS4 steel and SpeedPlates can be purchased separately, and the overall cost of the skates and accessories will still be cheaper than the 1X model. Plus, players who do this will have two sets of high-quality steel to extend the duration of time between skate sharpenings.
Second-tier S.M.U. skates are perfect for advanced-level players who want a top-of-the-line skate for $350 less than the top-of-the-line catalog model.