Skating Barefoot vs. Wearing Skate Socks

Posted by Drake Martin on Feb 22, 2017

Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings skates barefoot.

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Hockey equipment is heavily based on personal preference, especially when comparing several different manufacturers and fit styles. Sometimes smaller pieces of equipment, such as skate socks (the ones you wear under your skates), get overlooked. Players often ask us about the differences between skate socks and if they are even necessary.

Are skate socks necessary to play hockey?

Absolutely not! Many players, including myself, go barefoot in their skates for a variety of reasons. I choose not to wear skate socks because I like my skates to fit as tight as possible. There is simply not enough space in the boot for my feet to have a second layer. Also, the bottoms of the feet are some of the most sensitive areas of the body. By not wearing skate socks, I am able to feel my edges easily, make tighter turns, and stay stronger on my feet because I have a more direct "connection" to the ice.

What are the downsides of skating barefoot?

First, the skates must be baked (or already broken in) to ensure a comfortable fit. Wearing brand new, stiff, high-end skates for the first time without socks will not be an enjoyable experience. The skates can cause blisters, hot spots, and general discomfort until they are broken in.

Second, not wearing socks means that sweat will go directly into the skate. Playing hockey multiple days in a row will result in wet skates before stepping onto the ice. However, this can generally be avoided by putting the skates on a drying rack after each use.

Third, because of the sweat issue, the skates will begin to smell at a much faster rate. Again, this can be slowed - but not entirely avoided - by airing the skates out after each game and practice.

Why should I wear skate socks?

A player should wear skate socks when first learning how to skate. New players will not have the ankle strength to skate with perfect technique, which can cause the skates to rub and create blisters. Plus, they can help younger players fit into skates that they haven't quite grown into.

Also, players wearing low-end skates should strongly consider wearing skate socks because their skates cannot be baked without being weakened. This means that the boot won't be completely form-fitted to the foot and may be uncomfortable.

Experienced players wearing higher-end skates may still want to wear skate socks, too. They should wear socks if they do not want their skates to get wet or smell.

Which skate socks would you recommend?

There are many types of socks available, starting with "no-frills" ankle and crew socks, like the Bauer Low Cut or the Warrior Lazer. There are basic socks that go up to the calf, as well, like the Bauer NG Core Tall or the Reebok 14K socks. These are generally quite inexpensive per pair and use thicker materials.

For players that are playing full contact hockey or are concerned about safety, cut-proof skate socks, like the Bauer Elite Performance or the Bauer NG Elite socks, are available and are recommended. These high-end socks use thinner materials that allow you to feel your edges easier in addition to Kevlar reinforcement to prevent lacerations from skates.

Wearing skate socks or going barefoot is all personal preference. If you have been considering skating barefoot, try it at a pickup game, practice, or open skate. If you want to wear socks when you skate, you can see our full selection of skate socks right here at DiscountHockey.com. Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the ice!

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