Derby Boot Buying Guide
Before diving into the specifics about boots, you'll want to ask yourself what level of derby you will participate in. We break level of play down into three levels: Recreational, Competitive and Elite.
For entry-level players playing just for fun, those on a tight budget, or are unsure about their future in roller derby. Boots are economical in price, but may lack performance and durability features of higher-level skates.
This player intends to play on a competitive team and/or place more rigorous demands on their equipment. Most players fall into this category. Boots are an investment and built to be more durable with variations of higher-level components that can affect price. Ok for both beginners (that plan to stick with derby) and advanced level skaters.
An Elite player may skate for a nationally competitive team, or is simply a bonafide badass. Boots are not "too advanced" for Recreational or Competitive players, but being the highest price with the highest quality of components, Elite players benefit from their built-in performance features where others may not.
Manufacturers are constantly expanding the materials that are used on the "uppers" or outside part of skate boots. Most mainstream boots are either Vinyl or Leather.
Vinyl boots are inexpensive and tend to be heavily padded. These boots are good for beginners who aren't used to a tight, performance fit but are rarely recommended for anything above Recreational play. They have very minimal stretch and maintain fit much like a regular shoe.
Leather boots are recommended for players who would like to advance above Recreational level of play. They are durable and provide higher performance than their synthetic counter parts. Higher grades of leather are more comfortable and typically maintain a higher level of performance. Leather boots do offer some stretch so they should fit snugly out of the box.
- Leather grades from lowest to highest:
- Bonded Leather
- Genuine Leather
- Top Grain Leather
- Full Grain Leather
- Specialty Leathers (i.e. Kangotan Leather and Chinook)
Other Materials of note are Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass. These are predominately seen on Bont boots. These high performance boots require heat molding. Microfiber and Clarino materials are Vegan friendly and similar to leather in durability and performance.
The liner greatly affects the way the boot will feel since it is the closest thing to your foot. Many recreational boots feature padding that feels like a sneaker while performance boots typically feature a leather lining that molds to your foot to provide for maximum power transfer. Here is a list of common liner materials:
Common in recreational level boots, these offer the easiest transition for those wanting their boots to feel like sneakers.
DryLex, Cambrelle and Micro Fiber liners are specially picked for footwear to be moisture wicking and comfortable.
The most comfortable and performance based option due to its ability to stretch and form to your foot.
Described by their material and attachment type, they are typically made out of Leather or Rubber and are either Glued or Stitched.
Leather vs. Rubber
Leather outsoles are stiffer and offer higher performance than their flexible rubber counterparts.
Glued vs. Stitched
Stitched outsoles make it less likely for the boot will separate from the outsole after wear, making them more durable than those that are glued. Some outsoles are cemented to the boot, which is in between glue and stitching for durability and quality. Most Competitive and Elite boots will feature a stitched outsole and are recommended for advanced and heavier skaters.
Derby boot cuffs are typically right above or below the ankle. Higher cut cuffs like those found on Antik Boots, provide more support for the ankle. Low cuffs promote more speed and agility by allowing for longer strides and more range of motion.
Size and Fit
Once you know the features you want and what to expect from a boot's fit, it is crucial to select the correct size. By using the manufacturer provided sizing charts and the Derby Warehouse fit and size guidelines, you should be able to find your glass slipper feel!
For more information visit: Boot and Skate Sizing Guide
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