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Derby Skate Buying Guide

For Sizing help, see Derby Warehouse Skate Sizing Guide.

Derby Skates target skaters who are participating in Roller Derby over those skating for leisure, and are built to take more of a beating. The most common mistakes made when buying a skate, is not choosing one that best suits your Level of Play. This can cause you to under or over spend. After determining which level you need, you are then left with a number of boot and plate options to choose from.

Level of Play

To navigate the large skate selection at Derby Warehouse, each model is assigned a recommended level of play ranging from recreational to elite.


For entry-level players playing just for fun, those on a tight budget, or are unsure about their future in roller derby. Skates/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. Skates/boots in the Competitive category 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. Skates/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.


Derby Boots are typically cut right above, or just below the ankle. Higher cuts like those seen on Antik Boots provide more support for the ankle. Low cuffs provide for more maneuverability and allow for longer strides to generate speed.

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While there are a number of specialty boot materials available, most boots are constructed using either Vinyl or Leather.

Vinyl Boots

Vinyl boots are inexpensive and tend to be heavily padded. Designed for Recreational or beginning players where comfort is more important than a tight, performance fit. Does not stretch, making them easier to size, but less durable.

Leather Boots

Leather boots are designed to be more durable and have better performance. These should fit tight and the leather will stretch to a personal, formed fit. Higher grades of leather are more durable, comfortable and typically maintain a higher level of performance.

Other Materials

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.

Visit our Derby Boot Buying Guide for more information.


Skate Plates affect weight, performance and feel. Materials are broken down to either Nylon or Metal Alloys.



Nylon Plates

Nylon plates keep costs down and allow skates to be lighter in weight. Modern nylon plates are strong enough for Recreational and many Competitive players.

Metal Alloy Plates

Metal Alloy (Aluminum and Magnesium) plates are recommended for Competitive and Elite players. The metal baseplates are most often heavier than their nylon counterparts, but add stiffness for greater power transfer and performance. The more expensive (high-grade alloy plates) plates maintain rigidity without adding weight.

Visit our Plate Buying Guide for more information.

Other Skate Package Components

These less expensive components are replaced regularly to customize or maintain your skates. When shopping, these should be treated as the seat covers, they are great options but they don't make the car. That being said, they can help sway a decision if you are down to a standoff between a few models.

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Wheels Bearings Toe Stops
Wheel Buying Guide Bearing Buying Guide Toe Stop Buying Guide

Related Information

Derby Boot Buying Guide Derby Warehouse Skate Sizing Guide
Helmet Buying Guide
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