Maybe you’re reenacting the fantastical, mind-bending cheesiness of Xanadu. Or maybe your kid just discovered the Drew Barrymore-directed roller derby romp Whip It! Whatever the case may be, roller skating is not only a great way to get kids off their screens and outdoors, it’s also a fun yet socially distant group activity that lets them burn off some energy while also working on their balance and gross motor skills. The best roller skates for kids look cool, without question, but also last for years and provide ample stability as skaters traverse the neighborhood. And even adults get in on the action: Padma Lakshmi and her daughter skated all over Paris this summer.
According to the pros at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, skating makes for invigorating outdoor exercise, provided you follow some basic safety precautions. Make sure your little athlete wears a helmet specifically for skating; these come down lower in the back to protect the skull in case of a backwards fall. Make sure the helmet fits properly, with the chin strap snug under the chin. And kids should wear knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards because of those things called broken bones and sprains.
The skates themselves should have solid ankle support; if you can squeeze the plastic of the boot, they’re not supportive enough. The wheels and brakes should be secured and not worn out, and the skates themselves should be buckled snugly. The best kids roller skates and blades are maximally adjustable: little feet should feel snug without being uncomfortable.
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The Best Roller Skates for Growing Kids
For your future derby star, these quad skates are tailor-made for the beginner. A padded collar is more comfortable, while a power strap above the ankle provides confidence-building stability. Soft, grippy wheels and quicksilver bearings will have him of her tearing up the track in no time.
These skates may not be the fastest, nor will the provide the most support. But for the true beginner who's growing like a weed, the Trolls roller skates provide a key feature: adjustability. They expand out with the growth of your son or daughter's foot, allowing him or her to wear them longer, thus saving you from hemorrhaging money.
Not only does this skate adjust four full sizes when you push a button, but these are the most solid beginner skates you can buy, made by the brand that has been outfitting skaters since 1905. The high-top style gives kids added stability. The padded collar is for comfort. And the breathable inner mesh prevents foot sweat. The tow ratchet buckles ensure a better and secure fit.
The Best Roller Skates for Older Kids
The Moxi brand is considered pretty much best in class, which is no surprise given that it was founded in 2008 by roller skater Michelle Steilen a.k.a. Estro Jen. And yes, they're an investment, so buy them if your kid is a fan of the sport. Here's what you get: An inner liner that is made from moisture-wicking Dri-Lex that keeps feet cool, a rolled collar that boosts range of motion, and metal hooks for ultra-tight lacing. The wheels are made from high-rebound urethane, so they're ideal for getting around sharp turns with panache. And the ride is the smoothest in the biz. Plus, you get PowerDyne toe stoppers for easy braking control.
The Best Inline Skates for Kids
The cool thing about these roller blades: Kids can go somewhat faster, without having to put in the effort. That's because of how the wheels are designed. The boot design gives them extra foot support and balance, and the easy closure system ensures that their ankles aren't wiggling around.
If these look a little like ski boots, that's no accident. They provide truly solid ankle support. Kids don't need to break them in, and they have adjustable straps and pull tab for a great fit. The padded boot liner is breathable and there's an optional heel brake. They're best for kids who have already earned their sea legs on actual roller skates.
Like Frisbee or Polaroid, some brands are so important that their name is synonymous with product itself. Rollerblade's Microblade draws on the company's long history with inline skate advancement. These are adjustable four full sizes with push of a button but remain incredibly breathable through the liberal use of mesh.
Expanding from size four to seven, the Orlando feels and performs the best of any adjustable skate we tested. True, it will never be as responsive as non-adjustable models, but for kids on the cusp of a growth spurt, it will keep them skating and you from the poorhouse.
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