There is a common misconception that rental ice skates with plastic buckles are a great alternative for rental skates. However, after interviewing many rinks who carry these plastic buckle rental skates, we have learned that rinks are much better off with lace-up rental ice skates. Here are a few facts about plastic rental ice skates you may not know.
Easy to put on:
The biggest reason we see ice rinks carry plastic buckle skates is because its easier for skaters to put buckle skates on than lace-up skates. We agree with this statement. However, many lace-up skates come with hooks around the ankle, this makes it very easy to tie and un-tie for skaters. Regardless, buckle skates are still a bit easier to put on.
Not as durable as you may think:
Plastic skate boots should last a very long time, however they don’t. Plastic is a durable material which gives great support. However plastic buckle skates are constructed in a way that break down very easily. There are two plastic pieces which make up the skate: the top part that makes up the ankle area, and the boot piece that surrounds to foot. These two pieces are bolted together near the anklebone. This bolt is plastic and breaks very easily, if this bolt breaks there are no replacements for these. Having these two conjoining plastic pieces also creates a weak spot in the skate where you need the most support. Skaters who use rental skates are typically novice skaters. Novice skaters naturally bend their ankles inward when skating. This pressure spot on the skate is exactly where these two plastic skate pieces meet and is the weakest part of the skate boot.
Many are under the impression plastic buckle rental ice skates are low maintenance. Through speaking with rink owners we have learned that in the long-run buckle rental skates are high maintenance because their parts constantly break.
The buckles are typically made of all plastic which break very frequently. To replace these is cheap but an annoyance because you will have to take those skates out of rotation to fix. You will also need to pay your employees to replace the broken buckles, this time adds up. It may not sound like much trouble but when you have 50-200 buckles to replace per season, it does get annoying and expensive.
Another piece of the skate that needs to be replaced is the inner liner boot. These are very basic liners and depending on the volume of skaters you see per season these will need to be replaced. We recommend ordering extra inner liner boots when you make your original skate order, they are not the easiest to come by.
As seen in the video above, rental buckle skates come with very basic inner liners. The padding in these liners wear down very quickly and makes the skates uncomfortable. After about an hour of skating the liners get very hot and soak up foot sweat. If you are looking to keep these in rotation for the next skating session they will feel hot and wet.
After about a year of use you will quickly be able to see why these are a bad choice. These are replaceable, however replacing the inner liners every year or so becomes expensive and you have to install the replacement liners. This takes a good amount of time and resources.
Rental skates with laces have much better padding because during manufacturing they have many more material options to choose from to install in the skates. Additionally some lace-up rental ice skates (Link) come with anti-bacterial chrome microfiber lining which will repel sweat and heat much better than any other liner. Better inner liners will allow you to keep the skate in rotation longer and get more uses out of it. Additionally, the skater will have a much more pleasurable experience.
Be extremely careful when buying rental skates, this is an investment into your skaters experience at your rink. Always request a skate sample to test the quality before purchasing; if a skate company believes in their product they will provide free samples. We also suggest making sure the skates will fit your budget but make sure you are also looking at the long-term return on investment. Rental ice skates should be extremely comfortable and durable to last you a few years. Lastly rental ice skates should be low maintenance.
In conclusion buckle skates do not meet any of these requirements, the only thing they do is make it a bit easier to put on. We don’t believe this is a big enough reason to purchase them, there are too many new high-tech materials available in lace-up rental skates today that will make your life a lot easier.