K2 VO2 90 Boa
K2 VO2 90 Boa

Best inline skates

The K2 VO2 90 Boa offers everything you could wish for in a general-purpose inline fitness skate: speedy, stable 90 mm wheels on fast ILQ-9 bearings with a comfortable, supportive and well-ventilated boot. The Boa closure system is a particular hit with reviewers, who love that they can adjust the boot's fit while in motion.
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Bladerunner Formula 82
Bladerunner Formula 82

Best budget inline skates

If you're on a budget, Bladerunner Formula 82 inline skates offer the best return for your money. ABEC 7 bearings are a great find in this price range, while 82 mm wheels blend speed and maneuverability. The soft boot is comfortable and sturdy. The overall package offers a fast, but not too fast, ride -- perfect for the beginning to intermediate skater.
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K2 Alexis Boa
K2 Alexis Boa

Best women's inline skates

The K2 Alexis Boa stands out for a women-specific cut and a fast, smooth ride that's easy to control. The soft boot is comfortable, with good support from the ankle stability cuff. The 84 mm wheels balance speed and responsiveness and can be upgraded to 90 mm. The adjust-on-the-go Boa closure is a huge hit with reviewers.
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Xsjado Avant 3
Xsjado Avant 3

Best aggressive inline skates

The Xsjado Avant 3 is comfortable and lightweight, with 57 mm 88a Avant Team wheels, ABEC 7 bearings and Undercover Grind Rock II anti-rockers. The Avant 3 locks your foot in securely, feeling like an extension of your legs and making some tricks easier. Xsjado's signature footwraps double as stand-alone shoes.
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Est. $230 Estimated Price
Bont Jet
Bont Jet

Best inline speed skate

The Bont Jet offers great performance and great value, with a stiff, supportive and responsive one-piece boot made of fiberglass and carbon, reinforced by non-stretch tape and a memory foam interior. It comes with ABEC 7 bearings, 100 mm or 110 mm racing wheels and a three-point attachment system that makes for a stiff, responsive base.
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Est. $325 Estimated Price
K2 Marlee and K2 Raider
K2 Marlee and K2 Raider

Best inline skates for kids

The K2 Marlee and Raider (for girls and boys respectively) are built to last through years of abuse. Adjustable frames extend the life of the skates as your children's feet grow, and the smooth, stable ride makes it easier for kids to get the skates under control. The closures are easy enough for even young children to work with a little practice.
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Bauer Vapor XR4
Bauer Vapor XR4

Inline hockey skates

The Bauer Vapor XR4 offers high-end performance at a mid-range price, with a sturdy, protective boot and a hi-lo 76 mm/80 mm setup on soft, grippy wheels that are perfect for indoor rinks. The overall effect is a nimble, responsive skate, which fits like a glove once you heat-mold the boot.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

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Fitness, fun and speed are the lure of the inline skate

Inline skates have come a long way since their initial mass-market introduction in the 1980s. General fitness skates are more sophisticated, with larger wheels and soft boots that both breathe and support your foot; meanwhile, specialized niches like speed skating, aggressive (stunt) skating and inline hockey skates have exploded.

If you tried inline skating in the past and gave up on it, you'll be pleased to learn that the skates are more comfortable now and easier to control. Soft and semi-soft boots with a combination of laces, straps and buckles have replaced the formerly ubiquitous hard-plastic shell and its buckle closures, offering a more comfortable mix of support and flexibility. Some high-end skates also come with heat-moldable liners for a custom fit.

Types of inline skates

Inline skates come in four primary genres: recreational fitness skates, with large wheels and relatively high-cut, supportive boots; speed skates, with low-cut boots and even bigger wheels for the ultimate in speed; hockey skates, with maneuverable mid-size wheels and protective boots that can stand up to direct hits from a flying puck; and aggressive stunt skates, which can be used for many of the same grinds, slides, leaps and other tricks that you'll see being done in any skate park.

Although each type of inline skate has specific priorities to fit its intended use, we still find ourselves looking for similar qualities in the best-reviewed models: a stable, supportive and comfortable boot, with secure and easy-to-manipulate closures; maneuverable, response handling; and reasonably durable wheels on speedy bearings.

The two exceptions are kids' skates and budget skates, usually the province of beginners, which have slightly slower bearings that help you keep the skates under control as you're learning. The best children's skates also have adjustable boots designed to grow with your child, prolonging the useful life of the skates.

Wheel size and durometer

Inline skate wheels are sized by their diameter in millimeters. Large wheels are faster, but small wheels are more maneuverable; some manufacturers aim to capture the best of both worlds with a hi-lo setup, which positions smaller wheels in the first two slots for increased maneuverability, and larger wheels in the last two positions for better speed.

Sometimes you'll see a second figure, followed by an "a," used to describe skating wheels. That number represents the skate's durometer, or hardness. The higher the number, the harder the wheels. Harder wheels are more durable, better able to stand up to the constant friction of skating on rough, outdoor surfaces or doing tricks.

Softer wheels are "grippier" and less likely to slide during fast changes of direction on smooth surfaces, making them a favorite of inline hockey players on smooth indoor rinks. The downside is that soft wheels wear out faster, especially if you take them outdoors onto rough surfaces.

Don't forget how to stop

General-purpose fitness and children's skates still come with the ubiquitous heel-stopper brake at the back of one boot. To brake with the heel stopper you "scissor" your legs, braking foot forward, and crouch back a bit to press the brake pad against the pavement; the resulting friction slows you down.

Most other skate types, however, are now completely brakeless. That keeps the brake from getting in the way as you race for speed or execute tight, fast hockey or stunt maneuvers -- but it also means you'll have to master different types of braking. For the most comprehensive roundup of inline-skate braking techniques, see the SkateFAQ website.

ConsumerSearch editors have examined customer reviews, forum posts and their own experiences and expertise with inline skates to pick the best inline skates in several categories and for every budget.

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