When you start a new sport, be it running, boxing or even swimming, you want to know what type of gear you will need to help you become the best that you can be. Today, there are so many different choices for roller derby gear out there and it can be overwhelming when you're not sure which will work best for you. Some of us just want basic gear, while others have more specific needs. A lot of our Fresh Bloods had questions about what type of gear to buy and our veterans were happy to answer.
Fresh Blood Vanessa asks: What are the best skates to buy for someone who doesn't wear leather?
Roxie Heartless answers: This is a problem I have struggled with. I am a vegetarian and don't wear leather. I also have problems with my feet, so really supportive quality shoes are also a priority for me. My original skates were ok for my feet and non-leather, but I don't think they were completely vegan. They also wore out fairly quickly. They were discontinued, and when I needed to get new skates I had a really hard decision to make. At the time there was one pair of completely vegan skates that were available, but I knew with my foot pain issues that I needed a higher quality skate. I made the difficult decision to save my feet and go with Riedell 265's which only came in leather (although there was the option of special ordering non-leather materials and having them custom made =long wait time and higher prices). I am really happy with my 265's. They have been very comfortable, and I've had very little foot pain. They have also held up really well over time. If you are a vegetarian/vegan buying skates now, you have much better options!
In my opinion, the best vegan skates would have to be the Riedell 265's with the vegan package. The 265's are really popular, good quality skates that are designed specifically for derby skaters. Riedell has recently starting making them with a completely vegan boot. They are a bit pricey, but it's worth it to get a quality non-leather skate.
The Riedell R3s are also completely vegan and they are much cheaper than the 265's. However, they are of a much lower quality. I would suggest these if you are trying out derby and are not sure if you are going to stick with it. They are ok for beginners, but they will wear out pretty quickly, so they will need replacing sooner than higher quality skates.
The new Riedell Outlaw is also totally vegan, and about the same price as the R3. They are new, so I haven't heard any skater reviews, but they seem to have quite a few features that the R3s didn't have, like a reinforced toe cap which should improve their longevity.
Chest Blockwell answers: I recommend buying Riedell Vandal 265s. Those are the skates I bought when I first started skating and I love them. They are $269, but you can get them for a bit less if you buy the package with all your gear through Sin City Skates.
Cyanide Kisses answers: For outdoor skating you want to use a wheel that is softer than your average indoor wheel. It helps absorb the shock of things you might roll over outside like a rock or a crack in the pavement. I would suggest the Radar Energy wheels. The price is right and they're a little bit on the grippier side, so for someone who has just started skating outdoors it will help you maintain your balance. I personally use the Sure Grip Aerobics. They're a little bit harder than the Energy Wheels, but I've had them for almost 2 years and they're still in pretty good shape. Either wheel would be great for outdoor skating.
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Thank you for the Q&A ladies!