What do you need? Kit questions!

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What do you need? Kit questions!

Post by ZILLAH » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:10 pm

Here is a basic list of things you will need to begin skating.

Obviously for each item, it will range from the cheap options through to the very expensive. We recommend against the cheapest ones - basic pads won't last long and the really cheap old school skates are going to hinder your progress at some point and you'll end up buying new ones anyway. Look around at what others at practice have and feel free to ask them to try on for size.

There is no right and wrong - equipment is a very personal thing - particularly when it comes to skates and wheels, but here is some of our combined years of wisdom to set you in a good direction.


There are lots of different types of skates out there. Most skates will come with standard plates so you are ready to skate, when you get to the higher end you buy the boot alone.

Riedell are the most common derby skate, and many skaters start with the Riedell R3s, as these are the best skate thats still reasonably priced when you're first starting out. They will set you back about £90, but they do last. There are more expensive Riedells, such as 495's which are very popular amongst roller derby skaters. These range right up to £600+.

Sure Grips are also pretty popular; again there are different styles. These average between £90 and £250.

Antiks are the higher ankle skates. Lots of skaters prefer these for the ankle stability. These are pretty high end skates and will set you back £400-£600.

Bonts/Wikko are custom skates. These are skates that are made to measure and at the higher end of the market. You can usually tell someone has custom skates when they are an unusual colour or patterned. These will set you back a few hundred pounds, and probably not recommended for new skaters starting out.

You may see skates cheaper, but it is likely that skates less than £50 won't last long at all. Try to avoid the skates with the high sides that come above your ankle, as they'll restrict movement. Also try to avoid the roller disco style skates, most skaters end up sore when skating much in these.


Plates are again very individual - as is how to use them. Some are 15 degree, some are 20 degree and some are 45 degree. There's soft to hard cushions, aluminium, nylon, cast iron... There are Avengers, Pilot, Powerdyne, Roll line... then there's whether to wear them tight of loose. As far as plates are concerned, you need to try other peoples and see what feels right for you.


Again, lots of choices but just make sure you get a multi impact helmet! Some recommended brands are Nutcase, Triple 8, Protec, and S1.

Knee Pads

Good knee pads are a MUST! Your knees are taking the full force of your body in many falls, so the thicker, most expensive knee pads you can afford will be the best! Don't bother buying the knee/elbow combo pack as they will be wrecked quickly, and don't offer the level of protection that we need. The minimal type of pads you want to invest in would be Triple 8 brand, or Anarchy. Moving up from there you have the Rector Fat Boys, The 187's and Smith Scabs ones. These 3 are what you want to aim for when you can afford it.

Elbow Pads

This is pretty much the exact same advice as for knee pads - same brands too. They aren't quite as important as knee pads, knees are a priority!

Wrist Guards

Wrist guards are super important, don't stand up til you put these on. Again, it's down to personal choice which type you get. Some go on like gloves, some strap on, some have protection on both sides, some have guarding just on the palm side. It's up to you! Again ask around at practise to see the different types and try on for size. If you need a recommendation, 187's are good guards.


You can get these at most high street sports shops, they come in all shapes and sizes, again it's down to personal preference. Lot's of ARRG skaters use SISU ones.


Wheels is a minefield. There are a million different wheels and it is almost impossible to give recommendations because it is such a personal choice. You'll see skaters with 8 of the same wheel, or 2 different wheels on each inside/outside edge, or some with pusher wheels on the front inside; you'll see fat wheels, thin wheel, super thin wheels, tall wheels, short wheels... It really depends entirely on your skating style, the way you distribute your weight, your preference for edges... really, just ask. Any skater is happy to talk about wheels!

Same thing goes for bearings - as a recommendation we would suggest Bones Reds but there are plenty of other brands. Just make sure you clean (or change) them often!

Where to Buy:

Route One
Skate shop on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh. They don't have skates (well, they do very occasionally) but they do have bearings, pads, helmets and accessories.

5th Blocker
Skate shop in Glasgow. Owned by Marshall Lawless from Glasgow Roller Derby - she is incredibly helpful and knowledgeable and will let you try on skates, she'll even order things in for you if you email her in advance. She also does plate mounting if you buy boots and plates separately (even if you didn't buy them from her).

Triple Threat Skates
London Roller Girls skater owned. Online shop, excellent selection and they are great with questions if you email.

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