It’s not ground-breaking news for me to tell you that hockey skates that don’t properly fit are a pain, literally a pain. We also know that hockey can be an expensive sport. So we don’t want to be wasting time (or money) on skates that don’t fit properly.
Whether you’re an aspiring pro, casual men’s / women’s league hockey player, a ringette ringer, or you just like to put on a pair of blades and let it rip, we’ve put together a fitting guide to help you find your hockey skate size and, hopefully, a fresh new pair of blades. There’s a lot of info here, but all you need to know is your shoe size.
You do know your shoe size, right?
While no player wants to be uncomfortable on the ice, we also don’t want to be constantly breaking the bank on new pairs of skates simply because we didn’t take the time to find the right size skate. For parents out there, while I’d always recommend you take the advice of your retail associate at the local skate shop, always make sure your child gives you the honest thumbs-up before pulling the trigger on a new set of skates. Additionally, it never hurts to have a guideline before going into the store.
EDIT FOR 2023: Right, some of you don’t go into stores anymore! For you bold ones out there who dare to purchase hockey skates online without trying them on, this guide will hopefully be of some help. But remember, this is a guideline. We always recommend actually putting the skates on your feet before you go ahead and purchase them.
We’ve broken the guide down focusing on the three most common skate brands: Bauer, CCM, and Graf. Remember, this is purely a guide. We always recommend trying on your hockey skates to make sure the fit is perfect before purchasing as skate sizing will vary by manufacturer. We’ve also included some general tips for finding your skate size and some fitting checks which can help ensure you nail your skate size.
- General Tips
- Bauer Hockey Skates Size Guide
- CCM Hockey Skates Size Guide
- Graf Hockey Skates Size Guide
- Hockey Skate Fit Checks
General Tips for Finding your Skate Fit
Hockey skates run big.
What the heck does run big mean?
It means that, generally speaking, your hockey skate size will be about 1 – 1.5 sizes smaller than your shoe size (US) for men and 2.5 – 3 sizes smaller for women. This means that if you buy a pair of hockey skates that are the exact same as your shoe size, you’re going to be swimming in those skates.
And that’s not a good thing.
So “run big” refers to the idea that your hockey skate size is actually bigger than it’s suggesting. This will give you a good starting point for skates to try on as, like we mentioned above, you do know your shoe size, right?
When fitting a child for youth skates, we can use the same rule as above (about 1 – 1.5 sizes smaller than your shoe size). However, to accomodate for growth, we can go up a half size in the skates, if the fit makes sense. Be careful though. A skate that’s too large for the child can result in blistering (too much foot movement within the skate) or just be too much skate for the child to handle on the ice.
Tip #1: Hockey skate sizes are approximately 1 to 1.5 sizes smaller than your shoe size for men and 2.5 – 3 sizes smaller for women.
Once you’ve got a general idea of the range of size of skate you’ll be looking at, let’s figure out some ways of determining if, in fact, we’ve found a good fit for us. The next tip to remember is when we put our foot into our hockey skate, our toes should just barely touch the toe cap when the skates are unlaced.
Wait, doesn’t that mean our skates will be too small?
No. It’s important to remember that, once we lace up our skates and stand up, our foot will sit back into the skate, giving us a perfect amount of space between our toes and the toe cap of the skates.
Tip #2: When you put your foot your skates, your toes should just barely touch the toe cap.
We’ve now figured out how to check for fit in the toe of our skates, but what about the heel? Our next tip is straightforward. In the heel of the skate, allow for a maximum of ¼” of space. A skate that has too much room in the heel will result in to much movement within the skate. This means less comfort, less control, and potential blistering.
Tip #3: Allow for a maximum of quarter inch (¼”) space in the heel of the skate.
The next part of fitting our hockey skates is finding the proper skate category based on our foot dimensions. They way we properly fit our skate, from a length / width standpoint, is finding our skate width ratio.
What on earth is a skate width ratio?
Don’t worry, we’re not talking advanced trigonometry here. (soh-cah-toa anyone?)
Finding your skate width ratio is simply taking the length of your foot divided by the width of your foot. Once you’ve got this ratio, you can put yourself into one of three categories of hockey skate fits.
The categories are:
- High Volume: Skate width ratio less than 2.5. This means you have a wide foot.
- Medium Volume: Skate width ratio less than 2.5 – 3.0. This means you have a standard foot width.
- Low Volume: Skate width ratio greater than 3.0. This means you have a narrow foot.
As a quick example, my foot is 26cm in length and 11cm in width. So my skate width ratio is 2.36 (26 divided by 11). This puts me in the High Volume hockey skate fit category. So when looking for skates, I’m going to look for wider models.
Tip #4: Dividing the length of your foot by the width of your foot gives your skate width ratio.
Once we’ve determined the category of skate we fit into, let’s see how manufacturer’s classify their skates based on fit. While the way a manufacturer classifies the fit of a skate may vary, the common rule used by skate manufacturers is: skate width size D is a standard width skate size (Medium Volume) and skate width size EE is a wide width skate size (High Volume).
Here’s a general idea of skate widths used by manufacturers:
Back to the example of my skate size. While I profile as High Volume skate fit based on my skate width ratio, I could also opt to try a Medium Volume skate sized width EE. This is where the variances of skate manufacturing comes into play as well as the different lines of skates each brand offers.
As we go through the skate size chart of each manufacturer, we’ll be sure to touch on the nuances of how their skate width classifications work.
Tip #5: D (standard) and EE (wide) width sizes are the most commonly used amongst hockey skate manufacturers.
Now that we have a general understanding of the skate size we’re looking for, let’s go through some of the main hockey skate brands to determine our sizing in that particular brand.
Bauer Hockey Skates Size Guide
Popular skate lines: Bauer Vapor, Bauer Supreme, Bauer Nexus
Remeber how we were talking about skate fit categories above?
With Bauer hockey skates, their three main skates lines Vapor, Supreme, and Nexus each represent a skate fit category.
- Bauer Vapor — Low Volume
- Bauer Supreme — Medium Volume
- Bauer Nexus — High Volume
What’s more important is, within their skate lines, they also offer D and EE widths. This means the size gap between Low to Medium Volume (Vapor to Supreme) and Medium to High Volume (Supreme to Nexus) is less significant. It gives you, the consumer, plenty of options to ensure your getting the best skate fit.
Bauer Senior Skates Sizing
Bauer Junior Skate Sizing
Bauer Youth Skate Sizing
CCM Hockey Skates Size Guide
Popular skate lines: CCM Jetspeed (formerly CCM RBZ), CCM Tacks / Super Tacks, CCM RibCor
Similar to how Bauer skate lines follow a specific skate fit category, CCM hockey skates range up the volume profiles, offering different width options for each line. Like Bauer, this ensures you, the consumer, have plenty of options to ensure you’re getting the best fit for you.
- CCM RibCor — Low Volume
- CCM Jetspeed — Medium Volume
- CCM Super Tacks — Medium – High Volume
Like we mentioned above, just because you might profile as a Medium Volume fit, doesn’t mean you couldn’t wear a Low Volume skate with a wider width. In this case, a CCM RibCor with width EE.
CCM Senior Skate Sizing
CCM Junior Skate Sizing
CCM Youth Skate Sizing
Graf Hockey Skates Size Guide
Popular skate lines: Graf PK (Peakspeed) Series, Graf G Series
With regards width, Graf uses a slightly different notation when classifying the width of their skates.
Here’s a chart of how Graf widths work:
Graf Senior Skate Sizing
Graf Junior Skate Sizing
Graf Youth Skate Sizing
Hockey Skate Fit Checks
You’ve now picked out a pair of hockey skates that work for you. You love the look, the price (hopefully), and they’re feeling good on your feet in the store.
Here’s a couple more quick fit checks you can perform to ensure you’ve got the right pair of skates for you.
The Finger Test
- Put your skates on and lace them up as you would if you were heading out for a Game 7.
- Lean forward, like you would getting ready to push off.
- Slide your finger into the back off your skate where your ankle and heel meet the back of the skate boot.
If there is more than a finger-width of gap in your skates, chances are they’re too big.
The Firmness Test
- Pick up one of your skates with the heel facing towards you.
- Put your thumb and index finger around the ankle part of the skate.
The ankle of the skate should be stiff, especially for experienced skaters. A little flex is OK for newer skaters, but if the skate drastically folds in, it likely won’t make for a good skating experience for any skater.
And that’s that
We hope you find this guide useful when you’re navigating through the hockey skate world.
Once you find the perfect skate that’s comfortable for you, go find yourself a comfortable skating sock to match it!
Until next time…