The Best Roller Skates for Outdoors

The "best" skate is the one that's the safest and most comfortable for you.
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Alongside the benefits that come with regular cardio -- amped-up endurance, dialed-down cholesterol -- an hour of roller skating will melt away 300 to 600 calories an hour for a 150-pound woman. That's enough to write that midnight snack right off. To wheel your workout outside the rink, your feet need just the right skates. While the choice of “best” skate boils down to your needs and preferences -- not to mention your budget -- the most effective outdoor roller skates share some qualities.


    Rink skates are commonly called "indoor skates," or if you really want to sound like a pro, "speed skates." For outdoor skating, you'll want to choose, fittingly enough, outdoor quad skates -- with the retro two-in-front, two-in-back wheel design -- or three- to five-wheeled in-line skates. Both styles fit the bill for run-of-the-mill, fitness-oriented outdoor skating, but quad skates have greater stability and cater to performing tricks -- don't worry, you'll get there someday -- while in-line skates focus on straight-line speed skating.


    On the flip side of indoor quad skates, which feature hard wheels, the best outdoor quad and in-line models have soft, wide wheels usually made of high-impact, high-rebound urethane. These sticky wheels promote adhesion and smooth rolling on paved surfaces like streets and sidewalks, where you'll likely spend most of your time. Softer wheels absorb shock in case of uneven outdoor terrain, making for a gentler ride. The hardness of skate wheels is measured by durometer. Outdoor skate wheels have a durometer below 95A, the optimal measurement for indoor-outdoor skates. For the the best grip and smoothest ride, look for wheels with a durometer rating from 78A to 85A. Ideally, outdoor skate wheels range from 62 to 65mm in size.


    The boots of outdoor skates run the style gamut. Low-cut boots, about ankle height, allow easy maneuvering and tight turns and accommodate the fancy moves of dance skating. High-top boots offer less maneuverability but greater protection and durability. For maximum comfort, your outdoor skates should feature nice, cushioned ankle support. For you rugged types, choose low-maintenance suede boots for easy cleaning -- dirt brushes right off. Aesthetics range from retro derby girl styles to uber-modern athletic shoe designs, so pick the look that suits your whim.


    Look for 5/16-inch toe-mounted bell stops, so named for their bell-like shape, for tip-top braking safety on outdoor skates. While it's best to keep indoor skates indoors, you can safely glide across indoor surfaces with your outdoor skates, though you'll find the soft wheels take a little more exertion to get going (think of it as more calories burned). Always accessorize your outdoor skates with a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. Matching is optional -- you can go charmingly eclectic or smoothly streamlined here.

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