In this post, I am going to compare high top and low top skates.
You will have noticed the variety of skates out there. Whether you are just starting out or an experienced/pro skater, you will have stumbled upon high top skates and low top skates during your search. The question is should you go for high top skates vs low top skates?
Having experienced wearing both high and low top skates and put them through their paces in different situations. I know what these skates have to offer and can help guide you in making your decision.
If you are trying to figure out the pros and cons of each type of skate, then check out this post. I have broken down the various elements of high and low top skates so that you know which features each one has to offer. In turn, you will be able to find a pair of skates that are just right for you.
At a Glance
High top and low top skates each have their pros and cons. Due to this, it is not possible to name a winner overall. Instead, you merely need to consider each category and determine which pair of skates comes out on top.
In reality, each skater has their own criteria for what makes the perfect pair of skates. Therefore, for some – such as beginners – the best pair will be high top roller skates. Still, there are others, like racers, that may find that low top skates are the right choice for the type of skating they do.
If you want a better idea of which pair of skates are more suited to you, keep reading to find out.
Table of Contents Hide
What are High Top and Low Top Skates?
Before going any further, let’s consider what high top and low top skates are.
High top skates usually extend above the ankle. These skates tend to have a bit more padding around the ankle area as well. Low top skates, on the other hand, don’t extend above the ankle. They have a lightweight profile and don’t have as much padding.
Types of High Top and Low Top Skates
High top and low top skates come in various designs and styles. Here are the types that fall under each category:
High Top Skates
- Indoor/Recreational Skates: used in skating rinks or for leisurely skating. Favored by beginners.
- Artistic Skates: used for free, precision, dance, or synchronized skating.
- Rhythm Skates: used for dancing.
Low Top Skates
- Speed Skates: low-profile, lightweight skates that can be used for speed skating or racing.
- Derby Skates: padded, heavy-duty used in roller derby, a contact sport.
- Jam Skates: used for dancing and gymnastics.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of each element of high and low top skates:
Ankle Support and Stability
Ankle support is quite important for new skaters who are still learning to balance on wheels. This support holds the ankles in place so that skaters don’t have to focus as much on maintaining their balance. Thus, ankle support results in greater stability.
As high top skates stop above the ankle, they offer an incredible amount of support. The padding that comes with them also works to keep the ankle in place. Therefore, skaters will feel far more stable in these.
The Chicago Women’s Classic Skates are the best possible example of this. The boot holds the ankle in place, allowing you to maintain your balance at all times. It is also why this is such an excellent boot for beginners.
With the low top skates, however, you will have no such support. As such, there is greater wobble around the ankles, making them unsuitable for new skaters. If you have weak ankles, these boots can leave you more open to impact.
In this category, high top skates are the clear winner. They afford both ankle support and stability, particularly for newer skaters.
Winner: High Top Skates
If you are planning on learning how to skate or will simply be skating or practicing for long periods of time, then comfort becomes quite important. A skate that is more comfortable can also help to prevent chafing, blisters, and similar issues.
High top skates are known for being rather comfortable. This is because they have padding around the upper part of the boot. This helps to reduce friction, keeping you more comfortable.
One of the best options for high top comfort skates is the Candi Girl Carlin model that comes with comfortable ankle support and plenty of padding. Skates such as these are also made with more breathable material such as suede.
With low top skates, however, you don’t get this feature. This means that your ankle is exposed, unless you wear socks. This can lead to chafing, and with contact sports such as roller derby, it can also result in some discomfort.
If you are looking for comfort, high top skates are the way to go. They will create a soft cocoon around your ankles. This is an especially great feature for new skaters.
Winner: High Top Skates
Maneuverability is all about how easy it is to move on your skates. Now, this doesn’t just mean moving forward, but rather shifting from side to side, twisting, turning, and spinning in a circle. Maneuverability is important for derby as well.
High top skates don’t encourage much maneuverability or movement. Therefore, you will find that sudden or smooth movements aren’t as easy to accomplish with this boot.
Low top skates, however, have been specially designed to free up your ankles. In doing so, it accommodates maneuverability and movement. Therefore, trying tricks, spins, and more becomes a lot easier with the low top.
You can see this with the VNLA Mint Jam skates. The low profile makes it perfect for dancing and pulling off moves that require flexibility and fluid movements.
Low top skates reign in this category. They are great for all types of skating that require flexibility and quick, tight maneuvers.
Winner: Low Top Skates
Weight and Speed
As you can imagine, weight and speed go hand in hand. A heavier pair of skates will move much slower than a lighter pair. Therefore, if you are engaging in speed skating or any kind of racing, you need a lighter pair of skates.
High top skates have more material on them and are often quite bulky. Not to mention, they tend to be more heavily padded. All of this can add serious weight to the skates, causing it to slow down a bit.
Low top skates, however, don’t have this problem. Not only do they have less material, but don’t have nearly as much padding either. In fact, most low top skates have been designed to keep the weight off so that you can move faster.
This is especially noticeable with the Riedell Dart model. Many high top skates can weigh upwards of 7 or 8 pounds, often more. These speedy skates come in at just 6lbs. This makes it easier for skaters to zoom ahead of the competition.
Low top skates win when it comes to speed as well. Since there is less bulk on these skates, you can pick up momentum easily.
The exception to this rule is with low top roller derby skates. Since these skates often need to take quite a beating, they are built with heavy-duty materials and offer some level of protection. Thus, with models like the Roller Derby Stomp Factor 5, there is more heft to them.
Winner: Low Top Skates
One of the reasons that roller skating has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity is partly because they have a retro look that fits in perfectly with the current trends. Due to this, style and aesthetics do play a role when it comes to choosing roller skates.
It can be argued that high top roller skates are the true embodiment of this retro style. After all, they are the earliest designs for roller skates. So, if you want to go for a vintage design, high top skates might be just what you’re looking for.
Just take a look at the Moxi Skates Beach Bunny series. They boast a classic design and are complete with vintage colors. Therefore, you are sure to get compliments for these skates wherever you go.
This doesn’t mean that low top skates are out of the running, though. With them, a modern design takes center stage. This is evident with the Riedell Dart Ombre series, where the look is sleek and minimalistic but offers up a stylish pop of color.
If you like the retro look, then high top skates would be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want a more modern approach, low top skates would be the way to go.
The climate in your region can also impact your choice when it comes to picking skates. For instance, if you live in a cold area, you will require skates that keep you warm. However, if you live in balmy conditions, a pair of skates that are built to keep your feet cool will help you stay comfortable.
If you’re skating in winter-like conditions, you will need to choose a pair of high top skates. These give you more coverage and are heavily padded as well. Thus, you will find it a lot easier to stay warm in them.
For warmer conditions, low top skates are key. Not only do they end below your ankle, but they are lighter and made from more breathable material as well. Due to this, you will be less likely to sweat in them.
Winner: Low Top Skates
High Top Skates vs Low Top Skates: Is There a Winner?
So, is there a winner here? Should you pick high top skates over low top skates or vice versa? Well, not really. Each skate design has its own function. As such, there is no one kind that fits all. Instead, it is more important for you to select skates that are best suited to your needs.
If you are a beginner skater, high top roller skates might be your best bet. This is because they offer up better ankle support which means improved stability. Not to mention, these skates are also a lot more comfortable. This feature can endear them to individuals who are new to the sport.
Due to the higher profile and use of padding, these skates also offer warmth and protection. As such, they work well when you want to skate outdoors in colder conditions.
At the same time, these roller skates come with their fair share of restrictions. While supportive, high top roller skates can limit your movements, particularly when it comes to maneuvering. Therefore, you will find it harder to execute spins and turns.
These skates also tend to be heavier and clunkier which can slow you down quite a bit. So, if you are trying to pick up speed, you won’t have much luck with the high top skates.
This is where low top skates come in. These skates are better suited to more experienced skaters. Therefore, if you’re looking for balance or comfort, you will find that these roller skates aren’t as suitable for you.
On the other hand, low top roller skates are one of your best options when it comes to speed and maneuvering. Their low ankle profile gives you the freedom to move and shift as you please. As such, it is far easier to execute tricks, dancing, and similar skating styles.
At the same time, these roller skates have been designed to be lighter as well. This means that they won’t weigh you down as much, allowing you to pick up speed with more ease. This makes them ideal for speed skating and similar activities.
As they use up less material than other types of skates, they are also more suitable for warm weather conditions, allowing you to stay cool throughout.
So, there you have it – a comparison of high top and low top roller skates. If you have figured out which option is right for you, your next move is to snag the pair of skates without delay. Amazon is the best marketplace for your skate shopping needs as it offers both types of roller skates in different sizes, styles, and at affordable prices.