Before I had kids, I enjoyed rollerblading, and did it often. But once pregnant, and then pushing a stroller, I gave up the hobby and got rid of my skates, thinking I would probably never skate again. Then my kids got older and loved going skating on weekends, and of course, I had to join them! When my son outgrew his roller skates, he wanted "rollerblades," or inline skates. I found a great pair at Sports Authority a couple of years ago. They adjusted from sizes 1-4, and he put them on and loved them from day one. My daughter continued to wear her "Barbie" roller skates until she outgrew them, and got her brother's hand-me-down rollerblades, which were still as good as new. He moved up to the next size, which fits sizes 5-8. Shortly before Christmas, I found a great deal on some for me, and then found the male version of my skates for my boyfriend. We were all set to go. Or maybe not.
My boyfriend had bought his three kids some inline skates from Target. Like my kids', they also were size adjustable. They were a little cheaper than what I paid for my kids' skates, but looked very similar. One of his daughters had worn my daughter's rollerblades, so she immediately complained that the wheels on her new skates did not "go" like they were supposed to. They did not sound the same either. They had a plastic sound, where ours have more of a rubber sound. They all felt rubbery, but obviously they are not all the way through. Then, my boyfriend's son put my boyfriend's on, and my boyfriend put his son's on, and that's why I am writing this. His son was unable to hold his feet quite right in his own skates, but when he put on his dad's skates, his feet were straight, and he immediately was able to skate better. My boyfriend said that he could actually feel the line of wheels under his foot in his son's skates, rather than feeling like his foot was on the platform that sits over the wheels. It was a HUGE difference! Why is this?
Well, first off, price has a lot to do with it. All of the skates for me, my boyfriend and my kids were Rollerblade brand inline skates. I did not realize it at the time, because my kids' were labeled "Bladerunner" which I found out later are made by Rollerblade. There are other brands out there, which I'm sure are just as good, but the only experience I can speak of is with Rollerblades. My boyfriend's skates are the Rollerblade Spiritblade Xt Men's Skate, my skates are the Rollerblade Spiritblade Xtw Women's Skate, and my kids' are the Rollerblade Bladerunner Phaser Kids 4 Size Expandable Skate. I looked at the construction of the skates, comparing the cheaper skate to the Rollerblades. Visually the construction is a bit different, but structurally, the cheaper skate is much more flimsy and doesn't seem to provide the stability necessary to keep the ankles straight. The brand to avoid is Schwinn. I'm not sure if Rollerblade was the first company to put out inline skates, but I know that they have been making them a lot longer than Schwinn, and I'm guessing that Rollerblade has worked out the kinks over time and Schwinn is putting out a product that most people won't know is inferior. But after seeing both brands next to each other, and with three of us able to try both kinds, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, the difference in price is insignificant when you look at the difference in quality. It is possible that a child in the Schwinn skates will never be able to skate well. They can literally turn a child excited about skating into a child who puts them away to never try again.
If you are shopping for inline skates any time soon, save up a little longer and get the better brand!