We know we’re not alone in pleading with our children to leave the house – all the more important when it’s cold, wet, or the kids aren’t getting their usual dose of fitness due to school and camp closures.
We may have found the ideal solution for encouraging them to stay active, and keep it fun: roller skating and rollerblading (also known as inline skating).
The roller skating revival has been a peak lockdown obsession for TikTok and Instagramming teens ogling viral roller skaters Ana Coto and Oumi Janta, whose dreamy, pastel-hued vids showcase skate life in all its athletic, grooving glory.
It’s not too early for kids aged five and up to get started in skating (even three-year-olds who are keen, and proficient at scooting, can give it a go). Both roller skating and inline skating offer low-impact aerobic benefits, helping improve fitness much like jogging, while developing leg and core strength in kids.
Plus, these activities don’t require a parent to lug a bike around when a child decides they’ve had enough.
Prices for popular brands vary widely, starting in the £20 range for budget blades and costing upwards of £100 for designer varieties. Note: some of the pricier pairs are built to last, with replacement parts you can purchase, so you won't have to buy a whole new pair if a part breaks. With roller skates and rollerblades typically sized to accommodate kids for a few years, children can get quite a lot of wear out of each pair, plus they can easily be passed down to younger siblings.
Having half-heartedly attempted to teach the kids to skate a few times before, we’ve learned that it does take a bit of practice. And don’t let the cold stop you – in fact, ice skating and skiing will complement rollerblading beautifully.
If you’re not sure whether to go for roller skates or inline skates, think about why you want the kids to learn: roller skates have more surface area contact, so they’re easier to use on wooden floors, but trickier on bumpy surfaces outdoors.
Andreas Kolattek has been teaching rollerblading for the past 25 years and works with London-based Zebra Skate Camp, which runs camps and 1:1 sessions. He says: “The main reason we concentrate on inline skating in the camps is because most parents want kids to use skating as a form of transport instead of a bike. Rollerblading is much easier outside than roller skating.”
Rollerblades aren’t just better for outside surfaces, they can also pick up more speed as you become more advanced. Kolattek likens inline skates to motorbikes thanks to their ability to go faster, while roller skates are more like cars – stable, yet slower. Having racked up an impressive 300-plus-minutes with the roller skates and rollerblades in our round-up below over the past month, our kid-testers have become pretty proficient on both types of wheels.
Whether you choose roller skates or rollerblades for your child, there’s one key thing to remember: safety first. "Wear every piece of safety gear," says Kolattek. You should have nine pieces of kit in total: A pair of skates or blades, a helmet (bike or skate helmets work equally well), two knee pads, two elbow pads and two wrist pads. Wrist injuries are the most common issue to watch out for when inline skating.
Taking your wheels outside? Find a smooth, flat, area away from traffic, without any unexpected inclines or declines. If you have a specialist offering lessons nearby, try one – rollerblading and skating require a higher skill threshold for kids to master on their own, compared to a sport like running.
One final tip from Kolattek: if your child is on the cusp sizing-wise, get them the larger pair.
We’ve had great fun testing these skates and blades around the house and in our local park. In a few weeks, our kid-testers evolved from total beginners to eager, confident, independent skaters – and we’ve never seen them so excited to get out of the house. Before 8am, no less.
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Decathlon oxelo play 5 inline skates
We first spotted these inline skates on our friend’s daughter; she’d received them as a Christmas gift and, according to her mum, they hadn’t come off since she got them. With a sub-£25 price tag and plenty of appealing features, we can see why.
In addition to being some of the most affordable inline skates available, they’re adjustable to three sizes, so will fit your child from one year to the next. And the one after that.
Choose from three colourways – lunar grey, scarlet red and magenta, each embellished with kid-friendly graphics. Suitable for newbie skaters, these have a foam-cushioned boot so they sit comfortably on the foot, and a rubber brake and wheels (rubber is longer lasting than plastic).
These were also very easy for our kid-tester to put on and take off herself. Despite being one of the first pairs she'd tried, within minutes of fitting them on her foot she was confidently rollerblading down a flat path and back again, insisting she just wanted to keep on skating.
Decathlon also stocks quad skates and adult skates, as well as light-up wheels if the kids want to add some extra excitement to their skates.
Rookie Rosa white roller skates
As our tester opened the box and caught a first glimpse of the Rookie Rosa, she gasped, overwhelmed by sheer joy and excitement. In fact, each Rookie pair we unboxed was more stylish and appealing than the next, with roller skates in vibrant shades, embellished with motifs like contrast coloured butterflies and vivid rainbows. Featuring embroidered rose detailing, the Rosa is one for older kids since it starts at a size 2, and our 10-year-old tester easily managed to manoeuvre these skates, both indoors and on road.
Launched in 1978, the majority of Rookie’s chic skates are like the Rosa, modelled after the artistic figure skate, with a synthetic upper and padded fleece lining. For adjustable sizing and a wider size range, try the vibrantly hued Passion or Blossom models from Rookie. These skates look so good, adults could easily be tempted into getting a matching pair to twin with their child.
Impala rollerskates blue & yellow inline roller skates
Another brand that makes kids – and their parents – squeal with delight when first taking them out of the box, Impala’s inline skates, with their candy-pastel colours and cute details (can you spot the stars?), are what every tween and teen dreams of skating around in. These are achingly cool rollerblades. Even the box, featuring a gorgeous graphic of a skater girl in micro shorts with blue hair, is aspirational.
The inline skates combine a hard plastic outer shell with a padded boot liner (and an optional heel brake), and these win points for substance and quality as well as style. Our kid-tester loved wearing them for morning skate sessions and kept gravitating back to them in the house (mostly to stroke them; they're that pretty).
Impala is an Australian brand known for its nostalgia-infused silhouettes and PETA-approved vegan styles. The brand's equally photogenic roller skates come in a selection of social media friendly holographic finishes, rainbow pastels and funky leopard and floral prints. Sizes start at a UK 3, so we’d recommend Impalas for an experienced tween or teen skater rather than a total beginner.
Rio Roller Milkshake skates
A British fashion skate brand launched in the Nineties, Rio Roller has both artistic skate silhouettes and trainer-style designs, like the uber-popular Milkshake style, a pastel-coloured treat that eight-to-12-year-olds frequently put top of their wish lists when begging for roller skates. The styling is hard to beat, with a two-tone colourway, script logo on the side and giant Velcro straps, which offer extra support to small ankles.
They didn’t disappoint: our eight-year-old tester found them easy to put on… and is planning to wear them to various future (fictional) roller disco parties. They were the pair of choice for gliding along wooden floors, indoors, something our tester now loves to do near-daily (while wearing safety gear). Sizes start at a UK 1.
SFR Plasma adjustable inline skates
SFR is a good brand for value-for-money starter skates for little ones. And they last, with these Plasma inline skates fitting up to four different sizes (just use the push button to adjust sizing). With a hard plastic outer and soft, breathable inner boot, our five-year-old tester found these easy to use and comfortable, stating that while wearing them, she felt "safe" (a hefty compliment considering most other pairs made her feel nervous). The brand also has a selection of roller skates, including Stomper skates, with larger back wheels, for toddlers.
Osprey blue glitter high quad skates
When we opened the box from Osprey, we thought nothing could appeal more than the hi-shine, glittery turquoise skates nestled inside, nodding to the Seventies with their retro stripe styling. Then we realised: watching a three-year-old happily zooming around the house in them was even better.
Osprey’s skates are suitable for beginners as well as more advanced skaters, with a high lace-up front that offers support to tiny ankles and a range of sizes from a child 12 to an adult 7. Our mini reviewer – who still insists on being pushed around in the buggy pretty much every time we go outside – was completely enamoured of these, throwing herself around with abandon and confidence, and begging to wear them daily. Result.
Heelys Reebok CL court low
Heelys aren’t quite roller skates – more trainers with optional wheels – but we had to include them in this round-up because a) kids are obsessed by them, b) if you’re looking to go further or faster on walks, these will help and c) the brand has collaborated with Reebok on styles kids will be desperate to wear daily, like these cool-looking camo-print courts. It took a few tries for our tester to get the hang of these, but once they did, it became a fun mode of transportation – and they found the trainers, without wheels, to be stylish and comfy. If you've got a beginner, choose two-wheel Heelys, which offer more stability.
Xootz heel wheel roller skates
An alternative to Heelys, you can throw these detachable roller wheels (available in pink, blue or green) into your bag and turn your child’s trainers into skates once you get to the park. Even better, these light up with LED lights, something our five-year-old tester found delightful.
Known for its sturdy designs and budget-friendly pricing, Xootz specialises in beginner roller skates and inline skates. These roller wheels can be adjusted to suit a range of sizes (although we didn't manage to get one of the wheels to expand because the screw was stuck fast), so should, in theory, work for a couple of years.
They are best suited to a child who's quite confident and proficient at using back wheels to get around. They'll pick up speed, but don’t expect the kids to be travelling great distances in these.
Micro duality inline skates
Micro’s inline skates for kids are just amazing – and another favourite with our testers. Just make sure that you have a child who’s keen on rollerblading because these are a pricier upfront investment, however parents will be pleased to know that they’re built for the long haul, since you can buy replacement parts instead of purchasing a whole new pair of skates if anything goes wrong. Sizing on these is also good, as each pair spans three sizes.
The Duality skates are our favourites of the three Micro pairs we tested: with exceptional attention to detail, stylish (and unexpected) embroidery and a cool colour combo, they elicited a few double takes from passers-by when our tester was doing laps around the park. The quality is evident from the construction and materials, as they feature a tough polypropylene casing, sturdy aluminium frame and breathable semi-soft upper.
The Velcro straps were easy for our kid-tester to fasten on her own, and she kept insisting on how comfortable they were. These were the blades she was happiest to skate in for longest; in them, she skated faster, and farther. For younger kids, and newbies, the award-winning Micro MJ is a popular model, and even comes in a set with a helmet and pads.
The verdict: Kids’ roller skates and rollerblades
Decathlon’s Oxelo inline skates tick every box for us: they’re well-priced, sturdy and look good, making them a brilliant choice for skating newbies. If you’ve got the budget, then Micro Duality inline skates have it all when it comes to quality, looks, comfort and long-lasting potential. Roller skaters looking for style and substance should go for Rookie’s artistic Rosas – stunning to look at, easy to skate in and well-priced.
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