Ice Skates in Transit Need Protection Too!

In a previous post, I explained how to prepare skates for transit after use (using soakers) so that the blades won’t get rusty. In another, I discussed the use of boot covers as an effective way of protecting the boot from damage while it’s on the ice. But once the skates go into a bag, how can we stop them from scratching each other up as they bang up against each other, and everything else kept in a typical skater’s bag? This post looks at ways to give ice skates protection while in the bag.


Protection For Ice Skates

Bag Choice

The first thing to consider is whether you have, or can select, a bag which isolates the skates from everything else and preferably from each other. I will discuss bags more in a separate post, but it’s something to consider when evaluating options.

However, assuming that you already have a bag or it’s not possible to find a bag which keeps the skates separate, what can be done?


Cheap, cheerful, effective. Wrap your skates in towels when you’re done and you have a four-way win, even if, perhaps, it looks a little amateurish:

  1. The towel helps to keep the boot uppers dry;
  2. You can stuff some of the towel into the boot itself to help draw out the inevitable moisture left there by the sweaty feet which so recently inhabited the space;
  3. Wrapping the boots in towels gives protection them from rubbing against anything other than the towel in transit, thus helping to keep your skate boots in pristine condition;
  4. The towels act as padding against knocks and bangs, so offers some protection from external harm.

By the way: amateurish, smamateurish. I do not care if somebody thinks I look silly using a towel. If it works and doesn’t have any obvious down sides, why knock it? Sure, buy a towel with an ice skate embroidered into it if you like and if it feels more like something a serious skater might use, but otherwise I would look to grab a couple of plain white towels and put them to good use.

The one negative I can see for towels is that they are somewhat bulky, so will take up space in the skate bag which may be needed for something else. That’s a judgement call for each person.

As a side note, I live in constant fear of heavily colored items leaving dye stains on the lovely white skate boots, and in some cases if you believe the reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, I am right to worry about everything from boot covers to bags and more. Buying / using white towels avoids the whole issue.


If you thought the towels looked silly, try using a couple of old pillowcases. Pillowcases are not as absorbent as towels, so don’t have as much benefit in terms of keeping the boots moisture free (or accelerating the drying process), but most people will be able to find a couple of old pillowcases, and once the skates have been dried off and have soakers on, it’s quick and easy to put each one in its own pillowcase before putting them into the bag.

One thing in favor of pillowcases is that they are very compact; they take up almost no space over and above the volume of the skates themselves.

Pillowcases primarily protect the boots from one another; since they are not as padded as towels, they offer less cushioning against impacts, but using pillowcases is definitely better than using nothing.

Special Skate Pouches / Bags

I’ve read somewhere (though I forget where now) that you can buy special soft lined pouches in which to put ice skates. When I looked for these online, however, I came up with nothing. Maybe there’s a particular name for them which, if I knew it, would magically generate results. Anyway, I mention them only because somebody said they existed. If you know about them and can point me to a link to some, I’d be delighted to update this post with the information you share!

Any Other Ideas?

If you do something different to protect your skates and are willing to share, could you please comment below so I can share it with others here too?


Towels are looking really good right now, aren’t they? With that said, I see many skaters who do not bag or wrap their skates up at all. Currently, the bags my children use have a section on the outside and they can put one skate in each pocket with nothing else in there. However, I’m seriously considering those towels…!

Boot Covers: Just Fashion or an Essential Accessory?

Boot covers are a whimsy; arguably not a skating essential, but I’d put them in the recommended category nonetheless.

What Are Boot Covers?

Boot covers are typically made of a stretchy lycra / spandex / polyester material and are designed to cover the entirety of the boot, from the top of the boot down to just under under the sole (wrapping underneath the foot just enough to hold the cover in place). They’re a pretty simple design, kind of like a soft bootee without a sole on it:

Boot Cover, Flat

The top and bottom of the boot cover are elasticated so that the cover will hold in place properly:

Boot Cover (folded)

Why Boot Covers?

Some people wear boot covers because the wide range of colors and designs available can make the ice skates look prettier or more fashionable, and that’s a very valid reason. My youngest daughter, for example, loves wearing her turquoise boot covers with her turquoise spiral skate pants because by chance, the colors match so well it makes the pants and boots merge in a pretty seamless way:

Boot Covers

My son wears black boot covers because while most boys / men wear black skates, he has white skates (for reasons I’ll explain in another post); black boot covers normalize his skates’ appearance to the color people seem to expect.

However, the very best reason I know for wearing boot covers is to protect your investment in your ice skates. The ice skate uppers are made of leather, which can get scratched and dinged like any other shoes. Ice can be rough when you scrape your boot along it doing a lunge, for example:

Lunge; photo by K. bird N. via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

When practicing crossovers, it’s easy to nick one skate with the blade of the other. Scraping against the wall at the side of the ice can damage the leather as well. Rather than try to clean and repair the surface afterwards, it’s much easier to protect it beforehand and minimize the risk of damage. For purely protective purposes, it’s very common to use white boot covers over white boots; it’s not necessary to go with funky colors and patterns if you don’t want to!

Sizing And Cost

One size fits all, they say. I disagree, but apparently I’m in a minority because most covers are at best available in Child (to fit size 1-13) and Adult sizes. Adult, in this case, seems to mean Adult Women based on the fact that Adult in the popular Chloe Noel brand, for example, is Size 1-8. It’s not clear what a boy or man with feet larger than size 8 is supposed to do, because most brands seem to only offer those sizes. As a guide, my 12 year old son wears an adult size 8½ skate, and his “Adult” boot covers only just fit. I am not entirely sure what to do when his feet grow larger, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Interestingly, when seeking larger boot covers I did find them for sale in the UK. It seems that the Spanish company Intermezzo manufactures boot covers in an XL size. Sadly I have not found a US distributor for them. Maybe I have just found a new business for myself! I plan to get hold of a pair of all three sizes that they make in the near future and I will report back on the sizing, and whether we can organize some availability in the US going forward.

If the sizing is a pain, in comparison the pricing is a joy. A pair of boot covers in the USA typically runs from ~$10 upwards, depending on brand, color, material or pattern. I’ve linked some examples below, and as ever these are not personal recommendations, just examples of the type of thing available.

For the $10 or so it costs to get a pair of boot covers, my belief is that they will pay for themselves over time, so for me they are highly recommended.

What If I Hate Boot Covers?

Not everybody likes boot covers; I get it. The only way to protect a boot is for it to be protected. Boot-covering tights may provide some protection if you wear those. Similarly I’ve seen some people use tape to protect the most vulnerable areas of the boot. I can’t speak to either of these directly, but the verbal advice I’ve had from the coaches I’ve spoken to has always been to use boot covers.

Blade Guards

What Are Blade Guards?

Blade Guards

Blade guards are plastic/rubber covers designed to protect the blades while off the ice. Ice skate blades may be made of steel, but the blades’ fine edges are susceptible to chipping and denting if used to walk around on hard or dirty (especially gritty) surfaces. Chips in the blade edges mean less control on the ice, and may require aggressive sharpening of the blades to remove them. The additional metal removed (more than in a regular sharpening) in turn reduces the lifespan of the blades, because let’s face it, there’s only so much metal you can remove before the toe picks are touching the ice.

How Much Are Blade Guards?

Blade guards are cheap enough that nobody should have ice skates without them. In the US, Amazon prices range from around $6 up to $15.

When Should I Use Blade Guards?

The general advice is that there are only two surfaces on which skates can or should be worn without guards:

  • the ice
  • rubber flooring

Therefore, blade guards should be worn when walking around in ice skates on any other surface except ice and rubber flooring.

The good news is that most ice rinks use rubber flooring in most key areas, so typically within the rink area you’ll be walking on rubber. The bad news is that even on the rubber surfaces, especially in the busier public areas, dirt accumulates. Grit and dirt from outside is carried in on shoes, and stepping on that—even on top of rubber—can dull or chip the blades.

The best advice therefore is that blade guards should be worn from when the skates are put on, right up to the edge of the ice. As a more general rule, the less you walk in skates off the ice, the better.

Are There Different Sizes?

Yes, because blades are different lengths, but the guards I’ve seen are one size fits all and either have an adjustable locking mechanism, or can be cut to size to fit the blade. There are two main types I typically see:

Latch Type

This type of guard is probably fastest to set up, and probably even fastest to put on and take off, although they are not my own preferred guard. Usage is simple: put the front of the blade in the front end, then clip the latch over the back of the blade. The latch can be easily and quickly moved as needed for the length of blade. Note that there are both figure skate and hockey skate variants of these guards, so make sure you are buying the right kind!

Spring Type

For the skater wishing to express their own style, the spring-type blade guards come in a wide variety of colors and styles including solid colors, translucent with glitter and even colors that change with temperature. Each guard is made up of two pieces, with two springs holding them together in the middle. Fitting these to a blade requires a little bit more effort than the latch type. The blade size is checked, it is matched up with an (included) chart, then each of the four pieces comprising the pair of guards is cut to the appropriate length. Then the springs are screwed in to place. There aren’t any instructions on how to do this, so I will demonstrate this below. It’s of note that while all the pictures show the blade guards meeting perfectly in the middle, this is really not how they end up looking in most cases, because of the variable gaps depending on blade length.

To use the guards, put the toe pick in one end of the guard, then pull back on the rear end of the guard to stretch the spring so that it will go over the back of the blade. The springs hold the guard tightly in place. Initially these guards can be a little tight on the blade, but they loosen up fairly quickly.

Fitting The Springs

Once the two halves of each blade guard have been cut to length, butt the two cut ends together and hold up the springs next to them to find the most appropriate holes through which to mount the springs. Depending on where the guards were cut, it may be necessary either to put a gap in between the two halves, or (if you are feeling brave) to very slightly stretch the spring in order to reach the nearest hole:

In this case, the holes are very slightly close together than the length of the spring, so the two halves are separated a little in order to align the rings on the end of the springs with the holes.

The springs, confusingly, come with only one screw each. This is because each screw will assist in securing two springs, as shown below. One screw should be used on each side; when it gets through to the other side, position the ring from the other spring and keep screwing it in so that it locks into that other ring. Looking from above, the screws go in like this:

Here’s how it looks from the side, with a real blade guard. Note that you see a screw head on the left, but on the right you see the end of the screw coming through from the other side, holding the other end of the spring in place. The other side looks just the same, as you would expect:

Blade Guard Closeup

When Shouldn’t I Use Blade Guards?

  • For any extended period of time off the ice, it’s better to take the skates off and walk around in shoes rather than in skates.
  • Blade guards should never be left on the blades once the skates are taken off. The plastic/rubber can allow moisture to collect, and having water in contact with the skates in between skating sessions can cause rust to the blade and, if you have cork/leather soles on your skates, rot to the soles and heel.

Blade guards get put on when the skates get put on, and taken off when the skates are taken off.

Additional Tips

Put Your Name On Them

At the very least, I’d suggest using a Sharpie to put your initials somewhere on the blade guards. There are only a few common types of guards that I see regularly, and that means lots of duplication between skaters.

Clean Them!

Dirt and grit can get inside the blade guards, and walking on guards with grit inside can also cause damage to the blades. To that end, I suggest cleaning them out regularly to keep the insides as clean as possible. You can’t avoid all damage to blades (even on the ice), but minimizing risk will help keep the blades in good condition for as long as possible.