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.

Soakers: Why Are They Necessary?

Soakers / Blade Covers

Once I purchased skates for my children, I entered into the fun fun world of accessorizing. Some of the accessories are purely for appearance, but some—like soakers—are absolutely essential for everybody owning a pair of skates.

Soakers / Blade Covers


A soaker (also known as a blade cover) does exactly what it says on the tin; its soaks. Specifically, its job is to soak up moisture from the blade once the skate has been taken off, so that it doesn’t hang around and cause rusting (which shortens the blade’s life). You can see a red soaker on the blade of the skate in the picture above. They’re simple and thankfully they’re also very cheap.

How To Use Soakers

When your child finishes skating, they should wipe the blade and the boots (the soles in particular) down with a cloth or towel in order to remove as much moisture as possible. There’s more to this than might at first meet the eye, because the blade has just spent time pressed into ice, so it’s really quite cold by the time the boot comes off. Cold metal is like a magnet for moisture in the air, and consequently even if you dry the blades diligently, more moisture will inevitably accumulate on the cold metal surface of the blade, and if not removed will likely cause rusting.

Once the blade (including the mounting hardware, not just the sharp part) is as dry as possible, put on a soaker. That way if any moisture condenses on to the blade, the soaker will wick it away and let the blade stay dry. This is, therefore, how ice skates should be stored for transport after skating. Should soakers be removed? Well, some people say to leave them on until the next time the skates are used, and others say that once the skate has been inside for a while (i.e. has normalized the blade temperature with the interior), the soakers should be removed so that they themselves can dry. I suspect both are ok so long as the skates aren’t being left inside a moisture-holding sealed bag all the time. The skates need to be dry both inside and out, and if they are left with a damp soaker in a reasonably well-sealed bag, just as a used Gym/P.E. kit will start to mold (UK: mould) and go rank pretty quickly, you can bet that something similar will happen to your beautiful skates. See the page on bags for some examples of skate bags which can help in that regard.

It is of note that in order to minimize condensation on the blades, skates should be stored somewhere relative dry between uses; they shouldn’t be left in a garage or in the trunk (UK: boot) of a car.

How Much Are They?

Cheap, cheap, cheap (from about $6 upwards)! Or expensive. It just depends on your tastes. Here are some examples (click for links to Amazon):

For adults the soakers tend to be one size fits all, but some companies also offer a kids size for smaller skates. It doesn’t matter whether you go for plain soakers or if you splash out on some crazy character blade covers; the point is, if you have skates and don’t have soakers, you need to buy some right now.