The Best Youth Hockey Skates (2020 Edition)

When it comes to choosing the best youth hockey skates for a kid, I’m going to say something that I’ve said before. The best skates for one kid might not be a good option at all for another kid.

That applies for pretty much any piece of hockey equipment, which is why I made the same point in my post about youth hockey sticks. There are differences in so many areas – skill level, playing style, budget, and more – that there’s never a single cookie-cutter answer to the question of what the “best” product is.

The thing is, though, this is even more important when it comes to skates, for a pretty simple reason. If a kid has gloves that aren’t the best match for them, they might be a little uncomfortable and get annoyed. But if the kid is in skates that aren’t right, they’ll probably be more than uncomfortable, they’ll be in pain. It’s hard for a kid to have fun if they’re in pain the whole time they’re playing.

Think about it like this. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you probably saw most guests dance to at least one song, and probably a lot danced to a few songs. But the majority of people don’t dance all night, and for a lot of those people, it’s because their shoes aren’t comfortable for dancing – they’re getting blisters, etc. Of the people that stay out on the dance floor all night, some have comfy shoes, but a lot take their shoes off.

Kids don’t have the option to just take their skates off so they can keep playing. And yes, there are some people at the wedding that dance all night in uncomfortable shoes and pay the price for it the next morning. But they probably wouldn’t want to do that multiple times each week, the way a kid puts on their skates a few times each week to play hockey.

All this is to emphasize that getting the proper skates for a kid is important not just for performance, but also because if a kid is in skates that are wrong for them, it can make playing hockey so unpleasant that they might not even want to play anymore. Not that every kid that tries hockey is going to love it, but they should at least have the chance to decide if they like it on its own merits, and not be turned off to it because they’re in discomfort due to having the wrong skates.

With that said, I want to present several different models of youth skates. Again, no one skate will be perfect for all situations, but among this list, there will be at least one great option for every kid.

First, A Few Words

Before we get into talking about specific models of skates, there are some things I want to mention that will help as you read about the skates.

As you may already know, Bauer has three different lines of equipment, including skates. If you’re not familiar with the differences between the three lines, you might enjoy my recent post where I talked about the characteristics of each. I reiterate those characteristics in the descriptions of Bauer models below, of course, Something to note, though, is that one of Bauer’s lines – Nexus – doesn’t include skates in youth sizes.

Similarly, CCM has three lines of equipment: Ribcor, Jetspeed, and Tacks. And, also like Bauer, one of CCM’s lines – Ribcor – doesn’t include youth skates.

Fortunately, between the two companies, there are plenty of youth skate models that cover the spectrum of foot types, playing levels, and budgets.

Lastly, you may wonder why this list only includes skates from Bauer and CCM. These two brands dominate the hockey skate market, but there are other respected brands, like Graf and True. However, Graf and True don’t make skates in youth sizes, so Bauer and CCM really are the only players when it comes to youth hockey skates.

And now, let’s dive right in!


Bauer Vapor 2X

The Bauer Vapor 2x is one of the best youth hockey skates

The Bauer Vapor 2X skates are an excellent choice for the more advanced player that can benefit from the high-end features. These include a carbon fiber composite quarter that give the boot stiffness, which allows for good energy transfer. The skates also have Bauer’s Comfort Edge padding inside the boot, along with memory foam padding around the ankles.

Unlike many youth skates, the Vapor 2X is thermoformable, so that padding can really form a close fit around the foot and ankle. This personalized fit not only makes the skates more comfortable, it also helps with efficiency, as the foot won’t wiggle or slide in the boot when skating.

The skates have a 30 oz felt tongue with a foam metatarsal guard to prevent lace bite. Bauer uses the Lock-Fit liner inside the boot, which helps wick moisture and lock the heel in place. Lastly, the Vapor 2X features the Tuuk Lightspeed II blade holder with Tuuk LS1 stainless steel blades.

As I wrote about in my post about the three different lines of Bauer equipment, Vapor skates have a tapered fit, meaning that they are pretty standard width in the toe box, but the heel and ankle are much narrower to really lock the foot in place. They also are lower-volume skates than Bauer’s other lines. With that in mind, Vapors are a good fit for players with narrow or medium-width feet, but they probably won’t be comfortable for players with wide and/or high-volume (tall) feet.

The Details
Fit type
: Tapered (standard width in toe box, narrow in heel and ankle)
Pros: Stiffness; thermoformable
Cons: At the top end of price range for youth skates
Best for: More advanced players with feet that are narrower and lower volume than average


Bauer Supreme S27

The Bauer Supreme S27 is one of the best youth hockey skates

When Bauer launched their most recent collection of skates, they reduced the number of models in each of the three lines, so the S27 is the lower of the two Supreme skate models currently offered in youth sizes. Don’t let that fool you though, because this is a very good skate for the money!

It has a composite quarter that provides good stiffness. Not as much as the top-end models, but beginner and intermediate skaters don’t really need or benefit from an ultra-stiff boot anyway.

The boot has a microfiber liner to wick moisture, along with memory foam ankle padding. It also has a 30 oz felt tongue with a foam metatarsal guard. The S27 uses the Tuuk Lightspeed II blade holder with Tuuk stainless blades. Lastly, the skate is thermoformable, so players can get that “just right” fit that allows for maximum comfort and efficiency.

If it sounds like the S27 has a lot of similar features to the Vapor 2X, it does. It’s not as high-end in every single way, but it is in enough ways to make this a very solid choice.

The main thing to remember is that the S27, like all skates in the Supreme line, is a medium-width and medium-volume skate, so players that have very narrow or wide feet, or very low- or high-volume feet, probably would be better off with a different skate.

The Details
Fit type
: Anatomical/contoured (consistent snugness through all parts of the foot and ankle)
Pros: Thermoformable; good quality for a reasonably-priced beginner/intermediate skate
Cons: Not stiff enough to meet needs if player progresses quickly to higher level of skating
Best for: Beginner/intermediate players with feet that are in the average range of width and volume


CCM Jetspeed FT2

The CCM Jetspeed FT2 ranks among the best youth hockey skates

The Jetspeed FT2 is a high-end youth skate that offers a different fit and feel than the Bauer Vapor 2X. It features a synthetic composite quarter, making for a stiff and durable boot. Inside, the skate has a moisture-wicking microfiber liner. CCM also put abrasion patches in the high-wear areas around the eyelets on the inside of the boot, making the skates more comfortable and more durable.

The 7mm felt tongue has embossed lace bite protection. The skates have CCM’s SpeedBlade Pro holders with SpeedBlade Pro Black blades. Kids will like these blades because they look cool in black, but the oxide treatment actually makes the stainless steel harder, which in turn allows the blades to keep a sharp edge for longer.

Something else to note is that the blade and holder are slightly taller compared to other skates (two millimeters higher). This allows players to be more aggressive in turns because they can dig their blades into the ice at a greater angle.

The Jetspeed FT2 is designed to maximize the contact area of the foot to the skate boot. Combined with the boot’s stiffness and the fact that the skate is thermoformable, this results in excellent energy transfer. Skates in the Jetspeed line are designed for players with medium-width and medium-volume feet (similar to Bauer’s Supreme line).

The Details
Fit type
: Anatomical/contoured (consistent snugness through all parts of the foot and ankle)
Pros: Stiffness; oxide-treated blades; thermoformable
Cons: Price; taller holder/blade combo should be a pro, but may require some time for players to get used to it
Best for: Advanced players with feet that are in the average range of width and volume


CCM Tacks 9040

The CCM Tacks 9040 is one of the best youth hockey skates for beginners

The CCM Tacks 9040 is a solid entry-level skate. It has a wear-resistant microfiber liner and a 5 mm felt tongue. It also has the same SpeedBlade Pro holders as the Jetspeed FT2, but with regular stainless blades.

The boot isn’t as stiff as higher-end models, so it won’t transfer energy well enough to suit the needs of more advanced skaters. For less experienced skaters, though, it will do a very good job.

Skates in the Tacks line are made with a more relaxed fit than those in CCM’s other lines. So, the Tacks 9040 is especially well suited to kids with wider or high-volume feet. However, it can also be a good option for kids with average-width and average-height feet, given that this skate is best suited for beginners, and they frequently prefer a roomier fit.

This is the least expensive skate on this list, and again, it’s not meant for advanced players. But it is a good option for a kid that is just getting started and doesn’t skate more than once or twice per week.

The Details
Fit type
: Relaxed (a little more room throughout)
Pros: Comfort; price
Cons: Softer boot means skates won’t perform to the demands of intermediate or advanced players
Best for: Beginners with feet that are wider and higher volume than average


Bauer Vapor 1X

The Bauer Vapor 1x is priced reasonably for one of the best youth hockey skates

Just so you know, the 1X was the top model in the Vapor line when it came out, but it has been replaced by the 2X. Sometimes when manufacturers roll out a new model, the model that had occupied the same place in the brand’s price/performance hierarchy will get discounted.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the model being replaced, just that the retailers need to make room for the new model inventory. And that’s why I’m including the 1X on this list. Bauer did make some changes when they rolled out the 2X, but the 1X is still an excellent skate. It’s one of the best skates available, in fact, and given that retail prices have been reduced significantly, I see it as a great way to get a high-level skate at a mid-level price point. Who doesn’t love a bargain, right?

The 1X has a 7 mm felt tongue with a high-density foam guard. The liner is the HydraMax 2 microfiber liner to grip the feet and keep them dry. As for the blade holders, the 1X uses the Tuuk Lightspeed Pro, in combination with Tuuk LS1 blades (the same blades as the 2X).

Also like the 2X, the boot has a composite fiber quarter and Comfort Edge padding inside, and is thermoformable to help achieve the perfect fit. That customized fit, along with the stiffness of the boot, means that the power players generate will be transferred efficiently into each stride.

Like I mentioned in the description of the 2X earlier, Vapor skates are designed for players with narrow or medium-width and low- to mid-volume feet. Just like with other Vapor models, the 1X has a narrow fit in the heel and ankle to get good heel lock, and tapers out to a pretty standard width in the toe box.

The Details
Fit type
: Tapered (standard width in toe box, narrow in heel and ankle)
Pros: Stiffness; thermoformable; high-end performance at a reasonable price
Cons: No longer the latest, most advanced skate in the Vapor line
Best for: More advanced players with feet that are narrower and lower volume than average


CCM Super Tacks AS1

The CCM Super Tacks AS1 is among the best youth hockey skates

The Super Tacks AS1 is the top model in the Tacks line, so while the fit will be similar to the Tacks 9040, the features are geared toward more advanced players.

The AS1 has a synthetic composite quarter to give the boot plenty of stiffness, which maximizes energy transfer. It also has a moisture-wicking microfiber liner and the abrasion protection seen in the Jetspeed FT2. The tongue is CCM’s Tritech Flex tongue with molded lace bite protection.

The thermoformable boot has high-density padding inside, with memory foam padding around the ankles. Like the Jetspeed FT2, the AS1 uses the SpeedBlade Pro holders and SpeedBlade Pro Black blades, which will hold a sharp edge longer because of the oxide treatment. And again, this holder/blade combo makes the AS1 slightly taller than typical skates, giving skaters the ability to lean into turns at a greater angle.

All in all, the AS1 is an excellent skate for a more advanced player that has wide or high-volume feet.

The Details
Fit type
: Relaxed (a little more room throughout)
Pros: Stiffness; oxide-treated blades; thermoformable
Cons: Price; like with Jetspeed FT2, players may need some time to get used to taller holder/blade combo
Best for: More advanced players with feet that are wider and higher volume than average


Final Thoughts

All of the skates that we looked at here are unique, but the one thing they have in common – the reason that I included them in my list of the best youth skates – is that they are all great options for the type of player for whom they are intended. Regardless of playing level, foot type, or budget, there is a skate here that is right for every kid.

I hope that this post has been helpful in your search for youth skates. As always, I would love your feedback. If you have any questions about any of the skates discussed here, or about youth skates in general, please leave them below. And if you have any suggestions, anecdotes, or other comments, please share those as well. Thanks, and happy skating!

8 thoughts on “The Best Youth Hockey Skates (2020 Edition)”

  1. Great article, thanks for sharing! It is amazing how many varieties of skates there are out there! I never knew how softness can affect the performance, very interesting. There really is a lot to take into consideration for the proper skate. What would you classify as an advanced skater? How many years of skating?

    1. Thanks Vince. As far as what makes an advanced skater, it’s tough to say in terms of years because everyone progresses at different rates, but for kids young enough to be in youth skates (i.e., usually age 8 or younger), I would think typically two or more years of skating experience. Maybe less for some kids if they are on the ice a lot and pick things up quickly, but two years probably is the low end for most kids.

  2. I must be honest I don’t know a lot about hockey skates, but I have played a lot of soccer, and I can tell you getting soccer boots is kinda the same thing, there are just so many different types of boots, speed boots, agility boots, special soleplates for goalkeepers and so forth, it sounds very complicated, but once you get into it, it’s actually quite simple, seems like it’s the same with hockey skates.

    1. Yes, fit is the most important thing with skates, and then after finding the right fit you can move up and down the price scale depending on what level of performance features you need.  Thanks for reading!

  3. Well done post.  Hockey is the 1 sport I didnt play gtowing up.  I think I played every other sport.  I have a baby on the way and have thought of getting him or her into hockey.  I was naïve, the only skates difference I knew of was figure skates and hockey skates.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a potential future investment.

  4. My 10 year old is a hockey player. We always have a hard time finding skates that are comfortable for him. Also his foot size keeps changing. So, every 4 months we are out looking for new ones. We always go for CCM, but to date we haven’t found skates that are made for his wide feet. Do you recommend or know any brand that makes skate for wider feet? Thank you.

    1. Hi Pranali,

      Since your son is 10, I’m guessing he has grown out of youth skate sizes and is into the junior size range.  The good thing about that is that Bauer’s Nexus line, which is made for wider and higher-volume feet, offers skates in junior sizes (Nexus skates aren’t available in youth sizes).  I’m not sure which CCM skates you’ve gone with in the past, but the Tacks line is CCM’s widest.  If you haven’t tried Tacks yet, those fit wide and high-volume feet better than CCM’s other lines.  If you have tried Tacks and they still aren’t wide enough, you might want to try Bauer Nexus.

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