Thanks to Hockey Pursuits for this:
Breaking in your hockey skates can take some time. Usually, the more you skate with a pair, the better they will fit, gradually molding to fit your feet over time. The break in process is not always easy, however, and you can find yourself with sore feet during the process.
For skaters who would like to reach a more custom or molded fit with their skates without taking all of the time to break them in, there could be another solution: baking. Depending on the type of skates, you can heat them up in order so mold them to your feet and ankles. Let’s go over how to bake hockey skates.
Which Skates Can Be Baked
Remember that not all hockey skates can be molded by baking. The lower performance or more budget-friendly skates are less likely to have the ability to bake because the material cannot withstand the heat and you will ruin your skates. They might be ok briefly, but it is likely that the heat will break down the material quickly and make the unwearable. Mid-range to high-end skates should have the ability to be baked, softening the material of the boot to make it more comfortable quicker.
Why Skaters Don’t Always Bake
Since baking seems like such an easy and helpful way to break in your hockey skates, you might be wondering why not every skater out there chooses to do it. The reason is that most people are accustomed to the old standard of breaking skates in by wearing them. The more you wear them, the more they will mold to fit around your feet. The process does take a while, however, and you are more likely to have sore feet in the process. Some people are also terrified of ruining their skates by baking. As long as you follow the right steps, however, you should not need to fear baking them.
How To Bake Hockey Skates at Home
To begin with, you don’t need any ingredients or special supplies. Just a good pair of hockey skates, a cookie sheet, and a standard oven. It is best to do the skates one at a time in order to get the timing right.
1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees.
2. Loosen the laces of your skates so that the tongue is open and you could quickly slide your foot into it. Then put it on a baking sheet.
3. Turn off the oven. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but you are heating up your skates, not cooking them for dinner.
4. Place the cookie sheet with the skate into the middle of the oven.
5. Check the boot after about 4 minutes and feel the softness of the boot. If you feel like you could shape the boot, you can take it out. If it still feels pretty hard and stiff, put it back in the oven for 2 more minutes before checking it again. Keep in mind that the oven will lose heat every time you open it.
7. When the skate feels malleable, take the skate off of the cookie sheet and put your foot into it. Lace the boot up as smoothly and evenly as possible, starting from the toe of the boot and tightening it upward. Do not tug on the eyelets because they could be damaged when the boot is still warm and ruin the skates for you.
8. Once your boot is laced up the way that you like it, you will need to sit with it on for 15 minutes to allow the boot to cool around your foot. Moving around during this process can wreck the fit that you were going for, so just hang out. The exception to this is if you are trying to make your boots wider to fit your feet. In that case, you should stand up to let your toes spread out and your foot flatten to the right width. You should still not walk, however.
9. When the 15 minutes is up, unlace your skate and take it off. You should then relace your skate and leave it set in an upright position for the next 24 hours while the skate completely cools off for you.
10. Start over with the other foot. This even means re-preheating your oven to the right temperature. You want uniformity between your feet, so do that same movements that you did with the previous foot.
11. Once both boots have had 24 hours to cool down in their new shape, take them out on the ice to see how well their new and amazing fit works.
Other Ways To Help Break In Your Skates
Perhaps baking your skates is just not the right choice for you. If that is the case, there are some alternatives out there that you can try in order to get that perfect fit.
- Hairdryer: A less invasive alternative to baking your skates is to heat them up using a hairdryer. You will need to heat up the inside of your skates until they are hot enough to mold, then follow the same steps as baking, where you lace them up, leave them on for 15 minutes and then leave them set for 24 hours.
- The Pros: If you have a local hockey shop, they should have the ability to bake your skates for you using a special skate oven. This is not a free service and these types of places can be hard to find depending on where you live.
- The Old-Fashioned Way: If all else fails, break your skates in the old-fashioned way by skating on the ice.
No matter the method that you use to break in your skates, there is nothing better than a well-fitting and comfortable pair of skates. You will have the highest performance when you don’t have to worry about what’s on your feet.