We skaters have two options: indoors or outdoors, and we need the right skates depending on the terrain we choose.
So, to make this decision, it helps to know the details of indoor vs outdoor roller skates. This guide will go through all the aspects, including the hardness and size of the wheels, the plate placement, the weight, the rebound, and the cost. Keep reading!
Indoor vs Outdoor Skates
To start, have a look at this summarized comparison chart between indoor and outdoor skates.
|Indoor Skates||Outdoor Skates|
|Hardness of the Wheels||Harder||Softer|
|Size of the Wheels||Smaller
(62 mm is the standard size)
(65 mm is the standard size)
|Plate Placement||Less forward||More forward|
|Cost||$5 – $52||$3 – $42|
1. What are they
- Indoor skates
As suggested in the name, indoor skates are used for skating indoors or on hard, smooth surfaces such as rinks, wooden floors, basketball courts, etc. Indoor roller skates are also called recreational roller skates. They are designed for hard, smooth surfaces, as mentioned above.
- Outdoor skates
In contrast, outdoor skates are for those skating outside, on surfaces like pavements. Since these are not man-made, they are usually rougher and more uneven. Skaters can meet obstacles, such as rocks, cracks, debris, etc.
2. Hardness of the Wheel
Indoor wheels for roller skates are harder than outdoor wheels because they frequent smooth surfaces rather than rough ones. To be specific, the typical hardness for indoor skates ranges from over 90A to 102A.
On the other hand, outdoor roller skate wheels must roll over irregular terrain and obstacles, such as debris, rocks, and cracks, so they are softer to absorb shock better. Therefore, the hardness rating of wheels for skating outside is always below 90A.
The wheels’ hardness also affects their rebound. This refers to a roller skate’s ability to bounce off obstacles, like rocks, and it is only available in outdoor roller skates. As such, you can glide over bumps smoothly without feeling them. Unlike outdoor roller skates, you will feel all the shock involved with obstacles in indoor roller skates.
3. Size of the Wheel
Another outdoor vs. indoor roller skates difference lies in the wheel size. Wheels for skating outside are quite big, with 65 mm being the most common option. However, they can get as big as 70 mm.
On the other hand, indoor skates prefer smaller wheels. Although 62 mm is the standard size for this type of terrain, the wheels can get as small as 55 mm.
The larger size enables outdoor skates to absorb shock when they meet bumpy surfaces and allows skaters to go much faster.
The size of the wheels also influences their rolling time. Indoor wheels have shorter roll times as they are smaller than outdoor wheels. So they can make swifter twists and turns.
4. Plate Placement
As you’re likely to encounter obstacles when roller skating outside, manufacturers may place the skate plates slightly forward on the centerline. A particular advantage of this placement is that the front wheels will be less likely to lift when running over bumpy terrain. In addition, it also allows for easier turning.
However, note that not this feature does not apply to all outdoor skates—some may have the standard mount like indoor skates, where the front axle is directly under the ball of the foot.
The weight of indoor and outdoor skates also differs from one another. If you try both yourself, you will realize that indoor roller pairs are lighter. By the same token, they require less effort for propelling, and you can skate for a longer time before fatigue sets in.
The difference in the two’s weights also impacts their maneuverability. Outdoor roller skates, as a result of being heavier, is trickier to maneuver. This makes it less suitable for beginners.
Indoor and outdoor skates are both affordable, running from a few bucks to about $50. However, the range is slightly narrower for outdoor skates. For both types, however, other factors can affect the cost, such as the brand and quality of wheel materials.
Pros & Cons
Indoor Roller Skates
- Equipped with small wheels, enabling swift maneuvers
- More lightweight, and therefore, more maneuverable
- More suitable for beginners
- Lacks rebound, and thus, unable to shield from the impact of obstacles like rocks
Outdoor Roller Skates
- Can skate almost anywhere
- Has rebound, taking away the impact of obstacles like rocks
- Faster skating
- Not suitable for swift maneuvers
- Heavier, making it easier for fatigue to set in
Indoor Vs. Outdoor Roller Skates – Which Should You Get?
You should make this decision based on where you will be skating. If there is a skating rink near your home and you are willing to head there for skating ventures, opt for indoor roller skates. Or if you want to skate out in the streets, perhaps to commute to your school or workplace, go for outdoor roller skates.
If you want something for both worlds, consider indoor/outdoor roller skates, also referred to as hybrid roller skates. These are designed for skating both inside and outside. Their hardness is typically 85A. Some good ones are:
- Impala Skates Indoor or Outdoor
- Candi GRL Carlin Roller Skates
- Sure-Grip Malibu Roller Skates
- XUDREX High-Top Roller Skates
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can indoor roller skates be used outside?
Technically, you can use indoor skates outside. However, we do not recommend it. Indoor rollerblades are designed for inside surfaces that are guaranteed to be smooth.
Therefore, when you use it on a much-less-smooth surface outside, you will surely struggle when encountering obstacles. Your wheels might also be worn out quickly. As a result, you will have to replace your skates earlier.
Can outdoor roller skates be used indoors?
You can use outdoor rollers skates indoors. They might be grippier, making it more difficult to pick up speed and perform certain tricks, but they will not be too dangerous. It might not be as fun as using the right outdoor rollerblading skates, though!
Is outdoor roller skating harder than indoor skating?
Most people agree that indoor skating is easier because it is more lightweight and maneuverable. It is also less intimidating than outdoor skating because the surface is smooth. You will not have to worry about being stopped short or tripping over obstacles, such as rocks.
However, one aspect that can make indoor skating tough is speed. Since the surface is so smooth, it is easy to speed uncontrollably. This is a common mistake for adults and children, as well as for women and men.
Will skating outside with indoor roller skates damage the wheels?
If the outdoor surface you are skating on is very rough, damage is likely. However, if the surface is still somewhat smooth, your skates might not be hurt. If you skate outside with indoor skates, be mindful of obstacles, such as debris, rocks, and cracks. Striking into these can ruin the wheels of your skates.
As you have read, there are several differences between indoor and outdoor roller skates. If you were contemplating indoor vs outdoor roller skates, you should now be able to make a solid pick.
To recap: Indoor skates are lighter and offer better maneuverability but lack rebound. They cannot be used almost anywhere like outdoor roller skates. You can go faster on outdoor roller skates, though you might grow tired more quickly because they are heavier.
Let us (and other readers) know which you will bring home in the comments below!
Harrison is a skating enthusiast who picked up the sport during her student exchange years in Canada. She has been a skating coach for children and teens for 3 years and now holds classes as a freelancer. Harrison entwines her experience leading skating classes in the content published on Cora to help readers fall in love with skating, just like she did.