If you have a set of skates, the thought of rolling through the streets outside has probably crossed your mind.
Sure, skateparks and indoor rinks provide a safe, controlled, and ideal environment. But nothing beats the feeling of skating through winding streets with fresh air bombarding your skin and the warm sun on your face.
The question is, can you use rollerblades outdoors? The short answer is yes, but the short answer will probably land you with some serious injuries.
So, before you take your skates to the pavement, there are a few things you need to know — things that could be the difference between life and death.
Quad Skates Vs. Inline Skates For Outdoors
Both inline and quad skates can be appropriate for outdoor skating — if you make the proper adjustments.
Broadly speaking, inline skates are more suitable for the rough outdoor terrain. On the other hand, quad skates have a larger surface area, which means that one tiny bump or a single stray pebble can wreak havoc. Then again, inlines are much less stable than quads.
For outdoor roller skating, you should opt for inline skates if you:
- Are a beginner on wheels, or it is your first time skating outside
- Want to prioritize speed over stability or travel long distances
- Want to make fewer adjustments to your skates
On the other hand, you should go for quad skates if you:
- Are an intermediate or advanced level skater
- Want to prioritize stability over speed
- Will be traveling through different types of outdoor surfaces (pavements, concrete, brick sidewalks, streets)
4 Tips For Skating Outdoors
The answer to the question “can you use rollerblades outside” is yes, as long as you keep the following pointers in mind.
There’s no such thing as being too safe when it comes to roller skating outdoors. No matter how good of a skater you are, there are simply too many unpredictable variables when you’re roller skating outside.
The most crucial safety gear would be a helmet, preferably with a padded chin. If you fall face-first, a chin padding will keep your chin from bursting open.
Moreover, knee pads and wrist guards are equally important since your body instinctively tries to break your fall with your hands and knees. Elbow pads are optional but highly recommended, especially for backward falls. Speaking of falling…
While this may seem counterintuitive, practicing how to fall safely can turn a nasty fall into a somewhat bearable one.
There is, in fact, a safe way to fall while skating. It involves:
- Training yourself to close your hands into a fist while breaking your fall, so the impact on your wrist is lesser. You should also get your hands off the road as soon as possible lest someone drives over them.
- Leaning on one side while falling backward, so you don’t land on your tailbone.
- Going down on one knee and sliding forwards to minimize impact.
- Learning to latch on to the closest lamppost or stop sign to avoid falling. However, you should also know when not to latch onto anything, especially when traffic/pedestrians/other skaters are coming from behind.
Check Your Wheels
The wheels that typically go on roller skates are not capable of going outdoors. They’re slimmer, harder, and have non-existent shock absorption.
Slim wheels are good for speed but not so much for stability. Refer to the diameter rating of the wheels (in millimeters) to see the slimness or thickness of the wheels.
Moreover, hard wheels (specified by the durometer rating) don’t fare well on rough terrains. So instead, you want a little bit of softness so the wheel can glide over bumps and cracks.
Hence, you need to switch out your indoor wheels for more outdoor-appropriate ones. The diameter is up to your preference, but the appropriate level of wheel hardness for outdoor skating falls between the 74A to the 84A range.
Go Over the Outdoor Skate Checklist
Whether you choose inline skates or quad skates, you need to ensure they’re outdoor-ready. Here’s a quick checklist:
- The wheels are properly secured and intact. They don’t have any cracks, nor are they too hard; they should have a little bit of “give” when you press them.
- The wheel bearings are intact, clean, and can spin freely. If your bearings have a crust of dirt or grease, you need to replace them.
- If you’re using quads, their toe stops are semi-soft. Otherwise, replace them.
- The boot material does not crack and bends easily.
- The laces aren’t fragile or tearing.
Generally speaking, you can use rollerblades outdoors without any complications.
However, you need to make sure that your skates are outdoor-ready first. Most importantly, you should change the wheels of your skates for ones that are more suitable for outdoor surfaces, such as pavements, concrete, sidewalks, etc.
Other than that, strap into your helmet, put on some wrist and knee pads, and hit the great outdoors!