Roller skating is a fun and exhilarating way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. However, new skaters wonder if it’s safe to roller skate outside and what equipment they will need.
Can You Roller Skate Outside?
The answer is yes, you can roller skate outside, but there are some things you will need to do in order to prepare your skates for outdoor skating & ensure your safety. Skating outdoors is a vastly different experience from the roller rink. Inclines, declines, sidewalk cracks & small bits of gravel all lie in wait. You need to be prepared! Let’s talk about what you need to prepare before you head outdoors!
First of all, it’s important to choose the right location for outdoor roller skating. Look for smooth, flat surfaces that are free of obstacles and debris. Parks, bike paths, and tennis courts can be great options. We have a HUGE list of local, neighborhood Outdoor Roller Skating Locations you should check out.
It’s also important to consider the weather conditions. Wet or icy surfaces can be dangerous and can also destroy your roller skate’s components, so it’s best to wait for dry weather before hitting the pavement.
Another important factor to consider when roller skating outside is safety gear. Wearing a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards can help protect you from injury in case of a fall. Having a fall outdoors is FAR more likely than outdoors and the damage it can do will be far worse than a rink fall- so plan on wearing safety pads & a helmet.
Protective gear has come A LONG way over the years…you can find really stylish AND safe gear these days. You can check out our full list of highly reviewed protective gear HERE.
It’s also a good idea to wear bright or high visibility clothing to make yourself more visible to street traffic.
The Difference Between Outdoor & Indoor Skating
Indoor Skating vs Outdoor Skating
When it comes to roller skating, there are two main types of surfaces: indoor and outdoor. Indoor skating rinks are typically smooth, flat, and made of hardwood, plastic or polished concrete.
Outdoor skating surfaces can vary widely, from silky smooth concrete to rougher asphalt & black top pavement.
One of the biggest differences between indoor and outdoor skating is the type of wheels you’ll need. Indoor skates usually have harder wheels, which are designed for smooth surfaces. Outdoor skates, on the other hand, have softer wheels that can absorb shock while providing more grip.
Another difference between indoor skates and outdoor skates is boot material. Outdoor boots are usually made from vegan leather, vinyl, synthetic materials or leather that is EASIER to clean.
You can skate outdoors with any boot technically speaking (such as suede and microfiber) but you should take extra measures protect skate boots from grease, dirt and road grime. I like to use roller skate boot covers as an example.
When you skate outdoors, your boots will collect all sorts of grease and grime from the ground surface (usually deposited by passing cars). You can keep your skates looking new by protecting them with some of these options.
Finally, outdoor skating is focused on cruising paved trails, exploring a beach boardwalk or hitting the local skate park to surf the bowls and ramps.
Quad Skates vs Inline Skates
Another important factor to consider when choosing skates is whether you want quad skates or inline skates. Quad skates have four wheels arranged in a square pattern, while inline skates have four or five wheels arranged in a line.
Quad skates are usually more stable and easier to control, making them a good choice for beginners or those who want to focus on tricks, skate park and dance moves.
Inline skates are faster and more maneuverable, making them a good choice for speed skaters and those who want to cover more ground in less time.
The Difference Between Outdoor Wheels & Indoor Wheels
Indoor Wheels vs Outdoor Wheels
When it comes to outdoor roller skating, the type of wheel you use is THE MOST important factor to consider. Indoor wheels and outdoor wheels are designed to perform differently on different surfaces.
Indoor wheels are usually smaller and harder, while outdoor wheels are larger and softer. Indoor wheels are designed for smooth surfaces, such as indoor rinks or smooth concrete. They are usually made of a harder material, which allows for faster speeds, cornering and better control.
Outdoor wheels, on the other hand, are designed for rougher surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete with lots of cracks and debris. They are usually made of a softer material, which provides better grip and shock absorption. You can see our list of tested & Recommended Outdoor Roller Skate Wheels HERE.
Soft Wheels vs REALLY Soft Wheels
When it comes to choosing between soft wheels and REALLY soft wheels, it’s important to consider the surface you’ll be skating on. MILDLY soft wheels are better suited for smoother, less bumpy surfaces, while REALLY soft wheels are better for rough surfaces.
MILDLY soft wheels provide less grip, but they allow for faster speeds and better control. REALLY soft wheels provide more grip and shock absorption, but they can slow you down and make it feel like you’re skating through mud. It’s important to find a nice balance.
Hybrid wheels are right in the middle on the wheel hardness scale. They are designed to provide the best of both worlds, with a hard core for speed and control, and a soft outer layer for grip and shock absorption.
I find that most hybrid wheels do an okay job, but if you’re serious about performing well you need a good set of outdoor wheels and a good set of indoor wheels. If you do choose hybrid wheels, make sure that you ALWAYS clean your wheels when taking them from outdoors to indoors.
When choosing the best roller skate wheels, it’s important to consider the surface you’ll be skating on, as well as your personal preferences. Harder wheels are better for smooth surfaces and faster speeds, while softer wheels are better for rough surfaces and shock absorption. Hybrid wheels are a great option for skaters who want to skate both indoors and outdoors.
Benefits of Outdoor Roller Skating
Roller skating is a fun and potentially exhilarating activity that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. However, there are some unique benefits to outdoor roller skating that make it a great choice for those looking to get some exercise, explore new places, and have some serious fun while doing it.
One of the biggest benefits of outdoor roller skating is the ability to cover long distances. When skating outdoors, you can explore new areas and see more of the world around you. This can make your skating experience more interesting and exciting, as you can discover new sights and sounds that you might not have noticed before.
Outdoor roller skating is a great way to get exercise and burn some serious calories. Skating is a low-impact activity that can help improve your cardiovascular health, build muscle strength in everything from the waist down AND increase your overall endurance.
When skating outdoors, you can enjoy the fresh air and Vitamin D (sunshine) while getting in a great workout. If you’re tired of the FML gym routine- roller skating is a great alternative.
Another benefit of outdoor roller skating is that it is a lot of fun. Skating outdoors can be a great way to socialize with friends and family, meet new people, and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether you are skating in a park, on a trail, or in your neighborhood, outdoor roller skating is a great way to have fun and stay active.
Finally, outdoor roller skating can be a much more enjoyable experience than skating indoors. When skating outdoors, you can enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings, feel the wind in your hair, and experience the thrill of skating downhill or at the skate park. Whether you are skating on concrete, asphalt, or dirt, outdoor roller skating can be a unique and exciting experience.
Overall, there are many benefits to outdoor roller skating. Whether you are looking to get some exercise, explore new places, or simply have fun with friends, outdoor roller skating is a great choice.
Choosing the Right Skates for Outdoor Skating
How to Choose an Outdoor Skate for Beginners
As a new skater, choosing the right pair of skates for outdoor skating is crucial. The right skate will help you learn and enjoy skating safely. Here are some tips to help you choose the right skate:
- Choose the right wheels: Outdoor skating requires a different type of wheel than indoor skating. Outdoor wheels are typically softer and larger, which makes them better for rough surfaces. Look for wheels with a durometer rating of 80A or lower. Check out our Outdoor Wheel Guide HERE.
- Look for an easy to clean boot: Skating outdoors can be dirty! Look for boots that easily wipe clean like vegan leather, leather, vinyl and easy to clean synthetic materials.
- Darker is better: Choose boot colors that are darker and can hide dirt and grime more easily.
- Choose a skate that fits well: A well-fitting skate is essential for a new skater. You want a skate that is snug but not too tight. When trying on skates, make sure to wear the socks you plan to wear while skating.
- Look for a supportive boot: A supportive boot will help you maintain your balance and prevent injuries on those uneven surfaces. Look for a boot that provides ankle support and has a comfortable padding.
Best Places for Outdoor Skating
As an avid roller skater, I’ve explored many outdoor skating spots and found some great places to skate that you probably haven’t thought of! For a complete list head to our 15+ Best Places to Skate in Your Neighborhood. Here are just a few of the best places for outdoor skating:
Skate parks are designed for skateboarding and roller skating/inline skating, making them a perfect place to hone your skills and try out new tricks. They often have ramps, rails, bowls and other obstacles that provide a challenging and exciting experience. Some popular skate parks include the Venice Beach Skatepark in California and the Burnside Skatepark in Oregon.
Empty parking lots can be a great spot for outdoor skating, especially during off-hours. They provide a smooth surface and plenty of space to skate around. I personally go for church or school parking lots since they are empty at predictable hours of the day.
Basketball courts are another great place to roller skate outdoors. They usually have a smooth surface and are often located in parks or public areas. Just be aware of any other people using the court and try to avoid skating during peak basketball hours.
Tennis courts are similar to basketball courts in that they provide a smooth surface for skating. They are often located in parks or recreational areas and can be a great spot for outdoor skating.
Bike lanes can be a great place to roller skate outdoors, especially if they are separated from car traffic. They provide a smooth surface and are often located in scenic areas. Just be aware of any cyclists and make sure to stay to one side of the lane.
Outdoor Skating or Hockey Rinks
Outdoor skating rinks are designed specifically for roller skating and provide a smooth, level surface. They are often located in parks or other public areas and are a great place to skate with friends or family. Some popular outdoor skating rinks include the Wollman Rink in Central Park, New York, and the Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink in Chicago.
It is SUPER important to take appropriate safety measures to prevent injuries when skating outdoors. Skating outdoors is far more hazardous than skating indoors. I want to cover the essential protective gear and safety gear to help minimize the risk of injury while roller skating outside.
Appropriate Protective & Safety Gear
Wearing protective gear is ABSOLUTELY essential when roller skating outside. This includes a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads. You may even want to consider a pair of crash pads. Wearing skate pads prevents scrapes, cuts, and bruises in the most vulnerable areas during a fall.
When selecting protective gear, make sure it fits well and is comfortable to wear while skating. Loose or ill-fitting gear can be dangerous as it can shift during skating and fail to protect you. When selecting a helmet, make sure it fits well and is certified by a recognized safety organization.
Protective gear has come A LONG way over the years…you can find really stylish AND safe gear these days. You can check out our full list of highly reviewed protective gear HERE.
Check your wheels and toe stops to make sure they are tightened properly. Braking and the vibrations from skating outdoors can loosen these components easily over time so they need to be checked often.
Finally, dress appropriately & think in layers. Wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move & skate freely, and bring a jacket or sweater in case it gets chilly.
Roller Skating Etiquette
As someone who loves to roller skate, I understand the importance of following proper etiquette. It not only makes the experience more enjoyable for myself but also for others around me. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Respect others: Whether you’re skating with a new friend or attending a skating special event, it’s important to respect others around you. Don’t cut in front of them or hog the space. Be mindful of their presence and give everyone enough room to skate comfortably.
- Be aware of your surroundings & other skaters: When skating outside, it’s really important to pay attention to your surroundings. Watch out for other skaters and other obstacles that could cause a gnarly crash.
- Skate Park Etiquette: Skate parks are dominated by skateboarders and there is a next level of etiquette required. Watch the flow and see the lines that people are skating. Wait your turn and don’t snake a fellow skater by getting in their line. Skate your own line and be patient. There’s a LOT going on and it’s easy to crash into someone else if you’re not careful.
Following these simple rules can make a big difference in your roller skating experience. Not only will you have more fun, but you’ll also be a respectful and responsible skater.
Different Types of Outdoor Skating Surfaces
When it comes to roller skating outside, smooth surfaces are ideal for a seamless and enjoyable experience. These surfaces are typically flat, even, and free of any bumps or cracks that can cause tripping or falling. Smooth surfaces include well-maintained polished concrete or pavement, tennis courts, and smooth indoor surfaces.
Rough surfaces can be a bit more challenging to skate on, but with the right technique and equipment, it can still be done. Skating on rough surfaces requires more effort and skill to maintain balance and control. Rougher surfaces include concrete, asphalt brick, cobblestone, and pavers.
Uneven surfaces can be the most challenging to skate on because of their unpredictability. These surfaces include sidewalks and concrete with expansion joints. Skating on uneven surfaces requires a lot of skill and patience. It is essential to maintain a steady pace to avoid losing control.
When skating on different surfaces, it is crucial to adjust your technique and equipment accordingly. For instance, softer wheels are better suited for rough and uneven surfaces, while harder wheels are ideal for smooth surfaces. It is also important to wear protective gear such as helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads to prevent injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can roller skates be used inside and outside?
Yes, roller skates can be used both inside and outside. However, it’s important to note that indoor and outdoor skates have different components or features. For instance, indoor skates have harder wheels, while outdoor skates have softer wheels to absorb bumps and cracks on the pavement. Outdoor skates have durable, easy to clean boots while indoor skates may be made of suede or microfiber. Make sure your skates are ready for outdoor use.
How do you roller skate on pavement?
When roller skating on pavement, it’s important to keep your knees slightly bent to absorb any shocks (practice the Skating Ready Position). Until you are used to skating on pavement, take small, steady, gliding steps and keep your feet shoulder-width apart to maintain balance. It’s also important to look ahead at the ground to see what is coming and keep your arms out stretched to the sides for balance.
What to wear roller skating outside?
When roller skating outside, it’s important to wear protective gear such as helmets, knee pads, and wrist guards. You should also wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that allows for movement and breathability. Avoid wearing loose clothing or accessories around your skates that could get caught in the wheels.
Where to roller skate outside near me?
There are many places to roller skate outside, including parks, bike paths, and boardwalks. For an exhaustive list check out our 15+ Best Places to Skate in Your Neighborhood. You can also check with your local roller skating rink to see if they have outdoor skating events or recommendations for outdoor skating locations.
Can you use indoor skates outside?
While you can use indoor skates outside, it’s not recommended. Indoor skates have harder wheels that are designed for smooth, indoor surfaces, so they may not provide enough traction on outdoor surfaces. Additionally, outdoor surfaces can permanently damage indoor wheels. If you want to take your indoor skates outside- purchase a set of outdoor wheels and change out your wheels first.
Can all skates be used outside?
You can use any roller skates outdoors provided they are fitted with a set of outdoor wheels. Many skates come with outdoor wheels out of the box so check the hardness (located on the side of the wheel usually). Anything below 80A should be considered an outdoor wheel. If you have suede or microfiber boots you should protect your boots before skating outside if you want to keep them looking nice.