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SKATE TIP OF THE WEEK
Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Taking Care of Your Skate Boots
Proper care can extend the life of your skates

By Glenn Koshi

Glenn Koshi photo

Glenn Koshi

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, "How long will my boots last?"

The truth is: it's up to you.

Barring unforeseen accidents, they should last for years. But to insure their longevity, you have to provide them with minimal care.

Here's how:

Do your best to keep them dry.

Most feet sweat while skating. And this sweat is a problem. It coats the inside of the skate. Its acidity eats away at the leather of synthetic fabrics of the inner boot; and its moisture feeds a subculture of smelly microorganisms and fuels a cycle of swelling and shrinking that leads to cracking.

So what can you do?

Keep the inside of your boots as dry as possible. After you skate, immediately wipe them out with a rag or paper towel. Then leave them somewhere with good airflow so they can completely dry out.

One alternative is to stuff them with wads of newspaper after you skate. The paper will soak up the moisture. You can also try putting a dryer strip inside them. At the very least, completely unlace your boots after skating so they can air-dry.

Don't leave your skates in a hot car.

Your carbon-fiber boots don't know the difference between an oven and the trunk of your car on a hot day. Either one can turn their heat-moldable thermoplastics into a puddle.

If you must leave your skates in a hot car, place them upright (on their wheels). Don't lay them on their sides or —worse! — bury them at the bottom of a heap. If you do, they are likely to lose their shape. ... And you know what that means? You'll have to heat-mold them again.

Condition your leather.

Fewer boots these days are made of natural leather. Instead, most are made of synthetic fibers, which are stronger and require less care. But if your boots are leather (If you're not sure, smell them: leather smells like leather, unless it's got a bad case of B.O.), give them an occasional once over with leather conditioner or oil. But don't overdue it. Conditioners tend to breakdown the leather, and you don't want your boot to become too soft.

Use a mesh skate bag.

Don't use a skate bag with sealed fabric pockets; your boots will never dry. Instead, use a bag with breathable mesh pockets: the airflow will help them dry.

Keep 'em Clean.

Use a damp cloth to occasionally clean the outside of your boots. If that doesn't remove the grime, try a weak solution of water and mild cleanser, such as dish soap. If you're worried about the colors running, first try cleaning a hidden portion.

Happy skating! (March. 21, 2008)

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Glenn Koshi sold his first pair of inline skates on a Southern California beach in 1987. He spun that into the hugely successful Team Paradise mail-order firm, which was the world's largest retailer of inline skates and accessories in the 1990s. He has served as a consultant for many of the top skate companies, including Rollerblade, Roces, Nike and Fila. In 2000, he became the U.S. representative for Bont Skates (the position now belongs to Debbie Rice). He also represents Ezeefit Sports. Contrary to his rumored departure from the sport, Glenn is still actively selling skate products, as well as some bike products, and plans to have a new website up and running by the winter of 2010.

 

Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating

 

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