Fitting Riedell Boots

A properly fit boot is key to best skating performance. Improper fit is the number one cause of skate failure and poor performance.

Fitting Riedell figure skates is best accomplished by an authorized Riedell dealer who has been trained in preparing the boot.

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Boot Length

Riedell Shoes, Inc. has developed the Riedell fitting device to provide an accurate measuring device for Riedell boots. Although the fitting devices are accurate if used properly, it is only an aid. Properly trained sales staff are needed for individual fit. The devices should never be used for the elimination of personalized fitting by trained sales personnel.

The proper procedure for the use of the Riedell fitting device for determining proper boot length is to place the skater’s foot firmly against the heel of the device in the standing position. Both feet should be measured. The furthest point of the longest toe should be used to indicate recommended boot length. It is recommended that whenever length is in question, always try on the smallest size first.

Boot Width

The proper boot width selection is critical. If a boot is too narrow, comfort will be affected and there is also a chance of potential foot injury. If the boot is too wide, poor performance, foot slippage and premature boot breakdown may occur. Selecting the proper width is essential to performance, skater comfort and boot longevity.

Both feet should be measured. Using the tape, measure the circumference of the widest portion of the ball of the foot. Remember to pull the tape snugly. It should be noted that extra care be used when measuring the circumference of the ball of the foot. In that each boot width changes approximately at 1/4" increments, accurate measurement is needed. Before any particular width is finally selected, actual boot fit is needed for final determination.

As with length, remember that if you have any questions on boot width, start your fitting with the narrowest boot first. Once again, such recommendations should be made by the professional fit specialist after all options have been tried.

Riedell Width Chart (PDF - 670K)

Sizing Calculator

Fit Preparation

Unlike many skate manufacturers, most mid range and upper level models of Riedell skating boots need to be prepared by the fitting individual prior to placing the boot on the foot.

The use of form fitting counter, extensive comfort padding and the structure of Riedell boots will not provide the skater immediate comfort unless the boot is properly prepared prior to fitting. In addition, and even more important, Riedell’s lasting construction will not allow for the skater to get their heel all the way back into the boot without proper boot preparation, resulting in potential boot oversizing.

Boot preparation consists of opening up the heel counters of the boot and gently softening and warming the quarter padding within the boot. In order to accomplish this task two methods can be used.

The first method usually used on the more moderately structured boot models, is simply to spread the upper quarters of the boot apart and apply a vigorous fist and hand massage to the quarter padding and counter areas of the boots. In the more structured models, additional effort may have to be applied.

In addition to separating the quarters and applying a vigorous fist and hand massage to the padding and counter areas, a forward flexing of the back of the boot may be needed. It is absolutely essential that this action be conducted properly with the boot firmly held flat on a surface to insure that the soles and arch support structure of the boot are not flexed or bent. This will dramatically open up the counter and heel area of the boot as well as greatly increase initial boot comfort.

Although this will take some effort to open up the counters, such boot preparations should be done modestly and only to the point where the skater can get their foot all the way back in the boot to insure proper fit. In order to totally understand this process, a demonstration and instruction of the procedure will be required by your sales agent and/or Riedell staff.

Ball Placement

It is very important to identify the placement of the ball of the foot in the boot. If the ball of the foot is too far forward in the boot, pinching and/or toe room may be sacrificed resulting in discomfort, injury, or poor balance. If the ball of the foot is too far back toward the arch of the boot, usually the boot is too long resulting in discomfort, premature boot breakdown and excessive foot slippage.

There are basically two ways to help determine proper placement of the ball of the foot in the boot. A very simple way is to remove the footbed from the boot and by carefully placing the skater’s foot (using proper heel placement) on the footbed, you can visualize reasonable ball placement. This procedure will also give you a general observation as to the entire foot placement within the boot and it can aid you in verifying your boot length.

In adult skaters, you may accomplish this task by feel and verbal description of the boot (after being prepared properly for fit) and the boot is laced firmly on the skater’s foot. On most “normal” and “average” feet, if the ball of the foot is in the proper boot placement, toe room will be adequate and a snug fit in width will result. In some extreme cases, individuals with extra long toes and/or very short arches, custom built boots may be required.

Misfit Boot Indicators

With proper understanding of boot fitting, it is relatively easy to determine if a boot is misfit. Such determination can be made when a boot is new, but as the boot is worn, such indicators usually become much more evident. The following indicators may assist with determining proper boot fit.

Ball Area And Throat Of The Boot

Watch for these signs in this extremely critical area:

  1. If the lacing pattern is drawing too close together or buckling of the eyestay area occurs when the boot is laced firmly on the skater, two possibilities exist:
    • The boot is too long for the skater.
    • The boot is too wide for the skater.
  2. If the lacing pattern is extremely wide, or the ball and throat area is too wide apart, the reverse situation may exist:
    • The boot length is too short.
    • The boot width is too narrow.
    • (In this situation, usually, the skater will complain of pinching or discomfort. Proper lacing in the throat area should be no closer together when the boot is laced snugly on the skater than the normal width of the throat of the unlaced boot.)
  3. If the lacing pattern is too close when laces are pulled snugly, the following may result:
    • The skater will not obtain a snug fit, particularly after the boot is used, as the boot stretches to a certain degree when broken in.
    • The skater will experience a lack of boot support.
    • Foot slippage will occur resulting in possible blisters and/or discomfort.
    • Poor skating performance.
    • Premature skate breakdown.

Heel Or Ankle Area

The second primary area of concern is the heel and/or ankle area. Remember that the majority of a boot’s support is obtained from the counters and back quarters of the boot. If those areas are not fit snugly, heel slippage may result causing:

  • Blisters and/or foot irritations.
  • Loss of structured support affecting performance.
  • Premature skate breakdown.

As with the throat area, the lacing pattern of the entire boot should be uniform. If the lacing pattern of the instep and ankle area is too close together, the boot may be too wide or too long. An excellent indicator is excessive heel slippage. If that results, all of the above listed problems will occur. If the lacing pattern is excessively wide, the boot may be too narrow or too short, once again, the skater will usually complain of discomfort.

The majority of misfit boots are usually caused by selecting a boot that is too wide for the skater rather than too narrow for the skater. It is suggested that the boot be fit as snug as possible in width without pinching. It is always better to adapt any particular spot on a boot, with the aid of a boot press or a ball and ring device than to go wider over the entire boot just to accommodate a particular area of the foot.

When determining proper or improper fit of a used boot, the examination of the laces and the footbed can provide valuable information on the boot fit. Usually the laces will stain or mark, which will indicate where they were pulled snug. In this way, you can re-lace the boot without the skater and determine the lacing pattern of the boot.

The footbed will also stain in use and show you exactly how the foot is fit in the skate. Indication of foot slippage can be found by the staining or imprint of the toes on the footbed. The darker or more dominate stain is caused by the weight of the foot and fit in length can be easily determined. The light edge stains on the footbed will indicate foot slippage, and the total impression of the little toe on the footbed is an excellent indication of the boot being too wide.

Again, the vast majority of misfit boots are caused by oversizing. If undersizing occurs, adjustment can be made with the use of a boot press or a ball and ring device. Unless it is the skater’s preference, undersizing seldom occurs due to the skater’s immediate discomfort or pinching. However as with oversizing, the same indicators of laces and footbeds can be used to make the determination on undersizing a boot.

Custom Boot Measuring

With the variety of stock models and stock size options available for the Riedell user, many times with proper fitting knowledge and the use of equipment such as a boot press, custom requests and expenses can be avoided. It is however, at times, necessary that custom boots be built. It should be understood that custom boot measurements, drawings, and support data be absolutely as accurate as possible. It is the responsibility of the fitting dealer to insure the following steps are taken to insure that accuracy:

  1. Complete Riedell’s Custom Skating Boot measuring chart completely and accurately.
  2. Whenever possible, fitting attempts from a stock boot should be made indicating closest possible stock size and width.
  3. Provide accurate readings for boot fit on the Riedell fitting device.
  4. Provide overall foot length from heel to toe of both feet in inches in the standing position to the nearest 1/8".
  5. Complete accurately skate problem areas needing special fitting attention.
  6. When providing foot tracings be sure to follow the directions as indicated on the Riedell Custom Skating Boot measuring chart.

Benefits Of The Right Fit

A good fit is essential to comfort and performance. The following guidelines will help in selecting the correct boot size:

Do not buy skates that are too large. New skates should feel snug in the heel, arch and ball to provide the best support of the foot. Toes should be able to wiggle freely, but not slide side-to-side. While seated, slide the skate on the foot and lightly kick the heel down into the back of the boot.

Lace the boot, start with the first eyelet at the throat. Maintain snug, even tension up to the instep. Then put a couple of cross twists in the laces and finish lacing with a medium tension. This will keep the foot firmly in place while allowing maximum flexibility at the ankle joint.

After the skate is laced completely, stand and allow your body weight to rest evenly over the entire foot. Because the foot has a tendency to expand when pressure is applied, it is important to remember the skates may feel tighter now than when the foot was in a relaxed position.

Bend knees, try to lift the heel out of the heel cup of the skate. There should be very little movement. Toes should brush the boot’s front sides with light pressure.

Fit Support And Service

It is of ultimate importance that all Riedell customers are provided with the best fit possible. To help insure that need, Riedell Shoes, Inc. is committed to providing all authorized dealers and their staff with information and training in the fitting of their products. In return, it will be the responsibility of the authorized dealer and their staff to insure such service is provided to each customer.

Warranty on misfit boots will become the responsibility of the fitting dealer and his/her staff. If additional information, training, or review is desired and/or needed, contact your regional sales agent and/or Riedell Shoes, Inc. for resolution of needs.

Sole Or Foundation: Skating boots must have a firm sole. With no blades attached it should be very difficult to flex the boot with your hands. The sole is made rigid by a steel shank placed between the insole and outsole.

Insole: Constructed with a good firm leather or moisture resistant fiberboard.

Outsole: In top quality boots the outsole will be constructed of high grade firm leather to securely hold mounting screws and resist moisture penetration.

Heels: Constructed with leather or water-repellent fiberboard attached with 6 to 10 nails driven up through the heel, outsole and insole.

Counter Or Arch Support: Proper arch support is one of the key factors in obtaining the correct skating form. The counter or arch support should be of moisture proof leather or moisture resistant fiberboard securely cemented to the lining and upper, and attached to the insole. The counter must be long enough to support the inner longitudinal arch of the foot just short of the ball joint.

Upper: Many people believe the support of skating boots comes from how firm the upper is. This is not entirely correct. As mentioned earlier, support is derived by a firm insole, outsole and counter. The basic function of the upper is to hold the foot in place and give protection. Due to its strength, durability and comfort, leather is the preferred material.

Heat Molding for a Better Fit

What will help me “break-in” my new skates?

Every pair of Riedell boots is made with the finest materials and components. These components allow the skate to mold and shape to the exact form of your foot. Once a skate has formed to your foot the “break-in” period is complete. The length of this “break-in” period will vary from skater to skater but, the more you skate, the more quickly your boots will mold to meet your foot’s unique shape. To ease the “break-in” period and maximize comfort we recommend, have your skates fit, sized, prepared and heat molded by a trained Authorized Riedell Dealer.

This 10-step process ensures maximum heat activation of boots for effective skate fitting:

  1. Have a trained Riedell skate fitter measure your feet.
  2. Skate oven should be preheated to between 74°C-82°C (165-180˚F).
  3. Skates should be heated in oven for 4-7 minutes. Medium temper boots will need to be heated for a shorter time of 4-6 minutes. Firm and extra-firm temper boots will need to be heated 5-7 minutes.
  4. Remove boots from skate oven and flex heel counters open so foot can be easily placed in the heel pocket of the skate.
  5. Place foot in boot and lightly tap heel of foot back into heel cup of the boot. Lace the boot up with firm, snug tension on the laces starting at the throat area over the top of the toes. Maintain the same lacing tension to the top of skate. You can stand and put pressure on skates, but do not walk in the skates if blades are not attached.
  6. Leave skates on for approximately 10 minutes. This will allow skates to shape and contour to your foot.
  7. Remove skates and let your feet and skates relax for several minutes. Put skates back on and lace up with normal, comfortable lacing pressure.
  8. If discomfort or specific pressure points exist, heat area of boot with heat gun and adjust boot with boot press or shoe stretcher as needed.
  9. Re-fit skates using normal lacing pressure.
  10. Hit the ice!


PROFESSIONAL FIT CARE for our new models Vega & Elara:
The Vega & Elara are built using pre-molded and pre-formed materials that eliminate/reduce the need for heat molding and the use of a skate oven. The Vega & Elara are heat-moldable, but Riedell does not authorize the use of a heat oven to heat the boots. Fit adjustments should only be done on the Vega & Elara with a localized heat source (hairdryer) by a trained and skilled skate specialist.