Let's talk kit

Buying your gear for roller derby can be really daunting, as you'll quickly find out there is SO much to choose from. At the end of the day, the protective gear is there for your safety, so make sure you get good stuff!

Here we will talk a bit about all the kit available to you, including the different brands and what people think of them. We've tried to cover kit for all budgets, but the general rule of thumb is that the higher the price, the better the gear. Typical!

HELMETS

When people join our league, the first rule we give them is not to wear skates without a helmet. We're pretty strict on this. You may be a  skilled skater and feel safe skating without a helmet, but we want to get our members into the habit of making sure they are safe before anything else. Helmets are important, and making sure your helmet is a good fit and on right is important too. Make sure it's snug but comfortable, doesn't move around easily, covers your forehead and is nice and secure. If it doesn't quite feel right, try a different one or change the liners until you get the right fit.

No Fear - £10-£12

HardnutZ - £20-£30

Triple 8 - £25-£35

Great for starting out, but most of them  are NOT multi-impact. This means that if you have a hard hit to the head you have to replace the entire helmet. They do fit most however and they won't break the bank.
Mainly produced for cycling and BMX, but they are also a good helmet for someone starting out in roller derby and looking to keep your head safe. Good for ventilation!
Triple 8 have a range of helmets to choose from. Have a look at the "Brainsaver".

S1 - £20-£50

TSG - £20-£45

Protec - £20-£30

S1 helmets are without a doubt made for roller derby, with multi-impact, optional visors and a load of pretty colours to choose from. Probably the most well known roller derby helmet, used by a lot of the stars!
Again, TSG have a range of helmets to choose from. Mainly a mountain biking range so the pads in the helmet are really good, but they can be used for roller derby too.
Probably the cheapest decent helmet, but make sure you get a multi-impact helmet, you don't want to have a single impact helmet if you can help it as you'll be buying them all the time.

Bauer - £50-£80

Bauer have an excellent range of helmets and often have a different look to the usual roller derby stuff, mainly because Bauer is a popular brand with hockey. Great fitting and with extra protection, they are worth the cost. Can come with a detachable visor if you want the additional protection.

MOUTHGUARDS

Sisu - £15-£26

Standard mouthguards - £3-£8

Custom (Dentist made) - up to £250

These are the mouthguards you will find in shops like Sports Direct that cost about a fiver (or less!). It's still a mouthguard and will do its job, but you will find that they are very bulky, take up a lot of room in your mouth, and you can't talk or drink with them in. You may also find that you drool on yourself when you take them out. We warned you!
Probably the most popular mouthguard in roller derby, Sisu mouthguards are comfortable and easy to mould yourself. They come in two sizes, 2.4mm and 1.6mm. The 2.4 is slightly thicker and offers more protection. Sisu are great because you can talk, drink and even eat with them in. A plus for lots of skaters!
Mouthguards you can buy on the market won't fit everyone, especially if you visit the dentist a lot and you have missing or extra teeth. We advise you visit the dentist if you can and ask for their advice, they will be able to mold you a custom fit mouthguard, for a price!

DC (Damage Control) - £20

The most shock absorbant mouthguard on the market, and custom made to fit your face, DC send you a kit to get a copy of your teeth and create the mouthguard for you. You can also customize how the guard looks. Pretty cool!

ELBOW PADS

No Fear - £7-£10

Triple 8 - £12-£30

187 Killer - £17-£35

Cheap and cheerful, but not always great quality and not enough protective padding. They don't cover a lot of your elbow. But they are a good elbow pad to start out with on a budget. Can come in a set with wrist guards and knee pads.
Ok for beginners and won't break the bank. Can come in a set with wrist guards and knee pads. You might find you want to replace them after a few months.
Wide range to choose from (cheaper to more expensive) and they have designs that are roller derby specific too. They have plenty of padding and are quite comfortable. Available as "pull on's" and velcro straps.

TSG - £19-£50

Smiths Scabs - £25-£40

Bullet - £17-£25

These are fantastic as they have anti-velco rash straps, so they are really comfortable and don't give you the itchy burn that other elbow pads can give. The design of these elbow pads has more room to bend your arm, so you have more flexibility.
One of the most popular brands in roller derby, a lot of people tend to get these because they come in a lot of fancy colours. They have a lot of padding and can sometimes take a while to wear in, but they will keep your elbows well cushioned.
A wide range to choose from to suit all budgets, they have a cheaper range similar to No Fear and SFR, but also some higher spec stuff available which is good quality for the price.

SFR - £12-£15

Protec - £26-£47

Cheap and cheerful, but not always great quality and not enough protective padding. They don't cover a lot of your elbow. But they are a good elbow pad to start out with on a budget.
Protect are good for a range of sports and have a variety to choose from, with varying prices. Typically very comfortable and flexible, good for fitting lots of sizes. Can be bought in a set with wrist guards and knee pads.

WRIST GUARDS

Triple 8 - £15-£45

SFR - £7-£15

Smith Scabs - £10-£35

A wide range to choose from, but check out the "Hired hands" range for something unique. They fit like a glove.
A great wristguard to start with, you might not even try any others! Cheap but not scrimping on quality. Loads of flexibility for your fingers without lacking protection.
An easy wristguard to use, comfortable, and a good price for Smiths. Popular again as there are lots of colours to choose from. Easy to put on without hassle. Can fall apart easily though. The more expensive range has more protection and flexibility.

187 Killer Pads - £18-£20

Atom - £12-£15

Protec - £15-£17

Made specifically for derby, but we recommend the cheaper variety as they don't slip around your wrist as much. Sometimes the derby range can slip and may catch your skin. Make sure to get the right size to avoid this.
Specific for derby. We don't know much about these but we do see people wearing them so they must be used! Check the size guides before buying.
Really good for protection but slightly lacking in flexibility. These are popular in roller derby with beginners and intermediates alike.

Ennui - £19-£35

TSG - £20-£25

Bullet - £15

Fancy looking and leather bound and nice straps. These wristguards are very safe and offer good protection for your wrists, but do lack flexibility sometimes.
Comfortable and safe (lots of protection) and easy to get on and off.
Cheap and cheerful for what you get. Easy to slip on, comfortable, and offers good protection.

KNEE PADS

S-ONE - £80-£90

TSG - £40-£80

Smith Scabs - £45-£85

Like their extremely popular helmet, S1 pads are also a great option for derby. Comfortable and well protected, these are definitely some knee pads you want to try out.
Loads of cushioning but without compromising on the flexibility of the knee, and have the anti velcro rash straps. A fantastic piece of kit.
Just like their elbow pads, the Smiths Scabs knee pads are very popular in roller derby due to their range of colours and also their added padding. With loads of extra foam, freshies often describe these as like "falling on clouds" after using rubbish knee pads for so long! They are quite bulky so do take some breaking in, but once you've fallen on them a few times it will soon take away the bulkiness.

187 Killer - £35-£85

Bullet - £20

The Killer Pro variety have a lot of cushioning and feel great to fall on, but like the Scabs, they are quite bulky. This means that they have a lot to absorb shock when you fall, but can get in the way if you're working on crossovers. However, the 187 Fly's are less bulky but just as good.
Mid-range pads for all purposes, you get what you pay for with these. Not much choice but they are a popular next step from graduating fresh meat.

Protec - £22-£25

Not much choice, but again a mid-range knee pad. Not a lot of padding but more so than cheaper knee pads. You might want to upgrade after a year or less, but they're fine to start out with. Available in sets.

No Fear - £10

Atom Elite - £45

Cheap and cheerful when you are starting out, but you will soon want to upgrade when your knees start to hurt. They don't have a lot of padding so don't use these for too long, if at all.
The Atom Elite 2.0's have a lot of padding on the side of the knee plate, so you'll be well protected from all angles, but with a possibility of compromised flexibility in the knee.

Deadbolt - £74-£80

Growing in popularity, Deadbolt knee pads are becomming much loved in the derby community because of their comfortable fit and superb protection.

Ennui - £31-£35

Triple 8 - £17-£55

A range to choose from with varying prices. We don't know much about these but they are out there if you want to try! Different styles seem to have more or less padding, so be aware of flexibility and bulkiness.
Again, a wide range to choose from and a huge range of prices, we recommend going for the more expensive. These are popular in roller derby. Good for sizes and a comfortable fit, without the bulkiness.

BEGINNER / INTERMEDIATE SKATES

Choosing your first pair of skates during or after fresh meat can be really scary. There are a lot to choose from. We've listed some cheaper to mid-range skates below which are good for beginners on a budget, but we're not going to tell you much about them. The best advice we can give is talk to your league and go try some on! If you can try before you buy, it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. One rule of thumb with skates is generally, you get what you pay for. The more you pay, the better quality the skates will be. We've listed some skates going up in price, the more you spend now, the less you'll spend in the future.

Riedell Volts - £40-£80

Rookie Ruckus - £60-£80

SureGrip Boxers - £70-£90

Only buy these if you literally can't afford anything else. You will want to upgrade the wheels and probably the entire skate within a few months.
A popular low budget skate, but again you will want to upgrade soon after using them. Bit better than Volts.
Another popular lower budget skate. Similar to the Rebels or the Darts.

SureGrip Rebels - £100-£200

Riedell Darts - £80-£100

Maybe a step higher than the GT50's, but the latter seem to be more popular. We recommend that if you're going to spend £200 on skates you might be better saving a bit more and getting some higher end skates instead.
Probably somewhere inbetween all the other skates listed here in terms of quality. You'd want to get these or the Boxers/Ruckus rather than the Volts, but you'd be better saving up for the R3's or the GT50's.

SureGrip GT50's - £100 - £130

Riedell R3's - £110 - £130

As with the Riedell R3's, these are very popular with those who have graduated FM or bought their own skates during FM. Not a bad choice, you're better going for these or the R3's rather than any of the cheaper skates.

Jackson Vibe's - £120-£140

Aside from the GT50's, these are probably the most popular for newbies who have either just started roller derby or just graduated FM.
Along the same lines of the GT50's and the R3's, these are a good mid-level skate for new graduates or current freshies.

ADVANCED SKATES

If you're thinking about the scary leap from beginner and intermediate to advanced skates, here are some brands that are really popular in roller derby. You might find that some only have the boot and not the plate or the wheels (the plate is the bit that attaches to the bottom of the skate and you put the wheels onto).

It's a bit daunting at first but talk to your fellow freshies and other skaters about what they like to use. Soon it will become less messy in your head! Of course the BEST advice we can give though, is go and try some on. If you're at the stage where you think you want to invest in some pricy but amazing skates, don't buy online without trying first. If possible, get a custom fit boot or heat mouldable so you know it's going to fit your foot. All this will come in time though, you'll know more about skates and bearings and kingpins before you know it!
  1. Antik
    Antik
  2. Bont
    Bont
  3. Chaya
    Chaya
  4. Luigino
    Luigino
  5. Mota
    Mota
  6. Moxi
    Moxi
  7. Riedell
    Riedell

WHEELS

Choosing the right wheels can be just as confusing as choosing the rest of your kit, if not moreso. There are so many to choose from and they all have different numbers and letters and what the hell do you do?!

There's no easy answer to this question. Just like when you get your first pair of skates, the BEST thing you can do with wheels is try as many as you can. At BCRD we have "wheel trying" nights every so often, where everyone can try each other's wheels. It's a great way to see what feels best and what works for you. Remember though, that everywhere you skate, the floor will feel different. Your favourite wheels might feel amazing on your usual training venue, but if you go somewhere else to skate they might feel awful.

Oh, and don't forget to use outdoor wheels when skating outside too, not your indoor wheels!
If you aren't able to try on your friends wheels just yet, have a look at these websites for some tips on buying the perfect roller derby wheels, and what all the letters and numbers mean.