Required Equipment

When starting in speed skating, there is very little specialized equipment required. Your local club will be able to provide details, but most recommend that interested skaters bring the following:

Rest of Body Protection

Comfortable, athletic-style long sleeve top and pants. Although Olympic speed skaters wear spandex suits, it is not mandatory at the introductory level.

Head Protection

A helmet. Ski/snowboard, hockey or roller sport helmets are all acceptable. Bike helmets cannot be used because the large vents allow skate blades to pass through. Many clubs will have spare helmets for use.

Neck Protection

A neck guard- bib style. Many clubs will have spare neck guards for use.

Hand Protection

Cut-proof gloves or mittens. Ski mitts or leather gloves are best. Hockey gloves are also acceptable.

Knee Protection

Knee pads. Soft, volleyball style pads are preferred, although plastic roller sport pads are also acceptable. If possible, plastic pads should be worn underneath the skater’s pants. Hockey knee/shin pads are acceptable, but may limit the skater’s movement.

Shin Protection

Shin guards. Hard soccer shin guards are best, but hockey knee/shin pads are also acceptable.

Ankle Protection

Well-fitting, tall socks. Socks that are too short can cause skin irritation and blisters due to friction against the inside of the skates.

As a skater progresses in the sport and begins to participate in competitions, there are other required pieces of equipment, including shatter-proof eye protection (with strap) and cut-proof ankle protection. The following chart has more information about equipment for competitive skaters:


Intent, Minimum Requirement and Guidance


Ankle Protection
Intent: Prevent cut and puncture wounds of the Achilles tendon from blades during the thrust phase of the stride.Minimum Requirement: When no cut resistant suit is worn, a cut and puncture resistant anklet made of Kevlar or Dyneema must be worn on both legs, covering the legs from the tops of the boots to 10 cm above the tops of the boots.

Guidance: Extend coverage higher up the legs, as desired.  The more cut and puncture resistance, the better.

Eye Protection
Intent: Prevent eye injuries resulting from ice chips or a collision with a blade or other object.Minimum Requirement: Shatter-resistant glasses or a complete visor are required for all skaters.  All glasses must be held in place by a strap.

Guidance: Clear or yellow lenses are recommended.  The higher the level of shatter resistance and the more extensive the protection, the better.

Hand Protection
Intent: Prevent cut and puncture wounds on the hands from blades.Minimum Requirement: For Learn to Skate programs, gloves or mitts must be worn.  For any long blade activity, full leather gloves or a synthetic glove which offers an equal or superior level of cut and puncture resistance to leather must be worn.

Guidance: The more cut and puncture resistance of the gloves, the better.

Head Protection
Intent: Prevent major and minor head trauma and traumatic brain injury due to impacts with ice, boots, blades, bodies, boards and crash padsMinimum Requirement: A helmet must be worn for all on-ice activities.  It must be securely fastened under the chin at all times.  A skate blade should not be able to penetrate any ventilation holes in the helmet.

For Learn to Skate and Learn to Speed Skate Programs, as well as training for Active Start and FUNdamentals aged participants, helmets must be ASTM F 1849 certified or CSA approved (hockey, snowboard/ski skateboarding helmets only). For all other competitions and activities, helmets must be ASTM F 1849 certified.

Knee Protection
Intent: Prevent puncture and blunt force impact wounds to the knees.Minimum Requirement: Full frontal knee coverage providing complete coverage of the patella.  Made of puncture resistant (e.g. Kevlar or Dyneema) and impact absorbing (e.g. high density foam) material.  Protection may be worn over a skater’s skin suit or it can be integrated in the suit.

Guidance: The more puncture resistance and blunt impact energy absorption, the better.

Neck Protection
Intent: Prevent cut and puncture wounds to the neck area, especially in the areas of the major arteries.Minimum Requirement: All skaters must wear neck protection covering the lower half of the full circumference of the neck and covering all soft tissue below the chin to a point extending below a line joining the armpits at the front of the body.

Neck protection must be made of Kevlar, Dyneema, or ballistic nylon.  Protection may be integrated into the design of a skater’s skin suit or worn tucked into a skater’s skin suit.  If separate neck protection is worn it must fastened securely.

Guidance: The more cut and puncture resistance and the greater the extent of neck coverage, the better.

Rest of Body Protection
Intent: Prevent cut and puncture wounds on any other part of the body not already covered by other protective equipment.Minimum Requirement: All skin below the mid-line of the neck must not be bare.  Skaters participating in events sanctioned as SSC Championships and/or as Selection/International competitions must wear cut resistant clothing meeting or exceeding the minimum standards established by the ISU.

Guidance: Minimum requirement “rest of body protection” is recommended for all other activities (e.g. training) where skaters are performing at a level similar to the lowest level of SSC Championships.  The more cut and puncture resistance, the better.

Shin Protection
Intent: Prevent cut and puncture wounds along the shin from blades, as well as some measure of blunt impact protection from hitting hard objects/bodies.Minimum Requirement: When wearing long blades, skaters must wear hard plastic or built-in cut and puncture resistant material with some impact energy absorption.  Full frontal shin coverage is from within 2.5 cm of the top of the boot to within 2.5 cm of the bottom of the knee protection. Protection may be worn over/under a skater’s skin suit or it can be integrated in the suit.

Guidance: The more cut and puncture resistance and impact protection of the shins, the better.

Skate Blades
Intent: Reduce the puncture making capacity of the blades.Minimum Requirement: The rear and front tips of all skate blades shall be rounded to a minimum radius of 1cm.

Guidance: The rounder the tips, the better.

Buying Equipment

Most of the required speed skating equipment can be found at your local sports store, for example, helmets, neck guards, knee pads and shin guards. There are also online retailers of speed skating specific equipment:

Follow Us


The British Columbia Speed Skating Association gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.