What to Wear Ice Skating

By Ashley Friedman

Rink appeal: Clothes to wear for a smooth glide across the ice

What to Wear Ice Skating

Whether you're at an indoor or outdoor rink, ice-skating is a fun, cool-weather activity that demands a certain type of wardrobe. First order of business is keeping warm, but a very close second is covering up exposed skin so tumbles on the ice don't result in scrapes or cuts. Comfort is key when ice skating, so make sure clothes are breathable, flexible and not too constricting. Your best bet is to think in terms of layers, so if you get too warm, you can shed outerwear and continue having fun.

What to wear

  1. Hat. The old wives' tale that we lose 50 percent of body heat through our heads has been thoroughly debunked by science, but there is no denying that a warm knit cap goes far in keeping the head and ears warm, especially when skating outside in the cold. Whether you're a beginner or experienced enough to go tearing around the rink, the wind rushing past your head is going to feel chilly. Go for a knit beanie, a stocking cap or anything else that provides ear coverage.
  2. Socks. The thicker the better, and it's best to wear more than one pair at a time. A pair of knit socks under a pair of heavy woolen ones will not only keep your toes warm as you circle the rink, but they'll make the tight boot of the ice skate feel more comfortable. 
  3. Loose layers. Generally speaking, looser clothing retains more heat than tight clothing. Wearing a fitted layer like long johns under a looser pair of leggings or comfortable jeans helps retain warmth longer, which means more time spent on the ice. Layers also prevent you from getting too hot, so after a few spins around the rink you can shed a jacket or a sweater and still stay comfortable.

TIP: Whether skating indoors or outdoors, warmth and comfort are key. Avoid bulky down jackets in favor of several thinner layers to keep warm without sacrificing range of motion while you skate.

What to leave behind

  1. Baggy pants. Baggy pants may sound like a good idea for retaining heat and providing ease of movement, but baggy pants can get caught in your skate blade or become twisted around your ankles, causing a fall. Fitted pants are always the way to go before getting on the ice.
  2. Large handbags. If you can't check your stuff in a locker, wear a jacket with pockets big enough to hold your essentials. A big bag is not only heavy and uncomfortable to drag around the ice, it can throw you off balance, which does not make for a fun afternoon at the rink. 

Seasonal considerations

If you're skating outdoors, especially during in winter, make sure your hands are covered and you wear a scarf. Falling without gloves can really hurt, especially if you land on natural ice that hasn't been smoothed out by a zamboni, or ice resurfacer. Outside, the wind can pick up and the cold can chap skin; it can even cause frostbite if you're not careful, so cover as much skin as you can and make sure to take cover inside if the cold becomes painful.

Traveling considerations

If you're traveling to a skating destination, it's wise to rent your skates there rather than drag your own, particularly if you're flying and paying per pound to check bags. When you rent skates, it's easier to condense all of your skating or cold-weather gear into a carry-on.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Social Sciences. She has experience writing copy for the websites of creative professionals, and regularly contributes to several blogs covering popular culture, travel, food, and social action.