Because they are manufactured from heavy leather, figure skates are often much heavier than skates designed for hockey, racing or simple recreational skating. Several skate makers are now designing recreational ice skates from plastic, vinyl, soft leather or heavy canvas, all of which are lighter and usually gi jane 2 joke explained more comfortable for simple ice skating activities. The break-in period for soft skates is usually very short or nonexistent. Soft ice skates also have more internal room for extra padding for warmth and comfort on the ice.

All ice skates will be available in various inexpensive to high-quality versions. Beginner and simple recreational skates usually come with metal blades attached. Skates intended for more advanced skaters are usually sold without blades, as advanced skaters in any ice sport want to choose their blades and have them professionally mounted on their skate boots.

All ice skate blades must be sharpened occasionally. Dull blades will not perform well on the ice. Someone who has been skating with rented skates will be surprised at the improved performance when first taking to the ice on well-sharpened blades. Blades should be sharpened by a professional. Blade-sharpening is not a do-it-yourself endeavor.