New roller derby gear from Mel’s Skate Shop!

A couple of weeks my new roller derby gear arrived and I thought I would share what I got with those who are interested in the sport and might want to know more about the gear skaters use.

I ordered my gear from Mel’s Skate Shop – which is located in Joburg – as she is the go-to girl for most of the roller derby gear in South Africa as she imports a lot of her stock from overseas, making it more accessible to skaters here. So a big shout out to Mel and a big thank you for all of your help and patience.

When I started roller derby I didn’t have my own gear, and I certainly was not going to buy any until I was sure I loved the sport, was capable of moving up a level and knew I wanted to commit fully, as gear is very expensive.

I was lucky enough to get a good pair of skates for a good price second hand, which fit like a glove and came with great outdoor wheels to boot. However, that meant I did not have indoor wheels and additionally I had to invest in my own helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards, all of which come with their own hefty price tag if you chose to purchase good quality gear – which I did.

In my opinion, there was no point in paying a few hundred rand for cheap gear and having to buy again in the future or risk hurting yourself because they do not do the job correctly. I chose to take the plunge, buy great quality gear and save my knees, elbows, wrists and head from any sort or damage from the very beginning.

What did I get?

I bought my skates – boots and plates – second hand, but they only came with outdoor wheels and the toe stops were very worn down from their previous owner only wore them outdoors, meaning I needed to get some new wheels for the indoor floor and some new toe stops so that when we do toe work, my feet and toes are more comfortable and I feel more stables.

After talking to Mel at length about what she felt would be appropriate for me to purchase, I went with her recommendations and bought the Atom Boom Indoor Hybrid indoor wheels and the Roll Line Round toe stops which are big, round and bouncy.

Next up with have a nice big box full of safety gear! I bought 187 Killer Pads for my elbows, knees and wrists and an S1 helmet in black for my head. Safety is so important to me. I grew up horse riding and was taught from the get-go that you do not do anything without putting your helmet on first, as well as all of the other necessary gear needed.

I have fallen off (or thrown myself off in some cases) horse riding more than I would like to admit, but I have never once not had the appropriate gear to keep myself – especially my head – safe from injury. When playing any sport that could end up with you hurting one or more parts of your body, it is so incredibly important to have the right gear in order to avoid concussion, bruising, scraping any other injury that might occur.

I chose to go with 187 Killer Pads and an S1 helmet because I heard they were the best money could buy in SA, it’s as simple as that. I had been to numerous sports shops in my area and could not find knee pads thick enough or a helmet I felt comfortable enough with so I chose to skip paying a measly amount of money for gear I would have to replace in the near future and just went all in – and I don’t regret it one bit.

Just to give you a little bit more information about my personal experience with all my new gear, I am going to review each new item.

Atom Boom Hybrid Indoor wheels

These are taking a long time to get use to, I ain’t going to lie. Flip, they are super sticky on the polished wooden floor we skate on making t-stops and plough stops really hard to execute. However, they are epic for laps as I feel incredibly stable and I have never once felt like I was going to slip.

The Atom Boom wheels do not come with a durometer, instead they come in three sizes: 62mm x 44mm, 59mm x 38mm or 59mm x 35mm, and are available in Firm and X-Firm. They are a high-performance hybrid designed to work well on cement, asphalt, sport court and many of the wood surfaces, and I am really hoping that I get use to them soon and improve my stops.

Roll Line Round toe stops

The Roll Line Round toe stops are badass. Really, really badass. They are big and round, bouncy and soft and they make me feel oh-so stable when we practice toe work.

When I got them I wasn’t really convinced, only because they looked huge and so different to the ones on my rental skates, as well as not knowing what on earth to expect when I screwed them in, but obviously I was ready to give them a fair shot.

It took me three attempts to get them to the right length and by then I was kak irritated and thought I had bought the completely wrong thing. Thankfully I figured out that the issue was their size and that I was going to have to screw them all the way in to the very base in order to make them work as they were catching on the floor when I was doing cross overs during laps which really threw me off my balance and landing me on my bum a couple of times.

Once I had done that, there was no more catching on the floor and falling over! Apparently it just take some time and patience, who knew!

187 Killer Pads for elbows, knees and wrists

I had a bit of trouble finding the right size knee pads, as you have to measure your knees, elbows and wrists and then your measurements determine the sizes you order. Even after measuring my knees about 10 times, as well as getting Jeanne to measure them too, the size that I ordered according to the chart were too small.

Thankfully I was able to sell them to one of the other wReakies who I skate with and just ordered a size up. I feel like my knees also needed the extra space. I struggled quite a bit with pain in my knees when I did not skate or exercise, and they tend to swell up a little, so I feel as though that maybe contributed to the knee pads being too small, or feeling too small.

Other than the sizing issue, I am loving wearing this brand of safety gear. I feel safe and secure because of the amazing thickness of the padding, and have had no bruising on my knees after falling/practicing knee taps whatsoever thus far.

S1 Helmet

Last but certainly not least, I have to admit right off the bat that my S1 helmet has to be my favourite piece of gear I have purchased so far. Again, I did have a sizing issue as I ordered the small and it was too small so needed new padding in a size medium which fits much, much better.

A helmet is so important if you are going to participate in any sport where there is contact or a chance of you falling and hurting yourself or getting a concussion. I am so pro safety it’s not even funny so I was very pleased when I put on my S1 helmet and loved it so much.

I love it for many reasons, but most of all because it makes me feel secure. Now that I have the right sized padding, it fits so well. In addition to its fit, the S1 helmet is lightweight and it’s a multi impact helmet – winner.

It really is fantastic and I cannot stop raving about it, and if I had a few more extra pennies I totally would have got the black glittery one  – it’s so damn beautiful! Maybe in the future…

All-in-all I am super pleased with the majority of my gear. I am still a bit hesitant to say that I love the Atom Boom wheels as an all-rounder wheel (only because of my stopping issues – which could totally just be me being a newbie still and not using enough force), but I love them so much for laps. My safety gear is great and I will continue to rave about my S1 helmet to anyone who will listen and I really feel like all my new gear will contribute greatly to my roller derby journey.

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