11 January

Buying your first kit for roller derby

Since October we have welcomed so many ladies to the Nottingham Hellfire Harlots that we have decided to put together a quick blog about kit to answer all those frequently asked questions that everybody has.

If you’re on a tight budget then ask around your league to see if anyone has any kit they want to sell or give away. This helps you save on postage and others clear out cupboards full of kit. Everybody is a winner!

If nobody in your league has anything to sell or give away then the Facebook group Roller Derby Recyclables is full of second hand skate kit going cheap although you need to use your common sense as all the kit you buy is for your safety.

  • As a league we will never suggest you buy a second hand helmet as you just don’t know its history and it is the most important bit of protection you will own as head injuries are not fun. You can get helmets as cheap as £20 from Roller Bootique (the people who sponsor our own Coco De Maul).
  • Check the price of what you’re looking to buy if it were new. Buying something second hand should be considerably cheaper than buying new.
  • Save on postage by seeing if the seller is attending any bouts you’ll also be attending soon.
  • Be aware that there is no guarantee on your new purchases so if you break it you can’t send it back!
  • Pay it forward and sell your kit on if it is in good nick and you don’t need it any more!

With all this in mind, what kind of stuff should you be looking out for?

Kneepads/elbow pads wrist guards

All fine to buy second hand, just check pictures posted for wear and tear and again, check around your league if anyone can let you try on their stuff before you buy so you know what size to get. Buy the best knee protection you can afford because when you’re learning you may fall a lot and knee problems really suck too.

Mouth guards

Protect your teeth and protect against concussion. You can get them cheap from a sports shop or you can get custom mouth guards from your dentist. A lot of our skaters tend to upgrade to either SISU or Opro mouth guards. A cheap mouth guard that fits is better than a fancy one that doesn’t. Your mouth guard has to fit you or it isn’t safe so if you aren’t sure, ask your friendly ref crew as they perform kit checks before scrims and bouts all the time.


Check out Kitty Fury’s blog on wheels.


Riedell R3s are a great starter skate and are very popular in our league. They are hard wearing and will last well. These tend to suit people who have narrow feet better so if you’re not sure what size to go for, shout out and you’ll find people in your league who don’t mind letting you try on their gear for size.

Suregrip Rock GT-50 are also popular starter skates and along with Riedell R3s you find lots of these on the Roller Derby Recyclables Facebook group.  I’ve heard they tend to be wider than the R3s.

If you get in to roller derby then you’ll probably start lusting after other models such as Antiks, higher end Riedells, Vanillas (I’ve got Blackout Brass Knuckles on Suregrip Magnesium Avenger plates), Luiginos and bonts. Don’t leap in to making an expensive skate purchase until you have done your research and seen what type of skate set up will fit your skate style. It really pays to take your time choosing your set up in the first 6-12 months of playing derby no matter how much the pricey skate make your heart skip a beat.

As a league, we tend to advise new skaters avoid the cheapie, cheapie skates e.g. Riedell Volts unless the skates you’re looking at are good but second hand as we’ve found they don’t stand up to the use they will get playing roller derby. Including the fresh meat sessions, our flames can train up to 9.5 hours a week so I’ll play mum and tell you “If you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice”.

If you are not sure about anything to do with kit then ask in your league. We love you and don’t want you spending more than you need to or worse, getting hurt.

By Kill’Her Instinct