New Laces for the New Year

1. Disclosure. A representative of Derby Laces provided me and other skaters with free samples of laces for a field trial. There were no conditions stipulated; in particular, neither I nor the other skaters are under any obligation to provide a review. Except for a brief summary of other skaters’ experiences, this review is based solely on my personal experiences.

2. Laces under Test. Derby Laces ( manufactures several lines of laces for roller derby skate boots. Several years ago, I checked them out to see whether any would be suitable for figure skate boots, but they were all substantially too wide. Recently, they introduced a new line of narrower laces to meet the needs of new roller derby skate boots that require narrower laces. They have designated this line as “Waxed CORE Laces” ( Laces from this particular line were tested on figure skate boots in the field trial.

3. Width. The nominal width designated by the manufacturer is 6 mm. I measured an unstretched (laces relaxed) width of 7 mm and a stretched (laces pulled tight under tension) width of 6 mm. In comparison, I measured the following widths (unstretched/stretched) for three common brands of figure skate laces: Jackson (6.5 mm/5 mm); Riedell (5.5 mm/4.5 mm); A&R (6 mm/4.5 mm). Although the CORE laces are slightly wider than typical figure skate laces, they are narrow enough to attempt a trial. [For those who are interested, I have included details of width and thickness measurements in an Appendix at the end of this review.]

4. Materials and Features. The laces are manufactured from all polyester fibers and treated with wax. The tips (aglets) are integrally molded (thermally fused) from the lace material itself: no separate tips that can be pulled off.

5. Colors. For traditional figure skaters, basic white and basic black are available. For coaches seeking laces that coordinate with beige or tan coaching boots, tan is available. In contrast to figure skaters, roller derby skaters apparently are colorful characters. For whimsical figure skaters, the CORE laces come in a rainbow of colors, including, literally, “rainbow”.

6. Lengths. Lengths currently range from 36 to 120 inches, with values based on the needs of the roller derby boot market. Many, however, are suitable for figure skate boots. The manufacturer plans to introduce more lengths to meet the needs of the figure skate boot market. If you are interested in a particular length not currently available, I suggest that you post the length that you want.

7. My Experience. I wore the CORE laces on Jackson Elite Suede boots (previous leather model, purchased late 2014). The previous laces I wore were Jackson Elite laces.

* Initial lace-up (threading the laces through the eyelets and looping the laces around the hooks) with the CORE laces was slower than with the Jackson laces because of the increased width of the CORE laces.

* The wax on the CORE laces hit the sweet spot. Not too little, not too much ... just right. Not too slick, not too tacky ... just right.

* Pulling on the laces gave a secure feeling. The wax served as a lubricant as a portion of the lace was pulled tight through an eyelet, across another portion of the lace, or around a hook. The wax also helped anchor a portion of the lace once it had been pulled tight.

* Laces stayed tight throughout the session; no re-lacing needed. In addition to the wax, the extra width probably helped in keeping the laces from slipping.

* The laces stretched with initial use, resulting in slight narrowing of the laces. After about three sessions, I was able to loop the laces around the hooks with ease (my boots have small hooks).

* I have worn the CORE laces for about 6 months (about 120 sessions) now. They have held up well. After the initial break-in of the laces, the overall lacing procedure is easier, compared to that with previous laces, because the laces keep tension during lace-up better (less slippage) and maintain the tension throughout a session. Overall, they feel more secure than previous laces I’ve worn. As an added advantage, the waxed fibers are gentler on my fingers.

8. Other Skaters’ Experiences. Seven other skaters participated in the field trial. They included skaters who skated intermediate and advanced freestyle and intermediate and advanced dance. Some skaters also worked as coaches and rink guards. Figure skate boots worn in the field trial included (a) Jackson Freestyle (previous leather model), (b) Jackson Elite (previous leather model), (c) Jackson Elite (current 5000 series synthetic model), (d) Jackson coaching boots (unknown previous leather model), (e) Riedell Aria, (f) Harlick custom dance [two skaters], and (g) an ancient pair of Kneblis (unknown model).

* The common positive response from all skaters was that the CORE laces stayed tied tight throughout a session; whereas, with their previous laces, they had to stop and re-lace one or more times.

* The skaters with non-Harlick boots either reported no problems with initial lace-up or slower initial lace-up, followed by easier lace-up after several sessions. This likely depended on how worn the eyelets were and on the size of the hooks.

* The two skaters with the Harlick boots had relatively new (several months old) boots that came with extra narrow and thin Harlick break-in laces. They had not yet changed over to ‘normal’ laces. Consequently, the CORE laces were substantially more snug and slower to lace up. Both skaters, however, were pleased with the non-slip performance of the laces and continued to use them (they strongly preferred them to the laces that had been supplied with the boots).

9. Other Applications. Since the laces are available in short lengths down to 36”, I tried a pair of 45” laces on my ankle-height work boots that I wear every day. They perform much better than the typical round laces supplied with work boots. These laces stay tied down and are durable.


10. APPENDIX. Width and Thickness Comparison.

Width*: (Derby) 7.0/6.0; (Jackson) 6.5/5.0; (Riedell) 5.5/4.5; (A&R) 6.0/4.5

Thickness**: (Derby) 1.7 – 1.8/1.5 – 1.6; (Jackson) 1.4 – 1.5/1.3 – 1.4; (Riedell) 1.8 – 1.9/1.7 – 1.8; (A&R) 1.5 – 1.6/1.3 – 1.4

* Nearest 0.5 mm in unstretched/stretched state. Measurements taken at 10 points along a single sample lace.

** Nearest 0.1 mm in unstretched/stretched state. Measurements taken at 10 points along a single sample lace.

Laces were unused, out of the package. Derby laces were recent vintage. Other laces were purchased ~ two years ago. Product designations:

Derby CORE
Jackson Elite No. 92PT
Riedell No. 3276
A&R No. 9094B.

Since laces are easily deformable, measurements will depend on the instruments and conditions used. All laces were measured with the same instruments and under the same conditions. We would expect measurements to vary with lot, storage conditions, and age. Therefore, these measurements are not statistically valid.
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