Vaccinating To Lower COVID-19 Risks For Those Who Can’t

Olga Khazan, writing for The Atlantic (“The Best Way to Keep Your Kids Safe From Delta”):

“The problem, of course, is that kids under 12 can’t be vaccinated yet. Until they can be, the best way to protect them is simple: Vaccinate all the eligible adults and teens around them. ‘The single most important thing parents can do is to get vaccinated and to vaccinate all their kids who are 12 and older,’ Yvonne Maldonado, an epidemiologist and pediatric infectious-disease professor at Stanford Medical School, told me.”

As a parent of a young child who can’t yet get vaccinated, I got my shots as soon as I was eligible and became fully immunized back in May. With the surge in the Delta variant, and for the sake of our young children and anyone else who are vulnerable (e.g., immunocompromised), it is absolutely incumbent on the rest of us to vaccinate.

My Favorite Skate

Xsjado JC Rowe!

Update (Oct 14, 2017): Unfortunately, I recently found out that the Xsjado brand is being discontinued. They’re currently only selling their “2.0 Farewell” skates in all sizes. All other models are only available dependent on existing stock (which are being heavily discounted). On the bright side, Doop skates, which are the recreational cousins of Xsjado, are still available.

Back in 2011, I got a pair of skates that was radically different than any other skates I had tried.  Those skates were the Xsjado JC Rowe.  They wrapped around my sneakers so no matter where I skated, I could always “unwrap” them if I needed to be back in sneakers.   As you might guess, this made them extremely practical, and for this and other reasons, they quickly became my favorite skates.

Since then, I’ve gotten other excellent skates — Seba FR-A, Powerslide Hardcore EVO II, and USD Aeon 72 — but my old JC Rowe continues to be my favorite, and a mainstay of my daily skating.[1]


Although my JC Rowe are aggressive skates [2], I primarily use them to get around town, so they’re customized with bigger 84mm wheels on Rollerblade Fusion 84, 255mm USF Frames.[3]  The fact that Xsjado skates are designed as a combination of a “footwrap”  (sneaker) and a snowboard binding-like boot (that wraps around the footwrap) means you always have your shoes with you. That makes them extremely convenient for running errands, commuting, and traveling.


Perhaps due to the fact that I’m in sneakers when riding my Xsjado, I’ve found them to be the most comfortable skates I’ve ever worn.[4]  Also, perhaps due to the wide forefoot binding/buckle that keeps the skates feeling firmly wrapped around my foot, it is the first USF framed skate where the frame has felt laterally balanced under my feet.


How could you not love a skate with these flairs? 🙂

Xsjado JC Rowe's animal spirit

Insole design

Snowboard boot-like binding

About the only thing I could suggest is for them to be lighter.  Mine weigh about 4 lbs 8 oz per skate & foot wrap (size US 8), which is, on average, about a pound heavier than my other skates.  Xsjados also aren’t as precise feeling as specialized, one-piece skates like Hardcore EVO or Aeon, but given the constraints of their sneaker + binding design, I think they’ve made excellent tradeoffs.


  1. I’ve used my JC Rowe so much over the years, I’ve had to replace various parts multiple times (e.g., buckle, cuff, strap, etc.).  Thankfully, just about all of the parts on a Xsjado are easily serviceable.
  2. For those who want the sneaker-binding combo of an Xsjado skate, but aren’t interested in aggressive skating, I recommend getting Xsjado’s recreational cousins under the Doop brand instead.  Unlike Xsjados, Doop skates come standard with bigger recreational frames and wheels.  Doops also allow lateral frame adjustment, changing size w/o tools, and are a little lighter.
  3. If you can’t find Rollerblade Fusion USF frames being sold separately, another good option are the new Ground Control aluminum free skate USF frames.
  4. Although not required, I recommend either using Xsjados with an Xsjado footwrap (i.e., Xsjado’s skate sneakers), or using a conventional flat soled skate sneaker (e.g., Puma, Vans, etc.) with the heel shock pads removed (the spongy, molded pad at the heel of the skate). Xsjado has tuned their foot wrap with a dense sole, which transmits more of your push/power on each stride.  If you don’t use an Xsjado footwrap, you can avoid a sluggish response by removing the heel shock pads. With Doop skates, since they don’t come with heel shock pads, you can simply use flat soled skate sneakers. Just make sure you check that your sneaker’s profile fits and locks in well into the skate.

Note: I do NOT receive any compensation from any skate manufacturers or resellers mentioned in this article.  My recommendations are based solely on my experiences and preferences.

Skate Buying Tips

Skate Variety

Although inline skating isn’t as popular as it was in the 1990’s, the current variety, quality, and technology of skates are even better.  This is a good thing, but can also make choosing the proper skates more confusing.

The main goal is to choose a skate that fits snug and comfortably.  Try to go as snug as possible, while still being comfortable.  For basic recreational skating, a little wiggle room inside your skates is ok.  However, if you’d like to try more advanced skills, even a little movement inside your skates can throw off your execution.  The more advanced the skill, the more you’ll need your skates to feel  “one with your feet.” (I usually go down at least half a size from my true shoe size.)  When you first buy your skates, the liners of the skates are new and haven’t broken in (i.e., conformed) to the unique shape of your feet.  As you wear and sweat in them, they’ll start to break in and you’ll find that what might have initially felt a tad too snug, will eventually feel perfectly sized.

Related to proper sizing, each skate manufacturer uses a different last (shoe form/mold), so for a given size, each company’s skates may fit differently.  Therefore, if you can’t find a proper fit from one manufacturer, try another.

Make sure to get skates from companies dedicated to making skates (e.g., Powerslide, Seba, Rollerblade, K2, Roces, etc.).  Please do NOT get no-name, store, or non-skate brands.  They may seem comparable for a lower price, but these skates do not work well and are a waste of your money.

If your budget is limited to around $100 and/or you only need skates for infrequent, recreational skating, a low end model from one of the name brand skate companies is perfectly fine.  They typically come with mesh/suede boots which are comfortable, and plastic frames with all-purpose, 80mm outdoor wheels.  On the other hand, if you can spend more and plan to skate often or learn more advanced skills, I recommend considering higher model skates, where you’ll find many more choices.  For these models, there are additional features and considerations:

  • Lateral frame adjustment: When you’re rolling forward on your skates, your frames should feel perfectly centered and balanced underneath your feet, so your ankles are naturally upright and feel supported.  If they don’t feel centered, better skates allow you to shift your frames sideways, which is a crucial feature to prevent your ankles from supinating or pronating. (Supinating/pronating in skates is uncomfortable and will severely hamper learning more advanced skills.)
  • Boot type: For general urban skating, my preference is an all-plastic boot since they’re more supportive and durable for the urban environment.  Mesh/suede boots are lighter and more pliable to your foot shape, but not as supportive or rugged. (Btw, if you’re willing to do some customizing, you can mold or “punch out” plastic boots to better conform to the shape of your feet.)  Good skates with all-plastic boots and aluminum frames generally cost between $200 to $300. (Btw, at the very high end, you’ll also find boots partially made from carbon fiber.  These are expensive, but also lighter, stiffer, and heat moldable, allowing for more precision at advanced levels of skating.)
  • Wheel size and hardness: For general urban skating, wheel sizes between 76mm to 84mm provide a good balance between maneuverability/nimbleness and ease of skating over city distances (anywhere from just a few miles to as much as 15 or 20 miles).  Smaller wheel sizes are more nimble, but require more work for longer distances.  Larger wheel sizes allow longer distances and greater speed with less effort, but aren’t as maneuverable.  As for hardness, 80A to 85A is a good range for outdoors.  Lower number indicates softer wheels while higher numbers are harder.  (I mostly skate 84A or 85A, but occasionally switch to 80A or lower for better traction/grip if skating on wet pavement.)
  • Type of frame: Related to wheel size, you’ll also want to consider the type and length of the skate’s frame.  Aluminum frames are stiffer and more precise than plastic frames. (However, plastic frames are de rigueur for aggressive skating due to their suitability for grinds).  Shorter frames are more nimble, but require more effort to skate further/faster.  Longer frames allow more speed and greater distances but aren’t as nimble.  I prefer frame lengths that are no longer than they need to be for a given wheel size.  For instance, if your skates have 80mm wheels, an ideal frame size of 243mm is JUST big enough to fit four 80mm wheels inline.
  • Bearings: Most bearings are rated using the ABEC scale from 1 to 9, with the higher numbers indicating better precision/roll.  Just about all current adult skates come with bearings rated at ABEC 5, 7, or 9.  With Rollerblade and K2 skates, you may also see ILQ and SG ratings, that use the same number scale.  Higher end bearings may also have rubber shields on the outer side (for better protection from contaminants) and an open, inner side for easier cleaning.  One of my favorite bearings is the Bones Swiss Bearings.  These are higher end, aftermarket bearings that roll better than just about any others I’ve tried.  Although they’re more expensive, they pay for themselves by their longevity; with periodic cleaning, mine have lasted over 10 years. (And are still going strong!)
  • Lastly, inspect how the components are held together.  If components such as frames and buckles are held together with standard screws and nuts then you can service/replace individual components as they wear out. (Thereby, extending the life of your skates.)  If they’re riveted, glued, or not discrete parts, then you can’t replace them (at least, not easily).

Where to Buy

With all these considerations, I highly recommend going to a local store where you can inspect and try them on in-person.[1] (When buying locally, you’ll also be supporting your community. 🙂 )  If you can, try to find a dedicated skate shop in your area.  In my area (Boston), I get all my gear from an excellent skate shop called Thuro:

362 Boylston St – Rt 9
Brookline, MA 02445
(617) 501-6389

They have a knowledgeable staff of experienced skaters who can give expert guidance in getting a proper fit and model.  They’ve also done a great job curating the best selection of skates and equipment, many that aren’t available anywhere else locally.  And beyond the initial purchase, their expertise and stock of parts have been so helpful in fixing or customizing my skates.

If you don’t have a dedicated skate shop in your area, the next best option for in-person purchase is Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has many locations nationally.


If your budget is limited to ~$100 or you only need skates for infrequent, recreational skating, several name brand skate companies offer low end models, which are perfectly adequate.  From $100 to $200, look for skates with aluminum frames that are laterally adjustable (at least on the front end of the skate).  Making sure that your frames feel perfectly balanced under your feet (so your ankles don’t supinate or pronate) is crucial to being comfortable in your skates and learning new skills effectively.  If your budget allows skates in the $200 to $300 range and you plan to skate often, learn more advanced skills, or simply need more ankle support, I recommend getting a hard plastic boot model.  These models are snug, supportive, and versatile, and come with even better features and components — making them excellent for learning high level skills, such as those in slalom and freeride skating.


  1. When trying on skates, make sure to wear high quality socks. I prefer light to medium weight, crew length socks with smooth seams, made with mostly synthetic, wicking fabric. As you wear more snug fitting skates, even small creases or bumps in a pair of low quality socks can be quite uncomfortable.

Note: I do NOT receive any compensation from any skate manufacturers or resellers mentioned in this article.  My recommendations are based solely on my experiences and preferences.

How to Heat Mold (“Punch Out”) Plastic Skate Boots

As we learn more advanced skate tricks, it’s important to make sure our skate boots fit very snug.  We can do this by sizing down; for instance, I usually wear skates that are one U.S. size smaller than my normal shoe size.  Unfortunately, sizing down to get a tight fit can exacerbate discomfort due to the potential difference between the shape of the skate boot and our foot. (We all have uniquely shaped feet!)  Plastic skate boots are especially prone to this issue since they don’t have any give (unlike mesh/suede boots).

So what’s the solution?  Just as with ice skates, ski boots, etc., we can “punch out” or heat mold our boot to conform to the unique shape of our feet.  Some shops can do this for us, but it’s easy enough to do ourselves.  The only special tool we need is a heat gun (used to strip paint), which can be had for as little as $22 from Home Depot.   Here’s the complete list of things I used:

  • Heat gun
  • Screw driver
  • Chalk and ruler
  • Wet paper towel

Tools used to punch out my skate

The steps to punch out our boot are:

  1. Determine and mark the exact spot we’d like to punch out.
  2. Heat that spot until the plastic is soft and pliable.
  3. Push out that spot with a rounded tip such as the back end of a screwdriver.
  4. Use a cold, wet paper towel to quickly harden the plastic in its new shape.

When heating a spot, I used the low setting (the heat gun I used had low and high settings), and kept about a 3″ distance from the surface of the boot.  The plastic for my boot (Seba FR-A) became pliable after about 3 minutes.  Since the heating time can be different for each situation, a good way to know when the plastic is heated enough to deform, is that the plastic surface will start looking shinier. (You can also heat a little, test for malleability, heat some more if not,… etc.)

For me, the first step (i.e., determining the exact spot) took the most time/effort.  The rest of the steps of punching out the boot was actually fairly quick and easy.

Be careful not to touch any metal parts (such as eyelets) of the skate near the spot that was just heated.  They get very hot and can easily burn skin.

Here are photos of how I punched out my Seba FR-As.  I have a mild tailor’s bunion on my foot and punching out these points on the boot made a HUGE improvement in comfort.

Spot to punch out on liner
1) First, I took out my liner and wore it by itself to find and mark off the spot to punch out.


Liner inside boot
2) I put my liner back into the boot to see where the spot should be on the boot.


Marked spot on boot.
3) I used chalk to mark the spot on the inside of the boot…


Mark on outside of boot
4) as well as on the outside of the boot.


Punched out spot
5) I heated and pushed out that spot (using the back end of a screwdriver).  I used a wet paper towel to quickly cool/ harden the spot once I got the shape I wanted.


Cutting the sole plate
6) Since FR-As have a sole plate, I needed to cut a notch to fit around the punched spot.


Finished skate
Here’s the finished skate from the side…

Finished skate 2
And from the top.