VH Footwear hockey skates
I have had Graf Supra 935 for 9 years, that's forever for hockey skates, those things where built like tanks, but alas
the lining and Achilles lock is falling apart and they are now also very soft, I probably should have changed them long ago!
Before the Grafs I had some CCM's that where pretty terrible, they lasted barely 6 months.
I have somewhat weird feet :) Narrow but high arch and instep, I also have an accessory navicular
bone that sticks out quite a bit, looks like an extra ankle bone, so after some research I decided to try VH footwear skates
While they seem pricey, you are getting a custom hand made (in Canada) skate.
After consulting VH Hockey
, asking them a few questions and checking out and this thread
I decided to place my order.
Here is what I sent them, detailed foot tracings and pictures of my foot and current skates for reference :
And here are the options I asked for:
- Holders/steel : Best fit(probably 280), Cobra 5000 (3000 ok), because I'm used to that pitch / rocker.
- Tongue : "standard" tongue.
- Ship not USPS (they used Fedex).
VH skates received
The skates shipped 2 weeks after I placed my order, shipping from Winnipeg on Thursday, arrived in Seattle on Monday (Via Columbus & Memphis)
Here is what I received:
Some people complain that they are just "thrown" in a box, it's true but I don't see the issue with that, I mean they are hockey skates meant to take 100MPH slap shots, do they really need extra protection for shipping ??
They look pretty nice, you can tell it's handmade for sure, meaning it's really shaped to my foot but there are also little imperfections in stitching and such but very minor and you only notice really up close.
One thing that's amazing is that I can SEE
how it is shaped to my feet, including all the bumps and crannies I specified !
Here are some pictures, next to my old Graf's:
One thing that looked a bit "off" is this gap between the holder and the boot. Reasons are that I have a foot 1+ full size longer than the other and also VH don't use an outsole between the skate and the holder, which would typically help fill that gap, it's not an issue but didn't like the look of that.
I applied pure silicon caulk there and all around the holder, I always do that with my skates anyway, keeps the area between the holder and the skate tight and dry.
It's literally impossibly to put the skate on before you bake it, I was actually worried it would not fit.
I baked each skate 12mn at 180F(convection), that got them plenty soft, then I put them on using a shoehorn and tightened the skates (not very tight) and left them on for ~30mn.
They definitely fit EXACTLY my feet, both of them, barely/almost touching the toecap.
It seem they will be comfortable, they stiffened back a lot after cooling down. The are a bit hard to put on but I would not say painful just very tight. It's true that they have so much wrap you barely seem to need the laces !
They look good on my feet !
I decide to first take them to a public session to see if I could get use to them enough to wear them at my game later in the evening.
At first it felt terrible, I had read they felt sharper and such but it was crazy, the blades would shatter and squeak loudly when trying to stop.
After a few minutes I realized the blade was not screwed into the holder whatsoever ! Once I got that screw tightened the experience was much much more pleasant :)
Putting them on is a little painful, but not unbearable, but once in they are great, very good wrap everywhere.
They did not feel too different from my old skates (same holder) only stiffer and more responsive.
Baptized by fire ... a 11PM game with 7 skaters, in other words ~50mn of ice time.
Overall they where great, I had better acceleration for sure and I think that's due to the boot being stiffer to my old one and the better wrap.
They performed great. My toes got a little numb by the end but not very much and I expect that will improve a bit as they breaks in a bit more.
I notice some areas of my foot being a it more red than usual, especially the instep and forefoot, in other word they where in contact with the skate, unlike my old skates, part of the tight wrap.
They do grip very well even with a shallower hollow, I did not lose an edge yet, the newer/taller steel might help here.
It seems like I can "feel" the ice/blade more in those skates (less dampened sensations), acceleration and energy transfer felt very good.
After the public session I thought the area where the tendon guard connects to the skate was irritating my Achilles a little and was worried a bit about it, but I did not notice it at all in game.
I noticed this morning that my knees where not as sore as I would expect after a game like that, that might be because of the stiffer boot.
Thoughts after a month
- Performance : Best I ever had, fantastic energy transfer, I have a better acceleration in those, better edge as well.
- Protection : I have taken a few hard shot to the ankle and toe cap, and I was impresses on how well it dissipated the impact, especially on the ankle.
- Fit : I had to bake them a second time but they fit both my (odd) feet perfectly.
- Boot quality : Other than a small cut on the toecap, no wear at all so far.
- Liner : The clarino liner is great and drys very fast, much better than the Graf foam & felt stuff I had.
- Rivets : Already lost one ! Those black "rivets" don't look sturdy much. Guess I'll replace them over time with stainless steel T-nuts and hex screw as I had done on my Grafs.
- Tongue protection : Took a slapshot to the instep Sunday and my foot is still swollen, the much thicker Graf tongue was better here. Maybe I should have went for the re-inforced tongue ....
- Comfort : They are good but I'm not to sure I would say that they feel* like a sock, they fit** like a sock, but as far as comfort I think my Grafs where more comfy, but I'll take the much better performance over a bit less comfort.