Before video games and social media, parents sent their kids outside to play.
During the summer, we'd play football, ride our bikes, or find ways to get into trouble.
In the winter, it was all about ice skating.
Ice skating is a timeless activity that kids and adults alike can enjoy.
That hasn't changed.
In fact, it's now expected to know who the best athletes are in figure skating, hockey, or any of ice skating's many disciplines.
Enjoy Skating Both Indoors Or Outdoors All Year-Long With PolyGlide Ice
The Nature of The Beast (or ice that is)
Over time, you realize that ice skating has challenges.
A common concern about the sport is its limited accessibility.
Ice skating was only available in colder climates or for those with access to indoor rinks or large skating surfaces.
Now, thanks to synthetic ice, almost anyone can pick up skating, regardless of location.
A big advantage of synthetic ice is that you have the benefits of both outdoor vs. indoor ice skating.
But which one is best?
It's All About Synthetic Ice
Synthetic ice consists of tiles or panels that connect like puzzle pieces to form a smooth, skatable surface.
The best types are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) materials, which create a fantastic skating experience.
These ice skating tiles are also durable and scalable, making them a revelation in the industry.
Synthetic ice has been around for decades and was mainly used for large commercial rinks.
Now, thanks to advancements in technology, you can create custom rinks of various sizes.
These rinks fit different spaces, making ice skating available inside your home, driveway, or backyard.
Thanks to synthetic ice, outdoor vs. indoor ice skating is now down to space and preference.
Outdoor vs. Indoor Ice Skating
When you lace up your ice skates, you'll have two choices: outdoors and indoors.
Of course, a significant factor will be the availability of outdoor vs. indoor ice skating facilities.
However, if you can access both, you'll notice that each option offers distinctly different skating experiences.
Outdoor skating happens on lakes, ponds, or other bodies of water that naturally freeze during the winter.
There are also spaces with outdoor refrigerated rinks, such as The Rink at Rockefeller Center that are set up during the Holidays.
You can even create your own backyard rink during the winter using simple supplies (and lots of water).
There's something exhilarating about skating outdoors.
Some spaces have beautiful backdrops, like ice-capped trees, lights, and nature, that really encapsulate the joy of ice skating.
It's also a great feeling when you skate with the crisp air against your skin and connect with nature.
However, comfortable outdoor ice skating is dependent on specific weather conditions.
Too much snow freezes on the surface, making ice skating more challenging.
The fluctuating temperatures in the winter can also make ice skating unsafe on some surfaces.
On the other hand, indoor ice skating is all about skating on refrigerated rinks in a controlled environment.
Neighborhood rinks, professional hockey rinks, and indoor sporting facilities are common examples.
Indoor rinks maintain a consistent temperature, which ensures you can skate at any time in a safe, comfortable space.
It's also great for beginners, thanks to large rink walls, ice skating aids, and rental services.
However, you do lose the charm and excitement that's unique to outdoor ice skating.
Outdoor vs. indoor ice skating is all about preference and availability, but what about if you add synthetic ice?
Outdoor Synthetic Ice Skating
Synthetic ice adds another layer to the debate about outdoor vs. indoor ice skating.
The material is renowned for its durability, meaning you can use it indoors and outdoors.
Outdoor synthetic ice rinks are typically larger than their indoor counterparts placed in driveways or backyards.
This gives you the benefit of ice skating with larger groups, like neighbors or hockey club teammates.
With a synthetic ice rink big enough, you can have group training exercises, practice games, or mini-tournaments.
You can also skate year-round, as synthetic ice is not governed by the weather.
Some skaters use synthetic ice in the summer for extra training, which is impossible with outdoor natural or refrigerated ice.
Synthetic ice can expand due to heat, but this will not impact your skating experience.
Rain and snow can gather on the surface, affecting your skating experience.
However, cleaning debris of synthetic ice - like frozen snow - is a breeze, and you can skate in no time.
Synthetic ice panels can also be covered or moved, allowing you to extend their shelf life.
Outdoor synthetic ice skating allows you to enjoy skating outside in the fresh air and beautiful surroundings without the drawbacks.
Indoor Synthetic Ice Skating
Indoor skating with synthetic ice has some fantastic benefits.
For starters, the synthetic ice panels come in varying sizes, allowing you to set them up in a spare room, garage, basement, or even your living room.
You can also practice specific skills, like spins, jumps, or hockey drills, without heading outside or traveling to an indoor rink.
Indoor use may also be less intensive, allowing you to practice for longer and improve your skills continuously.
Indoor synthetic ice also does not require electricity or water to operate, like its refrigerated counterparts.
It's also not impacted by rain or snow, meaning there are no interruptions to ice skating or poor ice conditions.
At the same time, you'll likely see smaller spaces at home, meaning no competitive games.
Larger indoor synthetic ice rinks are more common in malls, commercial spaces, or community complexes, which may not allow for hockey or professional ice skating training.
Indoor ice skating can provide a safe, comfortable space for skating or specific training, but the rink's size and flexibility play a major role in what you can do.
Does Ice Skating Maintenance and Durability Differ?
Natural or refrigerated rinks require consistent maintenance for the best skating experience.
These rinks must be resurfaced with hot water or a Zamboni to restore the smooth ice. In many cases, this happens with every use.
Synthetic ice does not require resurfacing, which is a massive advantage in terms of durability.
However, maintenance for outdoor vs. indoor ice skating differs when using synthetic ice.
Both situations require clearing ice shavings that form after using your metal skates.
A soft brush and warm, soapy water are enough to clean and prepare the synthetic ice rink.
You can then reapply a resurfacing agent, which gives synthetic ice a smooth, slippery feel.
Avoiding this critical step can reduce the durability of the rink.
However, once done consistently, synthetic ice can last for several years.
A Surprising Conclusion
Both outdoor and indoor ice skating have their pros and cons, regardless of the surface.
However, synthetic ice allows you to skate at any time.
You're not limited by the weather or the cost to set up a refrigerated rink.
Outdoor vs. indoor ice skating is all down to preference and availability.
If you have synthetic ice, you can use it outdoors or take it indoors whenever you want and at any time of year.
You're only limited by your imagination.
Let's help you get your first or next synthetic ice rink.
Our home ice starter kits are perfect for those looking to begin their personal skating journey.
For larger, more durable rinks, consider our pro glide panels.
Contact us today and enjoy skating indoors or outdoors!