Earlier this year, I invested in my first par of Mission roller hockey skates and was incredibly impressed with the enhanced performance. So when Mission came out with their new line of skates in late 2012, I jumped on the opportunity to test out the brand new, top of the line Mission Inhaler AC1 roller hockey skates. Thanks to the team over at Mission hockey for sending Hockey World Blog demo products to test out for our reviews.
One of the best things about Mission skates is how much attention the company pays to small details. The boot is mostly white and light gray with some black accenting on the tongue and heel, which gives the boot a flashy appearance that isn’t blinding. On one side of each boot, the word “Mission” is spelled out in recessed white lettering on the white portion of the boot, which looks pretty awesome. The company traditionally likes to see their own name and logo on their products, which is no different on the AC 1 where the company’s branding appears about nine times on each boot. Fortunately, the branding is incorporated well into the design and isn’t too obnoxious.
As the premium skate in the Inhaler line, the AC 1 features all of Mission’s top-of-the-line innovations, but the real major change is Mission’s Inhaler Technology, which strategically places vents on the top and sides of the toe caps and on the side of the boots. The vents are meant to suck in cool air through the front vents while the hot air is blown out by the side vents on the boot, helping to keep your feet cool and dry while playing. The skates also feature a two-piece True Vented Tongue that allows air to pass through, keeping the top of your feet dry and cool.
When it comes to buying any pair of sates, the way the skates fit your feet is incredibly important. It can make the difference between playing in agony and playing like your skates are an extension of your body.
When I first received the Inhaler AC 1 skates from Mission, it was clear that the skates had been used previously. I don’t know to what degree, but there were definite signs of wear on the boots. Regardless, I tossed the skates in to be baked and went about my business like normal.
When I finally got the skates out onto the rink, I was surprised with how loose the skates felt around the arches and into the toe box. The fit was good around my ankle and heels from the baking, but the rest of the boot was noticeably wider and looser than my previous Mission skates, which had a snug, yet comfortable feel throughout the entire foot. Granted, the fit in the AC 1 skates isn’t loose enough to cause any blisters, but the difference is noticeable for sure.
Like I said, these skates were used before I received them. So I can’t be sure whether the looseness is a product of perhaps a wider foot stretching out the inside of the boot some, or if it’s the make of the skates. I think the answer is a little bit of both.
There are three things I’ve noticed about the performance of these skates: the weight, the vents, and the energy transfer.
The first thing that caught my attention was how light these skates are. Coming from a mid-level skate, the difference in weight was immediately clear. My first time out using the Inhaler skates, I found myself a little quicker and able to maneuver better in the lighter skates. My endurance was better, too. Since I was used to skating in heavier skates, I found my legs not getting tired as easily.
The vents really do work. In warm-ups one day I wore an AC 1 skate on one foot and my old Mission skate on the other for comparison. That’s when I could really feel the air flowing through the skates. After a game, my feet aren’t dripping with sweat because the air flow through the skate helps keep them drier and cooler. It’s such a simple feature that you wonder why nobody has done this before, but the vents are a nice addition to the skates and really help circulate the airflow.
Lastly, I was actually disappointed with the energy transfer of these skates when I’m striding. I feel like the boot is a little weaker and doesn’t provide that energy transfer from your legs, through the skates and to the floor to help get a real good push off the ground. This is one thing that I absolutely loved about my old Mission skates, so to lose some of that in the Inhaler skates is disappointing. It could have something to do with the fact that the skates are looser, so I’m not really getting my whole foot squared up and pushing off. It could also have something to do with the fact that the skates were used, so the boots might be breaking down some. I sincerely hope that’s not the case, though, because the boots breaking down after only a few short months would present greater problems overall. No, I think it has more to do with the looser fit, which prevents my foot from really generating as much energy as possible in my stride.
My honest opinion? I really like the skates, although I haven’t made up my mind yet if I would choose these over my old pair of Missions. I love the Inhaler Technology on the boots to help keep my feet cool and dry, and the light weight has made me quicker and more mobile. The skates do offer really good protection from slashes and shots (trust me, I’ve taken a few good whacks and blocked my share of shots), but I was disappointed with the looser fit and the lower level of energy transfer while skating. Would this be enough to turn me off of the skates or keep me from recommending them? Definitely not. I think a lot of people out there will really like these skates.
Coming in at $650, however, the Inhaler AC 1 skates aren’t for everyone. But if you’re in the market for a new pair of skates, I would definitely suggest at least looking into the Inhaler line so that you can reap the benefits of the Inhaler technology, even if these skates are out of your price range.