1. Toe stops come loose. I don't care what kind of plate you have, what kind of kind of toe stops you have, they come loose. You can keep on top of the maintenance, use Locktite or whatever, but it still sucks that they seem to have a mind of their own. Speed skaters rarely even have toe stops, jam skaters definitely don't, so derby is putting a lot of stress on toe stops. And maybe it's too much for the present design. I don't know if this could be fixed, but I'd like someone to look into it.
2. Skate laces fall apart. I know it's mostly an eyelet issue on your skate. You do enough one knee drops, and you drag your foot the wrong way and the metal eyelets become razor sharp. They cut through your laces at the worst time. I know, "Get hockey laces!" Blah. I have filed my my eyelets down with sand paper, and they still cut through the laces every once in a while.
3. Knee pads slip and fall. Nothing messes up your knee quicker than a knee pad slipping off out of position and then you land on the same knee. I started wearing gaskets and Pro-tec knee pads when I was a wee newbie, but I quickly found out that they weren't protecting my knees the way I needed them to; I switched to the 187s, and felt like I was wearing armor, that is until they slipped when I was jamming in my first Dorton game. I was lucky, because I just got hideous rink rash because my gasket managed to protect my knee. As my derby thighs grew, and my knees stayed the same width, my 187s began to slip more and more. I traded up to the Smith Scabs, and within the first month, the top Velcro strap just fell off. Awesome. Also. I've had the left knee pad slip down on me and I bruised my knee cap because it took the gasket with it too. Perfect. I'm looking into Pro Design knee pads, but at this point I'm just annoyed with derby knee protection.
|Dear Smith Scabs, please stop making pads that fall apart in a month. Sad face.|
4. Elbow pads slip, and the Velcro never stays put. This happens to me a lot and I end up duct taping almost all of my pads so they stay put and the Velcro doesn't get a chance to attach to someone else during scrimmage or a game. At first, I had the Pro-tec elbow pads, which seemed to stretch really fast and start sliding down or twisting out of place, so then I got the 187 elbow pads. I thought they were perfect until I fell on my elbow and it actually split the skin open. Ever want to know what the inside of your elbow looks like? It's pretty gross. I'm now using Triple Eight branded elbow pads, which seem to fit better, but the Velcro is still an issue for me. By the way, duct tape ain't cheap either!
5. Wrist guards have all the issues. I used my Pro-tec wrist guards for a long time, but I have narrow wrists and the velcro has always been an issue for me. Sometimes it attaches to random people, sometimes it just attaches to my uniform and slowly destroys it. Sometimes the "leather" around the bottom brace rips and the brace falls out. Triple Eights I have now seem to be doing ok, but the Velcro still has a mind of its own. I've pondered the Atom Gear wrist guards, but they don't have the top brace on them, which means all of the small bones in your wrist are at risk. Since I'm a designer by trade, I kind of need to be able to use my hands to make my living, so I'll stick with the Triple Eights for now. But dammit...they aren't perfect!
Don't get me started on helmets...that really is its own blog.
I will probably get a few replies to this post from people who are absolutely in love with whatever gear they have right now, and I am happy for you! Really! Please share what works, because we all have different body types and skate differently. I'm just sharing my frustrations with gear. I understand that we are pushing this gear past what it was designed for, but that's why I wrote this blog. I want companies to look at derby as the unique sport it is. You can't expect to get the best protection from gear that wasn't designed to take the beatings we give it. On this note, I've decided to approach the Industrial Design School at NC State to see if the professors and grad students would be interested in taking on this challenge; I think it's going to take experts to really investigate the design of our gear. Wish me luck!