I was reading up on some skate stuff last night and came across an old post on an ice hockey forum, talking about "The Pencil Test".
What is "The Skate Pencil Test?"
Its a simple test to ascertain depth and fit of skates from a particular brand during the buying process.
Some skate brands have a greater boot depth than other makes, when laced up. If the boot fails the pencil test, if often translates into lace bite, foot pain, foot instability, or poor circulation. To obviate this possibility, when buying new skates, just do "The Pencil Test".
The Pencil Test
1. Unlace the skates and push the tongue forward
2. Lay the pencil across the 3rd or 4th eyelets down from the top of the skate boot.
3. Check to see if the pencil rocks against your (socked) foot.
If you can't lay the pencil directly across the third eyelets (from the top) without touching your foot, you probably need a deeper boot.
Q. Is "The Pencil Test" ONLY done on the top 3-4 eyelets? How about the 5th eyelet from the top?
With the pencil laid across the 3rd eyelets, if the pencil pivots on your foot, the skate boot is too shallow. If the pen fits across but there's a gap between the pen and your foot by more than a finger width, the skate boot is too deep. If the pen is sits flush against the boot and you can barely fit your finger behind the pen, that's the boot for you.
Q. How much room is too much using "The Pencil Test?" How far away from your foot does the pencil need to be before you "fail" the test? Is it 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, a centimeter?
A. 1/4 inch or less.
A. The pencil test is used to determine, the possibility of lace bite. Lace bite normally occurs on the top 3-4 eyelets. You can use the pencil test lower down the boot to see if your forefoot has too much volume for the boot. If you fail on eyelets 5, 6, 7, you will probably have sore feet after each skate. It means not enough volume in the boot.
How to tighten skates
The top 3 eyelets should be fairly tight to get good "heal lock". Not too tight, but tight enough so your foot will not slip forward and stub toe cap.
The middle eyelets kept fairly loose so your foot can circulate.
Then tie the last few eyelets tight again.
Q. I asked a sales rep about the Pencil Test. He said its not a legitimate test for fitting skates.
A. Some people fail the pencil test but still have a good fitting skate, so its not an issue. The Pencil Test is a simple, quick method of checking boot depth, but its not a definitive answer to whether a skate will fit.
Q. How exactly is The Pencil Test performed?
A. Put your foot in the skate, kick your heel back
Place a pencil across the third eyelets.
Look down at your foot, there should be a small space between your foot and the pencil.
If your foot touches the pencil, then you fail the pencil test.
If your foot doesn't touch the pencil, there's too much volume in the skate, and that's a fail.
If your foot pushes the pencil off of the eyelets, there's not enough volume, in the skate and that's a fail.
If your foot just grazes the pencil, then it's a Pass.
You can run the pencil down the entire length of the skate to where the tongue meets the toe cap. But volume issues are usually most prominent in the 3-to-4 eyelet zone, at the top of the boot. The pencil test works because, it's an easy gauge of the fit in this area.
Q. Is the pencil test fairly accurate?
If your feet and ankles don't completely fit into the boot, the skate doesn't fit.
If your foot is bulging (i.e., failing the pencil test), there will be a large amount of stress and pressure on the top of your foot, which may result in sore tendons (lace bite), reduced blood flow, or other chaffing. The pencil test and the lace pattern (parallel eyelets) are used by good fitters to make sure that your foot fits in the boot.
Q. When fitting skates, should the pencil test be done on the whole boot like the picture above? Or just top 4 eyelets?
A. I think you should pass the pencil test for all eyelets.