North America has traditionally been the place to look for top-end ice hockey equipment – but the Swiss made Graf range throw a European flavour into the mix.
Buying North American comes with a lot of brand reassurance – it’s unlikely that Bauer or CCM are really going to miss, but what about Graf? Does an absence of online reviews mean they’re not up to scratch? Or are we missing out on something special?
We took a set of Graf Ultra G75s onto the ice to give you a professional opinion…
Our test skates
We tested the Graf Ultra G75 in a standard width 8.0 – and they tipped the scales at a respectable (but perhaps not featherweight) 862 grams.
The latest incarnation of the G75s looks great too, flashes of yellow over a mostly black boot gives a timelessly clean look – a welcome departure from some of the garish yellow blocks that Graf have adorned their skates with over the last few years.
Our test skates were the standard G75 – but a ‘high’ version is available too, offering a slightly taller tongue and tendon guard – a nice touch for taller players.
Pulling the Grafs on and skating them for a while was surprisingly comfortable, even without any breaking in or baking. The ankle fit definitely contributed to that comfort – as did the deep heel instep depth.
I’d describe my foot type as being very average – but that isn’t always a good thing when skates are often designed for a wide fit, slim fit – etc. In this case I felt like Graf have really got it right out of the box – and that translated to a comfortable and responsive skate, rare without putting time into breaking a skate in!
Size: 8.0 D
Weight: 862 grams
Heat Mouldable: Yes
Quarter Package: Superlight SRPP Composite
Ankle Padding: Memory Foam
Heel Support: Memory Foam
Tendon Guard: Traditional Flex (extra height from the G75 High)
Lining: AMC Composite – with a dual layer lining of AIRNET tech and Clarino microfibre
Footbed: Anatomical – ANATOM insole an optional extra
Tongue: Dual compound foam, white felt lined and Teclite lace-bite protection
Blade Holder: Graf Ultra 5000
Runner: Graf Ultralight 5000
Warranty: Boot (90 days) Holder (1 year)
The Graf Ultra G75 experience
The G75 skates really well – the comfort levels are up there with the very best skates on the market in my opinion.
Some research on the Graf website offered an explanation. The skate is designed to with ankle and foot bed geometry that keeps the heel and ankle at a very specific 90-degrees to one another. Graf say this is helps to maximise the transfer of force – without compromising on comfort.
Even after a lengthy skate I can tell you that my ankles didn’t feel tired or achy – and while I didn’t have my protractor out to confirm the angle, Graf are definitely on to something in terms of skating comfort and longevity.
Cobra Ultra 5000 Holder and Runner
The Cobra Ultra 5000 is a competition level holder – it’s stiff, light and very strong, up there with the best the Bauer and CCM produce. My initial feeling was that the Graf holder didn’t have quite the same height as some of its rivals, but out on the ice it felt every bit as tall, allowing me to lean deep into turns and push without any worries of bottoming out.
Again, it’s an in-house steel and it’s great quality – I felt every bit as stable on the ice as I do in any of my other skates.
Dual Composite Lining
There’s no room for being polite here – ice hockey is a sweaty sport – and when you’re pushing hard it’s easy to end up feeling like your skates are holding a load of moisture, not nice. The G75’s liner did a great job of wicking this moisture away though – and it turns out it’s because it’s build on some really solid science.
The two materials that are go to make up the composite lining are designed to pull the sweat away from your foot, wick it through the initial layer and hold it in the outer Clarino Microfibre layer.
If you’ve ever used a mircofibre towel you’ll know they hold an insane amount of moisture, and that moisture is quickly dried with the helped of the outsole vents. All the while, the AIRNET technology of the inner layer keeps your feet and socks dry.
SRPP Composite Quarter
I’m going to be bold and say that I could have skated the G75’s competitively right out of the box. Perhaps I was lucky that my foot fitted the bill – but talking to some of the other guys here led me to believe that Graf have really nailed a design that fit a wide variety of feet without moulding. No one pulled this skate on and complained of discomfort.
So, when you do mould the SRPP composite quarters to meet your specific foot profile, you’re in for a real treat. After a spell in the oven, the G75 felt like a boot that had been specifically made for me, holding me as firmly as anything I’ve skated before now. The composite material is apparently the same that’s used on bulletproof body armour too, so no worries about the G75s wearing out any time soon either!
The Graf Ultra G75 is a great skate. It’s nice looking, it fits beautifully and it performed well for us on the ice.
Are they the lightest skates on the market? No, probably not – but at this level we’re talking about the difference of around 100grams, which if we’re being totally honest, is unlikely to be really noticed by anyone but the most accomplished player. Arguably, the perfect fit profile would make the skate that little bit more efficient anyway, so I’d be amazed if the touch of additional weight put anyone off.
As the Graf comes with a slightly less recognisable name than the CCM or Bauer counterparts, you’re likely to find it weighs in slightly less costly too. Well worth checking out the latest online prices to see if you can bag this great skate at a very reasonable price…