I recently told you about my idea of taking part in a regional championship at my local track. While I was still looking for a racing suit, I was approached by a much younger driver than me. We had a quick chat about go-kart equipment, where he consistently advised me to look into a good pair of gloves and a helmet before anything else. So, I decided to take a deeper look at go-kart gloves.
Alongside a go-kart helmet, go-kart gloves are the most necessary piece of equipment that you have to get to race professionally. The go-kart gloves aren’t only worn for better comfort; they can save you from getting seriously injured.
I’ll give you a quick example. Imagine that you’re going down the main straight of the track in 125cc Rotax when one of your tires decides to pop (true story). The violent vibrations from the wheel grinding on the track and uneven weight distribution will destroy your hands if you’re not wearing gloves, so you’re going to end up on the barrier.
So, since I’m in need of a great pair of go-kart gloves, I started asking drivers at the track and people online. The driver that approached me at first suggested that I buy his pair, so I included it as an option below. But, before we take a closer look at that, let’s see what you should look for in a pair of go-kart racing gloves, as well as how to find the perfect pair for you.
What To Look For in Go-Kart Racing Gloves
Throughout my research, I found out that there’s a vast number of go-kart gloves on the market. Most of the time, go-kart drivers who are fans of motorbikes (like myself) will use bike gloves. While these aren’t meant for go-kart racing, they can still be used, and they work pretty well. But, it would be better to buy actual go-kart racing gloves if you want to race professionally.
From what I gathered, actual go-kart gloves can cost as low as $30 to as high as $200. Gloves are actually some of the cheapest equipment you can get, so you should not have a problem purchasing them first if you’re serious about go-karting.
That being said, several aspects affect the quality of a pair of go-kart gloves. Before I tell you more about them, let’s get one thing clear. There’s no such thing as “best go-kart gloves”. Some pairs are a much better value for money than others, but there’s no single pair that’s considered the best. Otherwise, everybody would be wearing it.
The grip of go-kart gloves is the most essential element. If the steering wheel slides off your hands when you’re wearing a pair of gloves, you’re better of using your bare hands. Throughout a race, you’ll have to face a lot of heavy vibrations, especially if there are any sharp turns on the track. These will make your hands slide off the wheel, which can result in a crash (especially in the summer when your hands get sweaty).
This is why you need to look for go-kart gloves that have a layer of coating on the area of your palm. This coating is usually made of silicone or suede so that the friction between the gloves and the wheel is higher, resulting in a better and tighter grip.
The comfort of a pair of go-kart gloves can take your karting experience to the next level. If you’ve ever gone karting for a long time, or if you like to participate in sim racing tournaments, you’ll know how important comfort is. Essentially, in both cases, you want to have fun. So if the gloves aren’t comfortable, it beats the whole point of having fun.
On the technical side, hand strains are prevalent in the karting world. The violent vibrations due to the g-forces and the kart always fighting back can damage your hands unless your go-kart racing gloves are comfortable.
Just like every other part of go-karting equipment, you want it to last as long as possible. So, if you buy a pair of racing gloves only for them to be destroyed after a couple of races, you’ll feel ripped off.
This is why you should look for durable materials, like Nomex or leather. These two materials aren’t only incredibly durable, but they can also withstand a lot of heat. So, if you get into a bad accident, your hands won’t be burned.
You should also look into two-layered go-kart gloves rather than single-layered ones. That’s because they offer more protection, are more comfortable, and last longer. But, their price is also higher.
While I’m more of a minimalist when it comes to just about everything, there are some features in go-kart gloves that are essential. Namely, flame-resistant materials and an FIA certification can be extremely helpful in certain situations (if you get into a crash for the former and if you want to participate in an FIA karting championship for the latter).
Some nice-to-have features of go-kart gloves are velcro straps, ergonomic fits, pre-curved fingers, and so on. Personally, I don’t care too much about these since they’re usually not anything special, and they increase the price tag.
Continuing on from the aspect above, for some people, the design of go-kart gloves is very important. Being able to show your personality while you’re passing an opponent or when you see the checkered flag first by just showing your hands is pretty cool. But, I personally prefer single-colored gloves.
However, there are so many go-kart gloves on the market that I can guarantee you’ll find the most extravagant design with the most stylish colors. If I had to choose a pair of gloves, I’d go for a minimalistic pair with vibrant colors, like red or orange.
This aspect is usually overlooked by beginners and professionals alike. Any piece of equipment that you have to wear, including your racing suit and go-kart shoes, has specific sizes. While there is one-size-fits-all equipment out there, especially when it comes to gloves, it’s better to buy the perfect size for you.
And, it’s not even hard to measure what size of gloves you need. All you have to do is get a measuring tape, make a fist, and measure the size of your fist, excluding your thumb. However, you have to keep in mind that because your Alpinestars gloves are medium, that doesn’t mean that medium OMP gloves will fit properly.
So, this is why you should always check the size chart of every brand. Generally, gloves come in nine sizes. Here’s a go-kart glove size guide from Alpinestars:
As you can see, the first four sizes are usually kid’s gloves or youth’s gloves. From what I was told, the Bambino category usually wears 4X-Small or 3X-Small, while the Cadet and Junior categories can wear anywhere from 3X-Small to Small or Medium. Seniors obviously wear from Small to 2X-Large.
Unfortunately, no go-karting equipment is free, and I know that the price of any equipment plays a huge role. When it comes to go-kart gloves, you should check what features the gloves have and how durable they are rather than looking at the price tag.
You’re the only one who knows what’s important to you in a go-kart glove, so find the one that offers the best bang for your buck.
That being said, I don’t want to only leave you with the aspects of a pair of go-kart gloves. After much research online and a lot of talking with fellow drivers and karting friends, I tried to understand how you can find the perfect pair of go-kart racing gloves.
How To Choose the Perfect Go-Kart Racing Gloves
When it comes to go-kart racing gloves, you’ll have to think about how much go-karting you expect yourself to do. If you’re only renting out a go-kart once a month for 20 minutes, I’d suggest you not buy any go-kart gloves. If you have a pair of motorbike gloves, use that; otherwise, your bare hands are a fantastic option.
However, for the rest of you who are really serious about go-karting, here are some factors that you should think about.
Reliability is Your Number 1 Priority
While many people will tell you to spend hundreds of dollars on racing suits and helmets, it isn’t a wise idea. Getting a solid helmet that will save you from a fatal crash is vital, and so is a racing suit.
But, while I was having a conversation with a professional driver, the topic of go-kart gloves and shoes was discussed. The driver told me that our hands and our feet are the only parts of the body that give inputs to the go-kart. If you put a bit more pressure on the brake pedal, your wheels will lock up, while if you don’t have a perfect feel of your steering wheel, you won’t be able to take the corners correctly with the racing lines you planned.
So, I’ll let you imagine what might happen if your hands slip off the wheel during a sharp hairpin. This is why you need to buy a pair of go-kart gloves that is reliable. This means that the extra grip you have on the 1st race wearing them will be the same on the 50th race.
This can be achieved by buying racing gloves that are made from two layers of the best materials, like Nomex or leather with silicone grips. These, however, come with an extra cost.
How Tight Your Budget is
In an ideal world, all go-kart equipment would be free. But, this isn’t possible. I know that some of you want to have the best go-karting experience, and you want to feel like a racing driver, but your budgets are really tight.
Unfortunately, when it comes to professional go-karting, you’ll need to have a large sum of money to invest in your equipment and go-kart. As I previously mentioned, if you’re go-karting leisurely, you don’t need go-kart gloves unless your budget allows for them.
You should also choose how serious you are about go-karting. If you want to take part in an FIA international championship, you’ll need to spend more than $100 to get a pair of go-kart gloves that are FIA-certified.
No matter how tight your budget is, my best advice would be to scour local stores for discounts or wait for a big sale on online retailers, such as Amazon.
Don’t Forget to Express Yourself
Go-karting is meant to be fun. This is why you’ll see drivers of all ages wearing colorful and stylish racing suits and go-kart gloves. Thankfully, the market has a lot of designs for you to choose from.
You can pick some pairs of racing gloves that have no elegant design but are just plain-colored. These are my favorite types of go-kart gloves, and I will probably end up buying the plainest and boring pair I find.
That being said, any piece of equipment that other drivers and spectators can see is a way to express your personality. If you’re a bubbly person that’s always full of energy, go ahead and buy the most extravagant design with the most vibrant colors. If you’re more reserved and minimalistic like me, there are several options for you as well.
But that’s enough about all the aspects of go-karting gloves. After several chats with go-karting drivers, I managed to find three pairs of go-kart racing gloves that most of them used. As I did my research online about these, the entire karting community seems to love them, as well.
My Top 3 Go-Kart Racing Gloves
Before we check the top 3 go-kart racing gloves, I want to point out that I, unfortunately, didn’t have the chance to try all of these out (as you know, my budget isn’t endless too). Everything that I mention below is a synopsis of everything I read by karting drivers on the internet and everything I heard from friends and fellow drivers at my local track.
Also, the stock of most go-karting equipment isn’t the best due to the pandemic. So, if you want to purchase a great pair of gloves, you might need to wait for some time until it’s back in stock. That being said, let’s get straight into my selections.
Best Overall Go-Kart Gloves: Alpinestars Tech 1-K
The Alpinestars Tech 1-K is by far the best pair of go-kart gloves on the market. Even for a minimalist like myself, I have to admit that the design on the Tech 1-K is lovely. It comes in four different color variations, all of which have a black base color.
As I did my research online for these, I found that there are several Alpinestars Tech 1-K models, with some having a couple of differences. But, their basic features are the same across all the variants.
Speaking of which, the gloves are made from nylon cotton, which was the first time I heard about it. I was usually told that Nomex and leather are the best, but nylon cotton seems to be fairly durable as well. They are
The Tech 1-K also has a few neat features that I really liked. For example, the inner part of the fingers is made of mesh. These are called fourchettes, and they’re great for ventilation. Also, the surface of the palm area has pieces of silicon, which will be very helpful when it comes to gripping the wheel.
The only drawback of these gloves is that they’re not FIA & SFI-certified. This means that you can’t wear them on FIA karting championships. They’re also a bit thin, which can be bad if you’re karting in cold weather.
Best Premium Go-Kart Gloves: OMP First Evo
The OMP First Evo racing gloves are an incredible pair of go-kart gloves. These are the gloves that the young driver who approached me was wearing. He told me that he initially bought them because of their stylish design. And, I would agree that they look stylish, but buying something that costs over $100 just because it looks nice didn’t sound quite right.
So, I was happily surprised when I found out how great the First Evo gloves are. For starters, they are made in Italy, which is already a plus in my book. But, the great thing about them is that they’re made from Nomex, which is fireproof and very durable. On top of that, the palm and fingers have a silicone coating on them. I can only imagine how much extra grip these provide.
However, the pair doesn’t have too many features. I expected to find something similar to the Alpinestars Tech 1-K, but the only real feature is that each glove has an elastic band on the wrists. This isn’t a bad feature, but I certainly expected more.
Best Affordable Go-Kart Gloves: RaceQuip 351 SFI-1 Race Gloves
The RaceQuip 351 racing gloves are an amazing affordable pair of go-kart gloves. Their design reminds me a lot of what mechanics wear, which makes me want to buy them even more. They also come in a variety of colors. Plain, minimalistic, and old-looking sounds like my cup of tea.
The rugged look of the RaceQuip 351 gloves isn’t the only thing that they’ve got going for them. The pair that a friend of mine suggested has a single layer of Nomex, which has an SFI-rating of 3.3/1. This means that the pair is practically flameproof, so if you accidentally touch your engine, your hands should still be fine. But why would you touch your engine after a race when you know that it’s burning hot?
Anyways, I actually found out that this model comes in a few different variants, including ones that have two layers of Nomex. But, these cost a couple of bucks less than the Alpinestars Tech 1-K, which are way better.
Speaking of that, this pair costs less than $40. That’s like half an hour of running time at my local go-kart track. Plus, judging by their look, these should last for a really long time.
This is all there’s to say about go-kart gloves. In my opinion, if you’re not taking part in any regional, national, or international championships, you shouldn’t worry about getting a pair of go-kart racing gloves.
However, if you spend a couple of hours a week at the track and you see no improvement in your laps, then buying gloves could give you a better grip of the wheel and thus make you faster. That’s all for now.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!