After participating in my first couple of official karting races, I noticed that I don’t have half as much equipment as other racers at my track. While everyone was wearing their fancy racing suits and go-kart gloves, I was just there with the most basic gear. Plus, I was one of the only ones to not wear go-kart shoes.
Go-kart shoes or go-kart boots are some of the best pieces of equipment you can get. While wearing them is not mandatory, they’re part of the essential gear you should have when you’re a go-karting professional.
I’ll admit that, despite being on the podium twice, a pair of go-kart shoes or boots would have helped me immensely. After both races, my feet were cramping like never before. So, all of this got me wondering what factors play a role when buying go-kart footwear, how to choose the perfect pair, and what are some of the best pairs of go-kart shoes on the market.
What to Look For in Go-Kart Shoes/Boots
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of fellow drivers who wear go-kart shoes on the track since they helped me collect information for this article. Along with my research online, I managed to find what you should be aware of when you’re ready to buy your first pair of go-kart footwear.
Picking the correct size of go-kart shoes is absolutely vital. If they’re too small, they’ll be tight around your foot and ankle, which will be uncomfortable. Plus, it can be dangerous if they’re too tight because they can block blood flow towards the foot, making it numb. Then again, if the shoe is too large, your foot will slide inside of it, which is also hazardous.
That’s why it’s essential to find the perfect size for your go-kart shoes. Otherwise, you’ll not have the best pedal control, or you’ll end up not feeling your feet after every race. For your ease, I’ve added a chart of shoe sizes (for all my UK, US, and European friends) below. Keep in mind that this chart is accurate for Sparco shoes.
If the go-kart shoes you want are from any other brand, the sizes might differ.
As with every other piece of go-kart equipment, good comfort is a necessity. Just about every element of go-kart gear is created so that you can have a more comfortable and fun time racing. So, if your go-kart boots are uncomfortable, not only will you not have fun, but you’ll also not focus on the race, which can be extremely dangerous for you and the other racers.
A great tip that I was given is to always wear socks when you wear go-kart footwear. Because of the constant pedal control, your feet will get hot and sweaty. So, if your shoes can’t absorb the sweat, your foot will slide inside of them. This is why socks are a no-brainer. You should also opt for ankle-high socks.
Go-kart shoes are surprisingly made from different materials, including Regular Leather, Suede Leather, and Nomex. All three are pretty durable, and they are also used in other types of go-kart equipment.
Regular leather is considered the best material for go-kart footwear. Most go-kart boots are made from high-quality leather, and it’s generally a more premium option than any other material. But, that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s really durable and, despite being more expensive, leather go-kart boots should last you for many years or decades of racing.
Suede leather is the same material used in several shoe brands, like Vans. It’s not as durable as premium leather, but it can resist a lot of wear and tear. Generally, suede is just lower-quality leather, but I won’t go through the entire mechanical process. I’ll only emphasize that suede is durable and fire-retardant, so it should suit you well.
And then there’s Nomex. Nomex is widely used in motorsports, and I’ve talked about it when I reviewed go-kart gloves. It came into existence in the early 80s, and it’s well-known for its flame resistance and durability. Most Nomex gear is also certified by the FIA and the SFI, so you can wear it in any race. Nomex is usually used in medium-priced go-kart footwear, along with suede.
While the size of a shoe is essential, its closure system is equally important. If a go-kart shoe fits well but can’t be closed adequately, you’ll end up with your foot sliding inside of it. Velcro straps and classic shoelaces are the most common closure systems, while some go-kart footwear has both systems.
Velcro straps are generally considered a good and affordable closure system. Plus, they’re much easier to open and close than regular shoelaces. When it comes to go-karting, velcro straps ensure that the shoe or boot is tight enough around the ankle so that it remains fastened.
Shoelaces are pretty self-explanatory. But, unlike regular shoes, you should make sure that you tie the shoelaces on go-kart shoes tight enough so that they don’t come loose. If they do, they could get caught around the tires, or other parts of the kart, which will result in a nasty injury.
If you can find a pair that fits you, I’d suggest you opt for go-kart shoes that have both shoelaces and velcro straps. That way, you won’t need to worry about your footwear coming loose or your laces getting stuck on some part of the go-kart.
From all the go-kart shoes that I’ve seen, I’ve got to admit that they don’t offer too many extra features. I mean, they’re shoes, but I would have expected something extravagant. But, go-kart footwear only has basic features.
Still, these can be really good. For example, some go-kart boots have Achilles tendon support if your heel is prone to injuries, while others provide perforated ventilation. I’ll talk much more about these two below.
The first thing that some may observe when you’re racing is your shoes. That’s why you have to make sure that your go-kart shoes express your style and character. Thankfully, there are several designs and colors to choose from when it comes to go-kart footwear.
But, you also have to remember that a go-kart shoe has the sole purpose of making you better at karting. So, you should make sure that you’ve chosen a pair of go-kart shoes with enough features first, and then focus on getting the best design for you.
To my surprise, go-kart shoes and go-kart boots aren’t that expensive. Most Adidas or Nike shoes today cost around $70-$100, and so does go-kart footwear. But, if you’re looking for a better design or more features, you’ll have to look at the $150 mark, which is still not that much.
Then again, a pair of leather go-kart boots that are full of features will set you back nearly $300. You could probably buy an entire premium racing suit at that price point.
But, these were just some primary factors that you should look out for when buying go-kart footwear. You have to consider a few more things when you want the perfect go-kart shoes or go-kart boots.
How To Choose the Perfect Go-Kart Shoes/Boots
Choosing the perfect go-kart shoes can become daunting. Unlike most other gear, you’ll have to consider tons of factors, as well as find something that fits you and is to your liking. And, let’s not forget that go-kart footwear isn’t necessary for karting. It might be a better idea to race karts with your old Nikes.
I’ve tried my best to compile some of the secondary key factors that you should look out for when buying go-kart shoes or go-kart boots. But, it all comes down to personal preference, so make sure to try out any boots before you purchase them.
Go-karting and comfort are not interchangeable. If you’re not comfortable during a race or even a timed trial, you won’t be able to have fun, and your performance will drop significantly compared to other drivers.
When it comes to professional karting, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a sprint race or an endurance race on your 4-stroke go-kart; you’ll need to wear a pair of shoes that doesn’t leave you with blisters and discomfort. Otherwise, you’ll end up focusing on the pain rather than the race.
So, choosing the right size and type of go-kart shoe or boot is vital.
We all know how bad it feels to have cold feet… but go-kart racers can tell you how excruciating hot feet are. Not only will your feet sweat a lot, leading to a lot of slipping on the interior of the shoe, but it will also be really uncomfortable.
That’s why you should buy a shoe with enough ventilation and breathable material. But it’ll also need to be lightweight…
By reducing your weight in any way possible, you’ll get a competitive edge against other racers. Even a kilogram less can have a racing impact, especially when it comes to the weight distribution of the go-kart.
But, that’s not the only reason why you need lightweight go-kart shoes. Generally, lighter shoes are more comfortable, thus giving you a better feel of the pedals. So, you’ll be performing even better on the track.
As a person who’s gotten really sore from karting before, I can assure you that any anti-fatigue features offered by a pair of go-kart boots are a huge advantage. Imagine going through tens of laps on an endurance race, only to crash because your feet are cramping.
As I mentioned above, some go-kart footwear has Achilles tendon support. This won’t only save you from heel injuries, but you’ll also have no blisters or strain on your feet.
The sole of your go-kart shoe will need to be grippy. Go-karts are machines, so oil spillage on the track is possible, and so is rainy weather. If your shoes’ soles are not grippy, you’ll not be able to drive correctly, since you won’t be able to step on the pedals efficiently.
This is why you’ll a grippy sole is essential. That’s also the reason why normal shoes might not be adequate enough for longer races.
While the sole needs to be grippy, it should also be thin. Since you’re not walking with go-kart shoes, there’s no reason to have a bulky sole to protect you from the impact of walking.
When it comes to karting, the feel of the kart is a factor that most people don’t talk about. And, you can’t feel the go-kart better than with your feet on the pedals. So, by having little space between your foot and the kart, you’ll manage to be much more consistent, and your performance will improve significantly from race to race.
That said, you might be wondering if there are any racing shoes on the market that stand out from others. Well, I’ve got your back…
My Top 3 Go-Kart Shoes/Boots
As I said at the start of the article, I was fortunate enough to consult some fellow racers online and on the track about their go-kart shoes and go-kart boots. While I don’t own my personal go-kart footwear, I managed to find those that stood out from the rest. But, don’t forget that these are just the pairs that I found great; you might find something that suits you better after you do your own research.
So, let’s see three of the best go-kart shoes and boots on the market.
Best Overall Go-Kart Shoes/Boots: Alpinestars Tech-1 T
The Alpinestars Tech-1 T is one of the best pairs of go-kart shoes. Firstly, before I talk about all its technical specifications, this pair looks stunning. It also comes in various colors and sizes, so I can guarantee that you’ll find some that’s to your liking.
Now, the Tech-1 T is made from a combination of suede and bovine leather, as well as a suede collar on the ankle area. This means that this pair is more affordable than other go-kart boots, which are purely made from leather, while it’s still as durable as those ones.
According to most drivers online, the sole of the Tech-1 T is very grippy, and it’s also thicker than most soles. I asked a fellow driver at my track, and he told me that this doesn’t affect the feel of the kart, but it adds a few points to comfort.
Best Premium Go-Kart Shoes/Boots: Sparco Superleggera KB-10
The Sparco Superleggera KB-10 is a fantastic pair of go-kart boots. The pair has a very minimalistic look, but I actually really like that. Plus, it’s made from Sparco, one of the most well-known brands in karting, so it has to be good.
And it truly is. The Superleggera KB-10 is made from leather and fabric, which takes away a bunch of its weight without reducing its durability. Plus, it makes the pair more comfortable and adds a few points to its breathability.
The sole on the Superleggera KB-10 is very slim and non-slip. This might seem impressive at first, but it should be expected when you’re paying nearly $300 for a pair of go-kart shoes. Still, this doesn’t take away from the pair’s excellence.
Best Affordable Go-Kart Shoes/Boots: RaceQuip 303
The RaceQuip 303 are by far the best go-kart shoes for beginners. They’re affordable, look great, and have more than enough features for their price point.
More specifically, the RaceQuip 303 pair is made from suede leather, which is durable enough. The inner part of the pair is coated with Pyrovatex, which has fire-resistant properties, and the ankle of the shoes is padded. The pair also offers Achilles tendon support.
On top of all that, it has a dual closure system so that both shoes stay nice and tight. The sole of the shoes is also made from rubber, and the RaceQuip 303 are SFI-approved, so you’ll be able to join some professional races with them.
This is all I had to say about go-kart shoes. In general, if you’re looking to improve your performance on the track, a pair of go-kart footwear might prove beneficial to you. But make sure to try them out at a local store before you buy them.
Stay tuned for more articles just like this one!
FAQs For Go-Kart Shoes/Boots
What shoes should you wear for go-karting?
You should invest in a pair of go-kart shoes, like the ones I mentioned above. Otherwise, a good pair of trainers will do the trick.
Are karting boots worth it?
It depends on how serious you are about karting. If you want a competitive edge over your opponents, then karting boots are a good investment. But, if you’re karting for fun, you shouldn’t worry about buying any karting footwear
How should karting shoes fit?
Karting shoes should fit a bit tighter than regular shoes. However, if they’re too tight or too loose, it can affect your performance negatively. So, you’ll need to find the sweet spot that works for you.