Go-Karting Boots vs Racing Shoes (Benefits & Differences)

Go-karting boots and racing shoes are often confused with each other, with many people thinking they’re one and the same. However, there are some key differences between kart shoes and racing shoes that you should be aware of, and there are distinct benefits of using each type as well.

The difference between karting boots and racing boots is that karting boots have a thinner sole, and have to meet lesser fire-resistance standards than for regular car racing boots. Both are designed for specific types of motorsport, so it’s important that you use the right one.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between kart shoes and racing shoes so that you can understand which type is right for you.

Karting Shoes vs Racing Shoes

Karting ShoesRacing Shoes
Designed specifically for racing kartsDesigned specifically for racing cars
Lightweight and flexibleHeavier and sturdier
Thinner materials that are often not fire resistantThicker, fire resistant materials
Usually not that breathableHigh breathability

Which Style Of Karting Boot Is Best?

The first thing to really consider when looking at go-kart boots specifically is the style in which they’re made. Typically, normal race boots are a low-rise style of shoe whereas kart boots are more commonly a high-top variety.

However, there’s been a recent shift of direction, as you can now find kart-specific boots that come in high-top or low-rise variations. The decision between both styles of boot ultimately rests with you, and which would be your personal preference.

High-Top Karting Boots

The main features of high-top karting boots are:

  • More commonly found than low-rise styles for kart boots specifically
  • Thin sole for maximum driving reactivity
  • Made of stiffened, rigid material
  • Fastens around the ankle with a cuff of some kind
  • Lace-up with ability to tuck them into the cuff out of the way
  • Covers the ankles where race suits can often ride up, offering extra protection
  • Can feel more restrictive

Low-Rise Karting Boots

The main features of low-rise karting boots are:

  • Not as easily available as high-top boots
  • Thin sole for maximum driving reactivity
  • Made of stiffened, rigid material as standard (can be found with softer material)
  • Lace-up shoes
  • Less chance of blistering on the ankles
  • Doesn’t cover the ankles when race suits ride up, so skin can be exposed
  • Often lighter, not as restrictive-feeling

Differences Between The Two

The two biggest differences aside from style and appearance is the ankle coverage and the potential for restriction. Many people assume that, after getting their hands on a pair of high-top kart boots, they’ll get blisters from the tall cut of the shoe around the upper ankles.

A lot of brands as of late have been implementing a softer, padded cuff to stop this from happening, which negates most complaints made against the high-top style. Both boot styles have thin soles designed to help the driver feel even the smallest changes in their kart.

Extra Protection

I’ve always owned high-top kart boots, originally due to their wide availability, and later on because I much preferred the more rigid, secure feeling of this footwear style. Something about the extra support while you’re driving long races is honestly a godsend, and they’ve saved me from a number of near-misses with my legs brushing against hot exhausts!

I feel that the high-top kart boot balances everything you need in a racing shoe, and they basically blow every other shoe out of the water when it comes to cool looks!

The Benefits Of Karting Boots

A Must For Regular Karting

If you only hop into a go-kart once in a blue moon with some friends, you’ll usually be fine with wearing a pair of sturdy sneakers – high-top or otherwise – with the laces kept out of the way.

But if you go more frequently than that, I really can’t stress the importance of purpose-made footwear enough! Not only will you look the part in a pair of awesome boots, but the safety benefits and overall competitive edge you’ll get is worth the money you’ll spend.

Racing Feel

The sole of karting boots is thin and designed for the driver to have complete control of their kart. Reacting faster to changes you can feel in your kart is not only essential from a safety stand-point, but it’s pretty crucial if you want to perform overtakes and set fast lap times.

Reliable Support

You might think that kart boots feel too hard to really be comfortable, but that firmness of material is designed to properly hold and support your feet, and it means they last a long time too. That isn’t to say that the shoes should cut off blood flow, so always make sure to try boots on or get your feet measured for a proper fit.

Light As A Feather

No matter how big your feet are, holding a pair of kart boots always feels as if they’re not even in your hands. The fact that they’re lightweight will give you an edge on the track because weight in karting really does count. If you’re the same weight as a lot of racers but they’re all bundled up in heavy gear, you’ll beat them in straight-line speed if you’re in lightweight attire.

Safety First

While karting doesn’t have high fire risks, it’s a pretty dangerous motorsport if you don’t go prepared. Kart boots are designed to keep your feet safe in a collision, whether from high heat or abrasion. Normal shoes just won’t cut it!

Combating The Elements

One of the things that sets karts apart from most race cars is the fact that its ‘cockpit’ is open to anything and everything mother nature will throw at it. Karting boots are designed with waterproof materials and will make it easier to keep your grip on the pedals even if the heavens have opened up, helping you avoid accidents and keeping you in peak racing condition.

Race Requirement

If you’re looking to take part in kart races, it’s normally required for you to wear a pair of proper karting boots. This is designed to even the playing field somewhat and meet safety regulations of varied kart safety organizations.

Final Thoughts

The style or type of karting boot you choose is ultimately up to you. If you’re a sprint kart enthusiast, you might prefer a pair of low-rise karting shoes. But for longer races, such as endurance karting, high-top kart boots tend to offer some much needed extra support.

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