Through the course of this article, I’ll be outlining the benefits of go-kart boots specifically and looking at differences between different kinds of boots you can buy. No matter your skill or experience level, karting boots can make a huge difference to your driving and safety combined!
So, what is the difference between karting boots and racing boots? 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.
As I mentioned, there are a lot more reasons why go-kart boots are always preferable when it comes to karting, and I’ll go over these in far more detail for the benefit of you, readers!
Style of Boot
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 in which you can find kart-specific boots that come in high-top or low-rise variations! The decision between both styles of boot ultimately rests with you, the buyer, and which would be your personal preference. Let’s look at the main features of each style:
- 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; extra bit of protection
- Can feel more restrictive
- 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; skin can be exposed
- Often lighter-weight, not as restrictive-feeling
The two biggest differences aside from style/appearance is the ankle coverage and 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 honestly negates most complaints made against the high-top style. Both boot styles have thin soles designed to help the driver feel even minute changes in their kart.
Truly, at the end of everything, it’s down to the consumer’s personal preference as to which style they buy.
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. After I hit my teenage years and my feet weren’t bound to grow much anymore, we invested in a pair of OMP boots that I can still wear to this day and I’d swear by them!
Something about the extra support while you’re driving long races is honestly a god-send, and don’t get me started on the number of near-accidents I’ve had 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…!
Kart Boot Benefits
I actually touched on a lot of the overall benefits of go-kart boots in the previous section about boot styles, but I really wanted to have a separate section considering all of the benefits to wearing function-specific boots overall.
If you only hop into a go-kart once in a blue moon with some friends, you’ll be totally 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 be over-taking and speeding around the track!
- Reliable Support: Not moral support, of course, but ankle and foot 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. 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 out in straight-line speed if you’re in full kart 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 biggest things about karts 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; avoiding accidents and keeping you in peak racing condition.
- Race Requirement: If you’re looking to take part in kart races, it’s actually required for you to wear a pair of karting boots to even take part! This is designed to even the playing field somewhat and meet safety regulations of varied kart safety organizations.
There are reasons all the way from personal preference to rule requirements as to why you should be wearing kart boots when you hop into a go-kart, and I hope that this article has helped de-mystify these facts.
The style or ‘type’ of boot you choose is ultimately up to you, but I’ve sworn by high-top designs for many years and I doubt that’ll ever change. This is primarily because I started doing a lot more endurance races in which high-top boots are the superior pick due to their foot/ankle support.
So, if you’re a sprint kart enthusiast, you might prefer a pair of low-rise karting shoes. No matter what pair or type you pick, I can’t offer any better advice than simply choosing something and running with it.
You’ll notice your ability to drive improving drastically and you’ll open more doors in terms of competition to have even more fun with this already exciting motorsport!