It’s easy to forget about race gear being important when you’re driving in front of a screen, but with how rigs are made with absolute immersion and realism in mind, you’ll be amazed how much time you can gain by being properly outfitted.
So, what are the benefits of wearing sim racing boots? Sim racing boots are specifically made with a feature called Achilles flex openings in the heel areas of the footwear, to allow for full, unimpeded foot extension (even when wearing the full-boot style).
I’m sure that there are likely a lot of questions relating to the differences between sim racing boots and standard racing boots. The biggest difference is the lack of requirement for safety standards in sim racing boots because they won’t be inside of a real car’s cockpit. Read on for specifics!
The Benefits Of Wearing Sim Racing Boots
Let’s start with the nitty-gritty, shall we? Of course, there’s a lot of other stuff to think about when buying sim racing boots, but I’ll cover that after first looking at what you’ll get out of the experience.
- Less Fatigue: Purely and simply, the slightly stiffened material of sim racing boots will help keep your feet properly supported and therefore able to race for longer. Gone will be the days of foot cramps after only an hour or two of racing!
- Grip Central: Unlike racing boots, the soles on sim racing boots are not only thin (to feel full extension on pedals), but they’re made of a rubber compound that make them stick to surfaces better. Probably one of the biggest gripes I had while racing at my rig without boots was how my socks or slippers never gave me good coverage on the pedals. I was losing time at every turn because my feet were slipping off on every other lap!!
- Heel Guards: Like I mentioned previously, every pair of sim racing boots you can find on the market will come equipped with special heel inserts that will protect you from blisters. No discomfort = more time spent improving your lap times!
- Breathable: Unlike racing shoes for cars or go-karting, sim racing boots are designed with a breathable material to keep maximum comfort for you even after multiple hours spent racing. Your house isn’t going to be freezing cold, or have whipping winds making your feet get cold, which is what racing/karting boots are designed to combat.
- Designed for Excellence: When you start getting to the level where you’re searching for every possible gain in your lap times and racing skill, this is when sim racing boots come into their own. They have a special rubber section on the outside of the right foot; perfect for absolute comfort and smoothness when performing the heel-toe technique on your pedal set. It’s indisputable that heel-toe is the best way to save time and stay up there with the serious sim racers!
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These are the main ways in which I felt my driving skill improve while wearing sim racing boots, and there are bound to be others that you might not notice right away.
For example, sim racing boots actually have special molded insoles designed as an added way to keep good support of your feet, but you won’t really pay too much attention to that until you’ve had a few races in the boots.
Simply put, a lot of rigs when you pass the mid-level of build quality and overall competitiveness will come equipped with heavy pedal sets that need extra pressure that bare feet just won’t cover.
This is when sim racing boots come into their own with the perfect balance of a stiff yet thin sole to handle this realistic feedback and load cells (or even hydraulics) placed on brakes at higher ends of the skill ceiling.
Now, you might think that sim racing boots are one-size-fits-all in terms of style, right? Pretty much everybody thinks of the high-top boots when asked to think about racing shoes, and this is because typically, these are the preferred style for racing drivers.
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However, in the sim racing industry, manufacturers understand that people enjoy a choice in these matters. After all, building a racing rig is all about making those choices about which pieces of gear you want to assemble! There are three distinct types of sim racing boots available on the market to suit everybody’s preferences:
- Mid-Top Racing Boots
- Rubber Sole Racing Shoe
- Sheet Sole Racing Shoe
Mid-top boots meet the standard image of what people think about when considering racing boots in general. They rise up to the ankle in height and have padded cuffs to avoid the sometimes-characteristic chafing that can come with this cut of shoe.
The heel guard feature I mentioned previously is most commonly seen in these boots, and they also possess the rubber on top of the right boot to avoid discomfort when using the heel-toe technique of driving.
The two types of racing shoe, appearing more like sneakers than racing gear, are designed for those of you out there who don’t really want to wear the mid-top variation.
In the case of the rubber sole racing shoe, they’re typically cheaper than the mid-top variants and they offer the breathable material to avoid sweating during long stints of racing. They aren’t lace-ups and as such, feature a simple slip-on, slip-off design. The rubber sole specifically allows for greater durability than some of the other shoes, without compromising on pedal feel.
The sheet sole racing shoe is decidedly the best lightweight boot of the three, with each shoe only weighing in at 6oz. Their soles are the thinnest of the bunch, too, allowing for maximum pedal feel yet sacrificing some of the longevity of the other racing boots.
All three types of sim racing boots/shoes are great options to improve your skills, so truly, deciding between them will be down to personal preference.
With so many options to choose from, it’s easier than ever to invest in a pair of sim racing boots. They won’t be a fix-all to immediately improve your driving ability, but practicing with them will drastically open your options as far as improvement goes!
Gear that’s specifically designed for sim racing with echoes of benefits from actual race-craft is a fantastic way to not only up the levels of immersion you’ll feel, but also start giving you an edge in becoming a seriously competitive sim racer.
When you think of it in the way that, you’ll be spending $70 tops for a noticeable edge and even more avenues for improvement, it becomes pretty hard to ignore the power of these boots!
Much like racing in actuality, there will always be small ways you can change your gear or loadout for those last little bits of improved time within sim racing, too. And that’s endlessly exciting for a competitive soul like me!