One of the most important aspects of go-karting is safety. With an exposed cockpit and no seatbelts, the safety of the driver is crucial, and one of the most important pieces of safety gear is the driver’s race suit, but it’s important to pick the best go-kart racing suit for your needs.
The 8 best go-kart race suits are:
- Alpinestars KMX-9 V2
- Sparco X-Light K
- OMP KS-Art
- Sparco Prime K
- Alpinestars KMX-3 V2
- Sparco Kerb
- OMP KS-4
- Sparco Rookie
There are a lot of different factors that you need to consider before buying a go-karting race suit. Not all race suits are the same, and below we’re going to show you what to look out for when deciding on which race suit you want to buy.
What To Look For In A Go-Kart Racing Suit
The first thing you want to look out for when choosing a race suit is the material that it’s made of. Any racing suit needs to be made from some kind of fire resistant or fire-retardant material, and the best material in this scenario would be Nomex – although this is mainly used in car race suits. You can also find Cordura, poly-cotton, or Pyrovatex in karting race suits.
Not only does the material need to offer you protection, but it also has to be strong. Karts have open cockpits, and it’s not uncommon for drivers to be thrown out of a kart in the event of a serious accident. If that does happen, you want to be sure that your race suit will hold up.
If your race suit tears easily then it’s not going to protect you if you’re falling out of a kart at high speed. Ideally, you want to look at race suits that have at least 2 layers of high-quality material. You also want to do some research to ensure that the material has been put through several tests before the race suit was manufactured.
Ideally, you want to make sure that the material used to make the race suit is “abrasion resistant” which means that the suit won’t take as much damage when dragging across tarmac or a similar abrasive surface.
Cordura is found in all the top karting race suits. This material is constructed from a mixture of nylon and cotton, and this is the element that gives race suits the abrasion resistance factor that’s so important in karting. You can tell if a race suit has Cordura by feeling the outer layer.
The outer layer of the race suit will have a more matte coloring with a rough texture to the touch. Cordura, however, is the most expensive of the 3 materials that are commonly found in karting race suits, but it’s worth the price considering the protection it gives you.
Poly-cotton race suits are not ideal when it comes to karting, especially if you’re looking for a CIK-certified race suit. These race suits are mostly used for indoor karting, and you won’t find these race suits in an official outdoor karting race.
Poly-cotton race suits are more comfortable and affordable, but they do not offer enough protection against the risks you face in professional outdoor karting. Poly-cotton race suits have a shinier look and a softer, silkier feel than others.
Pyrovatex is a fire-resistant material, but it’s still not ideal for professional karting. Entry-level karting race suits, such as the ones you might use when you go to your local rental karting facility, often use race suits made of this material.
It’s cheap, and it gives you some basic fire protection. However, when it comes to protection against abrasion it’s not great, and you may find that these race suits can tear easily.
Another important aspect to consider is the quality of the race suit. There are many race suits out there, even from well-known race suit manufacturers, that are not good quality. There’s no tell-tale sign to see if the suit you want to buy is good quality or not.
If you’re shopping online, the best thing you can do is to look up some customer reviews of the race suit or find some social media groups and ask the members if they have any experience with the race suit in question. In the majority of cases, you will be able to find bad reviews if the race suit’s quality is not good enough.
If you’re shopping in a store it is more difficult to get an idea of the quality of the race suit. However, if there’s a race suit nearby that you can guarantee is good quality, then you can take a closer look and try to compare the material of both these race suits. Poor quality race suits tend to be shinier and have a silkier and softer feel to them.
There are some karting race suits from well-known manufacturers that have received bad reviews in terms of the quality of the race suits they are putting out. Some of the customer reviews claim that their race suits have ripped the first time that they have used them, others claim to have had their race suits ripped after around a month of using them.
The fit of a race suit is crucial, especially in karting. The seating position in a kart is unique to other forms of motorsport, which means that your race suit needs to fit you perfectly, or else you will find your driving position to be extremely uncomfortable.
When choosing your race suit you can’t decide on the sizing based on your standard clothing sizing guide. Ideally, you need to measure your body in different areas (height, chest, waist, hips, shoulders) to find the perfect fitting race suit for you. Since a race suit is one piece, you can’t mix and match sizes of tops and bottoms, so it’s important to get the entire fit right.
You need to head over to the race suit manufacturer’s website and check out their sizing chart. From there you need to find out which size will be perfect for you. Remember though, that not all race suit manufacturers go with the same sizing charts, so you should check your sizing on each manufacturer before you buy one.
You might fit perfectly into a medium race suit from Alpinestars, but if you buy a medium race suit from Sparco it might be too tight, and you’ll need a medium-large size instead. This is why it’s so important to double-check all of the measurements, especially if you’re shopping between two different brands.
While you’re in a kart, comfort is extremely important as it will help you perform better for longer. If you’re uncomfortable in your race seat you might struggle to get the best performance, and you will also become tired quicker, so your performance could begin to drop off towards the end of a race as well.
While the fit of the race suit is important when it comes to the comfort that you will experience inside the kart, it’s not all you need to focus on. It can get extremely hot and overwhelming inside a race suit, especially when you’re racing in hotter climates.
You’ll want to look for race suits that have mesh areas, especially under the arms and on the back where you will be pressed against the seat. This will allow for some ventilation and cooling while you’re in the kart, and it will also prevent you from getting too hot while driving and becoming dehydrated.
The ultimate goal of a karting race suit is to protect you in various different ways. When it comes to karting there’s not only a fire risk, but there’s also the risk of being thrown out of the kart or being hit by debris on the track such as stones kicked up by karts in front of you.
This means that there are a few different factors to consider when it comes to the level of protection that your race suit can offer you. As mentioned earlier, you want to find a race suit that has multiple layers of Nomex (the more layers the better) to protect you from heat and flames in the event of a fire.
You want to ensure that the outer layer is made of an abrasive-resistant material that will protect you if you end up on the tarmac. However, in addition to that, you can also look into getting a race suit that has padding built into it. This will keep you even more protected in the event of a crash.
Padding is not essential, but it can help to reduce your risk of injury if you are involved in an incident. Some race suits have padding on the knees and elbows which can protect you in the event of a serious crash, but the downside is that it might make the race suit less comfortable to wear while you’re in the kart.
As with anything in karting, price is really important. You need to ensure that whichever race suit you are buying fits into your budget, and it’s not always worth overspending on your race suit just because you like the design on the front.
If you’re on a tight budget you may need to make some sacrifices and get the race suit that offers you the best value for money in terms of the protection that you get from it. Race suits are expensive, but it’s important to keep in mind that if you get top-quality race suits they can last you several years.
Many race suits, as long as they do not end up in a fire or a serious crash, will last you a long time. The only thing that might change is the sizing (if you’re still in your younger years and growing). In other words, if you’re buying a race suit, don’t always go for the cheapest option on the market either.
Ideally, you want to be looking at the upper-middle range in terms of pricing. This is where you’ll find the best quality race suits for the price that you’re paying for them. Once you get your race suit, make sure you take good care of it so that it can last as long as possible.
The design of the race is just as important as the protection that it offers for some people. In the majority of karting race suits, the designs are great. Manufacturers understand the race suit is a big part of the driver’s brand since karts have open cockpits and the race suit can be seen at all times.
You can choose between a plain race suit and a race suit with a design on it. However, bear in mind that, if you’re buying a race suit with graphics printed on it, other drivers may also have the same race suits, so it’s not as original as you might think.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that if you’re looking for sponsors you need to have space to put their logos on your race suit. If you’ve got a race suit with huge branding and graphics over the back and chest, then it becomes difficult to sell this space to potential sponsors.
As a casual karter though, race suits with unique designs and graphics printed on them can be a great way to stand out and look more unique. At the end of the day, it does come down to personal preference and what type of race suit the driver prefers to have, but this should not be the ultimate deciding factor.
Finally, race suits need to be approved by the FIA if you want to use them in an official championship or event. There are two levels of approval that you’re looking for, and that is CIK-FIA level 1 or level 2. This refers to the level of safety and protection that the race suit offers the driver.
Some race suits might not have either of these, in which case you won’t be allowed to race at all. If you’re a casual karter who’s just driving for fun or as a hobby, then you don’t really need to worry about the FIA approval on the race suit that you choose.
However, if you want to enter into a championship or any kind of event, you ideally want to look for level 2 approval. Level 1 or level 2 suits have either a double or triple layer of fabric that adds to the abrasion resistance and fire protection.
Different Types Of Go-Kart Racing Suits
Not all go-karting race suits are the same, and this is an important factor to keep an eye out for before you buy one. The question you want to be asking is this: “will I be driving go-karts recreationally or professionally?” From here it becomes a much easier decision to make.
If you’re going to be driving your go-kart recreationally – for fun around the track on weekends, and not participating in any kind of event, then it’s best to go for a cheaper option. The cheaper, more comfortable suits are not certified by the FIA, so you won’t be allowed to race with them. However, they will offer you enough comfort and protection in the kart.
If you’re looking to race in karting and attend professional events, then you’ll ideally be going for the CIK-FIA level 1 or level 2 certification. If you want to race anywhere in the world without question, then it has to be the level 2 certification that you’re going for as it has 3 layers of material offering maximum protection.
Race suits that have level 1 certification only have 2 layers of material and may have fewer features available. These are cheaper than level 2 certified race suits, but you also can’t use them at any international events, and you’ll have to stick with smaller, local events.
How Are Go-Karting Race Suits Different From Car Race Suits?
Racing suits used in cars are slightly different from the ones used in go-karting, even though they might look similar. The main material used in car race suits is Nomex, and this offers a higher level of fire protection than go-karting race suits do.
This is mainly because of the fact that cars have closed cockpits and the driver can be trapped inside a car while it’s on fire, which means that a higher level of fire protection is important. This also makes car race suits much more expensive than karting race suits.
The other difference that karting race suits have compared to auto race suits is the abrasion resistance factor. Due to the fact that auto racing mostly uses closed cockpits, drivers don’t often need to worry about falling out of their cars as karting drivers do. As such, auto race suits do not have as much abrasion resistance as karting race suits do.
Karting race suits are tested up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), a much lower temperature than you would find inside a car fire. Essentially, kart suits are designed to protect you from flames for a couple of seconds and are also focused on protecting you from abrasive surfaces.
You can use car race suits in karting, especially if you’re karting casually. However, if you’re entering events that are run by the CIK-FIA organization, such as the SuperNats or the Under 18 Karting World Championships, you may run into some issues with the officials.
The problem is not the fire resistance that you get from an auto race suit, which is, in fact, better than the fire resistance you would get from a karting race suit. The problem is the abrasion resistance that you won’t find in the auto race suit. Remember, abrasion resistance is really important when it comes to karting safety!
Race officials from the CIK-FIA are very strict, especially when it comes to big events, so you likely won’t be allowed to use an auto race suit in one of these events. However, in the smaller local events, you could get away with it.
The 8 Best Go-Kart Racing Suits
1. Alpinestars KMX-9 V2
Alpinestars are world-class when it comes to any kind of motorsport gear, whether it’s karting, cars, or even motorcycles. You simply cannot go wrong if you’re choosing an Alpinestars race suit, and it’s not different from the latest KMX-9 V2.
It comes with a relatively high price tag, but you simply can’t go wrong here. With CIK-FIA level 2 certification you can use this race suit anywhere, and it will offer you the best possible level of protection you can ask for in a race suit. Alpinestars KMX-9 V2 uses top-quality materials, and you can use this race suit for more than ten years if you look after it properly.
It’s lightweight with breathable mesh panels, and the inner layer is made from moisture-wicking properties that will keep you cooler and more comfortable. The KMX-9 is 70% more breathable than any previous generation of Alpinestars karting suit, so you can even use this suit in hotter climates.
On top of all these features, the race suit also comes in a variety of styles and colors. There are different graphics available, and you can choose whichever look goes best with the brand you are creating for yourself.
2. Sparco X-Light K
The Sparco X-Light K is one of the best race suits on the market. It missed out on the top spot though because of the fact that it costs an eye-watering amount – nearly double that of the Alpinestars suit in first place. While it is expensive, the top quality ensures that you won’t regret it.
This race suit is truly incredible. It’s the lightest race suit on this list, weighing in at just 2.1 kg (4.6 lbs) in total. It’s also got abrasion-resistant padding sewn into the knees and elbows for that extra level of extra protection.
It’s also got mesh panels and stretchable arm panels for added comfort while you’re sitting in the kart. There’s also a wide range of designs and colors to choose from, most of them being relatively plain with plenty of space for sponsors.
There is an interesting yellow and black design if you’re looking for something more eye-catching. If it wasn’t for the price, this would be our number one choice. However, this race suit is ultimately worth the money that you need to spend on it, and with CIK-FIA level 2 certification, you can race anywhere with it.
OMP is another great karting brand that drivers love to buy from. This race suit, as the name suggests, is art at its finest. It’s got the most interesting design by far compared to any other race suit on this list, and if you want to stand out from the crowd, then this is the ideal race suit for you.
It’s got a hefty price tag, just like the Sparco featured in second place, but once again, you’re getting great value for the money that you’ll be spending. Aside from the design of the race suit, the features that it has on offer are excellent as well.
This race suit is the top of the range on offer from OMP, and it gives the driver great protection and comfort. It’s got padding sewn into the inner knees, which most drivers will be grateful for when it comes to competing at the top level of any karting event. With a CIK-FIA level 2 approval rating, you can race anywhere with this suit.
The OMP KS-Art suit is also lightweight and breathable with mesh panels in various areas. The arms have floating sleeves, just like the previous two race suits, but what’s unique here is stretch panels in the lumbar area that prevent you from feeling tight and trapped while sitting in your kart’s seat.
4. Sparco Prime K
If you’ve got a very specific look that you want to go for then this might be the perfect karting race suit for you. There’s a wide range of colors available to choose from, but you can also order your own custom design using the Sparco infinity project. It also comes with a CIK-FIA level 2 approval rating, so you’ll be able to race professionally with this suit.
This is once again an expensive choice, but it’s mainly due to the material that is used in creating this race suit. It’s made of Cordura, which is given extra layers in the seat contact area to improve the abrasion resistance of the suit and help to increase its lifespan. In other words, if you want a suit that’s going to last you as long as possible, this is a great choice.
It’s also got the perforated mesh panels that make the suit more breathable and give you that little bit of extra stretch that you need when you’re sitting in your kart seat. Due to the extra material used on the contact areas on the back, this race suit is slightly heavier than the others featured on this list.
5. Alpinestars KMX-3 V2
If you’re looking for an upper mid-range race suit, this is the King. Alpinestars features on this list again, but this time it’s slightly more expensive than the one featured previously. That’s simply because it’s a higher quality race suit, and if you’re looking for more protection and comfort then it could be worth spending some extra dollars on the KMX-3.
The KMX-3 race suit comes with a simpler design and less variety in colors, which might not appeal to all karting drivers. However, the choices that are available are “safer” options and the majority of karting drivers will like at least one of the options on offer.
The race suit itself comes with all the basics you need from it such as fire protection and anti-abrasion material. It’s also got mesh panels for added breathability and it features the moisture-wicking material on the inner layer that helps to keep the driver cool. Overall still an excellent choice, and with a CIK-FIA level 2 rating, you can race anywhere in this suit.
6. Sparco Kerb
If you’re looking to get into events on a budget, then might be the right race suit for you. It’s the cheapest CIK-FIA level 2 option, which means that you can use this race suit in any event, even large international events.
Overall it’s much cheaper than other Sparco race suits because the quality is lower, but it still gets the job done in terms of comfort and protection. You’ve got the necessary double layer to tick the boxes in fire protection and abrasion resistance, and this is what gives it the CIK-FIA Level 2 approval.
In terms of comfort, you can find some mesh panels and stretch panels on the back and on the sleeves to help with mobility. There’s only one style to choose from, but it does offer multiple colors, even though these colors might not appeal to everyone as some of the color palettes are questionable.
If you’re just trying to stick to your budget and get yourself into some events, there’s no reason why you should overlook this option. It’s great value for money, and it gets the job done even if it’s not the best race suit on the grid.
7. OMP KS-4
The OMP KS-4 race suit offers excellent value for entry-level karting. This race suit is cheaper than most other suits, and if you’re just starting out in karting then it’s perfect. It’s a more affordable option than what the pros use, and it will still allow you to compete in some smaller local events with a CIK-FIA level 1 approval rating.
It’s comfortable and it offers adequate protection for karters who are still new to the sport. Even if you’re just starting out in karting as a hobby and you’re on the fence about entering some races in the future, this option is ideal as it gives you the freedom to try out some races if you need to without having to buy a new race suit to comply with the regulations.
This is a poly-cotton race suit, so it’s cheaper and more comfortable, but it’s also great for indoor karting. With this race suit, you’ll get floating sleeves and breathable mesh panels. However, there is no design to these race suits, and you can choose from one of three different colors.
8. Sparco Rookie Kart Suit
If you’re into karting as a hobby and you’re just looking for some basic fire protection, then this is the way to go. It’s by far the cheapest option on our list, but it has no CIK-FIA approval, which means that you can’t use it in any kind of championship event.
This race suit is lightweight and is made from abrasion-resistant material, however, it does not offer enough abrasion resistance or fire protection to earn the CIK-FIA approval. If you’ve got your own kart that you use on private track days then this is the perfect option for you.
Whether you’re into rental karting with friends or just enjoy having a blast around the track by yourself, it’s a good idea to have some form of protection, but not at the excessive prices that professional karting drivers need to pay in order to enter races.
There are so many karting race suits on the market that it can be difficult to find the right one. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when shopping around for a karting race suit, including the material, the quality, the price and the level of CIK-FIA approval. You usually can’t go wrong with Alpinestars, Sparco, or OMP, as long as you buy the right type of suit.