One of the key parts of your kit in kart racing is definitely a good pair of boots. But how are you supposed to know which boots are the absolute best of the best? There are just so many brands and types out there, after all! I’ll demystify this for you through the course of the article.
So, what are the best karting boots? I’ve scoured the market and combined it with my knowledge of kart racing to make the following line-up:
- Sparco Superleggera KB-10 Karting Shoes
- OMP KS-1 Karting Shoes
- Adidas Daytona Series Racing Shoes
- Sparco Omega KB-6 Karting Shoes
- Alpinestars Tech-1 T Karting Shoes
You might know the best karting boots now, but there’s a lot more to consider when buying a new pair! How should you choose the best karting boots for you? And what should you look for when buying? Before I review each pair of boots, these questions need to be answered above all else.
How To Choose Karting Boots
This process will be personal to everybody who reads this guide, because at the end of it all, we’re looking for different things to be taken away from our karting gear. However, with the focus being on the best of the best, I do have a few things to consider when choosing kart boots that works for you!
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I started karting aged 5, and took part in racing series until turning 18; quite the long time spent in karts! That time has taught me a thing or two about everything that goes with karting, not just the actual racing. There are always a few notable things I look for when buying a new pair of karting boots to guarantee quality for a long time.
Above all else, I spend some time to line up kart brands that I’ve come to trust. In my experience, the best ones out there without a shadow of a doubt are OMP, Sparco and Alpinestars. At some time or other I’ve had gear from these manufacturers and they haven’t let me down.
Familiarity with brands is very important in karting, because it’s a hobby built on trust and reliability. You don’t want to take a chance on an outlier brand whose boots don’t even last two races!
Doing your research is a huge part of how you can find a good pair of boots. I personally spend a lot of time on Reddit, stalking the varied go-kart and karting sub-forums to learn from the experiences of others.
You’ve probably noticed that there are a few different styles of karting boots out there on the market by now, especially if you’ve been browsing and shopping around. This difference comes down to personal preference as to whether you’d prefer the boot style, or the shoe style in your karting footwear.
Because of this, make sure to try on some pairs at a karting store before you commit to buying one specific type. The last thing you want is a pair of boots that you don’t like the feel of! This will also help you find the proper size in your karting boots, because they can sometimes differ from normal sizing that you’re used to in regular shoes.
I’d also suggest not to get too hung-up on your budget as a solid, unshifting figure. Sometimes, an extra $30 or $40 can get you something way better in terms of quality, features and longevity, so it becomes worth that extra spend at the time.
What To Look For In Karting Boots
When buying any gear for karting as a motorsport, it’s important to have a semblance of budget in mind. You need a lot of stuff that’s in good shape, after all, for both safety and a racing edge! And the amount of choice that’s out there can be pretty daunting. How can you ever know what makes a pair of boots objectively good?
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There are a few key things you absolutely need to have in a pair of kart boots for them to match up to other racers on kart circuits:
- Lightweight materials
- Anti-fatigue features
- Thin sole
As you can probably imagine, comfort is a no-brainer when looking at kart footwear. No matter whether you’re in a short sprint or an endurance race, the last thing you want are blisters and general discomfort while you’re racing. It’ll become the only thing you think about!
It’s important to pick out the right size of shoe, and as I mentioned before, to choose a style of kart boot that you like; whether it be a full boot, mid-top or low-top shoe.
Choosing lightweight gear in karting overall will give you a huge competitive edge, because there’ll be less weight in your kart and it can sometimes give you bursts of speed compared to heavier racers around you. It’ll also add to your comfort factor, because who wants to feel as if they’re carrying around bricks of heavy leather on their feet when you want to be making quick inputs on the pedals?
One of the worst things while karting is to have hot feet… not like, hot on the pedals, either! Sweat will inhibit your ability to press down on pedals with purpose, because your feet will be slipping inside of the boot. Always choose a boot that offers some kind of breathable material and you’ll thank me for it.
Foot fatigue is a real killer, trust me. Especially in endurance races when you’re making up to 200 laps of a circuit, the last thing you want is your feet to start cramping and generally feeling sloppy on the pedals. To combat this, good kart boots have varied ways to reduce your fatigue.
One such feature to look for is an elasticated or open Achilles flex in boot heels; a real life-saver to avoid blisters and repetitive strain. And another fantastic thing in good-quality kart boots is the inclusion of a shock absorbing insole of some kind. Anything that will cushion your foot and baby it during races will help you tenfold in those tough races.
Another must-have on your kart boots is a thin sole. So much of karting is about feel; this mystical thing that allows you to react to track conditions and how your kart is moving before you can see it. Having as little distance between your feet and the pedals as possible will really help you achieve this consistently, race after race.
Last, but certainly not least, you need really good grip on the soles of your karting boots. You’re open to the elements and everything that comes with it while go-karting, so you’ll get rained on, you’ll build static sometimes and you can even get oil spillages inside the kart! Always look for boots or shoes that have a specialized, grippy sole that’ll help you continue racing without slipping.
The Best 5 Karting Boots
Here we are, readers! It’s time for me to go in-depth about the five best karting boots currently available on the karting scene. Regardless of their rating or my thoughts on them at a personal level, they’re all fantastic pairs of boots that would make amazing additions to anybody’s gear.
Keep that in mind as I go through them one by one to offer reviews!
1. Sparco Superleggera KB-10 Karting Shoes
The best of the best in karting begins with these amazing, top-quality karting shoes made by Sparco, a manufacturer who has been working within motorsports and karting for many years. They designed this footwear with excellence in mind, and they’re described as being tailor-made for the top levels of competitive karting; quite the bold claim, to say the least.
And it’s my opinion that the claim isn’t unfounded whatsoever.
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First and foremost, the Superleggera was designed to be ultra-lightweight in its composition. Sparco wanted to make a kart boot that could be used by professional teams in the racing circuit, because at those levels, they’re always searching for gear to weigh the least amount possible for every possible edge.
This is achieved by using a blend of leather and fabric, providing the durability you want without overloading on weight. The specific combination also gives the karting shoe a very comfortable fit with high levels of breathability for those long, grueling races.
As a culmination of their years in motorsport, Sparco have developed a special lightweight sole for the Superleggeras. This will enhance your overall feel on the pedals, for starters, and work together with the unique material composition to keep a light, comfortable boot. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there!
The sole is also non-slip, even with the introduction of slick, troublesome substances. It will remain grippy even if fuel and oil find their way into the kart, and especially if you get caught in a downpour. The sole also has anti-static features that will mitigate the generation of static from your race suit which could cause a spark and ignite a fire.
As with any good karting boot, the sole doesn’t just stay on the bottom of a shoe! The Superleggeras have an “outsole”, which is a small part of the sole extended to the outsides of the boot to protect the fragile boot from wear, as you can often make frenzied pedal inputs in the haste of a race which catches on this section. It is also molded, with a bit of sole that stretches up to the heel to reduce wear from rocking foot motions.
Inside the boots, you’ll find an elasticated panel at the rear (just above the heel) to allow for easier movement. Blistering in this area is very common, due to how often you’ll be increasing and releasing pedal pressure.
Perhaps one of my favorite features of these boots, however, is the pre-shaped latex insole for the ultimate, cradled fit. Due to how latex functions, being almost rubber-like but keeping impressions made in it, the boots essentially have memory foam embedded in them. In short, it’s like the ultimate form of comfort!
The cost of the Superleggeras, for professional-level boots, is a complete and utter steal price-wise. Your race-craft and ability will be helped drastically by wearing this fantastic footwear; between the focus on absolute comfort, lightweight build, anti-fatigue features and the highest quality of materials used, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better kart boot!
- Professional-level lightweight materials for the ultimate competitive edge
- Ultra-slim, thin yet sturdy sole for amazing pedal feel
- Breathable material on the upper isn’t water-resistant
- Latex insole can bend/twist if boots are stored incorrectly
2. OMP KS-1 Karting Shoes
You can’t get very far in karting without coming across OMP; a company dedicated to all things motorsports and with a specialized focus in karting. They use their research and findings in the world stage of motor racing to bring the best of the best to the gear that they make, and the quality really shines through. So, let’s look at what makes these boots so special.
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The first thing you’ll notice when browsing the website page for these boots is the distinctive choice of colors on offer. Aesthetics aren’t the be-all-end-all of karting gear, don’t get me wrong, but the ability to choose colors that match your suit and gloves is a nice bonus…!
The style of these karting shoes may look familiar to you if you follow professional motorsports in any capacity, and there’s a reason for that! OMP took inspiration from F1 and the WRC while making their kart-specific racing shoes, and the style has benefits as well as looking professional.
For starters, they’re a mid-top kart boot, which a lot of people find preferable compared to the complete boot or low-top shoe. They’ll give your feet the required support and structure needed for kart racing, without potentially rubbing blisters at the backs of your heels.
Material-wise, the boots themselves are mainly made out of polyurethane, a flexible, lightweight and durable substance that balances all necessary components for karting boots. Its unique composition also provides a manner of supporting the foot without being stiff or restrictive. They also boast an amount of heat resistance, due to what is used to bond the compound.
In a similar vein of making a lightweight pair of racing shoes, the outsoles on the base of the boots are thin and light to allow for good pedal feel; that all-important factor when picking out kart boots.
The backs of the boots on the inside have similar elasticated material for improved comfort and a pivot heel design for smooth actuation; even at full and partial foot extension. All of that is fancy wording for comfortable, responsive inserts in the shoe that are purposefully designed for pedal usage!
Laced up with tension laces instead of having to tie them and risking fly-away lace ends means there’s one less thing to worry about while racing, and the Velcro ankle strap can be adjusted for your comfort; whether you prefer a tighter or looser fit.
To bring it all together, large portions of the shoe have a breathable mesh to help circulation around your feet to combat sweat development and discomfort during long races, or even during short, hot weather races.
These kart shoes are at the cheaper end of the range of absolute the best, but the quality and features boast of a professional tier boot that’ll stand the test of many hard races.
- Thin sole allows for amazing sensitivity while driving
- Pivot-heel design reduces repetitive strain risk
- Stiffened leather part on the shoe’s pedal wear zone as opposed to extended sole, more rigid-feeling and weighty
- Not wet-weather friendly
3. Adidas Daytona Series Racing Shoes
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Adidas, doing kart racing shoes? It seems pretty wild to think about, but as of late, the sneaker brand has expanded into this area with great success and with high praise from kart enthusiasts the world over. They offer two types of kart boots, and I’ll be looking at their premium brand that everybody raves about!
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What can be better than the comfort of a sneaker, packed into a competitive karting boot? There isn’t much, and it’s why I’ve rated the Daytona series of boots offered by Adidas quite high on the list even though Adidas aren’t a dedicated racing brand.
These boots were developed and tested using Adidas drivers, another strange thing to read about. However, you know that the best of the best in features and material ended up being used if they listened to kart drivers. Gear being made for us by people who race is honestly the best you can ask for in quality.
In terms of material, the Daytona boots are made of full-grain Taurus leather on the upper parts, some of the finest and lightest leather money can buy. Not only is leather durable, but the right type is very supple and comfortable, too. Taurus is such a leather variety that lends itself to a comfortable fit when put into footwear.
Lining-wise, Adidas opted to use Nomex as the material for this due to how lightweight and safety-forward it is. It’s a special compound material designed to be flame retardant, so if the worst happens in your kart, your feet will be protected.
The bottoms of these boots are also highly practical, due to the oil and flame-retardant rubber material they’re made of. Oil spills in your kart won’t be a problem while you’re racing, and you’ll keep your footing no matter how slippery it gets!
On the soles and sides of the boots, you’ll find anti-abrasion rubberized print for increased durability, something rather unique to this shoe specifically. Most kart boots offer this feature as an extension from the sole, on the sides of the toes to avoid wear in that high-pressure area. But you can snag and wear down your boots elsewhere, too, so this extra durability feature is very practical.
A special gusset area is embedded into the backs of the boots to be gentle on the driver’s heels, even while under repetitive movement that would otherwise cause blistering.
Overall, Adidas has thought about and included a lot of premium features into their Daytona series of kart boots. For the price, you’ll receive a kart boot that’s not only durable, but nicely lightweight and certain to last longer than a lot of others.
- Anti-abrasion prints on the boots to mitigate wear and tear
- Leather makes them sturdier than most boots
- Stiff and a bit unforgiving to start with, must be worn-in
- Not very breathable compared to other boots on this list
4. Sparco Omega KB-6 Karting Shoes
It wouldn’t be a list of excellent karting boots if Sparco didn’t appear more than once! At least in my books. The Omega model of boots is described as being part of a “premier” karting range, taking advantage of innovative technology and features to keep giving you a racing edge if the professional-level feels a bit out of reach.
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The shoes are another of Sparco’s distinctive mid-top design, which gives both the benefits of a stiff high-top and loose low-top shoe. There are more options for color with the Omega boots, which can bring together your whole karting attire to be recognizable in a race!
They’re made of a combination material, using both soft leather and lightweight perforated mesh which combines for the perfect balance of breathability and comfort. No matter the heat of the day, your feet won’t be getting overheated thanks to this ultimately breathable shoe!
If you aren’t a fan of bulky Velcro straps around or near your ankles, like most karting boots, you’ll really enjoy the fact that the Omegas have a thin strap instead. This will still help with ankle support, but won’t feel as obstructive or unforgiving.
To truly enhance grip and pedal sensitivity, Sparco have designed an anatomic insole with elastic Achilles support combined, allowing the heels to move freely while karting. No more blisters or rubbing, regardless of how much you actuate! The fact that the insole is specifically molded to how feet are made will unlock all new potential for feeling through the boots, combining with the ultralight outer sole.
This sole is also anti-slip, anti-static and entirely oil resistant, giving you extra grip even in challenging conditions.
The introduction of anti-static can also be found in the previously mentioned Superleggeras, and this is a huge boon to safety due to dispersing static electricity safely before it can spark in your flammable kart.
They’re at the cheaper end of the budget range, but not for lack of features! The Omegas are great boots for competitive beginners or racers who’d classify themselves as intermediate, or even trying to jump into premier levels of competition.
- Affordable excellence
- Highly breathable
- Not as supple/comfortable as other boots (e.g. Superleggeras & KS-1s)
- Leather shows signs of wear quicker than expected under frequent use
5. Alpinestars Tech-1 T Karting Shoes
Last but certainly not least, we have Alpinestars and their Tech-1 T series of karting shoes. When I started karting in the bigger kids’ leagues, the Tech-1 karting gear was seen almost everywhere; mostly for the eye-catching looks, but also for the quality! They may be on 5th place on this list, but they’re still one of the best pairs of boots out there, so let’s take a look.
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If you’ve been in karting for any length of time, you’ll have heard of Alpinestars and their popularity, I’m sure. They offer good, stylish products for an affordable price, so they’ve very much a beloved brand.
They re-design and improve their Tech-1 series of gear a lot, and the T rendition of kart boots are no exception! They offer the flexible mid-top style, which cater to people who like the full boot and the kart shoe design due to having the benefits of both.
The Tech-1 Ts are made with bovine leather and suede combined, with a specially designed suede ‘collar’ to be soft on your ankles. As with many other pairs of boots on this list, they have a cut-away section in the heels to allow free movement while operating the kart pedals. The decision to use supple leather and suede, plus the Achilles cut-away, all point to a comfortable boot.
Everything in the kart shoes was considered to create a very lightweight piece of footwear, even down to the single layered Velcro strap which acts as an extra ankle support without being uncomfortable.
The soles on these boots were entirely redesigned compared to previous Tech-1s, and this is due to the introduction of a tread pattern mimicking an asymmetric tire. This specific tread is designed to be grippier than average, assisted by the material being water and oil repellant. Your feet won’t be slipping from those pedals, that’s for sure!
They’re thicker than most kart boot soles, which gives an extra layer of comfort while driving, but does diminish the aspect of ‘feel’ that kart drivers seek. There is an outer toe protector on the shoe, however, to add an extra layer of durability where you’d first see wear and tear from usage.
All in all, the kart shoes are lightweight and responsive, but the lack of a thin sole specifically made for feeling through the pedals is ultimately what decided its position on the list. If you find thin soles to be uncomfortable, these boots would be perfect for you! They’re a pretty affordable and long-lasting boot for karting.
- Highly durable yet also lightweight build of boot
- Unique, grippy tread pattern on the soles
- Thicker sole than average; interferes with ‘feeling’ of the kart through the boot
- Not very breathable
There you have it, fellow kart enthusiasts and racers out there!
You can’t go wrong with any of the boots on this list and, even if they aren’t for you, I’m sure you can use the tips I shared to try and find the pair that’ll work with your gear. No matter what you choose, enjoy those kart boots and get to racing!