Ever since it first came to be as an e-sport, sim racing has been a competitive and exciting field to test your racing skills. Much like racing real cars on a circuit, your choice of footwear is pretty crucial to higher levels of success!
The 5 best sim racing shoes are:
- Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boot
- Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoe
- Fast Track Sims Sheet Sole Sim Racing Shoes
- OMP KS-3 Shoes
- Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
Sure, you know the list of the best sim racing boots now, but that’s nothing without knowing what to look for! I’ll also be outlining some tips about how you should choose your new sim racing shoes, what to look for in a good pair and then give you insightful reviews about every pair listed above.
How to Choose A Pair Of Sim Racing Boots
With so much choice out there, and trying to decide whether or not to wear sim racing boots in general, having to choose a pair can be pretty difficult! Let me outline a few things you should consider which should help you decide and see the benefits of sim racing boots overall.
Picture this: you’ve been sat in front of your rig for a few hours now of a weekend, you can feel your feet start cramping and they’ve been jabbed against your metal pedals more times than you care to count, not to mention the fact that your socks make the whole process slippery and downright annoying.
It’s exactly this scenario that sim racing boots will counteract. Purpose-made and go-karting race boots are ideal due to their lightweight materials, thin yet protective sole, and countless comfort features which will keep you in the driver’s seat for longer.
Regular automotive racing boots aren’t something I’d recommend simply due to the thick soles and heavier composition. They also tend to be more expensive and have needless features for a sim racer, so make sure to focus on sim racing boots and kart boots specifically.
When it comes to making a choice between sim racing boots, now that I know you’re totally sold on getting a pair, you should next consider the styles that they’re made in. You’ll find full boots, mid-top boots and low-top shoes to choose from.
This all comes down to personal preference as to which style you should pick. Think about what you like in your everyday pairs of shoes, and which you’d think would be the most comfortable. A lot of sim racers prefer low-top styles due to how they often come as slip-on shoes; high impact, low effort!
Take the time to measure your feet if you can, or at least become familiar with differing measurements that you’ll find online. As an example, Abruzzi is a UK-based company that ships worldwide. They sometimes list their boot sizes in UK shoe sizing, so don’t get caught out by that.
Lastly, I’d really recommend that you become familiar with the online sim racing community. Check out places like Reddit and do some Google searching to see what sim racers recommend, no matter what kind of gear it is.
Reddit users on the sim racing sub-forums are pretty passionate about footwear for sim racing; specifically having shoes that feel more like socks as opposed to actual shoes. This is primarily due to getting a superior feel on the pedals, especially if you have a good set with load cells installed.
What To Look For In A Pair Of Sim Racing Boots
When buying any gear for sim racing, it’s important to have a semblance of budget in mind. You need a lot of stuff to make a rig, after all! 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?
There are definitely some key things you should look for when purchasing sim racing footwear, for the best level of comfort and competitive edge possible:
- Lightweight materials
- Anti-fatigue features
- Thin sole
As you can probably imagine, comfort is a no-brainer when looking at footwear in general, not to mention in your sim racing gear. No matter whether you’re practicing for fun or in a competitive race online, 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 to choose a style of sim racing boot that you like; whether it be a full boot, mid-top or low-top shoe.
Choosing lightweight gear when sim racing directly feeds into the comfort factor I mentioned above. You’re supposed to be able to enjoy the thrill of racing from your couch, after all! The last thing you want is to feel like you’re wearing bricks on your feet.
One of the worst things while sim racing 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. Part of why you’re reading this article is probably related to being sick of foot cramp/pain from wearing socks, most likely. To combat this, good sim racing 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 boots is the inclusion of a shock absorbing insole of some kind. Anything that will cushion your foot and baby it during race time will help you tenfold in those long sim racing sessions.
Another must-have on your sim racing boots is a thin sole. So much of racing in general is about feel; this mystical thing that allows you to react to track conditions and how your vehicle 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.
If you have a high-end rig to replicate real cars to a higher level, this feel becomes immensely important! Being able to feel real pedal resistance at your feet and apply correcting pressure simply through feeling it will spike your ability tenfold.
Last, but certainly not least, you need really good grip on the soles of your sim racing boots. If socks just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, the last thing you want to do is invest in footwear which doesn’t at least give you the grip you’re looking for!
Kart boots and specifically designed sim racing boots will have grippy soles as standard without compromising on pedal feel. No more anxiety about foot slippage on those crucial corners you keep losing lap time over!
The 5 Best Sim Racing Shoes
1. Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boot
You can’t get much better than a custom-made racing boot designed specifically for sim racers! Abruzzi has specialized in producing bright, eye-catching designs across kart racing for many years, and have recently branched into sim racing with great success.
If you follow sim racers on YouTube, you’ll have likely heard of Abruzzi as a company due to their sponsorship deal with Jimmy Broadbent. He’s a popular sim racing YouTuber who made the switch from racing in his socks to racing with Abruzzi boots, and he’s never looked back. He isn’t the sort to endorse a company that he doesn’t believe in, so you just know that the boots are pretty special.
Ordering a pair of Abruzzi sim racing boots is a true experience unlike any other. After selecting the boot style on their US website, the recommended and best-selling type, you’re met with an order page which gives you full control.
You can choose from a plethora of colors for every part of your boot; the main area, strap, lace panel, heel, side strip and toe. They can be as bright or understated as you wish.
I can guarantee that this process will take you quite some time, and then there’s an extra element of customization which truly puts Abruzzi up on the coolest pinnacle. You can then choose what personalized text you want to appear on the boot’s strap. Picture professional motorsport racers with their name printed on every part of their body and how cool it is. That can be you!
You can choose the name you want to appear and a number, followed by which flag you want to rep. Of course, it’s all cosmetics at the end of the day, but there’s something pretty special about having that level of care put into a product.
Now, as for the footwear itself, you can expect the boots to be made of entirely lightweight materials modeled after Abruzzi’s expertise making kart shoes. The suede and/or leather you choose as a design aspect will also be highly breathable to avoid your feet becoming overheated.
One of the nicest features of the boots specifically is the specialist sole and high level of grip. The insole is also padded as an extra element of comfort for the wearer, which can result in long gaming sessions without being fatigued.
You can’t get much better than purpose-made sim racing gear in all honesty, and Abruzzi have brought competitive features from their kart shoes and brought them to these award-winning, highly-praised sim racing boots.
A noted downside is the fact that the footwear is handmade, and this makes the process of ordering take a long time. You have a 4-6 week wait time after the design has been confirmed while it’s shipped out to you, which isn’t ideal if you wanted the footwear like, yesterday.
Otherwise, these sim racing boots are pretty easy on the wallet and certainly worth their weight in gold for how much they’ll improve your game.
- Entirely customized and handmade
- Lightweight with a thin yet grippy sole
- Long wait time due to personalized process
2. Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoe
Provided you don’t live under a rock, you’ll have heard of Alpinestars and their popularity, I’m sure. They offer good, stylish products in racing/motorsports 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 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 shoes on this list, they have a cut-away section in the heels to allow free movement while operating the sim racing pedals.
The decision to use supple leather and suede, plus the Achilles cut-away, all point to a comfortable boot.
Everything in the shoes originally designed for karting 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, so you won’t face the perils of feet slippage through pivotal corners!
One of the biggest reasons why sim racers choose to stick with their socks or slippers is due to how racing shoes typically boast thicker soles which make it difficult to keep pedal feel. When it comes to kart boots, the soles are far thinner due to how important feeling your vehicle is in karting, and the Tech-1s benefit from this.
A lot of YouTubers who move to using footwear in order to race do so in order to reduce their foot fatigue. They want the perfect balance of a thin sole for pedal feel, and something that will protect their feet simultaneously. It just so happens that karting boots check both of these boxes!
If I were reviewing kart boots specifically, I’d feel as if the sole was a bit too thick for that motorsport. But for sim racing in which you want to protect your feet, these boots are pretty much perfect.
The Tech-1s are more of a pricy investment , but I’d certainly say that these boots are a solid long-term investment if you can afford the initial price.
- Highly durable yet also lightweight build of boot
- Unique, grippy tread pattern on the soles
- Breathable material is there, but not as good as others
- Most expensive pair on the list
3. Fast Track Sims Sheet Sole Sim Racing Shoes
If you’re not wild about a pair of high-top, lace-up boots to struggle with every time you feel like a quick sim racing session, never fear! Fast Track Sims is a company who specialize in the production of sim racing gear; everything from gaming chairs all the way to gloves and of course, footwear for every sim racer’s needs.
They offer three different types of sim racing boots, and I decided to choose the shoe style in order to give this list some variety.
Of their collection, the Sheet Sole Sim Racing Shoes definitely offer the best pedal feel which makes it a very popular product. I’ve been checking out their website for weeks at varying times and it isn’t very often that the shoes are in stock, so whenever there’s a re-stock they get snatched up!
The sheet rubber sole gives the wearer very good grip and cushioning, without reducing the ability to feel feedback through the pedals. It’s thinner than normal rubber which is why this combination is so sought-after.
I also mentioned when opening this review; the fact that you won’t be tussling with laces with these shoes. That’s because they’re an entirely slip-on piece of footwear, leaving you with more race time and less feeling as if sim racing footwear is a chore.
Overall, the materials used are a combination of suede and cloth which keeps the weight very light indeed. Not only that, but the cloth is a breathable, perforated variety so your feet will also remain cool. They basically remind me a lot of slippers in terms of the fit and comfort!
In total, each shoe weighs a miraculous 6 ounces (170g). You’ll feel as if you’re not actually wearing shoes with these on your feet, which is what a lot of sim racers want out of their footwear!
Part of what makes sim racing and kart boots so desirable is the introduction of Achilles flex openings and protection in the heels to protect from blisters. The Sheet Sole Sim Racing Shoes also have this feature in the heels as a key foot fatigue reducing factor.
With all of that said, there is a very notable aspect to keep in mind before you pre-order a pair. Fast Track Sims recommend that you don’t use these shoes on pedal sets which have abrasive pedal pads, and give the example of Tilton. For such types of pedal sets, it’s highly recommended that you have a fully hardened rubber sole. The sheet rubber will wear away too quickly to make the purchase worth it.
Overall, if you’re looking for that shoe style and something easy to wear, don’t look any further! When the shoes are available, they’re very affordable as well as excellent quality.
- Very lightweight, breathable design
- Slip-on design makes them feel like driving slippers
- Sheet rubber sole isn’t very durable, shoes will wear out quicker than others
- Demand is very high and re-stocks aren’t very frequent
4. OMP KS-3 Shoes
In the kart racing world, OMP is one of the staple brands that you’ll see everywhere… and with good reason! They offer a whole host of amazing products across the spectrum of motor racing, with kart-specific gear that is always considered to be some of the best on the market.
And, as I’ve mentioned previously, karting boots make for pretty amazing sim racing footwear. You want the same things from footwear in both past-times, after all; great grip, absolute comfort, lightweight and breathable materials and anti-fatigue features.
The KS-3s are recently redesigned karting boots released by OMP and they balance everything you need in good footwear with an affordable price tag.
First and foremost, the shoes are made of suede leather; a great material due to its lightweight property and simultaneous comfort factor. On the sides of each shoe you’ll find mesh insert panels, too, and these provide extra breathability for your feet. The last thing you want in sim racing boots is something that’ll make you sweat, after all!
In terms of shoe style, these boots fall in between a high-top and shoe design, making them a mid-top variety that combine the good elements of each aforementioned style. They give you the appearance and realism of high-top racing boots without the stiffened heel areas you can oftentimes find.
A nice aspect of these shoes compared to some others on this list is the slightly toughened leather portions you’ll find on the outsides of each shoe. These are designed to protect the shoe from tearing and damage from pedal sets, sim racing varieties included!
The sole itself is very thin which allows for a high level of feel on the pedals. It is also treated to make it grippy enough to withstand torrential rain falling in the cockpit of a go-kart, so you’ll find it to be pretty fantastic pushing on pedals in the comfort of your own home!
There’s also a rear insert in the heel of the shoes which is elasticated, allowing for free movement of this area while you’re extending and retracting your feet. And with a soft, comfortable insole of the boot, you won’t have to worry about foot fatigue in the slightest.
The KS-3s are in the higher end of the budget range , but it isn’t outrageous by any means. Their position on the list is reflected in in their go-karting specialization as opposed to straight-up sim racing, but they’re still an amazing pair of boots that provide all the features you need to look for!
- Suede leather makes for a lightweight yet sturdy pair of shoes
- Achilles flex insert in the heel for freedom of movement without blistering
- Not specific to sim racing
- A little expensive
5. Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
Did you know that Goodyear made footwear? Neither did I! Not until I started doing some research and found these beauties, at least. The Clutch-E boots are a pair of mid-top shoes that are designed for motorsport drivers with heavy influence from go-karting. A lot of sim racers swear by Goodyear shoes, so I definitely wanted to shine some spotlight on these!
Clad in black with racing red accents, the Clutch-Es look pretty eye-catching and swish. The perfect mix between sneakers and racing shoes, in my opinion.
They offer that middle-ground mid-top style, pretty popular in motorsports the world over due to the lower rise on the ankle. Some people don’t like the high-top style due to how the tops can rub on your ankles depending on the material they’re made of.
Material-wise, the footwear is made of a synthetic leather blend which gives it the distinctive cross-hatch like stitching style found all over the boot. Due to being made of a leather blend as opposed to full, heavy leather, the shoes are very lightweight.
The insides are made of a breathable fabric to allow your feet the ability to cool off during those hot laps. There are also a couple of notable comfort features found here, namely the cushioned footbed which… well, you guessed it, cushions your feet! There’s also some nice padded ankle coverage which will feel like a sock when you put your feet inside.
On the bottom of the shoe, you’ll find a pretty unique set-up as there is both an outsole, and a midsole.
The outsole is a thin rubber tread-patterned piece of material, designed for the wearer to get superior grip on the pedals. Goodyear call this part of their ‘driver’s sole’, and the next component is that cushioned, rounded midsole made of EVA foam. If you look at the shoes, it’s the red and white parts found between the bottom sole and shoe itself.
This midsole’s inclusion is a great anti-fatigue feature as it provides more cushioning for your feet with every push on the pedals!
These racing boots are a real steal when you consider the fact that they’re also used in full automotive racing. Although the outsole is very thin and grippy, the inclusion of the midsole can be a double-edged sword. It will cushion and protect your feet more, but it detracts from your overall pedal feel due to more material being in the way.
But if you’re looking for something that is better-geared to combating foot fatigue, look no further!
- Cushioned midsole for maximum comfort and protection from hard pedals
- Grippy outsole for great contact with the pedals
- Midsole detracts from pedal feel
- Synthetic leather is very stiff; can be uncomfortable
There you have it, fellow sim racing enthusiasts 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 sim racing boots and get in front of your rig!