The motorsport of go-karting requires a collection of pretty essential safety gear, and among that collection are kart racing boots. The least you should know is how long these boots are going to last you, right? As a kart racer for over ten years, I’ll share my insight on the subject.
So, how long do karting boots last? The lifespan of karting boots is influenced by a lot of factors, including how often the boots are worn and what brand they are. The minimum lifespan of karting boots should at least be 2 years, and generally in the realms of 3 or 4 years otherwise.
Even if you buy second-hand, most kart boots will be in the realms of $50 to $100, so you really want solid wear time for that price. Without any further delay, however, let’s look at what’ll influence the lifespan of your boots and a few other important variables. Keep reading!
What Will Influence The Lifespan Of Karting Boots?
If you’re anything like me, you’re used to parents or other such caretakers warning you to ‘take good care’ of your belongings. My dad especially was diligent in his expectations of me being careful with my karting gear; especially since I first hopped in a kart aged 5. It was one of the cardinal rules aside from being safe and going fast!
I already know that it’s because we weren’t made of money, and the gear I had was being rapidly outgrown as it was; the last thing we needed was me dropping or scuffing or otherwise damaging things like my helmet or boots.
But even aside from a monetary point of view, there are a lot of things that’ll contribute to how long your boots will last.
The biggest factor is definitely how much you wear the kart racing boots. If you head to the track every other week for practice or small race events, your boots will last far longer than somebody who is part of a full and intensive racing season.
That isn’t to say that you need to reduce your racing activity to preserve your boots. You just need to be aware of what the wear rate will be compared to more casual usage.
As adults, you should expect a pair of boots to last for a minimum of two full race seasons if you’re a competitive racer. In short, that’s two years of intensive usage and heavy wear. And if you’re a more occasional participant, you can stretch that to four or five years; perhaps even longer.
Alongside usage wear, you also need to consider the brand and therefore quality of your racing boots as an influencing factor in their degradation. Typically, karting brands produce very similar products to stay competitive within the industry. The last thing they need is racers avoiding their products because they don’t hold up to others on the market.
However, there are still brand differences that you’ll pick up on if you try out boots from different manufacturers. For example, Alpinestars is an affordable brand that a lot of new kart racers pick up due to the attractive price and cool design. A lot of competitive kart racers have expressed the lack of longevity in most boots from Alpinestars; pairs lasting only one race season.
That isn’t to say that the brand is poorly-made, but compared to others such as OMP or Sparco, they aren’t designed to last as long. Be aware of this and do your research before buying boots to best suit both your budget and length of time spent racing.
The last thing to look out for when it comes to wear and tear on your boots are the parts that’ll start to give way first. As with normal shoes, there are certain parts that’ll start breaking down before others, and it’s important to remember this as a big influential part of how long boots will last.
You can expect the toe to start coming away from the sole on kart boots; in no small part due to the repetitive movement on pedals. On the inside of the boots, you’ll notice that the heel will begin wearing away and will likely start rubbing when the protective padding is gone.
Some boots are made differently from others, so they might have features in place to lessen these typical points of stress. If they do, you can count on a longer boot lifespan.
The Minimal Lifespan Of Karting Boots
As I mentioned before, I’d expect the minimum lifespan of a pair of kart boots to be 2 years of solid wear. And if we look back at what can influence that estimation, there are a lot of things that can influence this wear time. Even so, 2 years allows for at least decent time spent wearing the boots and should be the least you expect from purpose-made karting attire.
Because kart boots fall under the category of clothing, don’t expect there to be any form of warranty that promises a minimum length of time for wear!
It’s due to my knowledge of what kart boots are typically made of, and the varied pairs I’ve owned over my racing career that I can arrive at 2 years as the absolute minimum you should expect.
How To Extend The Life Of Kart Boots
I mentioned before how insistent my dad was when it came to looking after my gear, and this extra care can be the difference between a minimal lifespan in footwear and an extended one.
First and foremost, I’d urge you all to use a boot bag with your kart boots. Most pairs will come with a purpose-made bag, or you can buy them cheaply on eBay or other such websites. Not only will carrying the boots be easier in the bag, but it’ll protect them from the elements and damage you can get from dropping them.
Keeping the boots in a bag when you’re at home, too, will avoid dust getting embedded into them over a period of time.
Another golden tip that I always share with people relates to polish. Not only will polishing leather boots keep them clean, but it’ll make a protective layer that is better for repelling water and other harmful substances.
For fabric-made boots, you can buy special cleaner to get a similar effect, and it’s a guaranteed addition of life for your footwear!
People often wear their kart boots for too long when they aren’t racing, and while I’d recommend this for wearing the footwear in, it can shorten the lifespan if you spend whole race days walking about in your purpose-built kart shoes. Wear normal shoes until you’re about to hop in the kart, and then switch to the thin-soled kart boots.
It’s because the soles are so thin on karting boots that I’m mentioning this! They’re much easier to wear out than your sneaker soles, so if you’re able to avoid walking on the tarmac in your kart boots, make sure to take that extra time that comes with switching shoes.
How Long Do Cheap Kart Boots Last?
If you’re just getting started in the kart world, or your budget is on the lower side of things, cheaper kart boots will probably be a more attractive option. It’s important to know how long these ‘budget’ purchases will last, so you can weigh up what is worth spending more on and what you can lower the purchase price of.
Buying cheaper products in the karting world has similar effects of buying cheaper things in everyday life.
As an example, buying the non-branded produce at supermarkets will give you the same sort of thing, but it won’t quite be the same. Maybe it doesn’t taste as good, or maybe the component parts are overall lacking.
You do this to save money, and oftentimes, spending full price for the named brand actually isn’t worth it for the very small difference between the two things. There will be compromises to be made, of course, and in karting gear, you’ll see it in the quality of materials used to make the gear.
Cheaper or budget kart boots will either have far flimsier material, or be far stiffer. Neither is particularly good; the former will lead to a faster wear-out of the boot and the latter just won’t be comfortable to wear. Overall, the material will be of a lower grade than with the big named brands such as Sparco or OMP.
Like with buying cheap shoes for daily life, you’ll probably notice faster wearing on the soles or body of the karting boot. One of my karting buddies bought a pair of Turn One racing boots, a beginner brand without much renown in the karting circle, and they barely lasted him a few months.
We were both in intensive racing seasons, don’t get me wrong, but the boots weren’t even close to the minimum mark of 2 years.
If you need to keep a certain budget for your kart boots, I’d always advocate for you to search for second-hand pairs of the big, reliable brands. You’d be surprised by how many kart enthusiasts buy boots that they never wear and have to sell! You’ll get the quality, long-lasting boot for a fraction of the price.
Does A More Expensive Pair Of Boots Last Longer?
There are exceptions to every rule but, generally speaking, yes, yes and one thousand times, yes! The boots aren’t more expensive simply for the fun of it; they’re made with high-grade materials and are specifically designed for a racing edge, so you’ll be getting a boot that will last.
There are premium brands where the price isn’t always worth it, just like anything in life, and that’s why research is so important. Check out reviews, ask your fellow karting friends, join online communities for kart racers and determine what is worth the extra cash.
After my feet had finished ‘growing’ when I turned 15, my dad invested in a pair of like-new OMP kart boots for me from eBay. Somebody’s kid had worn them maybe once to try them on and they didn’t fit, so the pair needed a new home.
Those bottle blue boots have stayed with me ever since; lasting through three intensive racing seasons and being brought out for my more casual sessions as of late. That’s a grand total of 9 years (giving away my age here!) and aside from small scuffs and a bit of a funky bend in the left boot’s sole, they’ve held up great.
Second-hand, those boots cost my dad something like $50 or $60. But, at the time, they were the most recent design that OMP had made. Brand-new they should have been in the realms of $150, and you can totally tell! Everything from the stitching all the way to the melded soles speaks of racing quality, and it’s that quality which has kept them together.
‘More expensive’ doesn’t mean brand-new, in essence. Investing in a pair of second-hand boots from a respected manufacturer like OMP is far better than buying something cheaper that might not last the year.
Honestly, I don’t see how a pair of kart boots can’t last for 2 or 3 years. There’s a lot of ways you can look after your boots and make sure they last even longer, after all!
With my story of 9-year-old boots aside, kart racing boots are sturdy, durable items. To get your money’s worth, you should be looking within the realms of stretching 3 years wherever possible. Hard, consistent racing will lower the lifespan, but it should never ruin them!
Look after your boots and other karting gear, and you’ll be keeping it around for some time.