The motorsport of go-karting requires a collection of pretty essential safety gear, and among that collection are kart racing boots. But when it comes to buying new ones, you want to ensure you get your money’s worth, meaning you might be wondering how long karting boots last.
Karting boots should last at least 2 years, but generally you should look to get around 3 or 4 years of use out of them before buying a new pair. The lifespan of karting boots is influenced by a lot of factors, including how often the boots are worn and what brand they are.
Even if you buy second-hand, most kart boots will cost around $50 to $100, so you really want solid wear time for that price. Below, we take a closer look at how long you should expect your karting boots to last, and if it’s better to buy a more expensive pair.
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 was especially 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 knew 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.
How Often You Wear Them
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 an adult, you should expect a pair of boots to last for a minimum of two full race seasons if you’re a competitive racer. 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 the 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 designs. A lot of competitive kart racers have expressed the lack of longevity in some boots from Alpinestars, with some 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.
Which Parts Will Wear Fastest?
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 the 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.
KEY POINTS• Karting boots will typically last at least 2 years
• How often you use them and the brand of boot will affect how long they last
• Different parts of the boots will wear at different rates
How Long Do Cheap Kart Boots Last?
Cheap karting boots tend to last up to 2 years, with some of the lower quality options only lasting for 1 karting season. If you’re just getting started in the kart world, or your budget is on the lower side, cheaper kart boots will probably be a more attractive option.
Buying cheaper products in the karting world has similar effects of buying cheaper things in everyday life. 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, you’ll see it in the quality of materials used to make the gear.
Cheaper kart boots will either have far flimsier material, or be far stiffer, and neither is particularly good. The former will lead to faster wear 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. 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 Kart Boots Last Longer?
More expensive karting boots do tend to last longer, as they’re usually made from higher quality materials than the more budget friendly options on the market. 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 some 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 and is not worth the extra cash.
An Example Of How Long They Can Last
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, 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 that has kept them together.
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.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Go-Kart Boots
Use A Boot Bag
First and foremost, I’d urge you 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 any damage you can get from dropping them. Keeping the boots in a bag when you’re at home will avoid dust getting embedded into them too.
Polish Your Karting Boots
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. 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!
Only Wear Them In The Kart
People often wear their kart boots for too long when they aren’t racing, and while I’d recommend this for breaking 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’ll wear out much faster than your sneaker soles, so if you’re able to avoid walking on the tarmac in your kart boots, make sure to take the time to switch shoes.
KEY POINTS• Cheaper karting boots tend to wear out faster than more expensive options
• There will be some cases where the extra money isn’t worth it, so always do your research
• Only wear your boots in the kart, store them in a bag, and keep them polished to extend their lifespan
To get your money’s worth from your kart boots, you should be looking to get at least 3 years out of your karting boots. Look after your boots and other karting gear, and you’ll be keeping it around for some time.