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Karting Gloves vs Racing Gloves – The 3 Key Differences

You might be looking at different sets of gear for your start in karting. You might have noticed that some gloves are specified for karting, and others for racing. There are some key differences, even though it may sometimes be difficult to distinguish between karting and racing gloves.

The 3 key differences between karting and racing gloves are:

  1. Karting gloves are cheaper than racing gloves
  2. Karting gloves are not fire retardant
  3. Karting gloves do not need to be homologated

These are the main differences between karting and race gloves. But it is more important to find yourself the right pair. Finding the right gloves can save you some discomfort and they will last you a long time.

The 3 Key Differences Between Karting And Racing Gloves

1. Karting Gloves Are Cheaper Than Racing Gloves

Whilst browsing through different websites that sell karting and racing gear, the first thing you have most likely noticed is that karting gloves (and karting gear in general) are a bit cheaper than their racing equivalents.

This is because of various reasons, but mainly because karting is meant to be a much cheaper entry into motorsport, and therefore the racewear has to be cheaper than the racewear used for cars. More specifically focused on gloves, most karting leagues do not require high-quality fire-retardant gloves, which also keeps their price down.

Being cheaper than racewear for cars allows people to more affordably get into karting and the world of racing. Karting gloves are also available in smaller sizes to accommodate kids.

2. Karting Gloves Are Not Fire Retardant

Unlike racing gloves, karting gloves do not need to be fire retardant. This is because karts are much smaller, and they are open. This means that there is less risk of a fire related incident in a small space.

Racing gloves are made from Nomex, which is a fire-protective material. The higher risks of breakout fires in cars makes this a requirement. Karting gloves will often also be a little bit thinner than racing gloves. This allows the driver to get a better feeling of their steering feedback through the gloves.

Some karting gloves are designed specifically for wet weather racing, which is not something you find in racing gloves. Due to the nature of karts, driving in rainy weather means that everything gets soaking wet. Having wet-weather gloves keeps the moisture out a little bit, but it also allows you to grip the steering wheel better in the wet.

Despite not being fire resistant like their racing counterparts, karting gloves often feature extra padding on potential contact points such as the palms and the knuckles. Karting drivers are very much exposed to physical contact when it comes to their body and especially their hands, so adding this extra bit of padding in is a good safety measure.

3. Karting Gloves Do Not Need To Be Homologated

Another big difference between karting gloves and racing gloves is that there are no set specifications for karting gloves. As mentioned earlier, fire resistance is not as important of a factor when it comes to karting as it is with car racing.

Due to this, various different types of gloves can be allowed to be used in karting, giving drivers the freedom to find gloves that work for them and keep them comfortable while driving. Having a lack of specific requirements also keeps the cost of karting gloves as low as possible, tying in with the first point about karting gloves being cheaper than racing gloves.

Choosing The Right Gloves

Choosing the right gloves is crucial when it comes to karting. Karts do not have power steering, and this can cause a lot of strain on your hands. If you do not have good gloves, your hands can start to pain after some time in the kart, and this could easily happen halfway through a race. Without adequate gloves, you may also start to notice some calluses on your palms, similar to when to when you go to the gym.


Comfort is the most important factor you need to consider when it comes to choosing your karting gloves. Having a good grip on the steering wheel will of course be more comfortable on your hands for longer periods of time, but it will also give you a better feeling as to what the kart is doing on track. This will be helpful when it comes to finding the right set up for your kart.


Getting the size of your gloves right can be tricky, especially if you are buying them online and won’t be able to test them out before buying them. The correct way to measure your glove size is to measure the width of your hand when facing palm up. Or you can close your hand into a fist and measure across the knuckles of your four fingers (thumb excluded).

Many places will either have their sizes measured in inches or centimetres, but this is easy to convert online. Each brand will have different sizes though. For example, an Alpinestars medium might be a Sparco small, so always make sure you check the measurements before buying gloves.

The important part is that your fingertips fit nicely into the gloves’ fingertips. Do not allow for excess fabric there, as this means the gloves are too big, and will likely become uncomfortable and affect your grip on the steering wheel.

4 Motorsport Glove Brands To Consider

I have done some research into some of the best and most popular gloves on the market. The best ones are the same as they have been for years, so these are all good brands to buy your kit from, and it comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. Generally, these brands make both karting and racing gloves, so no matter what kind of glove you are looking for, these are good options.

1. Alpinestars

Alpinestars has always been a firm favourite for my race gear. They have top-quality products and are well known in the world of motorsport. Their racewear is popular in karting and all the way up to Formula 1 and Indycar. Alpinestars have some really good designs for gloves, and their gloves have an extremely comfortable fit. I always use their wet-weather gloves even in the dry weather because of the comfort and grip that they provide. Moreover, they go further than just cars and karts, and also provide equipment for all kinds of extreme sports

2. Sparco

Sparco comes a close second. Sparco has been a reliable and popular choice in the motorsport world for numerous years and their glove designs are also really interesting and more colorful than Alpinestars (if you prefer that). They also have about double the selection of gloves that Alpinestars have if you are looking for variety in designs. They tend to be slightly cheaper than Alpinestars gloves, but their top-of-the-range gloves go at roughly the same price point as Alpinestars.

3. OMP

This is a slightly less known brand than the previous two, however just as good, and they have just as much variety in their glove designs and colors as Sparco. Their prices are also similar to Sparco, so here it is more a case of personal preference or brand loyalty.

4. Adidas

Adidas motorsport gear is still relatively new on the market. They have a much smaller variety of gloves and are designed as you would expect from Adidas (with a ‘certain’ number of stripes featuring prominently in the design). They are also more expensive than the rest of the brands, but come with some brand recognition for people outside of motorsport.

Final Thoughts

There are some small differences between karting gloves and racing gloves. At the end of the day, you can race in karts with either karting gloves or racing gloves. But you can’t race cars with karting gloves.

This is because karting gloves do not have the correct safety requirements that are needed in cars, primarily as they are not made with fire-resistant Nomex material. In addition, most karting gloves do not have specific homologation requirements that they need to meet.

Choosing the right gloves is important. You have to use the correct size of glove, otherwise it will affect your comfort levels and grip on the steering wheel. Make sure you know your hand size when ordering gloves online.

I hope this article has been a helpful insight into karting and racing gloves for you, and that you are able to find your perfect pair of gloves using our list of recommended brands.