Your sim racing seat is one of the most important parts of your entire setup. There are countless options to choose from, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But it’s important to understand what the best material is for a sim racing seat before you buy: PU leather or fabric?
The best sim racing seat material is one that offers comfort, breathability, and durability. PU leather gives a sim racing seat more of a luxury, authentic look due to its closeness to a real race car’s interior. On the other hand, fabric sim racing seats are highly breathable.
Because you’ll rarely find sim racing seats made of vinyl or other compounds, but you will see PU leather and fabric everywhere while you’re searching, we go into more detail about each one below. We’ll also provide our favorite choices for each material.
PU Leather Sim Racing Seats
If you’re looking at a standard racing/gaming seat, you can almost guarantee that PU leather will cover it. Not a lot of seats that are commonly referred to as cockpit builds have this material in its coverings (although we’ve included a good cockpit option down below).
There aren’t many reasons for this that I can properly discern, but overall, cockpit seats/setups come with vinyl leather more often that PU. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more affordable and better suited to a casual enjoyment of sim racing, a standard racing-style gaming chair is definitely a better option!
Although PU leather isn’t natural and is instead manufactured, it’s far more durable and will last longer than fabric seat counterparts. There comes the risk of tearing PU leather if you catch sharp objects on it of course, but you can count on a seat lasting a solid number of years without signs of wear.
This sim racing seat material is highly stain-resistant and it’ll stay looking great even after you’ve spilt an energy drink all over it by accident – trust me, it happens! You can easily clean it with a damp cloth and there won’t be any lingering marks.
Sports cars come with leather as standard, more often than not, and synthetic leather does a great job of replicating this. There are also a lot of ways to attach a cockpit to these seats and it’ll work out cheaper overall. After all, even cheap cockpit racing seats fetch an eye-watering $400 price tag brand new.
When you compare that to a much-more affordable $150 racing-style gaming chair and a separate wheel stand for $100 or so, you can save quite a lot of cash.
This setup is what I ran for a couple of years while I was just dabbling in sim racing, and before that I was sat on a cheap armchair with a totally home-made wheel stand in front of me! PU leather is a great material for those of you out there who are looking for authenticity.
Pros Of PU Leather Sim Racing Seats
- Longer-lasting – Although PU leather can be susceptible to tears, it’s overall more durable than most other materials
- Authentic – PU leather looks like real leather and provides you with that amazing vibe of being in a real car seat
- Easily maintained – Just take a damp cloth to any food or drink spillages and it’ll be wiped clean with ease
- Great for beginners – This material is both comfortable and durable
- Affordable – PU leather is a cheaper material and a long-lasting investment
Cons Of PU Leather Sim Racing Seats
- Gets warm – Manufactured leather traps heat, which can get uncomfortable over long racing sessions
- Easily torn – PU leather can tear quite easily if you’re not careful
- Hard to come by – You don’t see many sim racing seats made with this type of synthetic leather
The Best PU Leather Sim Racing Seat
The best PU leather sim racing seat is the Next Level Racing GTTrack Simulator Cockpit. This is a full all-in-one sim racing rig that comes with mounts for your wheel and pedals, but it also comes with an immersive PU leather racing seat. This is bound to offer comfort and immersion, with the included seatbelts adding to the realism.
Fabric Sim Racing Seats
There’s a lot that can be said for outright comfort in a racing seat, and fabric-covered racing seats definitely have more of that when compared to other types of seat material. It’s a softer covering and will add an extra layer of padding alongside the different materials inside of the chair itself, which is always nice when you’re looking to spend a lot of time seated to do something.
The biggest difference between fabric and leather materials is the fact that fabric is highly breathable. The baseline comfort is increased due to the softer material overall, and you have a better, longer-lasting comfort without overheating. Another point of comparison is the fact that fabric-covered seats are far more readily available in all styles.
Not As Durable
Probably the biggest downsides of fabric involve the vulnerability of stains simply not coming out, and most fabrics not ageing very well. A lot of fabric types will become bunched up and start losing their elasticity, which can lead to sagging parts of your seat cover.
It depends on the type of fabric that covers the chair of course, and because of this fact you’ll often find these seats are combined with some kind of vinyl leather. This way, the fabric is used for its breathability in the back of the chair while a type of leather material gives the chair some more durability.
Pros Of Fabric Sim Racing Seats
- Breathable – The breathability can lead to a far more comfortable experience during long racing sessions
- Lots of choice – Fabric seats are much more common than PU leather ones
- Hybrid options – There are lots of options that combine fabric with leather materials for comfort and durability
Cons Of Fabric Sim Racing Seats
- Doesn’t age well – Your racing seat can begin to lose its color and ‘freshness’ over time
- Stains easily – These are much harder to clean than leather materials
- Expensive – These seats can be more expensive than PU leather options
The Best Fabric Sim Racing Seat
The best fabric sim racing seat is the Grid-Q from Sparco. This is a seat that offers a sleek racing aesthetic paired with supreme comfort, thanks to its adjustable cushions that allow for a more personalized sim racing experience.
The best material for your sim racing seat depends largely on what you want to gain from your experience, and what kind of setup you want to have. PU leather is rarely seen but can offer excellent comfort and realism at a decent price, while fabric is more common and breathable.