Neck braces are safety components for karting. These are normally worn as standard when it comes to younger drivers such as drivers in the Mini Max class for example. However, as it’s less common in adult karting, you may wonder if you need a neck brace when kart racing.
Whether or not you should wear a neck brace when karting depends on your age and how serious you are about your own safety when it comes to karting. They’re usually not essential for adults, but younger drivers may need to wear a neck brace when kart racing.
The 4 best karting neck braces are:
Many adult drivers overlook this safety device when it comes to karting because it is generally only compulsory in kid karting classes. However, there are some things that you need to consider when it comes to neck braces and faster karts, and we take a look at these below.
An Introduction To Karting Neck Braces
The karting neck brace has essentially taken inspiration from the HANS device in other forms of motorsport since it’s implementation. There are many different brands and different types of neck braces.
The most common options for younger drivers are foam neck braces. These are much simpler and cheaper than HANS devices, but they still serve largely the same purpose. Then there are more advanced ones that are made of carbon fibre and are designed similarly to a HANS device
Since their introduction there has been a lot of debate about whether they are actually effective. Some people claim that neck braces are actually dangerous, and we’ll take a closer look at why that is below. However, there are some people that are very sure that, if it were not for them wearing a neck brace, they would have suffered severe injuries. So, what are the benefits of karting neck braces?
The Benefits Of Wearing A Neck Brace When Karting
Preventing Serious Injury
Neck braces can be extremely helpful in high-impact situations. The goal of the neck brace is to keep your neck in place and prevent whiplash during impact, preventing overstretching of the spine. This is especially common in front and rear impact accidents.
A neck brace can significantly reduce the severity of injuries that you might sustain upon impact. The effectiveness of this depends on the type of neck brace you are using as well as the brand. Some have gone through significant testing, while others are less reliable.
Another benefit is that the neck brace can reduce neck fatigue, especially in younger drivers, as the brace can actually lift some weight off the driver’s neck and focus it more onto the shoulders. You will notice this almost instantly when cornering.
Easy To Use
Most neck braces are very quick and easy to strap on before you get going. This means that it won’t take much extra time to get your gear on before getting into your kart. But are there any downsides to wearing one?
The Dangers Of Wearing A Neck Brace When Karting
The first of these is that your range of movement is restricted. This makes it difficult to move around while you are in your kart. You can arguably say that you should not be moving your head around too much, but some people are able to tilt their head slightly to the side to see behind them during corners, and with a neck brace this is much more difficult to do.
The second risk is that the neck brace can cause a leverage area around your neck. This can cause greater risk of choking. For example, if you’re an in an accident, your neck brace could get hooked onto something and choke you, or create a situation where your head and spine is moved in an unnatural way. This isn’t a highly likely situation, but it is still a risk.
Lack Of Evidence
Many people argue that, unlike the HANS device, there hasn’t been any significant testing done with karting neck braces, and therefore there is limited evidence that they can help in an accident situation, but there is no substantial proof that they won’t help either.
Uncomfortable & Distracting
Some drivers find the neck brace to be uncomfortable and distracting as well. Other drivers simply don’t like the look of a neck brace while karting. At the end of the day, it largely comes down to personal preference. Generally, the foam donut-style neck braces seem to be less effective and comfortable than other types, so you may prefer to look into the HANS-style ones instead.
Should You Wear A Neck Brace For Karting?
Neck braces have not been made a compulsory safety item in most karting spaces. Although some series have neck braces as a compulsory item, it is still very uncommon to see adult karting drivers using them.
Most kart drivers prefer not to use neck braces because of the restricted range of motion and the discomfort they can cause. But some drivers feel much safer using it. At the end of the day, if it is not compulsory for your series, you will need to decide whether you would like to use a neck brace.
It’s Up To You
It has become an element similar to the rib protector. It is not a necessary item, but for some kart drivers it has become indispensable. It can provide some benefits, but there has not been much conclusive proof that the device can save you from injuries.
KEY POINTS• Karting neck braces have their benefits and their risks
• They’re not usually a mandatory item
• Whether you should wear one largely comes down to personal preference
The 4 Best Karting Neck Braces
1. EVS Sports R4
The EVS is possibly the most popular neck brace out there. You will often see this product recommended on a lot of karting forums and websites. This neck brace is extremely lightweight, which can be really beneficial if you don’t want to add too much to the weight of your helmet.
It is also easily adjustable and therefore adds to greater comfort. In addition, they also have a youth option for younger drivers which is even lighter than the adult model. However, this neck brace actually allows a much larger range of motion in terms of head movement than others out there, which is usually not a good thing.
2. Valhalla Racing 360 Plus
The Valhalla 360 neck brace is just as popular when it comes to online forums, although it can be hard to find. This model could provide you with better neck support than the EVS neck brace. That’s because it builds up behind the helmet like a HANS device does. This means that it protects much better against hyper-flexion during impact.
The Valhalla neck brace is slightly heavier than the EVS, so this might be a negative feature for you. On top of this, it is also slightly less adjustable than the EVS neck brace. So, if you are looking for a more flexible option, this one might not be for you.
3. Sparco Kart Anatomic
The Sparco Kart Anatomic neck brace resembles more of a foam donut, but Sparco claims that it is extremely effective for neck support in the case of an impact. However, whether this style is right for you will come down to personal preference and perhaps the safety requirements of your karting series.
The Sparco neck brace has a lot of padding, and it can attach onto your race suit, which could make it a viable option as a neck brace. Another benefit of this option is the fact that it has a large range of motion and can allow you to rotate your head around if needed, but too much flexibility may not always be a good thing. This is also the most lightweight piece of equipment of the three we’ve discussed so far.
4. Leatt 3.5 Neck Brace
Finally, we have the Leatt neck brace. This is another popular choice you’ll see kart drivers raving about, and it follows a HANS-style design, rather than the donut design of the Sparco option above. It’s an expensive choice, but it could be worth it for those that want some extra protection.
It’s designed to fit with relative ease, and also move with your body as you’re in the kart while still offering protection. It’s also an adjustable choice, making it suitable for kart drivers of all shapes and sizes.
There has long been and still is a lot of debate around neck braces in karting. Some people are convinced that they have saved them from more severe injuries, but others are not convinced that they have been tested enough to prove that. Every driver has a different opinion on them, and at the end of the day you will need to go out there and test it for yourself.
If you do decide to spend on a neck brace, don’t go for the cheapest option. When it comes to safety equipment, always opt for the best quality you can afford.
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