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. Although it is still seen in adult karting, it is just much less common.
Whether or not you should wear a neck brace when karting depends on your age firstly, and secondly on how serious you are about your own safety when it comes to karting.
Many adult drivers overlook this safety device when it comes to karting because it is generally only compulsory in the kid’s classes. However, there are some things that you need to consider when it comes to neck braces and faster karts, and they aren’t necessarily always good.
An Introduction To Neck Braces
Neck braces have been introduced into karting as a safety element. The neck brace has essentially taken inspiration from the HANS device in standard racing since it’s implementation. There are many different brands and different types of neck braces.
The common neck braces for younger drivers is the foam neck brace. These are much simpler and cheaper, and they still serve 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 debates about whether they are effective or not. I have gone onto various forums and websites and there has been plenty of discussion surrounding this topic.
Some people claim that neck braces are dangerous, for various reasons which we will discuss at a later point during this article. 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.
The Benefits Of Wearing A Neck Brace
Neck braces can be extremely helpful in high-impact situations. The idea of the neck brace (at least a proper one) 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 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.
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.
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.
The Dangers Of Wearing A Neck Brace
There are some risks to wearing a neck brace when it comes to faster karts though. These are some important factors that you need to take into account as the karts move up classes and become faster. These are the reasons as to why neck braces become less common in adult kart racing.
The first of these is that your range of movement is restricted. This causes difficulty in looking around whilst you are in your kart. You can arguably say that you should not be moving your head around too much, however, 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 risks with choking, for example if you’re an in an accident, your neck brace could get hooked onto something and can cause a choking situation or a situation where your head and spine is moved in an unnatural way.
From my research, I have not found a lot of cases where this applied, however there were a lot of concerns about this topic. I think this is a highly unlikely situation but can still be possible under extreme circumstances.
Many people argue that unlike the HANS device, there hasn’t been any significant testing done with karting neck braces, therefore there is no proof that they can help in an accident situation, but there is no proof that they won’t help either.
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 comes down to personal preference. You will need to try one for yourself before you decide to buy one.
There is a common theme that the foam donut neck braces are more of a hazard than a help though. The argument being made is that the foam neck braces hold the neck in place too tightly and prevent it from flexing when needed. So, it is probably best to avoid the foam neck braces.
Should You Wear A Neck Brace For Karting?
Neck braces have not been made a compulsory safety item in karting. Although some series have neck braces as a compulsory item, it is still very uncommon to see adult karting drivers using them.
Most karting drivers prefer not to use neck braces because of the restricted range of motion and the discomfort it can cause. 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 on whether you would like to use a neck brace or not.
It has become an element similar to the rib protector. It is not a necessary item, but for some karting drivers it has become indispensable. It can provide some benefits, however, there has not been any conclusive proof that the device can save you from injuries. The best you can use to make a decision at the moment are product reviews and people who have used neck braces previously.
3 Neck Braces To Consider Buying
If you decide to give neck braces a try, you need to invest in the best. If you are investing in safety equipment, its better not to go cheap. That being said, there are some fantastic neck braces out there, but they can become quite expensive.
You need to invest in proper equipment or else you could end up worse than before. For example, there’s a common theme with foam donuts that they are actually hindrance rather than a help in the case of an accident. So, let’s have a look at some of the most popular neck braces out there.
1. EVS Sports R4
The EVS is possibly the most popular neck brace out there. I have seen this product recommended on a lot of karting forums and websites. This neck brace actually allows a much larger range of motion in terms of head movement which was a big negative that most drivers mentioned online.
This neck brace is extremely lightweight, which can be really beneficial to you 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.
2. Valhalla Racing 360 Plus
The Valhalla 360 neck brace was just as popular when it comes to online forums. At first glance it looks like 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
This neck brace resembles more of a foam donut, however Sparco claims that it is extremely effective for neck support in the case of an impact. From what I have read online, it is best to avoid the foam donut-based neck braces.
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. A benefit of this neck brace is the fact that it has a large range of motion and can allow you to rotate your head around if needed. This is also the most lightweight piece of equipment between the three.
In my opinion the best neck brace for karting would be between the EVS and the Valhalla 360. If I wanted to be the safest possible during an impact, I think I would go for the Valhalla 360 model. It seems to have a bit more structure to it and that it would be able to protect you in an impact.
Another fantastic option to look into is the Leatt neck braces. These are expensive, but I have heard good things about them, and I also see the Leatt brand being mentioned often on karting forums.
There has 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.
There are a few benefits to using neck braces, mostly in the safety aspect, but there are also some disadvantages to using neck braces, namely the lack of range of motion and discomfort when wearing them. Every driver has a different opinion on these, 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, more expensive is better. I hope this article has helped you to decide on whether you would like to give neck braces a try or not, and that we have given you some good options to look at.