Everyone is different when it comes to how they like to sim race, and this even extends to choice of footwear (if any). While there are dedicated sim racing boots and socks out there, some prefer to race barefoot, but which is actually best?
Comparing socks, shoes or barefoot for sim racing is not as straight forward as one being better than the others. Socks are comfortable, but lack grip. Bare feet provide grip, but lead to discomfort. Sim racing shoes provide both grip and comfort, but they tend to be expensive.
It is an important thing to consider not just for comfort, but for playability as well. You need to be comfortable for sure, but you also want to make sure you have maximum control and can perform at your best. So, let’s go into more depth and find out why you might want to use each one.
Wearing Socks For Sim Racing
Up first we will consider wearing socks for sim racing, as this will be the most common way for beginners and many intermediate players to race as well. Socks provide reasonable comfort, and as most of us play in our homes we tend to spend a lot of time wearing socks around the house anyway. So, it is naturally the first method that people tend to try.
Socks provide enough of a barrier between your foot and the pedals to prevent your feet from getting cold if they are made out of metal, as well as providing enough of a cushion if they are particularly rigid (some pedals have pretty rough faces!). Plus, they are cool enough to make sure that your feet don’t get too hot and sweaty when playing for an extended period of time.
Provided you are not wearing super thick socks, you will also be able to maintain a lot of pedal control when wearing them. Even for beginners, it will help to not have too much between your foot and the pedal, so you really get the feel for them and better manage things like brake modulation.
Overall, wearing socks is also just one of the easiest options. We will discuss each of the other options below, but it is usually the best option to go for as it doesn’t require anything expensive (although you can buy dedicated sim racing socks), nor does it leave you with cold (or sore) feet when you are playing with metal pedals. One drawback of socks however is that you may feel reduced grip, which can lead to loss of control rather than gain.
Sim Racing With Bare Feet
Next let us consider wearing nothing on your feet at all. Right out of the gate you can see that this presents the problem of discomfort. Most sim racing pedals are made out of metal, and not only can this be cold to the touch, but it can also be uncomfortable for your feet if there are any sharp or rough edges on the pedals.
However, going barefoot does have its advantages as well. The first is that you will have much better grip than when wearing socks. This can be very useful if you find that your feet tend to slip off the pedals. This is obviously important, as you do not want to suddenly release the accelerator when going head to head at the front, or to release the brake too early when cornering.
Going barefoot also has the advantage of no extra cost, and so this is an ideal option if you do not want to spend any extra money on racing shoes, but we will see below that even that isn’t necessary as you can wear normal shoes too. Overall, sim racing in bare feet is not for everyone, and the main reason is the comfort factor – but each to their own!
Wearing Shoes For Sim Racing
Finally, let’s consider wearing shoes for sim racing. If you wear your normal shoes such as your everyday trainers, you will probably find them to be fairly comfortable, while also keeping your feet warm. This can work against you however, as your feet will begin to get hot and sweaty very quickly when racing.
This discomfort can be cancelled out by the fact that, as with bare feet, you will get enhanced grip with shoes. This is obviously going to vary from shoe to shoe, but even worn out trainers tend to provide more grip than socks. This grip can be vital, and it can allow you to pull off techniques such as heel-toe much more easily than with bare feet.
Now, what about racing shoes? These are specially designed shoes for racing, and they can be worn for a sim racing rig too (although there are now also sim racing specific shoes on the market). These are optimized in both shape and construction to provide maximum grip and comfort, while also giving you lots of fine control over each pedal. These can be pricey however, and I don’t personally think they’re a must-have.
KEY POINTS• Socks provide comfort but little grip
• Bare feet provide grip but little comfort
• Shoes provide comfort and grip but come with a cost
Socks vs Shoes vs Barefoot For Sim Racing: Which Is Best?
If you are a beginner, then you will have nothing to reference here. So, it is the perfect time to give every option a try and see what feels right! Pick one to start with and then decide if it works with your playstyle, and if you find it to be uncomfortable or if it makes it harder for you to play, then simply change it up and try new things until something suits.
If you have been sim racing for a while, you most likely have done so in socks for most of the time if you haven’t yet taken the leap to trying it with shoes on. In this case, if socks work for you than simply stick with them. However, you may wish to try with shoes on, or even invest in a pair of racing shoes, to see if you gain any benefit.
If you’re serious about sim racing and already have the rest of your rig set up with some budget to spare, a set of sim racing boots could be worth investing in. They provide optimal grip and comfort while being designed specifically for racing. Prices can vary, but if you are looking to take your racing to the next level, a good set of sim racing shoes can be the key to doing so.
Usually when you think about choosing sim racing equipment you think of the wheel and pedals, and maybe even shifters and monitors. However, what you wear on your feet can be extremely important as well, and it is often overlooked, especially by beginners.
There is no right or wrong thing to do when it comes to footwear, and you might find that you prefer to race with nothing at all on your feet! It really is a matter of personal preference, and if you are a beginner then socks will probably do the trick. If you are a more advanced racer, then we recommend checking out some sim racing boots to see if they enhance your performance.
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