Part of the beauty of having a realistic sim racing setup is the immersion you feel, what with steering wheel force feedback and pedal resistance. However, you might find your feet starting to ache or blister if you’re playing in socks or barefoot. There are really only two ways to fix this: reduce the resistance from your pedal set, reducing the realism, or purchase proper race simulation shoes.
We’ve compiled a list of the best shoes to fit this exact purpose. Whether they be made specifically for racing simulators or real-life karting, these shoes are all high quality choices that will allow you to immerse yourself once again into the simulation and turn up the pedal resistance to the most realistic levels.
The Top-Rated Shoes for Sim Racing
From our research, the best shoes for sim racing are:
- Top Pick: Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoes
- Runner-Up: Simpson Racing 28100BK
- Budget Pick: Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
- Multi-Purpose: OMP KS-3 Shoes
- Customizable: Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boot
Top Pick: Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoes
- Lightweight but highly durable
- Excellent grip
- Extra ankle support
Originally designed as karting shoes, the Tech-1 Ts are perhaps even better for racing sims. Their soles have a tread pattern which mimics an asymmetric tire in order to give an almost unparalleled level of grip. They’re quite thin, which is excellent for sim games as you’ll be able to feel the pedal better than with normal racing shoes, but this lack of width is perhaps too much to make them excellent karting shoes. The price of these shoes is very expensive, but the high quality leather and suede are likely going to last you close to a lifetime. They offer one last great addition that a lot of shoes lack: a Velcro strap which acts as extra ankle support, reducing foot fatigue. All in all these are excellent shoes which are guaranteed to make you a very happy customer.
Runner-Up: Simpson Racing 28100BK
- Good pedal feel
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Good support
This racing boot doubles as a sim shoe. They are very lightweight, made from suede and leather, the slipper design will comfortably wrap around your foot. The fact that the fleece lining has flat seems only increases the comfort as you don’t risk getting blisters. The support is also noteworthy, as the padded heel will help prevent fatigue from long sessions. For racing shoes these provide a good feel on quality pedals. Though they have great grip while driving, the shoes are ironically slippery when walking. Though this isn’t a deal breaker, it’s something to keep in mind in order to avoid falls and injuries. These shoes gain high marks in all categories, which is why they’re high up on our list. If you get the Simpsons because you’re looking for high quality, readily available, and not overly expensive shoes you’re going to be very happy with your purchase.
Budget Pick: Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
The Clutch-E are not as prestigious as the other shoes on this list, but they will get the job done commendably. They’re made of a synthetic leather blend, making them more lightweight than a lot of other shoes, and the insides are made from a breathable fabric which will allow your feet to cool off well and quickly. The grip is also much better than expected. Admittedly it’s not the best on this list, but it still performs very well. All that being said, the two main selling points of the Clutch-E (other than being made by Goodyear) have to be the midsole and the price. The cushioned, EVA foam midsole pads your foot, allowing it to rest comfortably. Coupled with the padded ankle coverage, it will take a lot to strain your feet. All of this comes to around half of what most of the shoes on this list cost . For the quality and features that the Clutch-E offer, we can’t but recommend these.
Multi-Purpose: OMP KS-3 Shoes
- Best karting boots for sim racing
- Durable yet lightweight
- Grip made to withstand water
The KS-3s are made for karting, but we found them to double as excellent sim shoes. The sole of the shoe is very thin, allowing you to feel the pedals, and treated so to maintain high levels of grip even under heavy rain. This means that whether you’re sporting these while simming races in the comfort of your own house, or on an outside racetrack, you can be assured your feet won’t slip from the pedals. Their thinness does not equate to fragility. The outside portions of the shoes have toughened leather portions so to prevent wear and tear. Their price is not cheap, but if you are in the business of sim racing and kart racing then these are a great option, as you’ll only have to buy one pair. They’re resistant, comfortable, provide good anti-fatigue features such as an Achilles flex insert in the heel to prevent blistering, and look great. Needless to say, these shoes are well worth your money.
Customizable: Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boot
- Handmade from high quality materials
- High level of grip
There are many racing shoes that could fall within this category, and a lot of them cost more than the Abruzzi shoes. None however reach the level of quality and luxury that these shoes offer. Don’t misunderstand, the price is still quite restrictive, but worth every penny. These shoes take a while to arrive to your home, but that’s because each pair is handmade from high quality suede and/or leather (depending on your choice). The result is a breathable, lightweight shoe which will provide grip second to none. Coupled with the padded insole, you’ll be able to race for hours without discomfort or a reduction in performance. Finally, the personalisation available is incredible. From colours and materials, to your name and flag on the strap, you will become one with this boot. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth the price to feel and look like an F1 pilot? Absolutely
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you play racing sims barefoot?
You can play racing sims barefoot. However, your feet may start to blister or cramp if you have high quality pedals. This is because many pedals push back on you to make it feel as though you’re driving a real sportscar.
- What are the benefits of sim racing shoes?
Sim racing shoes allow you not only to play for longer, but also to set your pedals to mimic real life ones. What's more, good pair of shoes will protect you from injuries, allow you to immerse yourself deeper into the game, and have better grip for a longer period of time.
- What should you look for in sim racing shoes?
The best racing shoes should have anti-fatigue features, offer good grip and pedal feel, and be made from light and breathable materials.
Anti-fatigue features are important not only so that you don’t get distracted while you play the game, but so that once you stop you won’t be injured.
Good grip will allow your foot to remain on the pedal even when it resists. Pedal feel is the second portion of the equation. Being able to tell the incline of the pedal is crucial when you purchase high quality peripherals. Sets like the T-LCM pedals can detect over 65 thousand pedal positions, so being able to feel how much pressure you’re applying and where the pedal is remains a crucial factor to consider.
Finally, the materials need to be breathable and lightweight. This is so that your feet don’t overheat, thus sweating and losing grip.
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