With a realistic sim racing setup, you might find your feet starting to ache or blister if you’re playing in socks or barefoot. For this exact purpose, we’ve compiled a list of the best sim racing shoes. Whether they be made specifically for racing simulators or 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.
Best Sim Racing Shoes of 2021
|Editor's Pick||Racing Shoes||Score|
|Top Pick||Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoes||90%|
|Runner-Up||Simpson Racing 28100BK||85%|
|Budget Pick||Goodyear Clutch-E Boots||74%|
|Multi-Purpose||OMP KS-3 Shoes||76%|
|Also Great||RaceQuip Carbon-L Racing Shoes||84%|
|Honorable Mention||Sparco Gamma KB-4 Karting Shoes||80%|
|Customizable||Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boot||88%|
Top Pick: Alpinestars Tech-1 T Shoes
- Lightweight but highly durable
- Excellent grip
- Extra ankle support
Originally designed as karting shoes, the Alpinestars Tech-1 T are perhaps even better for sim racing. 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 boots.
The price of these Alpinestars is 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 sim racing 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 sim racer.
Runner-Up: Simpson Racing 28100BK
- Good pedal feel
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Good support
This Simpson 28100BK racing boot doubles as a great sim shoe. They are very lightweight, made from suede and leather, and the slipper design will comfortably wrap around your foot. The fact that the fleece lining has flat seams 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 sim racing shoes you’re going to be very happy with your purchase.
Budget Pick: Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
The Goodyear 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 and maintain traction
The OMP KS-3 are made for karting, but we’ve 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 in the comfort of your own house, or on an outside racetrack, you can be assured your feet won’t slip from the pedals.
Importantly, their thinness does not equate to fragility. The outside portions of the shoes have toughened leather portions so to prevent wear and tear.
The OMP KS-3’s aren’t 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.
Also Great: RaceQuip Carbon-L Racing Shoes
Unlike the other products on this list, the RaceQuip Carbon-L are neither sim racing shoes nor kart boots. No, they’re real racing boots for real life driving. This means they have to be good (after all, bad shoes could increase the risk of a crash), and it also means they come with a flame retardant liner.
Quality-wise, it’s hard to complain about these racing boots. First things first, they’re attractive: with carbon wear pads on the sides and contrasting stitching, they definitely look the part. They also feature a molded rubber sole for great grip and pedal feel. Last but not least, the primary material used is suede, which makes for great breathability. All in a great pair of racing shoes for your sim rig.
Honorable Mention: Sparco Gamma KB-4 Karting Shoes
The Sparco Gamma KB-4 Karting Shoes will seem like a logical choice to you if you’re familiar with Sparco. This brand makes a lot of automotive apparel, and even collaborates with Thrustmaster on sim racing accessories.
Needless to say, these are excellent sim racing shoes. They breathe well and offer great pedal feel, thanks to the outer rubber soles. That said, there is the occasional complaint about these shoes, with some people saying the build quality isn’t as good as they had hoped. Nevertheless, they’re definitely worth a shot if you’re after the Sparco name.
Customizable: Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boots
- 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 racings boots 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 for an aspiring sim racer? Absolutely.
Best for Wide Feet: OMP One S Wide Shoe
OMP One S Wide Shoe
Billed as the “only 2EE wide racing shoe in the market” – and we couldn’t find any evidence to the contrary – the OMP One S Wide Shoe is the only game in town for sim racers with a wide foot. Luckily for those sim racers, this happens to be one of the best and highest-rated sim racing shoe shoes on the market. The big caveat here is the big price tag, but it isn’t unreasonable when you consider not only the quality of this boot, but the fact that so much more materials have to go into producing a much larger shoe (and other concerns such as supply chains).
Economics aside, these are the kind of boots you’ll be happy to hit the fast track with as they are handsome and big on comfort. Made of genuine leather with rear bellows for a custom fit, OMP has taken into account each part of the foot to ensure not only a great pedal feel is possible but that racers won’t be distracted by discomfort in their toes or ankles.
The soles on this boot are a bit thicker than most sim racing boots to account for a larger foot, but not so much as to compromise the pedals feel for heel-to-toe drivers. While there are certainly alternative options for sim racers with extra-large feet, nothing will come close to the authenticity of this shoe for sim racers with a shoe size of 42 to 47.
Best for Kids: K1 Champ Dark Auto Racing Nomex Shoes
K1 Champ Dark Auto Racing Nomex Shoes
On the opposite end of the size spectrum, with special consideration for the younger sim racing enthusiasts among us, is the K1 Champ Dark Auto Racing Nomex Shoes. These sim racing shoes are specially designed for comfort and control for smaller feet. Featuring a black and grey color scheme and an aggressive style with a silhouette akin to a basketball shoe, these racing boots look as good as they feel.
Constructed from high quality Nomex leather and rubber, these flame-retardant sim racing shoes hold up extremely well in the hottest conditions to ensure safety and a great feel to boot. K1 also makes a full range of sim racing apparel to complement this boot, including gloves and jumpsuit that when bundled together would be a fantastic gift for the little racer in your life.
Best Women’s Racing Shoes: PUMA Speedcat OG Sparco
PUMA Speedcat OG Sparco
While there aren’t very many sim racing products designed especially for the ladies, Puma goes a long way towards closing that gap with their Speedcat OG Sparco. This low-profile racing shoe features a suede upper with classic puma styling – available in black or forest green – and a thin rubber sole with a tire-esque tread pattern with a rounded “driver’s heel” for enhanced comfort at any speed.
While these shoes don’t offer the level of protection as a racing boot, they are nonetheless built for speed, especially conducive to F1-style pedal control. The full-lace closure further emphasizes this style, with a focus on making sure thinner feet are able to keep their sole focus on the track.
Best Collector’s Racing Shoe: Stand21 Porsche Motorsport Air-S Speed Racing Shoe
Stand21 Porsche Motorsport Air-S Speed Racing Shoe
For those who need both copious style and unerring substance, this fabulous pair of racing shoes would look just as good on feet as in a display case – and when you see the price tag on this boot, you might just want to keep them far away from prying feet.
For those who just can’t resist slipping these shoes on, your feet will be handsomely rewarded with top of the line features and materials such as homologated, ergonomic anti-vibration ATV hydrocarbon resistant soles with EVA Micro-Cellular material shock-absorbing heels. Translation: this things grip the pedals like nothing else without breaking a sweat.
For those who would prefer to tuck these shoes away with the rest of their pristine Porsche paraphernalia, these white-on-red-on-black racers have style that is at once classic and decidedly speedy. Porsche aficionados and high rollers alike will find a lot to love with this boot.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Absolutely; most of the products on this list are explicitly designed to be used in real racing conditions. That said, real racing shoes tend to cost considerably more than sim racing shoes or karting boots – which are equally competent for our purposes.
What to Look for in a Sim Racing Shoes and Boots
The most important consideration with regard to any shoes has always been and will always be comfort. After all, if your feet are cramped, sweaty or loose in your shoes, your attention is going to be pried away from the task at hand – and in a hobby where hundredths of a second can separate the first and second place, you simply can’t afford shirk on comfort.
When it comes to sim racing shoes in particular, however, different elements of the shoe will come into play more or less than traditional shoes. The primary difference here is that your racing boot is going to be used not for walking, standing or running – but as a tool for your feet, in order to help them achieve the highest level of control over your racing rig’s pedals (more on this later).
Make certain that you properly size your feet for your new racing shoes – preferably in-person. If you aren’t able to make it to a racing shoe store, you’re far from alone – this sort of specialty retailer isn’t quite as ubiquitous as Foot Locker or your region’s equivalent everyman sports shoe store. In modern times, perhaps more so than even just a few short years ago, online retail is really coming through in the clutch to provide sim racers the opportunity to buy great products and get them shipped to just about anywhere with amazing speed – but make sure that if you order your racing shoes online, you buy from a retailer that has a great return policy.
Again, none of the other factors we’ll be diving into here are more important than comfort, so don’t hesitate to make a swap for a different size or shoe if you get a strong sense that, upon breaking-in, your new shoes aren’t fit for the fast lane.
The consensus amongst real world drivers and sim racers is that you should get racing shoes that are the same size as other athletic shoes you may wear – that is to say, roughly one full size larger than dress or casual shoes. There is one major caveat, however: racing shoes are both narrower than most other athletic shoes and they are meant to be laced tighter as well.
This means that if you tend to wear your athletic shoes loosely-laced, or if your dress shoe size and athletic shoe size are the same – you may want to opt for racing shoes that match your dress shoe size instead. It’s almost impossible to say for sure what size you will need to get, especially if this will be your first pair of racing boots.
This consideration goes to further emphasize the fact that you really need to ensure that you’re purchasing your racing shoes from a trustworthy retailer that has a flexible return policy! Again, don’t torture yourself with ill-fitting racing shoes!
Both essential to comfort and irrelevant in absentia of comfort is grip. Racing shoes are decidedly grippier than pretty much any other variety of shoe, due to the way in which racers will be using them. Great control of your sim vehicle requires drivers’ feet to stop on a dime an enact surgical strikes on each of the three pedals with great regularity and consistency, and that simply cant happen if your heel isn’t able to root itself to your pedal plate with minimal effort.
With respect to pedal feel, your racing shoes will feel more akin to socks than a traditional shoe – and this is to facilitate a closer connection to your virtual mechanical steed such that you’re able to rely on your muscle memory as much as possible in order to shift, brake and throttle in conjunction with your hands. The abridged version of this section is clearly “you need to get and stay in the zone” and perfect grip is the foundational principle of achieving that goal with great regularity.
It may go without saying but in the event you haven’t yet considered this: you’re going to be absolutely abusing these shoes. Lucky for us, racing boots are designed to withstand the rigors of sim racing and then some – in fact, we’ve took great care to thoroughly inspect many user reviews of each of the products in this guide to ensure that they meet the needs of the most demanding customers prior to their recommendation to our readers.
Do bear in mind however that racing shoes are purpose-built and designed to withstand the specific sort of abuse that is endemic to motorsports. While these products can, of course, handle a jog around the block or a trip to the mall, they won’t be as comfortable during such use, nor will they likely last very long if used in this way. There are a number of reasons that racing shoes don’t make for good everyday joggers, but the main takeaway here is that these shoes have a one-track mind – the fast track!
While it can surely be tempting to eschew function in pursuit of form, racing shoes are one of the last product categories in which we would advise taking that risk. You are shopping for a purpose-built, enthusiast-grade product here after all, so focus first on what the shoes do – then if you find a few pairs that fit your needs, feel free to opt for the one that looks the best.
There are countless stories online, from posts in sim racing enthusiast forums and other sites, of racers who decided to dive into an hours-long session with their brand new sim rig without first slipping into some more ergonomic footwear. These cautionary tales tell of blisters, corns, sprains and tears. Also, lots and lots of swelling.
If you intend to spend more time on the track than in the pit, take your gear shopping seriously and make certain you aren’t opting for flash over flex.
Hopefully by now, we have established beyond doubt that supreme comfort is invaluable when it comes to racing shoes. To put it as bluntly as possible: you may as well race in your socks if you aren’t focused on getting the right sim racing shoes! Now, we have a welcome bit of good news for those who have opted to take our advice to this point – comfort and price are not mutually exclusive in the sim racing shoe market.
Every shoe in this guide is highly regarded in all the ways that really matter, and that fact extends all the way down to the lowest-priced budget boots we’ve linked here. For that matter, we can say with great confidence that the difference in comfort between the lowest and highest priced entries in this guide is not especially dramatic.
Naturally, the more expensive shoes and boots we’re recommending do have distinct advantages over their budget brethren – they wouldn’t be worth mentioning otherwise – and certainly do merit a look if you can swing for a more luxurious offering. At the end of the day, we want all of our readers to have the most immersive, rewarding sim racing experiences possible and that would be quite a challenge if you were to blow your budget on just one component of your gear set.
Last Updated on July 11, 2021