When you think of simulation racing, shoes are probably the last thing that comes to mind. They’re still an essential part of a sim racing gear and play a crucial role in improving performance and optimizing the virtual experience. However, most racers, especially beginners, remain blissfully unaware of their existence and importance.
Therefore, in this post, weâ€™ll walk readers through the benefits of sim racing shoes, factors to consider when choosing a pair, and some of the best options in the market today.
What Are Sim Racing Shoes?
Sim racing shoes or boots are a unique type of footwear featuring Achilles flex openings in the heel areas that allow for full, unconstrained foot extension on the brake and throttle. Simply put, they have a flat bottom surface which allows the driver to fully merge their feet with the pedals and control the force exerted on them.
Benefits of Sim Racing Shoes
If youâ€™re still on the fence regarding whether sim racing shoes make a valuable addition to your gear, here are some of the main benefits they offer:
1.Â Enhanced Endurance
Sim racing shoes are designed to keep your feet properly supported with the right combination of cushioning and grip, thus, allowing you to race longer with less fatigue afterward. Depending on the quality, you can significantly reduce foot cramps, which are common after long races.
2.Â Better Grip
Unlike trainers, sneakers, and even racing boots, sim racing shoes feature thinner soles that allow you to extend your feet on the pedals fully. Secondly, they’re made of compounded rubber, which significantly improves your grip. This makes them an ideal choice for new drivers whose feet tend to slip away from the pedals when braking and accelerating.
3.Â Heel Guards
Sim racing boots are equipped with heel inserts designed to protect racers from blisters. With better protection, you can race longer without worrying about discomfort and improve your lap times with more focus.
4.Â Enhanced Breathability
Racing shoes made solely for simulation racing are designed using highly breathable material to ensure maximum comfort while racing in a virtual environment. However, this doesnâ€™t make them suitable for real-world racing or sports since theyâ€™re not designed for combat. With that said, nothing is stopping you from wearing them casually.
5.Â Designed to Optimize Performance
As an aspiring sim racer, you should be looking for every possible gain in your lap times and racing skill. Sim racing shoes can improve your heel-toe technique, which can drastically improve your performance, especially on turns or while trail-braking.
How to Choose the Right Pair of Sim Racing Shoes
If youâ€™re intrigued by the benefits on offer, check out the main factors to consider when choosing a pair of sim racing shoes:
When buying any pair of shoes, comfort is a no-brainer. However, when shopping for sim racing shoes, comfort can make the biggest difference to your performance on the virtual track. So, make sure you choose the right style and size. For instance, many players like full boots while others opt for mid-top or low-top shoes.
Next, you need to consider the material and make sure itâ€™s lightweight. The right material will further enhance the comfort factor and keep you on the tracks longer without fatigue or blisters. You can also check how breathable the material is. The last thing you need is to have hot feet when racing on a scorching summer’s day. Popular options include polypropylene, lycra, and polyester.
3.Â Anti-Fatigue Features
As mentioned above, sim racing shoes are packed with unique features that make them different from trainers and other sports footwear. While elasticated or open Achilles flexes in heels are the most notable feature to look for, you shouldnâ€™t stop there. Other anti-fatigue features include shock-absorbing insoles, waterproof porous membranes, mesh upper, etc.
4.Â Sole Thickness
Lastly, you need to ensure that your sim racing shoes have a thin sole to reduce the distance between your feet and the pedals. A thin sole will give you a much better feel when driving and allow you to fully immerse into the virtual track and react to track conditions, especially if you own a high-end simulation rig.
The 3 Best Sim Racing Shoes in the Market
If youâ€™re ready to go shopping for a pair of sim racing shoes, here are our top three picks you can consider and save valuable time researching hundreds of products:
1.Â Abruzzi Personalized Sim Racing Boots
AbruzziÂ might not be a popular brand like Adidas or Nike, but it’s making some serious noise in the simulation racing industry due to its custom-made racing boots. So, if you’re in the market for a higher-end option, these luxurious, premium-quality handmade shoes are worth every penny. You can personalize everything from the type of leather material, sole thickness, padded insoles, and colors. You can also include your name, racing logo, and other visual elements in your design.
2.Â Goodyear Clutch-E Boots
If you’re not looking to go all out on your first purchase, the Goodyear Clutch-E BootsÂ are a great budget pick to get started. They might not be the best in terms of material quality, but they’re relatively lighter than many higher-end options in the market. So, if you’re looking to race for hours, they will do a fine job of keeping you cool and comfortable.
As far as the grip goes, itâ€™s neither the best nor the worst. However, itâ€™s perfect for its price tag and will allow your feet to rest comfortably thanks to the EVA foam midsole pads coupled with paddles ankle coverage.
3.Â OMP KS-3
For racers who donâ€™t want to buy a pair of shoes solely for sim racing, the OMP KS-3Â is a great multi-purpose option. This racing footwear was initially designed for karting. However, many racers claim it can easily double as an excellent sim racing footwear due to its superior grip, thin sole, and enhanced durability.
Although theyâ€™re not cheap, they can last just as long as some of the best trainers and sneakers. So, whether you plan to wear them casually to the mall or a real-world kart race, their toughened leather portions should easily prevent any wear and tear.
And there you have it â€“ everything you need to know about sim racing shoes. With this information, you won’t have to spend time researching different options in the market, thus simplifying the shopping process. If you feel the options aren’t for you, use our tips on choosing the right pair when exploring other options.
No matter which option you pick, you’ll have a much better racing experience compared to traditional footwear. However, if you’re purchasing a pair for improvement, remember that getting faster in sim racing wonâ€™t happen overnight. Youâ€™ll have to practice for a certain period while wearing sim racing shoes before you reap their performance benefits.