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The Best Sim Racing Boots and Socks: Buyer’s Guide

SimHound Sim Shoes

Featured image: SimHound Sim Racing Shoes (great in the sim!)

In today’s article, we’re looking at footwear for sim racers: from sim racing boots to karting boots and socks designed and intended for sim racing – to answer the question: what are the best boots for sim racing? Or, do sim racing socks work just as well?

Kart boots, race boots, or socks in the sim? As a racer, I’m naturally going to want a similar pedal feel close to what I’d expect in the car on the track. I’ve found that the edges of the Heuskinveld pedals have quite a sharp edge and that my karting boots are ideal for the sim. Not sharp enough to cut you (obviously!!) but certainly enough to start to hurt after a while, especially if like me, you drive with a shifter and spend a lot of time using heel/toe for downshifts.

On that note, sim racing boots are ideal for a bit of protection from the edges of sharp pedals. They help you distribute the load, especially on the brakes and they’re a fairly cheap addition for drivers who want a bit more of an authentic, Motorsport-like feel through their feet. I don’t know if this is how everyone feels but certainly, the people I’ve spoken with all say they wear some sort of footwear for pedal work.

Check out our favourites from the list below, or keep reading for more advice.

What are the Best Boots and Socks for Sim Racing?
  • Sim Hound Sim Racing Socks
  • Cube Controls G+ Sim Racing Socks
  • Sparco K-Pole Karting Boots
  • Sparco K-Run Kart Boots
  • Sim Hound Racing Shoes
  • Sparco Hyperdrive Sim Racing Boots
  • Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots
  • Simpson Adrenaline Racing Shoe

Why wear sim racing boots in the simulator?

In my opinion, sim racing is Motorsport, and part of the equipment for Motorsport is boots (and gloves).

Here are some key features you should take into account when choosing your next pair of sim racing boots:

1. Comfort and Feel: Racing boots must provide a balance of flexibility and ankle support. The thickness of the sole directly affects the boot’s flexibility and the driver’s feel on the pedals. Thinner soles offer a better pedal feel, enabling smoother and more consistent throttle and brake applications. The weight of the boot is also crucial, with lighter boots facilitating quicker pedal movements and reducing driver fatigue in longer races.

2. Material and Construction: Racing boots are typically made from high-quality materials like suede for entry-level boots and supple leather for mid to high-range boots. These materials provide durability and comfort. Reinforced sections are often found behind the toes to accommodate heel-and-toe driving techniques. Some boots have additional features like a Velcro securing strap or quick lace systems for improved fit and support.

My K-Run karting boots went well with my Heusinkveld Sprint Pedals
My K-Run karting boots went well with my Heusinkveld Sprint Pedals

Choosing your boot size:

Racing boots follow continental sizing, ranging from UK kids 10.5 to adults 12 (US Kids 11, EU Size 28-29 to US Adults 13, EU Size 46-47. The boots should be a close fit to prevent foot movement and to maintain pedal feel and control. They are usually sized smaller than standard shoes, so drivers might need a size up, although this is pretty rare. The upright position of the feet in the car can cause them to slip to the back of the boot, so a loose fit could exacerbate the gap between the toes and the tip of the boot.

Sim racing boots enhance your driving performance by offering comfort, flexibility, pedal feel, and a precise fit. Despite not being mandatory in the sim, there are clear benefits that shouldn’t be missed.

Is there such a thing as a size guide for racing/sim racing shoes? Sadly no, there’s a little bit of trial and error involved especially if you have very narrow or very wide feet. The rule of thumb is to match your shoe size with your chosen boot size. Unlike gloves (which should fit tightly), your boots should feel comfortable and supportive. That support should feel best around the ankle so that you feel like you have support when you have your heel on the floor and your foot hovering over the pedal plate. I’ve found that my Sparco boots are slightly narrower than Alpinestars, but all boots need “breaking in” for some time before they’re at their best. Mark Webber famously breaks his boots in and keeps the same pair for as long as possible!

Speaking of Red Bull F1 drivers:

max verstappen in his sim
Max Verstappen wears socks in his simulator – hardcore stuff! (image source)

If it’s a choice of socks or boots, I prefer boots in the sim. It’s nicer to put them and a sort of ritual just before you lower yourself into your seat, in my humble opinion. There’s no way I’d wear trainers (sneakers) as the soles are too thick and bare feet in the sim is horrible (I’m looking at your Redditors who take pics of their bare toes on their sim pedals).

With that said, some drivers just prefer socks. I don’t enjoy using ordinary socks as they offer no protection on pedal edges and limited grip on the pedal plates. With that said, Our friends at SimHound have a sim racing-specific sock that is worth a look:

Sim Hound Sim Racing Socks

These sim racing socks are innovatively designed to maximize comfort and enhance your racing experience. They come with silicone grips for improved handling. The top is made of breathable, elasticated material to keep your feet cool and fresh during intense races, while the bottom uses extra padding to reduce stress on the heel and ball of the foot.

SimHound sim racing socks showing heel grip
SimHound Sim Racing Socks showing heel grip

These socks also provide arch support to prevent foot pain and are made from a high-wicking material to minimize moisture during long races. The composition is 75% Cotton, 20% Polyester, and 5% Spandex, creating a comfortable and durable blend.

SimHound Sim Racing Socks side view

Cube Controls G+ Sim Racing Socks

These socks from Cube Controls are fabricated from a “no-stress” fabric that ensures maximum comfort even during the longest and most intense races. Their unique construction integrates an internal gel pad on the heel of both feet, which adds a layer of cushioning that effectively reduces strain and promotes overall foot well-being. Technically they’ve been well thought out and designed specifically for the sim racer.

cube controls sim racing socks
Cube Controls G+ Sim Racing Socks

The real game-changer in the design lies on the sole of the left foot. There’s an innovative PVC grip that provides more certainty in control over your sim racing pedals, making every movement more precise and responsive. Nice touch!

If socks aren’t for you, let’s take a look at my favourite boots:

Sparco K-Pole Karting Boots

Sparco K-Pole kart boots present a “medium-rise” style with a perforated microfiber leather exterior, promoting air circulation for cooler and less sweaty feet. These boots offer a superior fit and comfort, typically associated with higher-priced variants.

Sparco K-Pole karting boots - ideal for sim racing
Sparco K-Pole karting boots – ideal for sim racing

The perforated design encourages breathability, helping your feet stay fresh and cool by minimizing perspiration. A redesigned heel structure enhances support and minimizes fatigue, ensuring comfortable wear over extended periods.

The boots come equipped with a cutting-edge rubber sole that guarantees exceptional pedal grip and feel. These boots are not only functional but also fashionable, available in a variety of vibrant colours and a contemporary design.

To further boost comfort, the boots incorporate heel bellows that adjust to your feet. An external fit system ensures a snug and secure fit, making these boots a perfect blend of comfort, style, and performance.

Sparco K-Run Kart boots

The K-Run boots are my sim racing boots of choice – these are the 2020 versions, and despite being several years old, they’ve kept in really good condition:

Sparco K-Run kart boots after about a month of regular use
Sparco K-Run kart boots (and by far my favourites)

At £120 ($149) these are among the highest-quality boots on the list. This is the 2023 version:

sparco k-run 2023 boot

In the simulator, these boots really stand out. They happen to be the stiffest boots by some margin, which in my view is exactly what’s needed with these pedals. I think the artificial leather upper is harder wearing than real leather. And that hard-wearing feature works well with pedals. Particularly if you have grip tape on yours.

These give me a great feel for practising heel and toe downshifting – and if you don’t like red, they’re available in blue and red, too.

Using kart boots on sim pedals
Using kart boots on sim pedals

The sole is as thin and grippy as the other two boots, but with stiff support to help you put a load on the brake pedal quickly and with a lot of certainty and feel.

Sim Hound Racing Shoes

Sim Hound’s racing shoes combine the perfect balance between comfort, support, and protection, helping your feet grip your sim racing pedals firmly without being overly cumbersome. I really like mine, especially with thinner socks which makes them a bit more breathable.

They have very thin soles but make for a brilliant pair of house shoes when you’re not in the sim. They’re stretchy, but a little tight – much like a pair of sim racing gloves.

SimHound Sim Shoes
My SimHound Sim Shoes

Indeed, sim racing pedals are replicating real-life racecars more accurately than ever. For instance, some sim brake pedals are now almost as stiff as the real thing, thanks to the likes of load cell and hydraulic technologies, so having an extra layer of defence between the soles of your feet and the pedals’ faceplates is essential, especially for prolonged gameplay.

Sim Hound Racing Shoes: sole and upper detail
Sim Hound Racing Shoes: sole and upper detail

Consequently, the soles of Sim Hound’s racing shoes are based on current designs typically seen in Motorsport and karting shoes. The sole is thin enough to ensure you can still feel the pedal, it is robust enough to absorb and dissipate most of the impact from the faceplate, which keeps your performance at its best. Because of their flexibility, they’re very much like socks in that you need both hands to put them on properly and you’ll need your hands to remove them too. If you try to kick them off like an ordinary pair of boots, they’ll not come off and just curl up.

That’s not a bad thing, it just indicates how sim racing-specific SimHound have made these shoes!

simhound sim racing shoes in use
On the pedals – SimHound sim racing shoes

The design of the heel makes it easy to roll from pedal to pedal and perform advanced racing techniques such as heel and toe shifting. In addition, the upper section of the shoes is constructed of lightweight, breathable, and elasticated fabric, ensuring maximum comfort even during the longest of races.

Walking around the house is very nice wearing these, too – they feel like a really comfy pair of slippers!

Sparco Hyperdrive Sim Racing Boots

New to the market are the Hyperdrive sim racing boots – sharing the name with the popular gloves, these lightweight items are super breathable and have a very thin, F1 style sole:

Sparco Hyperdrive sim racing boots
Sparco Hyperdrive Sim Racing Boot

I suspect the tall “sock” that covers the lower ankles would be really useful to alleviate tiredness during endurance racing. They look good, too.

Designed specifically for the sim racing market, the Sparco Hyperdrive gaming Boots are the result of the culmination of the company’s knowledge and experience in designing championship-winning driving footwear. Taking everything it has learned from its real-life racing involvement, Sparco has fine-tuned the ultimate gaming boot by removing all the unnecessary, not to mention weight-adding, features of traditional racing shoes, creating something genuinely fit-for-purpose.

Sparco Hyperdrive Sim Racing Boot (yellow trim)

As a result, the Hyperdrive Gaming Boots are exceptionally lightweight. In addition, they feature a tall, built-in, elasticated internal sock that provides a better fit and feel by eliminating the traditional tongue found on almost any other shoe. The material is also well-perforated for improved ventilation and reduced perspiration.

The sole of the boots remains strong but is considerably thinner than what you’d find on boots that are safety-rated for real-life racing. Being thinner adds yet more weight savings without compromising on sturdiness.

Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots

As a manufacturer of some of the world’s most sophisticated sim racing pedals, Asetek knows a thing or two about what’s required of your feet to succeed in digital motorsport. So, fittingly, the company has launched its own premium sim racing boots under the same product line as its top-shelf hardware: Invicta. In keeping with its high-performance reputation, Asetek’s Invicta sim racing boots combine robust materials and undeniable elegance.

Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots
Asetek Invicta Sim Racing Boots

The rubber sole is thin enough to provide great sensation, allowing you to feel the pedals and make minute adjustments, yet it is stable enough to provide a tenacious grip and help you maintain consistent lap times.

The front portion of the boots is perforated, ensuring ample breathability, while the tongue offers sufficient padding to guarantee comfort while you stomp the pedals. In addition, the boots feature laces coupled with a self-fastening strap that allows for easy adjustments to ensure a snug fit.

If appearances are important to you, you won’t be let down as these boots are spectacularly refined, with an elegant Asetek colour palate throughout that complements the choice of strong-yet-lightweight materials.

Simpson Adrenaline Racing Shoe

As a popular choice among drag racers, these timelessly styled boots are kitted out with several real-world racing characteristics that translate very well for sim racers. The difference an authentic racing shoe can make becomes evident by the fact that you will forget you’re even wearing any.

They’ve got a skater vibe to the design and sole, too – which looks cool:

Simpson High Top Racing Boot
Simpson High Top Racing Boot

Since these boots are light, soft, and comfortable, it means that when you’re driving fast and pushing your limits, distractions are kept to a minimum, letting you focus more on the car, track, and racing conditions. On top of that, the sleek profile of these boots ensures that transitions between the throttle, brake, and clutch pedals are effortlessly natural, significantly reducing the chances of you making any mistakes.

Simpson Adrenaline Racing Shoe

The rubber sole is stiff and provides a solid foundation, allowing your feet to stay nimble, yet it also has enough feel to remain tactile. Additionally, the high-top shape provides further reinforcement, especially regarding ankle support, which comes in handy for endurance races.  The boots are fastened with a combination of grippy laces and Velcro straps, so there’s no chance of them coming loose midway through a race. So, if you’re looking for a classic racing shoe with all the advantages professional drivers look for in footwear, you won’t go wrong with a pair of Simpson’s High Tops.

Conclusion – my preferred boot for the sim:

Sparco K-Run boots are my favourite sim racing boots

For the money; it has to be the Sparco K-Run boots – a choice that I’m still happy with after several years of use. The stiffness they provide is precisely right for years of aggressive sim racing. They’ll last an age.

My recommendation – the best boots for sim racing are karting boots, but I’ve included every boot on this page because these are all great choices – enjoy!

The Best Sim Racing Boots and Socks: Buyer’s Guide