If you want to take your sim racing experience to the next level of immersion and performance, consider wearing sim racing shoes. I think most people, including me, start out with a desk mounted wheel, an office chair, and plain old socks. Over time, you upgrade your wheel, your pedals, and your rig. But isn’t it time to upgrade your footwear as well?
Using racing shoes is a great way to enhance the sim racing experience. Not only are there practical benefits that can increase your performance on the track, there is also the immersion and realism factor. As sim racing enthusiasts, we are always after the ultimate simulation. Racing shoes can be a pretty cheap way to enhance the simulation.
In this article, I’ll explain what separates racing shoes from other types of footwear. Then I’ll discuss the pros and cons, and if racing shoes are really worth it for sim racing. Finally, I’ll give you some recommendations for racing shoes, socks, and also a few other types of footwear that work great in place of racing shoes.
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What is special about racing shoes?
Auto racing shoes are designed with safety and performance in mind. Racing shoes are different from other types of sports shoes in many ways:
Racing shoes need to adhere to racing safety standards. Fire and heat resistance, for example. Racing shoes are specifically designed to enhance safety in auto racing.
Racing shoes are designed with firm and smooth soles to aid in pedal feel and control. Most other types of footwear have soles that are either too flexible, or have too much grip. In auto racing, you don’t want any edges that can get caught on the pedal. And you want the sole to be firm, yet thin enough for optimal pedal feel.
With most other types of shoes, the sole is the first thing to wear out. It makes sense, because the sole makes contact with the surfaces you are walking on. In racing, most of the abrasion and wear will occur at the heel. Racing shoes are designed with tough, and often weighted heels. They need to be able to withstand the wear and tear involved with auto racing.
Are racing shoes worth it for sim racing?
I just covered how racing shoes are different from normal shoes. There are many areas in which racing shoe benefits could help sim racers. Just like in a real car, sim racers need to be able to heel-toe on downshifts. Pedal transitions need to be smooth quick. And durability is important as well. So, should you sim race in shoes?
In my opinion, it boils down to personal preference. If you are just starting out, with equipment like a Logitech G29, I would recommend just wearing normal socks and investing your money into hardware upgrades. But if you want to take your experience to the next level, beyond hardware, racing shoes can help in many ways.
Do you wear socks with racing shoes?
Yes, wearing socks is recommended with racing shoes. It comes down to personal preference, but socks offer many benefits over going barefoot in racing shoes. Our feet sweat, and socks help to wick away moisture that would otherwise soak into the shoe fabric.
Best Sim Racing Shoes
If you’ve decided to try sim racing with racing shoes, you’re probably wondering where to start. There are endless options on the market. I’ve rounded up several sim racing shoes that come highly recommended from the sim racing community.
RaceQuip SFI Race Shoe
My top pick for the best sim racing shoe is the RaceQuip SFI Race Shoe. The RaceQuip SFI offers a great value compared to higher end racing shoes. Since we are doing simulated racing and not real racing, many of the features of the higher end shoes don’t make much difference compared to a budget friendly option like the RaceQuip’s.
The upper is made of suede leather, and the sole is molded rubber. The sole rolls up the rear of the shoe to provide extra durability in the heel. The SFI’s provide a high level of ankle support. And finally, the achilles opening allows your foot to flex freely and increases comfort for those long racing sessions.
The only downside to the RaceQuip SFI’s is the lack of color choices. I hope you like black, because that’s all that is available. That’s really a nitpick, though, since black is neutral and most people aren’t going to care what color their racing shoe is!
Goodyear Overdrive Racing Sneaker
Another good option is the Goodyear Overdrive Racing Sneaker. If you don’t want a high-top shoe design, go with the Goodyear’s over the RaceQuip above.
The Goodyear Overdrive features an EVA rubber sole, that rounds to the heel to provide the durability that sim racers need in a shoe. The upper is a mix of PU leather and mesh. Like most racing shoes, the sole is firm, smooth, and has just the right amount of grip to feel confident on the pedals, but not enough to interrupt transitions.
The other nice thing about the Overdrive’s is the three color choices. The downside here is the quality of the materials. The Goodyear’s are made from synthetic leather and mesh instead of the suede you find in many racing shoes.
Sim Racing Shoe Alternatives
Since we are just sim racing and not really in a racecar, some of the features that are important in racing shoes are not really a requirement. There are plenty of alternative products you can use that can be equivalent in many ways to racing shoes.
Whether it’s budget, functionality, or other reasons, here are a few ideas for shoes you can use while sim racing.
ASICS Wrestling Shoes
Wrestling shoes are a popular alternative to racing shoes in the sim racing community. The ASICS Matflex 6 Wrestling Shoes provide many of the benefits of racing shoes. They feature smooth soles that help you with pedal feel and control. There is a high level of ankle support. And the achilles area of the shoe is cut out to provide maximum comfort and flexibility.
One of the differences between wrestling shoes and racing shoes is the firmness of the sole. Racing shoe soles are designed to be more firm than wrestling shoe soles. But some advantages wrestling shoes provide is price and availability. Nearly every sports store in your local area will carry wrestling shoes, and you may even have some laying around already!
Vans Slip-On Shoes
Need a sim racing shoe that can double as a casual shoe for everyday use? Vans Slip-On’s might just be the perfect option. Vans are a popular choice for sim racers because they are low profile, affordable, easy to put on, and widely available.
The best thing about this kind of shoe, besides the fact that it is multi-purpose, is the personalization. Vans come in a wide variety of styles and colors, so you can find a pair that match your style.
Sim Racing Socks
Want the increased grip and confidence that come with racing shoes, but still want the comfort of going without shoes? Athletic socks might just be the best way to race without shoes.
Muezna Men’s Non-Slip Yoga Socks
Specialty athletic socks like the Muezna Non-Slip Yoga Socks pictured above feature grippy rubber on the bottom for increased pedal control compared to regular socks.
Sim racing socks can be a good solution if you prioritize comfort. They are also significantly cheaper than a pair of dedicated racing shoes, so this can also be a good option for those with a limited budget.
Racing shoes offer a lot of features compared to regular shoes. Many of those features can translate to sim racing. Things like heel durability and the texture of the sole can help when racing at home or in the real world. Sim racers don’t need the safety features like a fire rating, but there are still affordable racing shoes for every budget.
Even if you don’t want to wear shoes, non-slip socks can be a great option. And finally, maybe you already have some old Vans or wrestling shoes laying around that you could use.
What do you race in? Socks or shoes? Share your recommendations in the comments below!