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Looking for a Karting (racing) shoe for a 15 year old. Some have high-tops while others have a low profile.

Some high-tops do not have a cut out above the heel. Would a cut out be beneficial or not? Should the shoe fit snug at the ankle or be a little loose?

Why do all the karting shoes have a rounded sole but only some have a cut out?

The primary consideration is safety with athletic performance being secondary.

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Welcome to Sports SE! Are you asking this question to find the best brand/price of shoe for a 15 yr. old? Are you looking for the best shoe for a given sport? Are you looking for a shoe that is most beneficial to one's athletic abilities? More detail is appreciated... –  edmastermind29 Sep 6 '12 at 23:10
    
My child is new to the sport we are trying to by the appropriate shoes and I don't understand the differences among the shoes and why there are so many choices. –  RobinLS Sep 6 '12 at 23:20
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I understand. Let's see what the community does for you. Welcome again! –  edmastermind29 Sep 6 '12 at 23:22

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted
  • High-top or Low-top

    In my opinion, high tops are better because most of them are fire rated and add that extra protection. If you were to burn your ankles, they do not recover well from burn damage. This results in a long and painful recovery time. In a non-fire resistant shoe, the best buy would still be a high top so there is less edge to catch a pedal on. So my answer would obviously be the High-Top.

    Hint: After tying your laces, stick them into the shoe to avoid getting them caught in and around the pedals.

  • Size

    The shoe should feel comfortable when you put it on. It can be a little snug at first, but you know it's going to loosen up a little bit. A driving shoe shouldn't be uncomfortable, but you want it snug enough to do the job. All I can say is to make sure the shoes fit perfectly, for safety's sake.

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Fire retardant materials are a feature of car racing, not kart racing equipment. Short-circuit karts have only two pedals (one for each foot) so there is no argument on the basis on "going from one pedal to another" :) –  Greg Sep 18 '12 at 11:36
    
Two pedals being the gas and brake correct? I would feel uncomfortable using one foot for the break and the other for the gas. Just my opinion. Is there an advantage for doing this? –  Zack Sep 18 '12 at 12:59
    
@Zack sounds like you can make a question out of that... –  edmastermind29 Sep 18 '12 at 13:12
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In a kart you have the steering column passing right between your legs. There's no choice but to use one foot for each pedal :D –  Greg Sep 18 '12 at 15:33
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See this pic. Driver can't possibly move left foot to right pedal or vice versa. –  Greg Sep 18 '12 at 15:41

I race karts regularly. I have first hand experience.

I'm assuming that you are talking about short-circuit karting (i.e. non-gearbox). Long-circuit karting is a whole different story (and one where I have no experience).

If possible, try your boots while sat in the kart. I have some really nice, comfortable Puma racing boots but as soon as I get in the kart I find that the rear portion of the ankle cutaway simply rubs/presses on my achilles heel - not especially comfortable after even 10 minutes of racing (and I usually race for 90 minutes - these boots are now gathering dust!).

In terms of high-top versus low top, there is a marginal argument on the grounds of safety and protection (imo) but in reality I think this is negligible in karting and it simply becomes a matter of comfort and protection. Similarly, space restriction is rarely an issue in a kart.

In the UK at least (and I'm pretty sure any FIK affiliated environment), flame/fire retardancy is not a requirement at all given the low-risk of fire. You will be pushed to find kart-specific equipment that is fire retardant. The consequence is that karting kit generally looks and feels the same as circuit racing kit but is considerably cheaper.

As far as fit is concerned, comfort is key again. Kart boots have thin soles to assist in the "feel" of the pedals but unless you have a gearbox kart, you won't be swapping pedals with your feet so "sensitivity" is much less important than in car racing.

Edit:

I meant to add - the presence or not of a cut out for the heel will very much be a factor of your (son's) stature and consequential position within the kart. A taller driver will need less "pivot" in their heels and will approach the pedals from a more "top-down" position - meaning less room required in the back of their boot. A shorter driver, like me, will have their legs a full extension (almost flat) and therefore their ankle more pivoted and require more room at the back of their boots. Again though, it's comfort!

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Having raced karts and cars for many years, the only crucial factors for motor racing shoes are that they can fit into what is often a very reduced space, and they can protect your fit from fire and other damage.

A high top will offer more protection, but can be a little restrictive, which is why many opt for lower ankles.

For karting the fire risk is low, and you tend to have ample space, so I would go with whatever is comfortable.

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I've yet to see a kart with "reduced space" for your feet. Cars, yes, I agree, but not karts. –  Greg Sep 18 '12 at 11:37
    
That is exactly my point:) –  Rory Alsop Sep 18 '12 at 11:56
    
Sorry Rory your answer doesn't come across that way then. I'd edit it if I had enough rep. Talking about (circuit) racing kit when the question is about karting kit is confusing. Neither fire protection nor reduced space are an issue in karting so it would be best not to have mentioned them all :) That doesn't make your answer wrong of course since, effectively, all you are saying is "comfort is all that matters". (Which is true). –  Greg Sep 18 '12 at 15:48
    
There you go :-) –  Rory Alsop Sep 18 '12 at 19:23

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