Go-Kart Racing Gear: A Comprehensive Guide

Go-kart racing is generally regarded as a safe motorsport. With continuously improved designs, materials and safety features go-karts are safer than they have ever been. However, most of the professional racing go-karts have an open-wheel design, meaning that there could be an increased risk of injury to the driver in the event of a collision or accident on the race track.

Therefore, having the proper go-kart racing gear is extremely important. Racing equipment such as helmets, suits, rib protectors, gloves, neck braces, balaclavas and shoes not only protect you from potential injury, but they can also boost your performance and make the race more comfortable.

Here is a list of the go-kart racing gear we will be focusing on:

  1. Helmet
  2. Gloves
  3. Suit
  4. Neck Brace
  5. Rib Protector
  6. Shoes
  7. Balaclava

Why is Racing Gear Recommended for Karting?

Although some go-karts – mostly karts that are built to meet CIK-FIA recommendations for leisure karting – have safety bumpers and are meant to race in the confines of an indoor race track, the more professional racing karts have an open-wheel design.

This means that during races where the tension is high, go-karts could accidentally collide with each other causing accidents. In some cases go-karts could flip. It’s therefore extremely important to ensure that you – the driver – is protected to the fullest extent. It’s definitely not worth taking the risk by not wearing protective racing equipment. To give you a better idea as to why, the CPSC notes that about 10,500 go-kart related injuries are treated in US emergency rooms per year.  

Wearing proper go-kart racing gear also has many additional benefits. For example, racing helmets not only protect you, but they also help to block wind and debris from restricting your field of vision, whereas racing gloves help to dampen the vibration of the steering wheel. So, apart from protecting you, it can also make your race more comfortable, which in turn can lead to better performance. 

Here is a summary of the benefits you can get from go-kart racing equipment:

  • Protects you from injury
  • Ensures a more comfortable race
  • Can boost your performance
  • Enables you to meet CIK-FIA requirements

Different Types of Kart Racing Equipment

As with any other type of motorsport, there are various types of racing equipment that are intended to protect different parts of your body. While not all of them are mandatory or are required to meet homologation standards, it’s still recommended to wear them depending on your racing habits. Let’s take a closer look at the safety gear that you should consider.

1. Karting Helmet

go-kart equipment helmet
  • Will protect from head injuries
  • Can provide performance boost
  • Should meet homologation requirements

Look Out For: Safety Features

Arguably the most important part of your go-kart racing gear, a go-kart racing helmet has many functions. Firstly and also most importantly, it protects your head. Head injuries can be fatal so it’s extremely important that you always keep your head protected. Therefore, you should always ensure that your karting helmet is made of a heavy-duty and robust outer shell that is not only lightweight, but more importantly durable.

Look Out For: Comfort

A comfortable inner lining, especially when paired with a high-quality balaclava or head stock, will also ensure that you feel comfortable throughout your race and that you can fully focus on what’s ahead. Make sure to also place emphasis on aerodynamics and ventilation! While an aerodynamic design will give you a performance boost, proper ventilation is important to maintain focus.

Look Out For: Certification

Regardless of your racing class, you should always ensure that your go-kart helmet is Snell certified to the latest standards (Currently: SA2020). This ensures that your helmet meets the latest manufacturing and quality standards. If you’re racing competitively, you’d also want to ensure that the helmet is certified to meet the standard of the FIA 8859-2015 homologation.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Helmets

2. Karting Gloves

go-kart gear gloves
  • Will protect from hand injuries
  • Can increase steering wheel grip
  • Should meet homologation requirements

Look Out For: Safety Features

Go-kart racing gloves should also be part of your safety gear. Owning a good pair of karting gloves will benefit you greatly in terms of protection, comfort and performance. When choosing a pair of karting gloves, ensure that they’re made of a durable material such as Nomex. These types of materials are abrasion and fire-resistant that keep your fingers and hands well protected.

Look Out For: Comfort

Another important feature that go-kart gloves have is that they help to dampen the vibrations of the steering wheel. As go-karts don’t have suspensions, these constant vibrations can wear you down over the course of a race. Moreover, they also help to increase your grip on the steering wheel through specialized material on the palm area.

Look Out For: Certification

Depending on your racing class, you should also ensure that the karting gloves meet the required CIK-FIA homologation as well as the SFI standards (Current: SFI 3.3/5). This will ensure that they meet the latest manufacturing and quality standards.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Gloves

3. Karting Suit

karting suit
  • Will protect from abrasion
  • Important to get the right size
  • Should meet FIA-CIK Level 1 or Level 2 homologation

Look Out For: Safety Features

Deemed as another essential piece of go-kart safety equipment, having a proper racing suit is extremely important. A kart racing suit will protect your body from abrasion and should therefore be made of a multi-layer high-quality material such as Cordura.

Look Out For: Comfort

A racing suit needs to be the correct size, so that you can benefit from it fully. You’ll often find that karting suits have a front or back zip closure, as well as a Velcro fastener around the waist. If your racing suit is loose, you’ll find yourself moving around in your seat during a race, which could impair your focus. A suit that is too tight will restrict your movement. 

Look Out For: Certification

As far as homologation standards are concerned, ensure that they meet either CIK-FIA homologation Level 1 or Level 2. Karting suits are CIK-FIA Level 2 certified and manufactured to extremely high standards and are highly recommended.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Suits

4. Karting Neck Brace

  • Optional racing gear
  • Helps to protect against hyperflexion and hyperextension
  • Some neck braces are SFI certified

Look Out For: Safety Features

A go-kart racing neck brace is a great optional piece of safety gear that go-karters commonly wear. As the name suggests, it’s worn around the neck and fits in between your shoulders and helmet. A neck brace is often made of abrasion-resistant materials such as hard rubber and foam padding and helps to absorb shock from impacts. Additionally, it also limits hyperflexion and hyperextension of the neck in case of an accident.

Look Out For: Comfort

There’s a wide range of go-kart neck collars on the market that are made of various materials and feature different designs. Ensure that it fits comfortably around your neck without restricting your head movement too much. Decide on a velcro and/or buckle closure so securely it tightly around your neck.

Look Out For: Certification

Racing neck braces are optional and are not known to be CIK-FIA homologated. However, you’ll find some of them SFI certified, depending on the material and build quality they are manufactured with. You can always refer to the certification label located on the neck brace.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Neck Braces

5. Karting Rib Protector

go-kart rib protector gear
  • Protects your rib cage, chest and sternum
  • Ensure a comfortable fit
  • Some neck braces are CIK-FIA certified

Look Out For: Safety Features

Similar to a neck brace, a karting rib protector is another great optional piece of safety equipment that go-kart racers wear. The rib protector is designed in a way that it protects your rib cage, which in turn protects all of your vital organs. As go-karts feature an open design, you’re fully exposed to exterior conditions. In case of a collision or an accident, a high-quality rib protector made of Cordura or Kevlar can protect your rib cage, chest and sternum from injuries.

Look Out For: Comfort

Go-kart rib protectors are usually secured in place via a belt and/or velcro closure. While the exterior is made of an abrasion-resistant material, the inner padding is usually made of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) for comfort. Ensure that your rib protector doesn’t obstruct your range of motion, as it can lead to performance loss if it’s incorrectly sized.

Look Out For: Certification

Depending on the type and material of the rib protector, some of them are SFI and even FIA 8870-2018 certified. If you’re into professional go-kart racing, you should ensure that all your gear is certified to the newest homologation standards.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Rib Protectors

6. Karting Shoes

karting gear shoes boots
  • Protects your feet
  • Enables optimal pedal control
  • Check for FIA / SFI certification

Look Out For: Safety Features

A proper pair of karting shoes will ensure that you have optimal pedal control for accelerating and braking. They also help to protect your feet in case of any collision or accident. Go-kart racing shoes or boots are typically made of a durable material such as leather, suede or microfiber. Additionally, they also have a rubber sole for increased pedal grip.

Look Out For: Comfort

Karting shoes should feel comfortable. It’s therefore important that they not only fit your feet well, but they should also have perforated ventilation, heel support, anatomic insoles and dual closure. Comfortable go-kart shoes will definitely help with optimized pedal control and increase race comfort.

Look Out For: Certification

Also ensure that your racing oots have the required SFI or FIA 8856-2018 certification for your kart class. There should be a label on the shoes indicating the certification.

More Information: Find the Best Karting Shoes

7. Karting Balaclava

  • Protects head from fire-related injuries
  • Has moisture wicking properties
  • Check for FIA / SFI certification

Look Out For: Safety Features

A go-kart racing balaclava or head sock is always recommended as it protects your head from fire-related injuries. Racing balaclavas are usually made from fire-retardant materials such as aramid fabric, blended cotton or Nomex.

Look Out For: Comfort

Karting head socks are also more hygienic, as the inner lining is usually made of a hydrophobic fabric that has moisture wicking properties. Therefore, it absorbs sweat during a race, which in turn preserves the racing helmet. This helps you focus better during races and also acts as a comfortable layer between your head and your helmet.

Look Out For: Certification

High-quality karting balaclavas should definitely be part of your go-kart race gear set and also ensure that they meet the required SFI and CIK-FIA homologation (FIA 8856-2000).

More Information: Find the Best Karting Balaclavas

Conclusion

Whether you race go-karts for leisure or professionally, you should always ensure that you’re well protected. This means that you need to equip yourself with the right go-kart racing gear to ensure that you remain unharmed during an accident or a collision.

I would personally encourage you to invest in a good set of racing equipment, as they usually last very long and they also pay themselves off on the race track. Apart from the various safety aspects, you can also greatly benefit from the boost of performance and comfort that they provide during a race.

Always remember, while go-karting is an extremely fun motorsport it’s always important to remain safe at all times. Happy racing!

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