The best driving shoes for a more engaging drive

Heel and toe with ease wearing some snazzy driving shoes.

best driving shoes

by Ryan Gilmore |
Updated on

There's a reason why you'll see suited-up racing drivers in driving shoes as opposed to what you might wear with your sim racing setup. The simple answer is both pedal feel and the varying sizes of pedals in different racing cars. Some can seemingly be as thin as a strand of spaghetti, so having the right footwear is important.

Of course, you might be thinking: "But I'm never going to be driving an old '70s F1 car at Goodwood." But have you ever considered that before embarking on a track day or at least a safe, but spirited drive in your special car, that choosing the right shoes will enhance your experience?

And even for normal road driving the correct footwear is important when it comes to driving - even if it's a decent pair of socks for sim racing. In that sense, you ideally want a pair that'll give you a good enough feel that you can easily sense what's being felt under your foot.

The best driving shoes 2024 at a glance:

The best driving shoes: OMP Sport Race Boots - buy from Demontweeks
Editor's pick: OMP Carrera Race Boots - buy from Demontweeks
Best for design: Sparco Martini Suede Racing Boots - buy from Demontweeks

But the fact remains a pair of proper driving shoes will give you better pedal feel and control as you drive on road and/or on track. We've done some digging around and found the best driving shoes available, ranging from the best you can use for walking and driving, to proper, full-on racing boots. And if you fancy it, we've also compiled a list of driving gloves for sim racing.

The best driving shoes 2024

The best driving shoes

OMP Sport Race BootsVia OMP

Striking a great balance between function, value, and quality is this set of microfibre race boots by OMP. They are certified by the FIA (8856-2018) and have a Nomex lining which not only is supposed to contribute to a better pedal feel, but is also flame resistant. We should hope you never have to test that, but it's good to know.

They are primarily designed for people wanting to get into racing on the entry-level spectrum, thus providing as much value for money as possible, while conforming to the important safety regulations.


  • Great pair if you're after racing boots for the first time
  • FIA certified
  • Good value for money at just over £120


  • Not the most professional grade out there
  • Not as hard-wearing as others

Editor's pick

OMP Carrera BootsVia OMP

If you're after a bonafide set of race boots with a more gentlemanly aura, OMP are very happy to oblige with the Carrera Race Boots. We like to think of these as the Porsche 911 2.7 RS of the footwear world (excluding the limited-run Puma Suede x Porsche series), and come in either a solid black or a couple of rather tasty browns that add an air of luxury.

They are FIA certified (8856-2018), are held together by laces for a more versatile fit, and are trimmed with Nomex on the inner lining. OMP says this helps gives you a great deal of feel on the pedals. But really, we can't get over how classy they look.


  • Lovely, classy design
  • Laced for versatile fittings
  • FIA certified


  • Colours options are limited

The best design on driving shoes

Sparco Suede Martini BootsVia Sparco

These give off a strong vibe of an Brabham BT45 F1 car, no less from the red suede and Martini stripes complimenting the side. They're the best looking racing boots in our opinion, and they're not bad for value either compared to others on this list.

Available in sizes from UK 5 to 13 (stock varies), they are made for a wide range of people, are FIA certified (8556-2018), and are part of a full Martini-themed race outfit. Though, you will have to buy the suit, gloves and helmet separately. There's also added padding on the outer toe area which is designed to be resistant against abrasion.


  • Very cool Martini design
  • Secure fit with Velcro strap
  • FIA certified


  • VAT for anything over size 5
  • Sizes are fairly limited

The best value driving shoes

Chatham Aria Navy Suede ShoesVia Chatham

Moccasins are the definitive driving shoe for many. The simple construction and thin rubber sole suit spirited driving thanks to the great pedal control. This option from Chatham is an impressive option for its price, offering a suede and leather upper construction and pebbled rubber sole for better grip and comfort without sacrificing pedal feel. These are also available in a range of colours.


  • Available in a wide range of colours
  • Simple slip-on, slip-off
  • Thin sole gives you great pedal feel


  • Only for road driving
  • Maybe too insecure for some

The best driving shoe for casual wear

Sparco S-PoleVia Sparco

Available in several colours, these fancy shoes are inspired by proper karting boots but are equally made for leisure wear too. They represent great value for money at just over £40, but they will never stack up to be as good as the establishments from Nike, Puma etc. at the purpose of casual footwear.It features a very thin rubber sole for greater pedal feel while a clever insole is used to keep the shoe as comfortable as possible over a prolonged period. The upper part of the shoe is microfibre to keep it breathable and your feet from smelling.


  • Sparco design and branding
  • Slightly thicker sole for casual use as well as driving
  • Great value for money


  • Not as thorough as the bespoke race boots
  • Isn't as great as establishments for casual wear

If you're after a bit of style with your driving shoes, the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66s are a great place to start. They are an iconic pair of court trainers and were made famous by Bruce Lee in the 1978 film, Game of Death - where he sported a black and yellow set.

They were designed primarily as running shoes, but that segment in itself has come a long way since as designs became more frugal on materials, thicker on the soles, as well as being curvier to cope with the stress of constant, well, running. Looking back in retrospect, a pair of Mexico 66s make for a great pair of driving shoes. The thin soles and breathable suede allow for a much nicer feel on the pedals than a modern pair of Nike Revolution 6s.


  • Iconic design and movie famous
  • Comes in a tasty range of colour combinations
  • Thin soles suitable for better driving feel


  • Sizes are fairly limited
  • Not the be-all-and-end-all of driving shoes

Best all-rounders

Vans SK8 LowVia Vans

Of course, a market gap is there for those wanting a better feel for their vehicles, but don't bother with track days or racing. You needn't worry, because we've got the best footwear for a better pedal feel that can also be effortless casual shoes.

A pair of classic Vans in either low or high-top spec are a great shout. They were originally designed for skateboarders in the 1960s, so the athlete could get a feel for the board, yet comfortably land as well. The narrow design in both the profile and soles makes them great for road driving, and for a nicer feel of the pedals than a thick set of trainers.


  • Great value for money
  • Provides ample feel for your vehicle
  • Great for casual wear as well


  • Not strictly designed as driving shoes
  • Limited colours and designs available on these

Best feel for casual wear

Converse Chuck Taylor All-StarsVia Converse

Another safe bet for casual footwear that feels great on pedals is a classic set of Chuck Taylors. These date back even further than the Vans SK8 as Converse has a fascinating history as providing footwear to both basketball players in the 1930s as well as the U.S army during the Second World War.

Nevertheless, the standard 'Chuckies' have thinner soles than most of its competitors, and for driving, this makes them a great bet. Speaking from personal experience, they give you more than enough feel when piloting a 1965 Mustang FIA racecar, a MK1 Lotus Cortina, and even a replica GT40. For optimum ventilation in those situations however, it's best to opt for the fabric ones rather than a faux leather pair.


  • Timeless design and well ventilated
  • Thin soles allow for great pedal feel
  • Also suited for long-lasting casual wear


  • Be careful not to opt for the thick-soled variants
  • Not designed primarily for driving

Best upmarket slip-on driving shoes

Car Shoe Lux Driving LoaferVia Car Shoe

On the upper end of the spectrum, Car Show offer these slip-on, slip-off loafers which are designed for gentleman-like drivers. You only get a choice of two colour options, but the thin soles and subtle, yet classy look makes them a nice option for a bit of spirited grand touring.

We compared the OMP Carreras to the 911 2.7 RS. These are arguably the Aston Martin DB4 of the footwear world. The rubber sole is also ridged, allowing for better levels of grip.


  • Classy, stylish design
  • Ridged sole for added grip
  • Easy slip-on, slip-off


  • Only comes in two colours
  • The upmarket vibe won't be for everyone

Best upmarket suede driving shoes

TOD's Gommino Suede shoesVia Tod's
Price: $340.00

These luxurious driving shoes from TOD's are fantastically luxurious and are ideal for driving thanks to pebbled rubber soles. They're designed for the gentleman sort, and are a lovely pair to drive with if you're on the Amalfi Coast in an Alfa Giulietta Spider.


  • Amazing quality and feel
  • Pebbled soles for nicer driving feel
  • Charming, luxurious aura


  • They only come in dark colours
  • Sizes aren't plentiful

The best driving shoes for karting

Alpinestars Tech 1-K V2Via Alpinestars

Karting boots are different to regular racing boots as they're designed to withstand the different stresses posed by karting races. However, they're not too dissimilar to actual racing boots, and pose many of the same qualities.They're still lightweight for example, with thin rubber soles and a microfibre upper construction. They even have a mesh lining for easy breathing and airflow. They're available in a range of colours and are our top pick for any kart racing.


  • Ideal for kart racing
  • Breathable materials and design
  • Pretty good value for money compared to other race boots


  • Not solely designed for car or track driving
  • The design isn't as elegant as options from Sparco or OMP

Things to remember with driving shoes

Truth be told, only the most seasoned and honed of drivers will be able to fully exploit the extra feeling offered by a good pair of driving shoes and shave those seconds off a lap time. But if you're serious about your performance cars, or are about to embark on a driving experience, they do make sense over conventional trainers.

You have to remember the purpose and origins of popular trainers. Popular stuff like Adidas Superstars, Air Forces, stemmed from designing the right pair for basketball players. Michael Jordan's original set of Air Jordans from the 1980s were well-ahead of their time as they had a sole and padding design that made an impact after running and jumping much more manageable than their predecessors. This means they're quite thick, well-insulated from the ground, and ideal for casual wear.

For driving feel however, you can more-or-less forget it. The thin soles in proper driving shoes make gauging the pedals easier and it affords the driver more feedback. That being said, if you also want to walk around in them, we recommend buying a pair with a pebbled rubber sole. Without, let's just say you get a very visceral feel of the ground if you begin casually wearing them on your day-to-day.

With that said however, shoes that are a bit thinner and simpler in construction are also nicely-suited to driving, albeit on a more casual scale. We included the Converse Chuck Taylors because they're very thinly-soled and incredibly versatile for all kinds of uses - meaning that even in a serious racing car, they provide enough feel for the average user. Because Nike own Converse, you will see a lot of different styles nowadays from heeled types to chunky walking boots based off the same high-top design. But be sure to go for the standard set if you're a keen driver. A classic set of Vans aren't bad either, and both of these examples are thin enough to suit a lot of pedal styles in different cars.

Aaron Hussain is a commercial content writer at Bauer Media writing for Parkers and CAR. He is obsessed with classic cars and anything with a fascinating story to tell.

For verdicts, scoops, news and analysis from the team, delivered direct to your inbox, subscribe to the CAR newsletter.

You can enjoy CAR in its traditional print format, or one of the swelling number of digital editions, optimised for Apple iPhones, Android devices, iPads, tablets and desktop computers.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us