Safety equipment questions

Hi KartPulse, I just started karting at my local track and have a couple questions about safety equipment.

I’m buying my own helmet and am looking at a couple neck braces. My track has these: and I was looking at one of these:, whats the difference? Honestly, the cheap braces look pretty decent and have more support when your head snaps forward.

Also, are rib protectors really needed? Are they intended to keep you from getting really hurt if you hit the steering wheel? Wouldn’t the seat belt do that? I’m not opposed to them and will buy one if I need to.

Thanks folks!

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The rib protectors are a must have. Even with rib protectors I have been nursing seperated ribs for a few months. When you turn a kart, your body weight is pressed into the side of the seat, which leads to bruising, or in some cases, fractures.
You really, really want a good rib protector.

The donut type and the other one you linked neck collars are supposed to protect you in a situation when your chin gets slammed into your upper abdomen (I think). If you watch euro videos, they don’t use them at all. I think there’s a lot of debate as to wether they are effective.
You will see a bunch of folks wearing the Valhalla 360 or the leatt brace as well. Those neck braces strive to additionally restrict the movement range of your neck in accidents (sorta like a HANS device but way less effective since they aren’t anchored to the frame).
If you are looking for the best protection you can buy, get one of the aforementioned two options. If you are looking to inexpensively comply with regs, get the donut.

Chest protectors are a different thing entirely and only required for cadets. But probably a good idea for grown ups too. There’s a company that makes a really popular rib protector that also integrates a chest protector. I think it’s called the armadillo.

Finally, you mentioned seat belts. In the vast majority of karting, there are none. If you are in karts with seat belts, they are likely indoor electric rentals which are really safe. They do not run the same kind of seats as racing karts so pretty much everything I said goes out the window. You don’t need rib protectors for those because of the high backed seats. A neck protector is a good idea because of the inevitable t-boning that occurs in indoor rentals (ask me how I know).


Basically everything Dom said is spot on.

There isn’t really any evidence that the foam collars do anything other than possibly save your collar bones in a roll over. However, I’ve seen plenty of drivers break collar bones while wearing them.

Rib protector is a good idea as Dom said, because a proper kart will beat your ribs up and a rib injury is no joke and will put you out of the seat for a few months at least.

And yeah, there’s no seat belts in a kart.


First, thanks for the tips guys!

So maybe I should have given more information in my OP but I race at a indoor track on Sodikarts. I’m pretty much stuck here since I dont have the scratch nor the place to store a kart. I dont trust their helmets as far as I could throw them (I’m sure they’ve been thrown a couple times), thus my planned purchase of something decent.

Considering these karts only hit 40 mph, would you still recommend the Valhalla 360? It sounds like I can get by without a rib protector considering the seats my kart track runs but if I can put another $200 purchase off until I can actually get out to the “local” outdoor kart track I will.

I race at Rush Hour Karting in Garner NC if anyone knows about how they run things and keep their karts.

Nope on the Valhalla
Overkill for a kart with a harness. Donut is fine.

All kart protective gear is pretty much predicated around the idea of someone being ejected from their kart onto pavement. Other than the helmet, it’s all about abrasion resistance. As far as I can tell the gloves are just to keep you from burning yourself on the engine or exhaust when you are contorting yourself to get out of or when picking up a race kart. Again, not needed in your case.
The shoes are just to look cool. Sambas or wrestling shoes look the same and do the same thing.

Since you are riding in rentals karts with harnesses none of that matters. So wear shorts, tennis shoes and a badass T-shirt if that’s comfy.

If you do it a lot owning your own helmet is nice. Since it’s indoors karting you don’t need to pay big $ to have snell certification (since it’s not required). Bell makes a nice helmet for around 100-150 bucks that will be more than sufficient.

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I respectfully disagree, it depends on how you value your head. You can get a Zamp Snell certified helmet for $179.

Ok concede the point. However if he is harnessed, there’s a roll cage.

Bell Qualifier is DOT certified and $109.

But yah, no dodgy helmets plz.

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Those roll hoops on rental karts only protect you from a very specific roll over without hitting anything. Hit another kart, or a pole at the side of the track and it does next to nothing for you.

I will say that I never haggle over the safety on what goes on my head and protects my ribs. So a quality helmet and a good rib protector is a must.

Yeah, I’ve already decided to shell out the cash for a Snell rating. Any thoughts on this helmet: ?

And, uh, normal race karts DONT have seat belts? Not even a lap belt? How common is it for someone to crash and become a meat missile?

Thanks for all the answers folks!

The Bell helmet is fine. Bell makes a pretty good product. I prefer actual K or SA rated helmets to motorcycle helmets, but I’m a helmet snob.

And no, normal karts tend to flip a bit easier than a rental (exposed tires and aggressive racing). Not often, but it happens. And when you flip you want to be separated from the kart rather than having the 200 pounds land on top of you.

It’s rare for someone to fly out of a kart in a crash other than a flip.

I think @NikG had a good story about being thrown out of a kart when he was running years ago. I’d find the article myself but getting to it on my phone is not that easy.

But yeah, typically if a kart flips the driver just falls out straight to the ground. Karting is one of the few driving situations where it’s better to be separated from a crash than contained in it.

Rentals are a little different because they have a roll bar, then they put in a seat belt, but I’ve worked at a rental track for two years and we have yet to see one of our karts flip. There’s enough weight down low that they’re hard to get in the air in general.