Best Driving Shoes: Top Picks For On & Off The Track
The best racing shoes and driving loafers for the everyday motorist
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PUBLISHED ON June 25, 2019
If you are an enthusiast driver, a good pair of driving shoes is essential. They are typically low profile, flexible, and come in an assortment of styles. An Italian man patented the first pair of car shoes in 1963, giving racers more traction on their metal pedals. This resulted in superior performance. Check out our driving shoe review for the best driving shoes on the market.
- Best OverallCole Haan Men's Gunnison Driver MoccasinSummarySummaryThese hand-stitched shoes are 100-percent leather with a rubber sole. They are a classic moccasin and feature a slotted collar and flexible, rubberized nubby driving sole and heel protector.ProsProsThese shoes stretch, are comfortable and do not need to be broken in. The rubber nubs provide a firm grip on your car's pedals, and they are nearly weightless.ConsConsThey do not provide a lot of support for walking because the soft, rubbery nubs on the bottom aren't designed to withstand a lot of wear, tear, and grinding on pavement.
- Best ValueMio Marino Mens Slip-on Driving ShoesSummarySummaryThese slip-on loafer driving shoes are made with artificial leather and a flexible rubber sole. They feature reinforced Italian stitching and a shockproof cushioned insole. They are also waterproof.ProsProsThese shoes are comfortable and slip resistant. They are good for driving yet are fashionable enough to wear to the office. They are simple to put on and won't easily slip off.ConsConsThey are not walking shoes. They will degrade rather quickly if you wear them all day, every day for purposes other than driving. They are also made of artificial leather.
- Honorable MentionRaceQuip Race ShoeSummarySummaryThese racing shoes have a suede leather outer layer, flame-retardant liner, padded ankles, and arch support. The Achilles flex opening in the back allows you to easily extend your foot.ProsProsThese shoes are comfortable and are economical compared to competitor racing shoes. They have a good pedal feel, the sole has extreme grip, and they make heel-and-toe shifting a breeze.ConsConsThese shoes may be stiff and take a while to break in. They are also very narrow, tend to run small, and may be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Driving Shoes
- They provide grip. The best driving shoes will give your feet more grip on the pedals. They help you control your vehicle better than sneakers and are necessary if you want to drive more precisely.
- They're convenient. Most driving shoes feature a slip-on fit, making them easy to slide on and off. This is advantageous if you have to remove them often or choose to wear them when you’re not driving (through airport security, for example)
- They're comfortable. If you're driving long distances, you should invest in the most comfortable driving moccasins. Whether you're taking a road trip or have a job that necessitates long days on the highway, a good pair of driving shoes will make a huge difference in comfort and relaxation.
- They're stylish. It's easy to make a driving shoe fashion statement. They come in a variety of styles, designs, and materials. You may opt for sport driving shoes, lace driving shoes, or the best shoes for driving long distances.
Types of Driving Shoes
Many of the best driving sneakers and loafers have a moccasin design. The sole and sides of the shoe are created with one piece of leather or suede that goes from the bottom of the footwear to the heel. This extended sole gives you superior grip and control when driving.
Instead of a single piece that covers the shoe's entire bottom, a split-sole driving shoe has two sections. One benefit of this type of driving shoe is that it offers you more flexibility than an extended sole and allows you to feel more of the surface underneath your feet.
Leather or Suede
The best leather driving shoes conform to your feet and provide airflow so they're less likely to sweat. If your driving shoes aren't properly ventilated, moisture can build up, which can cause your feet to be slippery and slide around the shoe, giving them less grip. Mens driving shoes made of leather and suede also tend to be lightweight.
Synthetic driving shoes are usually less expensive, easier to clean, and more water resistant than their leather counterparts. They are a good alternative if you avoid leather for ethical reasons. Synthetic driving shoes can be made with a variety of materials, and some are better constructed than others. They can be just as comfortable as leather but are typically not as durable.
Based in Riverview, Fla., RaceQuip has been manufacturing high-quality auto racing safety equipment since 1975. The company designs SFI-rated auto racing fire retardant suits, shoes, Nomex gloves, Snell SA helmets, and SFI and FIA seat belts & harness sets. One top product is the RaceQuip Race Shoe.
Cole Haan was founded in 1928 in Chicago, Ill. Its two headquarters are in New York City and New Hampshire. Nike Inc. purchased Cole Haan in 1988. Cole Haan produces men's and women's dress and casual footwear, as well as many other accessories. Two popular driving shoes are the Cole Haan Men's Tucker Venetian Slip-On Loafer and Cole Haan Men's Grant Canoe Camp Slip-On Loafer.
Ralph Lauren opened in 1967, and the company creates collections that are both timeless and modern. Founder Ralph Lauren launched the Polo brand with a single necktie and has since expanded his collection to include a variety of designs, including footwear. One recommended product is the Polo Ralph Lauren Men's Woodley Slip-On Loafer.
Minnetonka moccasins started appearing in roadside gift shops in 1946 when post-war Americans started traveling across the United States. The company, based in Minnetonka, Minn., produces moccasins, sandals, shearling boots, slippers, and more. One popular product is the Minnetonka Men's Original Cowhide Driving Moccasin.
Twisted X was founded in 2005 and is based in Decatur, Texas. With an initial focus on western wear, the company's iconic driving moc allowed it to create an extensive range of styles including casual, work and outdoor footwear. One top product is the Twisted X Men's Leather Lace-Up Rubber Sole Moc Toe Driving Moccasins.
Driving Shoes Pricing
- Under $100: You can find a decent pair of driving shoes for less than $100. They may be made of either leather, suede, or synthetic materials.
- Over $100: While cheap driving shoes may work adequately, you have to pay more for superior performance and for name brands. Driving shoes can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars, depending on the designer.
Pebbled or Rubber Nubs
The pebbled sole or rubber nubs on the bottom of slip-on driving shoes help your feet better grip the pedals of your vehicle. Pebbled soles are also more flexible than traditional soles. The rubber outsole also extends to the heel to protect the leather when the foot is on the pedals.
The best driving shoes have a thin sole. This gives you a quicker response when you hit the pedals. The outer sole should also be more narrow than regular shoes. This keeps you from accidentally touching the wrong pedal as you quickly switch from one to the other.
- Ease of Use: It can be a pain to change into your driving shoes every time you get behind the wheel. That's why they need to be simple to put on and remove. The best slip-on driving shoes stay put even though they don't have laces or other traditional closures.
- Comfort: The most comfortable driver shoes will have a lot of breathabilities and soft soles to cushion your feet. They should also have arch and heel support for optimum balance and stability. Flexible soles are also important, enabling you to comfortably put your feet in different positions when you're sitting behind the wheel or walking.
- Weight: The best driving shoes should be lightweight. You need to quickly use the pedals, and a heavy shoe will make it harder for you to press the acceleration, brake, and clutch (ABC) pedals. You want a shoe that will hasten your movements, not slow them down, so lightweight footwear is the better option.
- Mobility: If you need to quickly move your feet between your vehicle's pedals, you need a shoe that provides adequate ankle mobility. Sneakers and loafers provide more ankle flexibility than shoes such as boots unless the boots are specifically designed for driving applications. It's essential to have the ability to articulate your entire foot.
- Lining: The lining should be breathable as well as prevent your foot from sliding out of the shoe. In addition, a good lining will give you additional support as well as boost the durability of the shoe. If a lining is too firm, it will be uncomfortable and can cause issues such as blisters.
Best Driving Shoes Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Cole Haan Men's Gunnison Driver Moccasin
These grippy driving shoes are 100 percent leather with a rubber sole. The shoes are a classic moccasin and feature a slotted collar and flexible, rubberized, nubby driving sole and heel protector. The hand-stitched moccasin has preppy cording around the foot that ties on the shoe's vamp.
These casual loafers stretch, have a flexible fit and are comfortable for driving. They do not need to be broken in. The rubber nubs on the bottom and heel provide a firm grip on your car's pedals, and they are nearly weightless. They have a lot of cushions and are comfortable to wear with or without socks. They are also easy to put on and take off.
One downside to these leather slip-on shoes is they do not provide a lot of support for walking because the soft, rubbery nubs on the bottom aren't designed to withstand a lot of wear, tear, and grinding on pavement. They also flex quite a bit when you put your weight on them when you walk. In addition, the shoes tend to run small.
Best Value: Mio Marino Mens Slip-on Driving Shoes
These slip-on loafer driving shoes are made with PU leather (making them vegan-friendly) and a flexible rubber sole. They feature reinforced Italian stitching and a shockproof cushioned insole. They are waterproof and won't crack or fade. They come in a waterproof shoe bag, and the company provides a 180-day warranty.
These shoes are very comfortable, have a great feel, and are slip-resistant. They are super soft and feel like a pair of slippers. Good for driving, yet are fashionable enough to wear to the office, they also feel like real leather and are simple to put on without worrying they will easily slip off. The rubber grips on the bottom make them stable on all surfaces, especially if the area is wet.
Like most driving shoes, these are not walking shoes. They will degrade rather quickly if you wear them all day, every day for purposes other than driving. They are also made of artificial leather instead of full-grain leather or suede.
Honorable Mention: RaceQuip Race Shoe
These racing shoes have a soft suede leather outer layer, flame-retardant Pyrovatex liner, padded ankles, and arch support. The Achilles flex opening in the back allows you to easily extend your foot for full-throttle action. The molded rubber sole rolls up the back of the shoe to provide extra support for your heel while driving. Also, the shoes exceed the SFI 3.3A/5 rating to protect against burns.
These shoes are comfortable, easy to clean, and are very economical compared to competitor racing shoes. The sole has extreme grip, and they make heel-and-toe shifting a breeze. They have a good pedal feel and are sturdy enough to wear while working on your car in the paddock. The strap holds the laces perfectly, they provide great support around the ankle, and they perform as intended while racing.
The shoes may be a bit stiff at first and may take time to break in. They are also very narrow and tend to run small, so you may need to order a size up for proper fit. In addition, they may be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Some report that they are a little thick in the sole, which takes a little brake feel out of them.
- Do not wear sandals or flip-flops when you drive. These types of shoes do not have good traction and can cause problems when you hit the pedals. Running shoes are also not a great option because they have thick soles, and they can make it hard for you to feel the pedals.
- The best driving mocs are quite comfortable, so you may be tempted to wear them as walking shoes. However, some brands of driving shoes will wear down quickly because the toe box can scrape the ground and eventually tear, particularly if you walk a lot on city streets.
- Some driving shoes are dual purpose. If you're not a car enthusiast and you don't race, you can still wear them as casual shoes because they're fashionable. Also, they have an interesting history (if you're into that sort of thing).
- The best men’s drivers shoes are casual and are meant to be worn with a variety of outfits, including jeans or chinos with fitted tees, polo shirts, or button-down shirts.
- You can wear casual driving shoes with or without socks. However, even the best driving loafers aren't intended to be worn as dress shoes with suits or evening wear.
Q: What are the most important parts of a driving shoe?
A: The heel and sole. You don't want a sole that is too thick because you won't feel the pedals very well, and that can affect your reaction time. The heel needs to have enough grip so you can better control your vehicle.
Q: Is it okay to drive barefoot instead of wearing a pair of driving shoes?
A: Driving barefoot will give you very little grip. The problem can be compounded if your feet start to sweat. Driving shoes also add a little pressure, which helps you stop better.
Q: Should I wear socks with driving shoes?
A: It's a personal preference; however, you will have slightly less pedal feel if you wear socks. Also, driving shoes generally look better without socks.
Our pick for the best driving shoes is the Cole Haan Men's Gunnison Driver Moccasin. They are 100 percent leather and feature a flexible, rubberized, nubby driving sole and heel protector. They are comfortable, lightweight, and provide a firm grip on your car's pedals.
For a less expensive option, consider the Mio Marino Mens Slip-on Driving Shoes.