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Salanis SuperDork
1/12/10 10:52 p.m.

So... I'm shopping for all my personal safety gear for competition. Figuring out what I need, and what would work best. Looking for advice and experience.

Suits/underwear - Single or double layer? With or without long-undies? NASA rules say I don't need flame retardant underwear if I get something SFI 3.2A/5 or better. Should I go that route and skip the long underwear for now?

HANS vs. DefNDer: I'm leaning towards the HANS as the best value for head and neck, but I'm interested in hearing what people think of the DefNDer that seems to be the closest in terms of performance and cost

Helmet/Gloves/Shoes - I'm frustrated trying to find places where I can try these on prior to buying. I'm liking the idea of the Simpson helmets having removable lining and different cheek pads for best fit.

Any best places to buy from? I'm perusing all the online retailers in the magazine. OGRacing looks pretty nice.

aussiesmg SuperDork
1/12/10 11:16 p.m.





JeepinMatt HalfDork
1/12/10 11:23 p.m.

Any tracks near you that sell gear? VIR's got a shop with an ok selection of gear. It's a good excuse to go up there and catch a race. I would think somewhere out there they'd sell some stuff at a track

boxedfox New Reader
1/12/10 11:54 p.m.

With suits, I would recommend that you look for a multi layer with a liner. The single layers tend to be made of Proban (or a similar chemically treated material), which has a very nasty canvasy feel to them inside and out. I use a GForce single layer now, and while I can tolerate it, I'm jumping to the first multi layer suit I find that fits me well and has a good TPP rating. If you're doing wheel to wheel, I'd definitely spend the money for underwear too. Not only is it good peace of mind, they tend to have better moisture wicking properties than most non-synthetic fibers and are just all around more comfortable than a t-shirt and shorts. It's expensive, but it's worth spending the money here - I've gone the cheap way and it sucks.

Gloves and shoes you can generally buy based on a sizing chart, but helmets you really want to try on. Even within the same manufacturer, one helmet will fit differently than another. I once tried on Bell's entire line of SA rated auto helmets and found out that only one of them fit me well. I also tried on every HJC helmet before realizing that none of them fit me comfortably, even with the interchangable liner and the adjustable cheek pads. The retailer was pretty sick of me at that point, but the whole venture was worth it because I walked out of there with a helmet that fit perfectly. And I'm sure you already know how important proper fitment is when it comes to helmets.

Salanis SuperDork
1/13/10 1:05 a.m.

My problem with gloves is that I have really long fingers. So, they always end up two thick around my hands, or web fingered.

I tried the Pro Shop at Thunderhill. They had a Pyrotect helmet that fit pretty well. Rather heavy though, and I wanted to try some others for comparison.

I am thinking some Carbon-X undies sounds like a good way to go.

ddavidv SuperDork
1/13/10 5:44 a.m.

I own mostly G-Force equipment. I have the suit that doesn't require underwear. I wear a cotton T-shirt and undies underneath it and that works out pretty well dealing with the moisture and keeping the chemically treated fabric away from my skin. The suit is a good value, but I think next time I'd go for a Sparco as they seem to be more comfortable.

G-Force gloves fit my bony fingers pretty well. I have some RJS shoes someone got me as a gift and they are decent. Went with the HANS since it seems to be the most popular and works with most of the modern helmets. I need to shop for a new helmet. My current G-Force isn't compatible with the HANS. They are a decent helmet for the money but the padding seems excessively thick and I may shop around a bit. I've had Bells in the past and liked them.

amg_rx7 Reader
1/13/10 10:29 a.m.

I just went through that exercise this summer when prepping for LeMons.

Hans vs DefNDer - I went w/ the DefNder. It was more comfortable, cheaper (when you added in all the Hans options tht comes standard on the DefNDer), provided the same level of protection and is approved for SCCA and NASA racing. It also has a level of side restraint in the tethers that Hans does not.

Suits - I went multi layer. That way its much quicker and easier to get into the suit since you technically don't need full length under garments. Find a local source/dealer so you can try on the suits that fit your budget. Fit is very subjective much like choosing a helmet. The differences in feel and comfort between brands in the same price range is huge IMO.

Gloves - see above where I say to find a local source and try them on. I'd recommend getting a high contrast color for the gloves. makes it easier for drivers and workers to see any thing you might be trying to say with your hands.

Shoes - see above statement on local source. They are difficult to size w/o trying them on.

If you are local to Northern CA, I'd suggest calling the owner of: http://cs-gear.com/ He is here in the Bay area and is really nice to deal with. I got my Pyrotect suit and Pyrotect shoes from him. I found them to fit better and feel more comfortable than the Lico stuff I tried on at the shop at Infineon race way. The Pyrotect stuff fit my low budget and offered good safety ratings. The slightly more expensive G-Force suit he had was more comfy and nicer looking but another ~$100

So in summary - find a local source and try stuff on.

I find that local race forums (scca) or the local sections of bimmerforums is a great way to connect with local racers and get references to local shops. The local chapter of my SCCA region had links to local safety equipment suppliers and was a great source also.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
1/13/10 10:49 a.m.

I bought a Sparco Pro suit that is 3.2/5 and FIA cert. I got it used on ebay - 1 yr old, perfect condition (exept for some sponsor patches) $185. It was an $1800 suit new. I had it professionally cleaned so call it $200.

I got a nice lightweight SA helmet, gloves, socks and shoes from soloracer and he gave me a bundle price when I called on the phone.

Total outlay (counting the Hutchens R3) was about $1100

Woody SuperDork
1/13/10 12:52 p.m.

I don't have any experience with anything else, but I love my HANS. As a bonus, I feel locked into the seat even tighter with it on.

Salanis SuperDork
1/13/10 6:11 p.m.

Also, what about single eye vs. double-eye balaclavas? I'm presuming I'll want single-eye, since I have glasses.

Also, as far as contrast for gloves and attire and such. Do you mean in terms of contrast with the car? Like, red gloves to contrast with a blue car? (For vanity's sake, I'd been thinking of blue racing attire, since the car is blue. Blue is my favorite color, too.)

Anyone have experience with what gloves tend to have longer fingers?

fifty Reader
1/13/10 7:24 p.m.

Man, I just went through ordering a suit and accoutrements last weekend. The advice I got was to go for as many layers in the suit, gloves and balaclava as you can get. In terms of burn time, a 2 layer suit is going to be superior to a 1 layer suit with underwear, and a 3 layer suit even better. Some fibers are also superior to others - I think Carbon-X tops the list. A one piece suit is also superior to pants and a jacket.

I can understand the desire to stay on a budget - this stuff ain't cheap! I tried to find a compromise between "cheap" and "safe". Yeah, you're buying to satisfy the rule book, but in the remote event that you are caught in a fire, you want to give yourself maximum time to get out. I've heard that with a HANS device it can take up to 30 seconds to exit the car.

I saw quite a few used suits on ebay that seemed like good deals. I ended up buying a Lico Jade Top 3 layer suit and Lico shoes (Sparco's budget brand) from www.uprracing.com . They also had 2 layer Sparco balaclavas on sale. The Pyrotect Nomex socks came from ebay - http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170391144421&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT

I'm dysmorphic as hell - linebacker from the waist down, endurance runner from the waist up. I knew sizing was going to be an issue, so I went big. I should get the suit in the next couple of days - I'll let you know how it works out.

fastmiata Reader
1/13/10 7:53 p.m.

Generally the hardest thing to fit is the helmet. Some helmets even when sized the same will actually fit quite differently. Finding a good assortment and trying them on is the only real way to be sure. I have found that Bell and Gforce helmets fit a round face while Simpson helmets tend to fit a narrow/long face. Oh, and leave the helmet on for at least 10 min. I have found that every Simpson helmet I have owned causes a headache on my fat head.

friedgreencorrado Dork
1/13/10 11:15 p.m.

It's been awhile for me, but for what it's worth, x2 on fastmiata's post. Helmets are always the worst to get a good fit..I'll never buy another one without being able to walk in the store and try on a bunch of them.

As for the suit, I pick multi-layer. As in enough layers to skip the underwear. Unless there's been a quantum improvement in material since I quit circuit racing, there'll be no difference in cooling, but it's much more convienent to just put on or take off the suit when you want without having extra pieces to struggle with.

Aside to fifty...man, I didn't know 2-piece suits ("pants and jacket") were even still available! With my current body shape (George Jetson-ish), that would give the flames about an inch or so to tickle the underwear between the two...

Salanis SuperDork
1/14/10 12:12 a.m.

I'm giving myself a healthy budget to work with. But I still have limited funds. I'm figuring I should be able to get everything for under $2k.

fifty wrote: I saw quite a few used suits on ebay that seemed like good deals. I ended up buying a Lico Jade Top 3 layer suit and Lico shoes (Sparco's budget brand) from www.uprracing.com . They also had 2 layer Sparco balaclavas on sale. The Pyrotect Nomex socks came from ebay - http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170391144421&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT

Yeah. That Lico Jade Top suit is what I'm leaning strongly towards. For shoes, I'm thinking Puma, since I already have a pair of driving shoes (but not racing) and they fit really well. Not the cheapest, but my parents said they'd buy me racing shoes for my birthday present.

I really really wish there was a good place around to try on a bunch of helmets. I would say my head runs towards the longer and narrower.

And I'm thinking Simpson Carbon-X socks, balaclava, and long underwear. Aside from being more flame retardant, the Carbon-X is supposed to have superior wicking properties. There's also Carmyth that is supposedly better than Carbon-X, but it's about twice the cost.

Basil Exposition
Basil Exposition New Reader
1/14/10 11:35 a.m.

In reply to Salanis:

If you are smallish I've got a Sparco suit that the wife used to wear along with some shoes, arm restraints, a balaclava, and maybe some fireproof longjohns. I can make you a package deal and throw in a Sparco equipment bag. You'll need to be 5'6" or shorter and weigh less than 150 lbs. Suit is in very good condition, she only used it in less than a dozen race weekends.

Salanis SuperDork
1/14/10 1:50 p.m.

In reply to Basil Exposition:

Nah, I'm about 5'9" and 160#. If my girlfriend were looking for something, that might work for her, but not me.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
1/14/10 1:59 p.m.
Salanis wrote: I really really wish there was a good place around to try on a bunch of helmets.

Most motorcycle dealerships have lids that also come in SA. Bell, HJC... if you are a balla with deep pockets there is also Shoei, Arai etc. Find a brand... find the size. The only difference from the SA model will be nomex lining - the lid will fit exactly the same.

The last bucket I bought, I bought by using the sizing chart from the manufacturer and it worked out fine. I just called ahead to make sure I could return it in case it didn't.

ReverendDexter Dork
1/14/10 3:19 p.m.
Salanis wrote: I tried the Pro Shop at Thunderhill. They had a Pyrotect helmet that fit pretty well. Rather heavy though, and I wanted to try some others for comparison.

Try Wine Country Motorsports out at Infineon. They're even a GRM advertiser. That's where I bought my most recent helmet for autocross.

Just check the schedule and make sure you're not going there on a race day

Type Q
Type Q HalfDork
1/14/10 4:24 p.m.

I didn't realize quite how many NorCal people are regular contributors here. I second amg_rx7 recommendation of Competition Safety Gear. (http://cs-gear.com/) I bought a new helmet from him last year and am really happy with the fit, the price and the service I got. He has trailer full of goodies that he sets up at various events around NorCal. You might find out when he is going to be your neck of the woods and arrange to try a bunch of stuff on.

Duke SuperDork
1/15/10 12:03 p.m.

It's now 2010. SA2005 helmets should be good for drivers schools, autocross, and HPDEs for another 5 years (2015), right? What about for wheel-to-wheel competition?

Duke SuperDork
1/16/10 1:38 p.m.

Anybody? Bueller?

Salanis SuperDork
1/16/10 1:58 p.m.

The SA2010 ratings have not been released yet, so there aren't any 2010 helmets yet (grr...). No word on when they will be.

In the meantime, every amateur organization I've seen allows Snell ratings from the past 10 years for wheel-to-wheel racing. So 2005s will still be good for another 5 years. If they didn't do that everyone would need to buy a new helmet.

Salanis SuperDork
1/16/10 2:17 p.m.

Hmm... I'm considering getting the Carbon-X CoolShirt, rather than buying the long underwear and a seperate t-shirt. Thoughts?

Salanis SuperDork
1/21/10 1:58 p.m.

Anyone have experience with Bell Inner-X undergarments? Does anyone know how it compares to CarbonX?

Streetwiseguy HalfDork
8/10/10 1:55 p.m.

I like a 2 layer suit and undies, because I can put dry undies on for the next session/day/whatever. Less icky.

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