With every sim racing setup comes a number of different key aspects that can make or break your experience when racing. Many sim racers start their journey with their office chair and a wheel clamped to a desk, which is great for getting started but often leads to discomfort after long periods, and is not as immersive as you could get. One upgrade that can transform the look and feel of your setup is the seat, so let’s dive into what the best ones are in 2023.
If you’re in the process of making a whole new rig, or upgrading your old one, and the seat is just your first step, check out our guide on the best Sim Racing setups in 2023 to find out the best combinations you can get your hands on today.
How to choose your Sim Racing Seat
There are many different types of seats for sim racing and these often represent the type of car they have been designed for such as formula cars or GT’s.
Formula seats will offer a low profile seating position, often almost lying down, to keep your centre of gravity as low as possible. This seat keeps you snug within the seat and gives you a particularly high level of immersion if formula or LMP cars are your most common choice when racing.
GT racing seats are the most common choice as they offer the typical upright racing position but still have all the benefits of a bucket seat. The seats are often tight-fitting, keeping you secure but still have headrests and padding/cushions so strike a good balance between comfort and purpose. This is the seat most sim racers choose due to its versatility and ease of use.
Road car seats are what you will find in an everyday road car and offer a level of comfort the others just can’t match. This seat type is for those who favour their comfort first or have full focus on driving road cars within their chosen sim. These seats will struggle particularly on motion sims as they have little side support, though.
The Features to Consider
With the host of different options on the market, it can get a little overwhelming trying to decide which option to choose, but there are a few key aspects to consider.
Make sure that the seat is made of high quality, long-lasting materials, as a sim racing seat is something you will want to keep for a long period of time. Additionally, bad quality materials can flex and become uncomfortable to use after long periods of time. If you are concerning a motion rig setup then quality is even more important as safety when moving in the rig is of high importance
Not all sim racing seats are made with comfort in mind, and it is important to remember this. Many seat offerings are made for the purpose of keeping you secure and this is not conducive to comfort. When looking for a seat, consider what levels of adjustment are on offer. Also, breathable fabrics are a great option to consider as they keep you well ventilated during longer periods of sitting.
This may seem like an obvious consideration but it is one to ensure you aren’t fooled by. The more expensive the seat is does not equal a better product; sim racing is a stationary activity so many of the additional safety features you may find on some real life certified for use seats just aren’t necessary. Find something that is within your price range, and don’t be drawn in by fancy materials like carbon fibre if that is not within your price range, these are nice to have options not essential things for sim racing.
Our top picks
Now that you are familiar with the most common types of seats and what options to consider, let’s look at some of the best offerings on the market. These must be noted as suggestions and that there are hundreds of different offerings that can be found online, but these are a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with the sim seat market.
|Next level F-GTLite||£249||GT/Formula||Easy to store Highly adjustable||Fixed to cockpit frame Potential flex on high powered wheels|
|Sparco R100||£239||Road||High levels of comfort Colour offerings||Limited side support|
|Simlab SF1||£333||Formula/LMP||Immersive seating position||Mounting hardware not included|
|Next Level Racing ES1||£277||GT/Formula||Little to no Flex Harness included||Rigid design offers little adjustment|
|Sparco Circuit QRT||£377||GT/Touring||Real life racing design FIA approved safety rating||Limited vision due to required racing safety features|
Next Level F-GT Lite
|COST: £249||STYLE: Formula/GT||BRAND: Next Level|
The Next Level F-GT Lite is not your typical sim racing seat, but this is what makes it stand out from the crowd and makes it perfect for a particular type of sim racer. The seat is arguably the best foldable seat out there, as it offers not only compact storage ability but also can be set up in GT or Formula style seating position. This functionality is something that no other seat on this list can offer and, for that reason, is a great choice for any new sim racer looking to start their sim racing journey.
Additionally, the Next Level F-GT Lite is compatible with a host of different wheels and pedals, as it has a number of pre-drilled mounting holes, making this seat the only piece of equipment you need to get started with racing. If you’d like to pair up a seat like this with a shiny new set of pedals, make sure to check out our guide to the best Sim Racing pedals.
So if you’re looking for your first journey into the sim world and don’t want to spend a fortune on lots of sim rig equipment, then this is a great choice to consider.
|COST: £239||STYLE: Road||BRAND: Sparco|
The Sparco R100 is one of the best road style seats on the market for sim racing and real-life driving alike. The seat offers top quality construction with a tubular steel frame chassis, synthetic breathable fabric to give the seat a sturdy and comfortable feel. Another big plus for those that like to customise their sim rigs to their individual taste, is that the seat is offered in a number of colours, so can be matched to any other gear you already own.
This seat also comes with compatibility for 3 or 4 point harnesses, which will mean anyone looking to add a motion rig in the future will be able to use this seat. It must be noted, this seat has been designed as a fully functional road car seat and is not specifically designed for sim racing, so mounting options should be checked carefully to ensure any sim rig you own is compatible with the mounting options.
If you’re looking for a road style seat that has been tried and tested, then the Sparco R100 is the option for you. The seat is relatively budget-friendly for the quality on offer and will last the test of time no matter the use case.
|COST: £333||STYLE: Formula/LMP||BRAND: Simlab|
The Simlab SF1 is a purpose-built formula-style sim racing seat that replicates the seating position of single-seater race cars, but is not so aggressive that it can’t also be used as a GT racing seat. The seat is made from the same materials used in real-life racing seats, breathable synthetic fabrics and high-quality GPR material for the seat shell. As with all Simlab gear, the seat offers a simple but high-quality design that will blend into any sim rig style.
One thing that must be noted with this seat and others of its style is that they are relatively narrow in construction, so can be slightly more uncomfortable if the seat is not the exact size needed. If comfort is a priority, then formula-style seats such as this should probably be avoided, as the Simlab SF1 is much more focused on immersion and seating position. Additionally, mounting is not included with this particular model so will need to be purchased separately.
If a formula-style seat is what you are looking for, then the Simlab SF1 is a great option. The seat offers top quality materials and is from one of the top sim racing equipment brands giving you the confidence that it is designed perfectly for any sim racing setup.
Next Level Racing ES1
|COST: £277||STYLE: Formula/GT||BRAND: Next Level|
The Next Level Racing ES1 is definitely one of the more unique offerings on the sim racing market but as such, stands out from the rest. This seat is a moulded polymer seat that offers a fixed position style, meaning it is particularly good for any sim racer heavily into motion sim racing due to its strength and limited points of flex.
The design of the seat is a laid back GT racing style striking a good balance between recline and upright, so can be used for both GT and Formula style racing. The seat is made from hard moulded polymer with suede cushions lining the seat, providing some levels of comfort to the seat without losing the stiff nature of the polymer. The seat also comes with harnesses included, keeping you securely fixed into the seat if paired with a motion rig or can be used to add that extra level of immersion on a fixed sim rig setup.
The Next Level Racing ES1 is definitely not one for all sim racers, but for those focused on reducing flex within their sim rig then this is a perfect choice. The polymer design ensures maximum rigidity and the addition of the belts will keep you securely in place with maximum comfort. This seat is one that should be high up on the list for any motion rig users.
Sparco Circuit QRT
|COST: £377||STYLE: GT/Touring||BRAND: Sparco|
The Sparco Circuit QRT is a great choice for any type of sim racer looking for that authentic racing car feel. The seat is an official FIA approved offering that has been tried and tested in all types of motorsport around the world.
The seat is constructed from sturdy QRT materials, offering a high-quality, long-lasting product that will be more than enough for any sim rig. The seat is also lined with non-slip fabric in key areas, such as shoulders and the seat restraint, keeping you firmly in place. Comfort has also been considered with both leg and seat cushions that can be removed from the seat to ensure the best fit and comfort options for all types of sim racers.
It must be noted that the Sparco Circuit QRT is another offering that has been designed as a real-life motorsport seat first, and as a result, has rather large side protection designed for wearing a helmet and neck restraints while racing. This can lead to your view being blocked on either side so aren’t ideal for triple monitor users or those using large VR headsets.
The Sparco Circuit QRT is still a great seat for those looking for the authentic race car feel from their sim rig, though. The quality is unquestionable and is one that is more than enough for any sim rig.
Now that you have a good understanding of the range of different seat options and some recommendations to get you started, make sure to do your own research on what is best for yourself. Everyone’s sim rigs will be of different shapes and sizes and what works in one set-up may not be the best for yours.
Whatever option you choose, make sure that quality is the first element you consider. Looks and design can be tempting but a seat is a product you spend lots of time interacting with so choose wisely.
If you are looking for further recommendations, or more options at a lower price range, make sure to take a look through our guide to the best budget Sim Racing seats. If you like to find out more about other products, such as the best Sim Racing wheels, we’ve got you covered with a guide on that too!
There are also a number of events hosted each month at The Sim Grid for you to put all your new gear to the test in a competitive race environment. As always there will be much more content to come so stay tuned for more!