How to Lace Boots For Hiking: 7 Pro Lacing Techniques

how to lace boots for hiking

When did you figure out how to tie your shoes? About age 6 or 7? Well, what your younger self probably didn’t learn back then is that there are tons of lacing techniques to choose from.

Now, this didn’t matter much when you were a kid, but as a badass woman ready to take on the world, it’s a different game. There’s no time for sore feet! So pull those hiking boots on and get ready to learn all about 7 pro lacing methods, which chicks they’re best for, and why your lacing technique matters.

Benefits of Using Different Lacing Techniques

Alright, let’s be honest: none of us are Cinderella, and we don’t own glass slippers that support our feet in all the right places. It’s rare enough to find work boots that fit like a dream. So sometimes, you have to make do with what you’ve got. Of course, this doesn’t mean buying an uncomfortable pair of boots, but the reality is that your foot might need some extra love.

All this to say that how you lace your boots can give you more support where you need it most. Different lacing styles can turn your painful shoe problems into a perfectly fitted pair.

Let’s say you have wide feet, for example. Maybe you found shoes that are the right length, but you need some extra room around the sides. Or it could be the opposite! The pair you wear may need some extra tightening around the ankles. Whatever it is, choosing the right ways to lace boots can make a world of difference.

7 Pro Boot Lacing Techniques for Hiking

Contrary to action movies with women sprinting down the street in a pair of stilettos (Ummm, who does this?), we know comfort is king when hiking. So let’s nail down your perfect lacing method before you get on your way. Make painful hiking boots a thing of the past with these 7 pro lacing techniques.

1. Classic Criss-Cross

classic criss cross

Best for: Naturally great fitting shoes, no foot problems

As you can guess, this is the original lacing method we all know and love. Criss cross lacing is an easy, efficient, and timeless technique, and there’s a reason why it’s our go-to. It’s perfect for any boots that already fit well — assuming you have no foot problems

  1. Thread each lace diagonally up the shoe, pulling each side through the opposite eyelet every time. 
  2. Continue this criss cross pattern in the same order as you work the laces up your shoe. 

2. Surgeon’s Knot Lacing

Best for: Avoiding unwanted forward foot movement 

If you’ve found the perfect boot length, but your feet move around with every step, then this is the lacing method for you. Surgeon’s knot lacing keeps the heel in place while preventing collisions with the toe box. This technique is especially great for extra support right below the ankle.

  1. Start by lacing your shoes normally through the bottom eyelets, then begin the surgeon’s knot at the top of the foot (just below the ankle).
  2. Cross the laces overhand as if you would tie a knot, but stop before you form the loops. Instead, cross the laces again to create another twist.
  3. Then, pull the boot laces tightly.
  4. Thread the laces through the eyelets on the opposite side and repeat until you achieve the perfect fit.

3. Lace Boots Military Style (Army Style)

Army Style Lace Boots

Best for: Enhancing flexibility in thick, higher boots

Got a pair of tough combat boots? It’s time to employ the army lacing technique. Tall, stiff boots need a little TLC to let you move more freely, and that’s what the army method delivers.

  1. Start by threading the laces up through the first eyelet.
  2. Keep the lace on the same side, running through the next eyelet vertically.
  3. Cross the boot laces through the following eyelet pairs, pulling the laces up and through the next vertical eyelet.

The laces crossing inside help reduce tension on the boot while keeping your laces safer from any snagging.

4. Window Lacing

Best for: Relieving top-foot pressure

Did you know that you don’t have to cross the laces every time you’re lacing boots? Well, good news for those in need of some pressure relief! If your hiking boots make the tops of your feet sore, it’s time to re-lace them using windows.

  1. Begin cross lacing your boots through the bottom eyelet pairs, then stop about a third of the way up.
  2. Now, tie a surgeon’s knot before threading the lace vertically to the next pair of eyelets.
  3. Add in another surgeon’s knot, and voila. Pressure-free feet for days.

5. The Heel Lock

Heel Lock Lace

Best for: Low-rise hiking shoes with heel slippage

While your hiking boots shouldn’t be painfully tight, they do need to be secure enough that your heel isn’t sliding all over the place. Aside from being a safety hazard, you can score some nasty blisters. But the heel lock does precisely what it sounds like — it keeps those heels in place.

  1. Tightly lace your boots, stopping at the second eyelet from the top. 
  2.  Then, pull the lace straight up through the eyelet directly above. 
  3. Finally, feed each lace through the vertical bar you created on the opposite side. Now, your heels should stay put, leaving you blister-free! 

6. The Ladder Lace

Ladder Lacing

Best for: Adding extra security

Try the ladder method if you need some extra security from your work boots. This grid-like lacing technique is ideal for any laced shoes that are a bit too flimsy for comfort. 

  1. Like military-style, lace straight across, pulling upward through the bottom eyelets, then moving the laces vertically through the second eyelet pair.
  2. Pull the boot laces straight across, wrapping each lace under the previously created vertical section.
  3. Feed the lace down through the next eyelet pair, and repeat.

7. Friction Free Criss-Cross

Friction Free Criss-Cross

Best for: Easy tightening and loosening

Friction is the sworn enemy of all garments. That’s just life! So when laces rub together in traditional crossover techniques, it causes them to wear out faster. The solution? A friction free lacing, of course. 

  1. First things first: if you have an odd number of eyelets, thread the bottom eyelet outward, but if you have an even number, thread downward. 
  2. Begin with classic diagonal lacing, but alternate entering the eyelet pairs inside and outside. Over under lacing reduces friction on the laces, so you can enjoy them for years to come. 

Hike With Explorer Chicks!

Now that you know 7 pro methods to lace your hiking boots, you’re ready to explore with us! Join us everywhere, from a glacier walk in Banff to a gorilla trek in Uganda. Wherever your feet take you, Explorer Chicks will meet you there.

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Meet the Writer

megan wray writer

Megan Wray

Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.

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