Unless you’ve been wearing shoes with Velcro straps all of your life, most of us are probably familiar with the basics of tying our shoes. Whether you prefer the “Bunny Ears” or “loop, swoop, and pull” method is up to you, but when tying your hiking boots, there are a few tricks that can make your boots fit more snugly.
Lacing up your hiking boots properly will save you the discomfort of hot spots and blisters. In addition, it’s a good way to maximize the life of your boots by eliminating unnecessary movement that can lead to rubbing and the break down of the boot’s inner material. These tricks for lacing up your hiking boots are also simple techniques to keep in your back pocket for the right moment.
There are three common lacing variations that we will cover in this section. They are the loop, overhand knot, and surgeon’s knot. Each of these variations is meant to address the common problem called “heel slip.”
The loop can be used if you find that your laces are slipping on a boot hook. This means they’re losing tension as you walk and your boots are becoming looser. With this technique, loop down instead of up, like you normally would. This creates a loop that allows the lace to bite on itself and reduces the likelihood of it slipping.
The overhand knot is used to lock off tension below the knot. To begin this technique, thread the laces through the bottom eyelets from the inside out. Moving upward, tie the ends of the laces with a simple overhand knot in the middle of the shoe before threading the ends under the sides and out through the next higher set of eyelets.
Much like the overhand knot technique, using surgeon’s knots give you means of locking off any chosen amount of tension on the laces that you’ve already created below the knot. If trying this technique, start by removing slack from the laces and snugging the boot over your foot. Next, identify the two pairs of lace hooks that are closest to where the top of your foot flexes forward. The idea is to craft a surgeon’s knot at each of these pairs.
Now you want to wrap the laces around each other twice before pulling them tight. Make sure to run the lace directly up and through the next hook to secure the tension. You can then repeat at the next highest set of hooks and, after tying another surgeon’s knot, proceed to lace the rest of the boot in a typical fashion.
If you’re not experiencing heel slip, there are some alternative techniques that address other common boot issues. The first that we’ll discuss is pressure on the top of your foot. While addressing heel slip usually means finding ways to lace your boots tighter, uncomfortable pressure on the top of your foot requires the opposite.
One of the best techniques for addressing this issue is called window lacing. In this technique, start by unlacing your boots down to the lace hooks that are located just below the point where you’re feeling pressure or discomfort. Now re-lace by going straight up to the next set of hooks before crossing the laces over again. If you wish for a little tighter hold above and below the “window” you’ve just created, use a surgeon’s knot in both locations.
If you’re experiencing pressure in the toe region of your boots, there’s an alternative lacing method to remedy that issue as well. This issue can occur as your feet swell throughout a long day, but if discomfort becomes excessive, unlace your boots entirely. Then re-lace them but skip the first (closest to your toes) pair of lace hooks when you do so.
These specialized knotting techniques are designed for specific applications. The first we will cover is known as a “boot heel lock.” This technique helps to distribute pressure and lock you heel more firmly into place. To use it, make a loop with one of your laces between two hooks. Pass the other lace through that loop from above and then continue lacing upward.
The next specialized technique is perfect for anyone with narrow feet. It’s a “low volume” technique that helps to hold the foot in place without creating any added pressure or irritation. The best way to combat the “narrow feet” issue is to use one or more of the above techniques together. This means combining the loop and the surgeon’s knot techniques to arrive at an incredibly snug fit.
The last specialized knotting technique we’ll cover in this article is designed for anyone that gets annoyed with the loops of their laces catching on things once your boots are fully tied. Instead of using a bowknot or square knot to tie your laces off, you can utilize what is known as a “granny knot.”
To make a granny knot, start by looping the left lace over the right, just like you were making an overhand knot. Then, turn the two ends toward each other and loop the left end over the right, just like as before. Now adjust the ends to make sure they are perpendicular to the load-bearing part of the lace before tightening. You should end up with the loops of excess lace pointing straight up and down.
These tricks will help you keep your feet comfortable throughout your hiking adventures. We know that there are many ways to lace up hiking boots, so if we haven’t covered one of your favorites above, we’d love to hear from you! We hope you’ve enjoyed these tricks for lacing up your hiking boots and we wish you the best of luck on your upcoming adventures.