How To Lace Hiking Boots


Although learning how to lace our shoes is one of the first things we learn as we grow up, this is a really important aspect of hiking comfort, especially while you carry your tent and other gear. Badly tied shoelaces could cause lots of problems with our feet, so it is useful to learn some of the most common and best ways to lace your shoes and to keep your feet from possible stress.

This article will lead you through this process and show you how to lace boots so you won’t have to worry about it next time you’re headed for an adventure with your friends and your backpack. It’s nothing too hard, and these tips and tricks will serve you well.

Don’t Rush And Take Your Time

Before you go out on a hike, take your time to properly lace your shoes. But no matter how well you do it, take into consideration the fact that your shoes will expand as they warm up during your walk, so there is a possibility you’ll have to redo them.

Again, don’t rush it! If your companions argue about the stop, tell them it is better to stop now and lace your shoes again than to ruin your whole trip because of possible pain and blisters caused by unfitting lace. And while at it, remind them to check on theirs!

Centre The Tongue

One of the main things when talking about shoe comfort is the tongue. It is essential to keep it straight and properly centered, or else there could easily come to pressure points formation if it goes to the side of your foot. If you feel it doesn’t fit right, stop, and correct it before you continue your hike, so you don’t feel sorry later.

Lacing Techniques And Tips

There are lots of different techniques used for lace hiking boots. Some are useful when climbing up, others are good for long-distance hikes on uneven terrain, but they all serve the same purpose – to keep your comfort level at the maximum and prevent any bad stuff that could happen to your legs, from blister forming to possible ankle twists.

Low And Around-Ankle Lacing

This type of lacing is recommended when you walk uphill. This way, your feet will have more space to move and allow you to walk more freely.

To achieve this, guide the laces over the top of the hooks, so the knot is now somewhere between 1-2 cm lower than usual. Although it is not common knowledge why this type of shoe lacing helps, many hikers insist this method serves the best for the occasion, but the sure thing is the fact that it will create more tension, so your shoe will stay firmly laced and won’t become loose as quick as first anticipated.

Two-Zone Lacing

Most of the boots and shoes made for hiking and long walks, in general, have locto lockoks, which means it is possible to zone the lacing, so you can lace the instep unrelated to the shaft.

If you’re walking somewhere uphill, the recommendation is to lace the first (upper) zone a bit tighter to secure the fit, and to let the second zone be a bit looser. If you’re going downhill, it is better to tight both areas up. This way you’ll prevent your foot from sliding forward.

Heel-Locking Technique

There are not many things that irritate you during the hike more than seeing your new and good socks ruined by your heel that was rubbing against the back side of your shoe. Not to mention the fact that blisters could form, so your trip could be maybe not ruined, but definitely a lot less enjoyable and a lot more painful. To prevent this, you could use the “heel lock” technique.

Pull the laces directly through the hooks, skipping the crisscross pattern along the way. Start with looping each lace under the opposing side and pull the laces through until your heel starts to feel secure. Now it is time to continue with the normal lacing pattern until you’re done.

Instep Room Increaser

If you feel a bit of pressure on the instep, this probably means your instep is not even, which is a common thing, so it is nice to relieve a bit of pressure by creating some additional space at the instep.

Guide the laces through two eyelets located on the same side where you feel the tension and don’t cross them over. This means the pressure at the instep should be way lower than usual.

How To Tight The Laces Without Hooks

As mentioned earlier in this article, hiking boots most of the time have two hooks, making them two-zoned boots. But, if you want to add more zones, there is a way to do that, although it will mean the pressure at the instep will also increase.

To achieve this, while you cross your lace, do it twice. This double-crossing lacing technique will add much more tension so your laces won’t loosen up during your hike, but, again, it will create additional pressure at the instep.

Blister Prevention

If you feel some part of your feet is being pressured and painful, that is the first sign of a blister forming, so it is time to stop and readjust your lace, but also to treat that space with band-aids or duct tape.

You could also try and wear an extra pair of socks under your regular ones. You could use cotton socks, but they are a good sweat absorber and will saturate rather fast, so other options are nylon socks. But be careful, because this could make your shoes fit tighter and leave your feet less space for moving.

Other Lace Tips And Tricks


Don’t forget, laces are flexible and dynamic, so they’ll easily adjust to your shoes and your foot. If your laces break and tear, so you have to get new ones, you could get rope laces. They provide you with much stiffer and stronger lacing, this way creating more tension. Although they’ll fix your shoe, the problem could come in the shape of blisters, so if you’re blister-prone, avoid them. You could also visit the store where you’ve bought your shoes and ask them if they have laces because most of the time manufacturers will include the ones that suit your shoes the best when you buy them.

When it comes to the lace length, most of the factory-provided laces will be long enough for any of these lacing techniques and knots.

Lace Knots

Learning proper knots and how to do them could often mean the difference between a pleasant walk and disaster. There are a few different knots, and each of them has its own strength. But remember, no matter which knots tying technique you’re using, it won’t help you if your boots don’t fit you well. If you’ve made a mistake with your boots selection, the only solution for this problem is to get new and better fitting ones. Now, let’s go back to our main subject.

Surgeon’s Knot

This type of knot is simple, serves multipurpose and one of the most commonly used. If you feel your heel is slipping constantly, it means there is too much free space at the top of your foot, so using the two surgeon’s knots to fix it will do the work.

Start by pulling the laces out to remove any loose or limp places and to tighten your laces up. Once tight enough find the two lace hooks near the top of your shoe, somewhere near the place where your foot starts to stretch forward. Each of these hooks will serve as a place for one surgeon’s knot.

Wrap the laces around each other twice and secure them by pulling them tight. Then move the lace directly to the hook and lock in the tension of the knot. Do this again at the next set of lace hooks, and then do the rest of the crossing as usual.

Window Lacing

If you’ve tied your boots so tight that you’ve started to feel the pressure on top of your foot, so-called “window” or “box” lacing could solve the issue.

Start by unlacing the shoes to the point where you’re feeling pressured. Re-lace it by skipping those hooks and lacing the next pair of hooks, followed by crossing the laces over. You could end up by lacing your boot the rest of the way by usual, or you can tie a surgeon’s knot at the lower and at the upper edge of lace-formed “window”, to gain stronger hold.

Toe-Relief Lacing

If your toes start to hurt, there is something you can do to get back to the track quickly, while helping your toes to gain some relief and remove the pressure off them.

You’ll do it by completely unlacing your shoes, then starting your lace from the bottom, but skipping the first set of hooks, which will free your toes up a bit. If this doesn’t help, the problem is not in your knot but in the shoe itself.  Go and get some with the proper amount of wiggle room.

Some Other Lacing Techniques

The three techniques mentioned above are the most spread and used ones, but there are some more you could use that will help you along your camping trip.

Low-Cut Shoe Heel Lock

Use that double eyehole located at the top of your shoe to make a loop and lace back through the loop. Pull up against the loop and snug your heel into the newly made pocket.

Boot Heel Lock

This knot will help you distribute pressure better. You’ll have to create a loop between two hooks, then pass the lace from above and then through. When done, continue moving up.

In Case Of High Pressure

If you feel high pressure in a specific area of your shoes, the process of relieving is quite simple. Unlace your shoes and simply, when lacing them again, skip that place. You could also mix it with locking techniques for better results.

Cuff Pressure

In the case of too much pressure, there is a possibility of skin irritation, especially on the lower skin. Tying a cuff pressure knot will help with this. Simply when done lacing bring the laces over the top of the hooks before the bow knot.

Granny Knot

Less secure compared to a square knot, and you’ll recognize it by noticing that the bow loops point up and down. This is one of the most common knots and the easiest to do.

Square Knot

Tying the square knot begins with an overhand knot, after which you take those two loops and pass the right one over the left one, then the left one over the right one. When finished, the final “product” should have bow loops pointing to the sides.

Globo Surf Overview

The art of lacing hiking shoes is one of the most important knowledge and probably the essential one when it comes to hiking comfort regarding your feet. It is not hard art to master, but it does require a bit of patience, skill, and will to learn something new.

Learning to tie a proper knot will not only stabilize your shoes and reduce the stress your feet suffer during the hiking trip, but it will also help you if you encounter some problem along the way. Once you learn how to lace hiking boots, taking on larger hikes will be a lot easier and simpler. If you’re not sure about this, feel free to ask some more experienced hikers for advice. Same with any other aspect, the knowledge of shoe lacing techniques is one of the most underrated, but also the most important ones. Keep your mind open and let the experience lead you. If you hear about some new technique, try it out. It may fit you better than all the others you’ve used before.  Also, be creative and try to find your own, and who knows, maybe the next big shoe lacing knot will be called by your name!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!