hi-top hiking boots with

How to lace up boots…hi-top hiking boots pictured with rand.


When hiking, knowing how to lace up boots can save you a lot of grief…and your feet!  There is a right way and a wrong way to lace up boots.  We will explain how to do it the right way while using a variety of boots and boot styles.

I know, you are probably thinking, “so what’s the big deal about lacing up a boot?”

And that’s the way that most folks view boot lacing.  Since there are so many different types and styles of boots, along with a huge variety of purposes for boots, it is only natural to know that there is also a  variety of ways to lace up a boot.   Different methods or techniques of boot lacing has a definite purpose.

Lets explore a few here and also a quick note on the traction treads (aka boot lugs) on boots.  But before getting into the “nuts and bolts” let’s take a quick recap of my previous comments on boots and their proper use.


Having the most comfortable type of hiking boot available is at the heart of enjoying the fantastic outdoor locations where you’ve used your own two feet to get to.  Getting there in comfort is also an essential part of enjoying the hike.

Getting the right type of foot protection, along with a proper fit and the break-in period can make all the difference in the world to keep your feet happy along with you being a “happy camper.”     🙂

Four Major Categories Of FootWear

Mountaineering boots are usually use only by professional high altitude mountain climbers.  These boots give the absolute maximum protection.  With extremely stiff soles, sturdy exteriors, superior ankle support, and offer 100 % waterproofing and insulation, will always take some length of time to break-in properly.

Then the midweight type of hiking boots or backpacking boots are perfect for hikes that will be more than 8 miles.  Comfortable over rough terrain while giving much needed ankle and foot support for carrying heavy backpacking loads.  Usually worn at lower elevations.

On the other hand, the lighter style hiking boot is ideal for a semi-rough terrain.  Water proof or water resistance is offered.  With a midsole support and tough outer skin.  Heavier than trail shoes, this type of boot is well suited for well marked and maintained trails.

Finally, the trail shoes  aka. trail running shoes/boots are the most lightweight of them all.   Perfect for walking to nearby places having mild terrain and great traction.  Can even wear this type of shoe/boots,  on a daily basis.

 Determining Fit and Construction

As mentioned above, there are many styles of hiking boots just as there are many types of material used in the construction of each pair.

Lower altitudes and trail hiking boots/shoes are quite often made of a combination of man made material, such as nylon, coupled with either split grain leather or perhaps suede.  Breathable mesh panels can be used in conjunction with this type of boot.

On the other hand, full grain leather boots are much stiffer and will require longer periods of time to break in properly.  You can give them a good workout by short walks through the neighborhood, your place of work, or even a short hike through a nearby forest.  Doing so more often, will give this type of boot a good break in.

A boot that will be worn in either wet, muddy, or shallow stream areas, should be at the very least, water resistant.  A breathable mesh can add in allowing your feet to air dry from foot perspiration.   With a sturdy sole and shank, this type of boot would be better for your feet.  Having your foot being “rounded” by stepping on a root or stone, would not make for a happy hiking experience.

A boot rand is always a good choice.  What is a rand?  It’s that tough outer rubber guard that can be on the toe and sides of your boot.  It helps keep out moisture and is a great way to protect the sides of your boots and extend the life of them. (see opening picture)

Make sure that your choice of boot has the gusset on either side of the tongue.  A loose tongue will allow all sorts of debris into your boot, necessitating the removal of your boot while on the trail.  Not only would this be time consuming, but rather irritating for those with you.  So choose wisely.

Proper Lacing and Tying Methods

Most boots have the simple eyelets in them to quickly and easily run your laces through.  Most folks just start at the bottom and lace up boots like they would a pair of tie up street shoes.

Is there a right and wrong way to lace up and tie boots?   Yes…and No.   How so?  Many boot configurations offer the simple eyelet style of lacing, however many other boot/shoe  styles offer much more.

Such as :  Boot Hooks, where you can quickly tie up a boot without ever having to run a lace through a hole.

D-Rings are similar to eyelets.  However, they are found on the outside of the lace area and are in the shape of the letter “D”, thereby giving them that name.  Lace’s are run through the D-Rings and then tied.

Lacing Techniques

Lacing techniques depend much on the type of boot you have.

Webbing is quite different altogether.  Looking like small loops where the eyelets would be found, these offer superior holding power and anti-slip of the lace itself.  Though taking more time to lace initially, they do stay put longer.

Then there is the Combination eyelet or better know as the Combo.  Often times you will find this type with a D-Ring connection along with the Hook style.  Usually the Hooks are located towards the top of the boot (above the ankle)  and the D-Rings are more towards the toe of the boot.

All About Lugs…Not Created Equal

Once more, depending on the type of terrain you intend on traversing, will depend on the type of lug you will want to have on the sole of your boots.   The more aggressive type lug, (more protruding from the sole) the better for muddy, slippery and loose rocky soil.  Along with a good shank, you can easily walk over pointed rocks, roots, and branches without too much difficulty or discomfort.

Keep in mind also, that the shank area on the underside of your boot should be made of rubber, not plastic.  Why?  Plastic can be super supportive…but also super slippery!  You don’t want your foot to slip and slide when stepping on roots, branches or even wet rocks by allowing your ankle to roll.

An aggressive lug will “dig in” better and will allow you to have a better “grip” on the soil.  But keep in mind also, that all lugs are not created equal.  How so?

Lugs can be soft, pliable rubber.  Or can be tough, hard plastic type.  Neither would be ideal.  What you want is a combination of the two.  That is, a hard, sturdy type of rubber that will hold up to tough terrain and be comfortable on smoother trails.  It’s been known that some lugs are so soft that they at times, just break off during hikes.  Ask about the store return policy if that should be a concern to you.

Tying Techniques and Their Purpose

A perfect fit for every foot is just not going to happen.  So in order to make a boot stay put, we need to work with it and not against it.  Every foot is different.  Wide, narrow, large heel, narrow heel, high arch, flat footed feet are only a few things we need to be aware of.

Lets start with the ‘flat foot’.  Folks with this type foot usually have a problem with a snug fit over the top metatarsal part of the foot.  So to “fix” that problem when lacing up boots properly, we need to make sure that the laces over the top of our foot are pulled up snug.  Then, before going any further, say, up to the D-Rings or Hooks, we need to tie a double overhand knot.

Metatarsal area

Metatarsal area for “flat foot”

A double overhand knot is the same as when you tie your street shoes.  But instead of just crossing the laces one time, simply run the single lace around once more.  That will lock in the “knot” so it will remain and keep the metatarsal laces tight.  You can also use this tie technique at the toe end also.  In that way, you start off with your laces being locked in.

You can also lock off the top knot or final tying by using the same double overhand knot.  Then use your bow tie knot to finish or you can  double the bow tie by once more, tying another knot using the looped ends. If you have a high arch or a higher metatarsal, then this type of lacing method would be best to stay away from.

Double overhand knot

Double overhand knot

Narrow ankle or boots a wee bit too short?  Let’s tie our boot so our heel stays in the very back of our boot.  Since the lower portion of our boot is already laced and if needed, we have used the double overhand knot to keep laces in place without loosening up.

We are at or above the ankle area.  We can simply run our laces up either side and not criss-crossing the laces, (if we have hooks)  skipping over the center hook, D-Ring or center eyelet.  At the top, we again cross our laces (without tying) over to the opposite side, and go UNDER the lace at the place where we skipped the eyelet or hook or D-Ring.  Remember now, that skipped area was in the middle of the upper part of our boots.

Now we can begin to tighten.  Pull up on either lace and you’ll note that it is now pulling and tightening not just at the top, but all the way up the above-the-ankle part of our boot.  When you’ve gotten it snugged up, repeat the double overhand knot and pull snug again.  Finish it off with your standard bow.  Perhaps even using the loops again to tie another knot.

Ladder Lacing

Ladder Lacing…Just a different way to lace up a boot.

This technique will keep your heel anchored in the back of the boot and also help to keep your foot from sliding forward when you walk downhill.  At the same time, slippage at the heel will be mostly eliminated.  Blisters are not wanted while hiking.

Swollen Feet or a naturally thicker foot can also benefit from proper lacing of your boots.  (Remember to try on boots at the end of the day as our feet tend to swell during the day)

Start off with the double overhand knot at the toe of your boot.  Then cross over to the first set of D-Rings, eyelets, or webbing and go through them.  Once more, do the double overhand knot to lock the toe laces in.

Now you can quickly run laces up on either side of your boot, without crossing over to the other side.  This will allow your foot a bit of expansion in the metatarsal area.  Since a high arched foot will naturally be a bit higher from the inside sole, this will allow it the needed room to move and not feel restricted.

The skipped over crisscrossed area will need to have the double overhand knot to lock it all off.   Then you can just lace up and tie up your boots as you normally do.

Conclusion On Tying Techniques

How to lace boots/shoes

How to lace boots/shoes…Have you tried the above techniques?

Keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong way to lace up boots.  But there is a variety of ways to make your boots comfortable for you and keep your feet “anchored” properly.  Remember, comfort is the foremost thing to keep in mind, safety is next.   We do not want a boot that is going to “flop” on our foot or overly flex.  That would be defeating the purpose of a proper fit.

Wild Life You Meet On The Trail…MUST READ THIS !

Attacking Grizzly Bear

Udap Pepper Spray will stop this attacking Grizzly in it’s tracks!

Being out in the wild, from time to time you will quite by accident, meet up with wild animals.  Mostly these animals will run from you.  However, there have been many incidents where animals in the wild, (bear, moose, elk, coyotes, wolves, badgers, wolverines) will choose to charge or even attack a human.

So how do you protect yourself?

A gun?  Usually way too small caliber to do much damage against a charging bear, elk or moose.

A rifle?  Takes too long to get ready, and at most, you will only have a few seconds to react.

So what do we take with us?  I highly suggest you take with you, an easy to operate, pepper spray.

It should be handy and quick to operate and use,  a real “no brainer” for each person.  The canister type that is operated by a single finger or thumb, would NOT be the best.  What you are looking for is something that will fit in your hand similar to a gun.   You instantly activate the canister by pulling a “trigger” with your finger.

It also needs to be at your side for quick response.  It would be worn in a similar fashion as an old western shootout down main street.  Since a charging wild animal needs to stopped at a distance from you and not in-your-face-up-close-and-personal.  You will need a pepper spray that will spray a great distance, allowing the animal to breathe in the pepper spray BEFORE they get to you.

udap spray and holster

udap spray and holster…the world’s best protection!

I highly recommend the UDAP BEARSPRAY.    It will STOP a charging grizzly bear in it’s tracks!    In fact, this spray was developed by a grizzly bear attack survivor!  You can see his actual attacked picture on every canister.  It has a range of about 30 feet as compared to other pepper sprays that shoot out 8 – 12 feet.  Know also, the expiration date of the spray.

udap photo

Survivor of  Grizzly bear attack. udap photo on canister

Some pepper sprays can be a wee bit pricey, but how much is your life worth?  Keep yourself and your hiking party safe.

Have an experience while hiking?  How about an encounter with a wild animal?

Leave me your comments and experiences below and be sure to click the share button.

Written by :   Tom McDaniel         Be sure to share this site!

photos by :  abc news photo,amcoutdoorsbymattheid,