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Beginner Basics: Corrective Boot Tying

Having boot trouble on the trail? You might be able to save your day, and your feet, just by using these simple lacing solutions. Combine them as necessary to get the comfort you want.
Photos by Jennifer Howe / howephoto.us
  • PROBLEM 1: Toes getting pinched? Loosen the toe area laces and tie a simple square knot (right over left, then left over right) to keep them from creeping tight.
  • PROBLEM 2: Arches and instep hurting? Or are the heels and balls of your feet sore from being squashed down by tight laces? Tighten the toe area to taste, then route your laces to avoid the painful areas atop your foot.
  • PROBLEM 3: Have too much heel lift? Tie two twists into each lace right at the ankle flex point.
  • Then tighten hard on the second/upper tie-off.
  • Then finish with a two-twist version of the square knot, so it's easier to untie.
  • PROBLEM 4: Shins hurting? This is a normal problem with new, stiff boots. Try using the heel lift solution, and then finish your lacing on the next-to-last lace hooks.
PROBLEM 1: Toes getting pinched? Loosen the toe area laces and tie a simple square knot (right over left, then left over right) to keep them from creeping tight.
Image 1 of 6

PROBLEM 1: Toes getting pinched? Loosen the toe area laces and tie a simple square knot (right over left, then left over right) to keep them from creeping tight.

READERS COMMENTS

Page 1 | 2

Hey, Backpacker! Can you offer these boot tying tips on a single, printable page, including both photos and text? I would love to have that in my pack on my next trip, and I'd send it along with my son's scout troop, too.
— Marie

How about a source for boot laces that actually stay TIED ??? I'm tired of double-knotting them like a toddler, then arguing with them when I need to adjust further down the trail!
— reader

How about a source for boot laces that actually stay TIED ??? I'm tired of double-knotting them like a toddler, then arguing with them when I need to adjust further down the trail!
— reader

Best "how-to" in a while! Kudos!
— corwin

Perfect - among all the gear-porn there are gems like this that keep me coming back.
— Scott

When I buy "new" boots or shoe laces, I apply Snow Seal, or any oil based boot grease, to completely cover the laces, working it well into the laces. I never tried car grease, Vaseline or any other greasy substance but they should all work. The grease tends to "lock down" any knots one may choose to place along the laces so they won't slip. Trail dust and grit also adhere to the grease which would help prevent knot slippage. I have never had to re-apply Snow Seal nor have I had any problem with laces wearing out because of the grit nor have I had to double-knot my laces.
— Richard R

If you have trouble keeping your boots/shoes tied (or even if you don't,) try this: add an extra loop before bringing the other lace through to tie the bow knot. It's hard to explain; a picture would be better, but I'll try. You make a loop with the first lace, then you wrap the other end of the lace around twice before pulling a loop of it through the wrap. It's like the normal way of tying shoes, but with an extra wrap in the middle. Sounds complicated, but once you get used to it, it's easy.
— Jim the desert rat

I learned how to tie boots from a sales guy in Jackson Hole while buying my wife some hiking boots. Invaluable, and it's amazing how many people have never been taught simple tying methods that make all the difference. My favorite is the half-knot with an extra twist right at the lowest part of the shin so toes stay free when you have steep downhills.
— Doug H

For the guy that wanted laces that don't come undone, watch the TED talk on how to tie your shoe laces. Its pretty amazing that something so simple is done wrong by nearly everyone.
— tim

Great "how-to." Thank you! I would love to see more like this article.
— Shana


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