Hiking - Knowledge

How to Tie Hiking Boots: A must for Hikers!

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Tying your laces seems like one of the simplest of acts; it is something we’ve learnt mastered in childhood, so it comes to us naturally and doesn’t take more than a couple of seconds to do. However, this happens to be a little different when you are tying your hiking boots. The point of buying special boots for hiking is to ensure that you get the grip and protection required for your trip. Combine the style of the boot with the way you lace it, and you can make sure you never trip, slip, or blister. Learning how to tie hiking boots can be an essential way of preventing these problems.

Table of Content:

  • Overhand Knot: The Basic One
  • Surgeon’s Knot
  • Window Lacing
  • Toe-Relief Lacing
  • Toe-Relief Lacing
  • Granny Knot / Square Knot
  • The Heel Lock
  • Quick-Pull Knot
  • Boot Laces
  • Summing Up

It may be hard to believe, but tying your laces could change the way you wear boots in terms of overall comfort and efficiency. If you look up different lacing styles for boots, you can find numerous techniques, simple to complex, to choose from. There are lacing for various feet sizes and types, lacing for secure fit and styles that look all round great to wear, so many, in fact, you might find yourself getting drowned in information. So, to avoid getting overwhelmed, by boot laces no less, we’ve compiled some basic knots that you can start with before you turn to the more complex ones.

Overhand Knot: The Basic One

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Overly Easy Overhand Knot (Source)

Let’s start with the basics. This type is the most popular and simple way to make a knot with laces. An overhand knot is a style of lacing that you must have learned when you were younger and figuring out how to lace shoes and tie them. It involves you taking a long lace, looping it through the last lace hook in the shoe, and then crisscrossing the lace through the rest of the hooks in the shoe. The knot is made at the end by crossing the lace ends over each other, and looping one lace end under the X you just made. When you pull the ends you are left with a firm tight knot.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: The Big Three

There are three main ways to lace boots, so remember to pick the style that best suits your foot shape and feels most comfortable for you.

The three commonly used and foolproof lacing techniques are:

  • Surgeon’s Knot: this is easy to master and prevents the slipping of your heel
  • Window Lacing: Relieves the top of your foot by reducing pressure
  • Toe-Relief Lacing: A breakthrough to help your aching toe

Surgeon’s Knot

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Operational Surgeon's Knot (Source)

If you find that your heel is constantly slipping when you are hiking then you may have too much weight on the top of your boot near your ankle. To help prevent slipping you can pin down the boot with two surgeon’s knots. These knots will pull the top of the boot down and stay in place for the rest of your journey without coming undone.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: To make a Surgeon’s Knot

  • First, pull the laces tight, and make sure the top part of your boot is particularly snug.
  • Next, find two points where the laces cross that are closest to the top of your foot. This could be the point where the boot bends and this is where you will make the two surgeon’s knots.
  • Then, at the first point, wrap the laces two times around each other, pull the laces, and then loop each lace into the nearest lace hook on the boot. The closest lace hook will be immediately above the previous hook, you do not need to cross the laces again before inserting through the hook. Lacing into the nearest hook keeps the knot tight and locks the tension.
  • Do this wrapping of laces at the next point where you want to increase tension near the top of your boot. Remember to pull and then lace the ends into the nearest hook immediately above.
  • Lastly, lace the rest of the boot in any way you choose.

Window Lacing

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Boxed Up Window Lacing (Source)

If you experience a tight area of pressure on the top of your boot, due to tightening of the laces or width of your ankles, then you should try out the window lacing technique. This style of lacing will help balance out the pressure created on your foot and prevent any specific points from feeling too tight or uncomfortable. This technique is also called ‘box lacing’.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: To do Window Lacing

  • First, unlace the entire boot except for the last two hooks near your toes.
  • Start your re-lacing by crossing your laces over and connecting them to the above hooks.
  • Next, take the laces and go directly to the next hook above. Do not cross for this step.
  • Repeat the above step by again crossing the laces over and hooking them, and then going directly above to the next hook.
  • Lace the rest of the boot in whichever way you choose, and you may add a surgeon’s knot at the base and at the top of the boot to hold everything in place.

Toe-Relief Lacing

toe relief lacing hiking boots
The Toe-friendly

Now, if the pressure that you can’t bear is at the base of the boot, where your toes are, then you will need to use the toe-relief lacing method. This style of lacing helps relieve pressure points that are focused on your toes or the box area around your toes.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: To do Toe-Relief Lacing

  • First, unlace your entire boot.
  • Now, re-lace it but when doing so avoid the first pair of hooks. These are located at the base of the boot, closest to your toes.

By using this technique you take a lot of pressure off your toes and open up the area surrounding them.

Beyond the Basics

Other than the three basic hiking boot knots, there are a few others that are simple enough for you to do easily. Learn how to tie hiking boots in these styles.

Granny Knot / Square Knot

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Same-but-different Granny Knot and Square Knot (Source)

These two knots in simple terms are called the bows or ‘bunny ears’. They are usually paired with the overhand knot or surgeon’s knot. When done alone without the common overhand knot or other kinds of knot, they can easily come undone. The Granny knot is easily spotted as a crooked or diagonal knot at the top of the boot.

It is a sort of slanted bunny ears. It occurs when the starting knot and bow that you create do not balance out. This type of knot, although commonly used can come loose and cause tripping or loosening of the boot. To prevent this, you should try to make a square knot. The square knot looks similar to the granny knot, but is horizontal to the boot and not crooked or slanted. Using this knot can reduce the chance of lace loosening and prevent injuries.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: To make a Square Knot

  • First, reverse the way you normally make the starting knot. If you normally take the right lace and bend it over the left one to make the knot, then do the opposite
  • Now that you have reversed the way you tie the starting knot, you may make the finishing bow or ‘bunny ears’ in the normal way you usually do.

The Heel Lock

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Anti-blister Heel Lock

This type of lacing is one of the easiest and most essential ways to tie your boots. Also referred to as the ‘lace lock’, this style of lacing prevents your heel and foot in whole from sliding within the boot. The friction caused when your feet slide up and down in the boots can cause blisters. The heel lock can also create a sense of stability for your feet when positioned in the boots. This benefits people with narrow feet and helps prevent blisters. The result of using this technique is a snug and firm fit of the boot, without too much pressure being created at any point.

How to Tie Hiking Boots: To make a Heel Lock

  • First, lace your boots normally in any style up till the last two sets of top hooks or eyelets. These are found in most hiking boots and are located around the ankles.
  • Next, tighten the laces and make sure they are not too tight. They should be just about moveable but not loose.
  • Tighten the laces again. Now, instead of crossing the laces over to the top hooks like you normally would, take them straight up to the closest top hook.
  • After connecting straight up the last two top hooks or eyelets, you can cross them over. By crossing them, make sure that each lace goes under the opposite vertical section that you made when going straight up.
  • Now the laces are back at the middle and can be tied normally. Do a double knot for extra security.

Quick-Pull Knot

How to Tie Hiking Boots
The Oh-so-fast Quick Pull Knot

You can find some boots that already have a built in lacing system that only requires you to pull it. All you need to do is loop the laces through the hooks at the base of the boot and pull on the laces. You can find this system in boots like the La Sportiva Synthesis boots, TacLace boots, and more.

Boot Laces

Most hiking boots are accompanied by long laces for you to be able to try out different styles. The lacing tricks mentioned in this article should be possible to try with the hiking boot laces you already have available. Worn out or damaged laces should be repaired as soon as possible. Ensure that the new laces resemble the previous pair in shape, size, and style.

Summing Up

Now that you have learned these lacing and knotting techniques, try them out!

Practice and soon you will be lacing your hiker boots without any problems. Using these methods may not seem like they will make much difference but they can be super effective even in the subtlest of ways.

That being said, do not substitute a lacing technique for good hiking boots.

Even though you might have found the perfect lacing for your boots, it won’t make much of a difference if you have ill fitted or inappropriate hiking boots, so it is essential that you learn how to choose the perfect hiking shoes for yourself.

Let us know your go to lacing style or favourite shoelace knots in the comment section below!

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