Tips On How To Lace Hiking Boots (2023)

It is difficult to find a perfectly fit pair of shoes as our feet often have unique shapes and characteristics. Some have high arches, others have low volume feet. In other words, even the best footwear cannot fit your feet as snugly as you want.

There is one quick solution: using different lacing techniques.

Scroll down now to learn how to lace hiking boots properly.

When To Re-lace Hiking Boots

There are tons of different ways to lace a pair of hiking boots. And believe it or not, sometimes changing the lacing can help solve many problems with your boots.

Take a look to see how lacing hiking boots can be a wonderful solution to some annoying issues that you run into while wearing boots.

  • When you have heel blisters: Heel lock lacing should be useful as it prevents your heels from lifting up in the boots as you walk.
  • When you have high arches: Window lacing will relieve the pressure that some parts of your feet have to bear.
  • When your boots are a bit wide: If you find your feet moving around inside your wide boots while walking, you should try foot lock-down lacing systems. Although it is quite complex, the technique is definitely worth a try, unless you want to buy another pair of shoes instead.
  • When you have bunions: There is one specific technique for this problem, and it is called toe relief lacing. As its name suggests, it will loosen the boots across the toe box.
  • When your boots keep loosening: You can try the surgeon’s knot as it is really secure.
  • When you feel pain across the top of your feet: It is probably because your laces are too tight on the top. Window lacing, which allows you to loosen some parts, will be a good idea.
  • When your boots place pressure on your ankle bones: You may want to give your ankles more room inside your boots. I recommend relaxed ankle lacing in this case.

Understanding Your Feet

Understanding your feet is important when deciding the best lacing techniques for yourself. Find out the special characteristics and make a well-informed decision.

Answer these following questions to get to know your feet:

  • Do you have a high arch?
  • Do you have fallen arches, or are you feet flat?
  • Do you have low- or high-volume feet?
  • Are your feet equal in size?
  • Do you have bunions?
  • Have you had any trouble breaking in shoes before?

It is not necessary to answer these questions when you are buying footwear for casual purposes, since everyday footwear is forgiving. But these factors are really important if you want a perfect fit to support your feet in extreme conditions such as hiking.

If you have a high arch, you may want to tie your laces so that the boots support your arch better. In contrast, strong arch support is painful for those who have mid or low arches.

Low-volumed feet need a snug fit as they tend to move around inside an oversized boot, which leads to potential blisters. Meanwhile, high-volume feet need space to stay comfortable.

And if your feet are not of the same size, it is a good idea to choose footwear based on the size of your large foot.

Hiking Boots Knots

Overhand Knot

This is probably the most common knot with hiking boots. To tie an overhand knot, simply cross one shoelace over the other before looping it underneath the cross you have just made. Then, pull the end of the laces away from each other.

With the overhand knot, you will have a loop that holds all the laces in one place below it. Now you can tie it off in any way you like.

Surgeon’s Knot

This is a really secure knot used in many hiking boot-lacing techniques. To make a surgeon’s knot, you wrap the end of your laces around each other twice and pull them tight.

Secure the tip end of the lace around the next lace hooks to keep lacing until you finish. If the surgeon’s knot is your last knot, tie the laces off with the normal bow.

Granny Knot (Square Knot)

A granny knot begins with an overhand knot. After tying an overhand knot, you cross the left laces over each other to create a knot. If the bow loops point up and down, you have the granny knot. But if the loops point to the sides, that is a square knot.

Meanwhile, a square knot is complete when you finish tying and the bow loops point to the sides.

Lacing Techniques

#1 The Heel Lock

As its name already suggests, the heel lock technique will lock your heel down to prevent movement inside the hiking boot.

Step 1

First, put your foot into the boot. Make sure the heel is pushed to the back of your boot as far backwards as possible.

Step 2

Find the intersection of your foot and your leg on the front of your ankle. Identify that point on your hiking boot.

Step 3

Tie the laces as usual up to that point, then make a surgeon’s knot. Lock off the knot by running the laces to the next hook before tying another surgeon’s knot there.

Step 4

Keep lacing until you reach the top of the boot. You are good to go then!

This lacing technique is the best choice when you have heel blisters, or when your heel keeps moving and lifting out of your boot during the hike. Also, try it if you find your toes banging on the front when descending from the hills.


  • Lock your heel down
  • Prevent blisters
  • Quick and easy


  • Surgeon’s knot required

#2 Toe-relief Lacing

This is not exactly a lacing technique since it does not involve any technique at all. In fact, you just lace your boots as you always do but skip the first eyelets to take some pressure off the toe box.

Note that this is only a temporary solution when you have bunions or your toes start hurting during a hike. If your toes often hurt or you find the toe box too cramped, it is time to get a new pair of hiking boots.


  • Quick and easy
  • No special knot required


  • Temporary solution only
  • Not effective if the boots are of the wrong size

#3 High Instep

If you have a high instep and want to reduce pressure over it, you can try this technique. It is pretty easy and like the toe-relief lacing, it is not an exact technique.

With high instep, you lace as usual and simply skip crossing the laces at sensitive areas.


  • Quick and easy
  • No special knot required


  • Not really effective

#4 Window Lacing

This is one of the most common hiking boot lacing techniques. The best advantage it offers is to relieve stress in some areas without removing all support from the laces.

You can count on this lacing if you have high-volumed feet or high arches, or when you feel pain across the top of your feet.

To do window lacing, follow these instructions:

Step 1

Identify your pressure point and untie the shoelaces to the hooks just below this point.

Step 2

Re-lace as normal but instead of crossing over this point, you skip it and go straight up to the next hook.

Step 3

Finish lacing up to the top as normal. You can also make a surgeon’s knot at the upper and lower edge of the window for a snugger fit.


  • Relieve stress in desired areas
  • Quick and easy


  • Not for low volume feet or low arches

#5 Relaxed Ankle Lacing

As suggested above, the relax ankle lacing technique can reduce the pressure put on your ankle bones by providing a little space between your boots and ankles. It involves only two simple steps:

Step 1

Tie your shoelaces as usual.

Step 2

The relaxed ankle lacing method is recommended if your ankles bones have to bear much pressure, or your hiking boots continue to rub at the calf. It is also the favorite lacing technique for those with wide calves.


  • Reduce stress on the ankle
  • Quick and easy
  • No special knot required


  • Not really effective

#6 Foot Lock-down Lacing

Do you have narrow feet or low volume feet? Do your toes keep banging to the front as you tread downhill?

If so, you may want to try the foot lock-down lacing technique. It is similar to the heel lock, but it secures all parts of your foot into the boot, not only the heel.

Step 1

Check the parts that you feel spacious when you put on the boots.

Step 2

Untie the laces to the lowest point, then make a surgeon’s knot at this point and keep lacing until you finish.

Step 3

If you do not find any other spacious spots, you have done lacing your boots at step 2. But if there is any place that needs to be more secure, you can repeat the surgeon’s knot there.


  • Quick and easy
  • Lock all your feet to the boot for extra security


  • Surgeon’s knot required

There are many other lacing techniques, including cuff pressure for example.

Hiking Boot Lacing Tips

Regardless of the lacing techniques you use, these lacing tips are always useful.

  • Loosening the laces before you put your boots on. It not only makes it easier to wear, but also avoids stressing the eyelets and the backs of your shoes. In other words, your hiking boots can last longer.
  • You should choose the boots with as many eyelets possible to be able to adjust the laces with ease. That way, you can ensure the best fit for your feet.
  • Do not forget to adjust your shoelaces throughout the day since the shoelaces will move and loosen as you go around.
  • Make sure the shoelaces are lying flat when you are lacing them.
  • Start lacing your boots at the eyelets that are closest to your toes to get the best fit.

Benefits of Professional Boot Lacing

As mentioned above, professional boot lacing can help address many issues with your boots. It saves the effort and money you need to spend on buying another pair of hiking boots, and you know, hiking boots are not cheap.

Also, knowing many lacing techniques can provide an immediate solution during a hike. For example, using toe relief lacing allows you to treat bunions temporarily to continue traveling across the mountain.

Last but not least, these boot-lacing techniques are especially useful with those whose feet have unique characteristics such as low arches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How tight should hiking boots be laced?

A: It should be tight enough so that the boots fit your feet snugly but not too tight to cause discomfort. At the end of the day, it mostly depends on how you feel.

Q: How long does lacing hiking boots take?

A: It may take a while if this is the first time you have laced hiking boots. But do not worry; once you understand all the steps, you can lace your shoes correctly in no time.

Q: What is the best way to lace hiking boots?

A: There is no such thing as the best way to tie hiking boots. You can choose any techniques you like, as long as you tie the shoelaces properly, not too tight or too loose. Also, the lacing should contact the boots firmly.

Q: What is the role of red lace?

A: Red laces are probably preferred due to more visibility, especially when your boots are dirty. Shoelaces are available in many different colors other than red as well, for example, black, grey, and green.

The Bottom Line

That is all about hiking boot-lacing techniques and tips. Now that you know how to lace your hiking boots properly, you can ensure maximum comfort in your hiking boots. But keep in mind that lacing cannot solve all problems. Sometimes you have no choice but to buy another pair of shoes.

Anyway, have fun lacing and hiking in your boots.

Thank you for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *