There are a wide variety of boots available out there – for work, for hiking, for winter, for formal occasions, just for fashion, and so many more.
Some boots have dual purposes, even more, depending on how practical the user is. One way to change a pair’s look and function is lacing.
There are numerous ways to lace boots up. The simplest and the most common way is the crisscross pattern. That’s what most of us have learned since pre-school when our parents or teachers taught us how to tie them as well.
But there are so many others – some unpretentious but serviceable and specific for certain tasks while others are intricate and stylish.
Although it would be interesting to go through all of the ways to do this – and there are hundreds of them right now – let’s just focus on the eight most common ones.
Most in the list were included because of few essential reasons: these are easy to accomplish, can be tightly drawn yet be still comfortable, and won’t cause too much stress on the laces or the leather.
1. Standard Crisscross
As aforementioned, this is the type of lacing which most of us have learned when we were young. This is also how you’d find most shoes tied up when you get them from the shop. And that’s because most people know how to loosen then tighten it up when trying it on.
- Insert the string through the bottom eyelets, from out to in. Ensure that each side has the same length.
- Take the left part of the cord and then thread it diagonally through the following hole.
- Do the same for the right cord.
- Keep going until you’re at the top. Secure the ends for storage.
Flatten the cord before stringing it into the eyelets so that the lines are even when intertwined. Even when it’s more round than thin and flat, make sure that it doesn’t get twisted or the whole pattern will look unsightly.
Some say that stringing one side first before moving on to the other is more efficient and provides neat results. Try this if you haven’t yet but going right to left (or vice versa) is alright, too.
Over Under Lacing, CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) Combat Boot Lacing
From the term itself, this type of lacing is very common among soldiers. This more relaxed style is favored in the military because their boots are often hard and stiff, causing blisters and related injuries when the shoes are tied too tight.
Step by Step Guide:
- Insert the cords into the holes, making sure that the length is equal on both sides. Do an in to out threading if there are an even number of eyelets. Do the opposite if it’s odd-numbered.
- Thread diagonally to the next eyelet. Do the same for the other half of the lace.
- Next, string it through vertically / upwards to the next level.
- The result should look like alternating crisscrosses under the flap and straight threading through the loops.
The Spider’s Web is a more complicated version of this army-style lace-up. Although it is used mainly in the military, many take the time to learn this because the pattern is quite intricate and beautiful.
3. The Paratrooper’s Ladder
This is also used in the military, particularly by paratroopers. This is more secure, preventing the possibility of their shoes slipping off when they land and go on a full sprint so they don’t get pulled by their parachutes.
- Insert the cord in to out, ensuring that the two halves are of the same length.
- String each aglet vertically on the next level. Pull each up slightly to create a loop.
- Take the left aglet and take that through the right loop you made. Do the same with the right aglet.
- Thread the ends again vertically on the next level, creating the same loops.
- Insert the ends to the opposite loops
- Do the same until you reach the top holes.
Another similar style is the Quick Release Ladder which is made for high boots with a lot of eyelets. From the term itself, this type of lacing makes it easier to pull the string free for easier unfastening.
The Rope Ladder (described below) is easier to accomplish but is just as secure. Its simplicity makes it look great on boots – even for formal wear.
4. The Rope Ladder
This rugged design is often used by hikers and even other athletes (on their high-cut sneakers or cleats) because it provides good ankle support.
Technically speaking, this is under the umbrella of ladder designs (of which the Paratrooper’s Ladder is part). However, this isn’t often used by soldiers in the armed forces. Nonetheless, some opt for this style because it is quite secure but more elegant.
- Start with an in to out lacing, making sure that you got even lengths.
- Next, cross the two sides of the cord, tangling them with each other.
- Take the right one and string it vertically into the next eyelet from under the flap.
Do the same with the one on the left.
- Again, cross the two and repeat the step above.
- Do this repeatedly until you reach the top.
Fix the twist which you have made in the middle making sure it’s centered before you move on to the next level so that it looks neat once you’re done.
The Knotted Lacing which features three twists in the middle and the Twistie Lacing which seems to have twisted braids on top of the boot’s tongue are two designs that closely resemble the Rope Ladder.
5. Commando Type or Straightlaced
Here is another way military men fasten their boots, especially for parades and award ceremonies. These may not be as locked as the paratrooper’s ladder but it is still secure enough. Non-military personnel like this as well because of the neatness and simplicity of the design.
Step by Step Guide:
- Insert the cord from the outside to the inside, still making sure that the two halves are equally long.
- Take the left cord and thread it up vertically onto the next hole.
- Take the right cord and thread it up vertically onto the third hole, skipping the next one.
- Get the left side and insert it horizontally into the second right hole.
- Get the right one and insert it horizontally into the third right hole.
- Do the same pattern for the following eyelets until your reach the top.
Hidden Knot and Straight Bar follow the same pattern as the Commando style.
The Hiking and Biking Style is comparable to this as well except that the knots are kept in and away from the chains of the bicycle.
6. Train Track Lacing
This is a cross between the Ladder style and the Army-Approved design because of the twist over the boot’s tongue and the straight, vertical loops on the flaps. That’s also the reason why it was given that particular label.
Step by Step Guide:
- String the laces in to out. See that both sides have the same length.
- Thread both sides vertically on the subsequent holes.
- Twist the two together in the middle (as you would in the rope ladder instruction)
- Carefully slip the left aglet into the left eyelet on the same level. This is a bit difficult since the cord is already there but be patient and fix the lace so it’s not twirled.
Do the same with the right.
- Do the vertical insertions once more, threading the cord into the holes in the next level.
- Repeat the steps until you reach the top.
Since it makes so many loops and knots, it is advisable to use longer laces for this. Also, this is harder to loosen when you need to wear it and then tighten. But once you’ve secured it, your shoes won’t come off at all.
The Paratrooper’s Ladder is the closest to the Train Track when it comes to the layout. However, this isn’t advisable for soldiers because of the problem mentioned above: re-fastening is difficult and will take too much time.
7. The Corkscrew Pattern
This is another very simple design, featuring straight lacing that brings the flaps together and diagonal patterns on top of the tongue. This style of lacing is great for boots which are quite difficult to put on because it is easy to loosen and tighten.
- Slip the cord from the outside to the inside.
Compared to the others described above, this should have unequal lace lengths. One side should have an extra inch at the top when you loop it vertically through one side, making the opposite extremely long.
- Go ahead and insert the aglet of the shorter cord into the top eyelet.
- Take the longer part and thread it diagonally into the eyelet on the second level from the inside.
- Next, insert the aglet into the opposite eyelet (still on the second level), this time from the outside.
- Continue doing that for the third level and until you reach the top.
- Since one side already has the short cord through it, slip the long one into the last hole.
In the past, before the Crisscross became popular, the Shoe Shop Lacing which looked more like the Corkscrew style was the way factories laced their newly made pairs. The Sawtooth design closely resembles this as well.
8. The Waffle Lace
This is the most feminine design on the list. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as secure as the military styles described above. Some even say this is the most complex of all.
While this is more often used on sneakers, boots will also benefit from this ultra-trendy lacing.
Step by Step Guide:
- Slip the cord through the first set of holes, in to out.
- Skip the second level and thread the left lace on the third set’s right hole and the right lace on the left one. This will create an X in the middle.
- Go down vertically, inserting the left aglet on the second left eyelet. Do the same with the right one.
- Make another large X, skipping the fourth level and going straight for the fifth set of eyelets.
- Repeat this process until you reach the very top.
You will need longer laces for this particular pattern because the back-and-forth insertions will use up more compared to conventional designs.
Lattice and Zipper designs are quite similar to the Waffle style because the two make use of cross-over patterns for locking the cords.
There is absolutely nothing wrong if you decide to stick with the basic crisscross for lacing. But if you want to spice things up a bit, or try a more secure method for an adventurous getaway, try any of the options provided above. Many of those may seem complicated at first but once you’ve tried those, you’ll see how easy those can be.
Steve Oddvar Vicantas is a professional electrician and building inspector who loves writing about work boots, work safety, and everything in between. He is also a part-time blogger when he has spare time.