Lacing boots might seem like a simple enough process, but you might not know that there are right and wrong ways to do it. One characteristic of boots is that they tend to go to the ankle or higher, so you need a quick way to fasten and unfasten them, otherwise, you could spend several minutes each time you do so.
But at the same time, they need to be reasonably tight so they remain firm and watertight, so you can’t just miss out eyelets to speed up the process. And finally, they need to look good – and there are a few different ways to achieve that. Here are the most common questions about lacing up boots, with some useful answers.
How do you lace up boots?
Boots need to be tight enough to stay firm, but not so tight that the feet feel too restricted. The best way to achieve this is by having consistent lacing all the way up. Pull the ends until there’s a small amount of resistance, then move onto the next row.
With boots for walking and working, it’s best to lace them up in a criss-cross pattern, as this tightens the boots at angles for uniform tightness, and it’s easy to get them on and off. Lacing them over-over-under-under (rather than over-under-over-under) minimises stress on the lace itself, reducing the chances of it wearing and snapping. You know you’ve done it correctly if you see a series of X’s on top rather than looping, criss-crossing diagonals going over and under each crossing.
How do you lace dress boots?
Most people prefer a neat appearance on dress boots, so often straight bar lacing is used. That’s where every row has the lace reaching straight across on the visible side, with all the diagonal lengths being hidden underneath. There are several ways to achieve straight lacing.
The simplest way is to feed one end so it emerges at the top left and runs all the way to the bottom left on the same side underneath. Then bring the lace out at eyelet 1, cross to 1 on the right, go under, and come out again at 2 on the right. Then it’s across to 2 on the left, go in, and come out at 3 on the left, and so on.
Another way is to use diagonal straight lacing. The lace goes in at top left and comes out bottom right, then across to bottom left on the outside. Then it crosses to eyelet 2 on the right, comes out and goes straight across, and continues this until the top.
The main drawback of straight lacing is that you have to estimate the length you require on the end that isn’t threading through the eyelets. You’ll invariably guess wrong the first time, and will have to go down each row loosening or tightening till you get the ends equal lengths. It can also take a bit longer than criss-cross to tighten and release, but the hard work pays off in the neat, uniform finish.
What length boot laces do I need?
The length is determined by the type of lacing, the number of eyelets and the boot’s height. The most efficient way to lace boots (the one with the shortest length) is criss-cross lacing. You should have a minimum of 10cm at each end to tie a double knot.
As a rule of thumb, you should count all the holes and multiply that number by 10 to get the length in centimetres. So 7-hole boots need 140cm laces (14 × 10), 8-hole boots need 160cm, 9-hole boots need 180cm and so on. If you’re using a straight-lace method, you should add 10cm to the result.
Are decorative lacing styles as strong as normal styles?
Generally speaking, decorative lacing styles put appearance before usefulness, so they are fine for everyday wear but are inadvisable for hiking or working. The simple criss-cross style gives consistent tightness from ankle to toe, whereas decorative styles often have tight and loose parts, which is less than ideal.
If you really want to go for a set of laces that really stand out,
there’s much more than the colour to choose from. In fact, there’s a
whole art to lacing shoes, trainers and boots in new and innovative
ways that can be perfected if you want your feet to stand out from the
crowd. This site
lists no fewer than 62 styles, from simple and practical
ones to designs based on the works of MC Escher, starbursts and
pentagrams, among many others. Thrill your boots!