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Hiking is an activity that can involve walking through challenging terrain. When hiking, it is a must that your hiking boots feel nice and comfortable—that’s why knowing how to tie your hiking boots correctly is so important. There are different lacing techniques that you can try depending on your needs, feet, and boots.
How to Tie Hiking Boots
There are several ways to tie hiking boots, but some of the best methods include:
The overhand knot is the most basic and simple way of tying the laces.
- You take the end of one lace and put it over the other, forming a loop.
- Then you put the end of the lace through the loop and pull both of the laces on their opposite sides to tighten the boot.
This type of knot gives you the same tension throughout the boot and can even serve as a base for other types of knots. You can finish this knot in whatever way you want.
To tie a surgeon’s knot:
- Wrap one end around the other twice.
- Make loops by pulling tight.
- Pass one loop around the other, then around the other, to produce the surgeon’s bow.
- Tighten the loops and ends to make them about equal.
The tension on the surgeon’s knot is similar to an overhand knot, but a surgeon’s knot is more secure and less likely to untie while hiking.
Granny knot / square knot
An overhand knot or a surgeon’s knot can finish with a granny knot.
- After tightening your laces, take one of them and fold it back on itself to make a “bunny ear.”
- Wrap the other lace around the bunny ear, making a loop under it with your thumb.
- Hold the loose end of the lace against your thumb with your index finger, then push the lace through the loop, making a second bunny ear.
- Take one bunny ear in one hand and the other, then squeeze them together. You’ve made a granny knot if the bunny ears stretch lengthwise down your foot. But if they run across the width of your foot, then you’ve tied a square knot. It’s best to aim for a square knot, as it’s the more secure of the two.
This type of lacing relieves pressure from the top of your foot for when you feel like your boots have gotten too tight and are squishing your toes.
- In this case, you unlace the boot until you reach the eyelet below the point where you feel the boot is too tight.
- Then start relacing by skipping the eyelet where the pressure was and going directly into the next eyelet, then finish off lacing in a normal way with a knot at the end.
If you feel that your toes are always hurt during your hike, the solution is to do a toe-relief lacing:
- Completely unlace the boots.
- Lace them up by skipping the first eyelets nearest to the toe entirely.
This will relieve the pressure from your toes. In case this doesn’t happen, it might be time to get a new pair of hiking boots.
Heel lock lacing
This method of tying your hiking boots gives you an extra grip on the heel and helps relieve pressure from the rest of the foot.
- After you lace the boot in the usual way, at the top, take each lace and insert it on the top eyelet/lock of the side in which the laces are located. So left lace goes from outside to inside the top-left eyelet or lock of the boot, and the right lace in the top right eyelet or lock. This will form a loop on each side of the boot.
- Next, take the end of each lace and insert it through the opposite loop. So the left lace end goes through the right loop, and the right lace end goes through the left loop. Then pull your laces to tighten the grip on the heel and finish off with a knot.
Relaxed ankle lacing
This type of lacing relieves the pressure on your ankle when hiking. This lacing is done just as normal lacing, but at the last lock, you hook the laces from upside to below the lock (hook) and then finish off with a knot.
Foot lockdown lacing
This lacing is useful when you feel that certain areas in your foot are too spacious and don’t have enough grip on the shoe.
- You unlace up to the furthest point where you feel it is spacious; you do a surgeon’s knot at that point.
- Then continue lacing and also do a surgeon knot at any other point that you feel is not tight enough before finishing off.
Lacing Boots According to Your Foot Shape
Most boots that you buy at a store come pre-laced, with the standard criss-cross method of lacing. However, people’s feet don’t come in a standard shape. Every individual has a slightly different foot shape—some people have a very wide forefoot—some have big heels, while others have smaller heels etc. So, it is very useful to learn different lacing techniques that make the boot fit better. For example:
- Wide forefoot and small heel—in this case, you can do a toe-relief lacing combined with a heel lock to have more space at the widest part of your foot while tightening the shoe at the narrowest area of your shoe.
- Wide heel—doing a relaxed ankle lacing is necessary to avoid injuring your heel.
- Narrow forefoot—you can do a lockdown lacing to avoid spacious points.
Lacing Boots for Uphill and Downhill
Every hiking trip has two major parts—the ascend and the descent. When going uphill, your boots should be laced at a medium or tight lacing in zone 1 (forefoot and midfoot) while being looser in zone 2 (ankle and upper foot) for more freedom of movement while tackling the difficulties of uphill terrain. While descending downhill, the lacing should be tight in zones 1 and 2 for the feet to have a good grip and stability to avoid slipping.
Lacing might seem like a trivial thing that does not deserve much attention. But as many experienced hikers can tell you, a properly laced boot can be a real lifesaver. In contrast, poorly fitting boots can turn your hiking trip into a nightmare. So it is very important to learn all the proper lacing techniques to ensure that you have the best possible experience during your hiking trips.