How to Tie Hiking Boots… Yes, There’s More Than One Way!

Have you ever thought about the perfect way to tie your hiking boots? You’ve been tying your boots the same way for a while now without giving it much thought.

But when it comes down to knotting and lacing your hiking boots, things can be a bit different than the normal old way.

Different methods of lace tying have an impact on how you wear your boots. Choosing the right knot formation can ensure they don’t give you blisters or start slipping if you’re wearing a size bigger pair.

How you lace your hiking boots is an integral part of foot care on the trail.

Different Hiking Boot Lacing Knots

Below, we share the simplest ways of knotting and lacing your hiking boots for a kinder fit depending on your needs.

1. Overhand Knot

This technique of lacing your boots is the most common one. You most probably learned how to tie the overhand knot when you were little.

First, you take the two bootlaces into each of your palms, cross one bootlace over the other.

Then loop it beneath the X that you made after crossing the two laces, and then tug the ends of each lace to opposite sides, away from each other.

Doing that creates a loop that grasps all of your lacings in place below it, and then you can knot it in whichever way you want.

2. Surgeon’s Knot

We recommend this technique if your heel excessively slips as you hike. It is the most used technique as it maximally protects ankle slippage and makes the shoe fit tighter around your ankle.

How it is done: Wrap the ends of your bootlaces around each other just as you would to knot it off, but do not tug at bootlaces tightly.

Then repeat the first step of wrapping the bootlaces around each other and tug at the ends of your bootlaces tightly.

Third, you can knot your lace and finish it off with the standard bow or secure the ends of your laces around the next lace hooks to continue lacing.

This type of knot is most helpful if your boots tend to become loose as you hike if your boot laces keep coming undone and if you are incorporating heel lock lacing (see below).

3. Heel Lock Lacing

Heel locking is one of the most critical and most straightforward methods of tying your boots. It is also referred to as the lace lock.

It prevents blistering as it keeps your heels from sliding upwards and downwards, and the rest of your feet from slipping back and forth in the boots. Heel locking offers additional immovability for narrow or low volume feet.

We recommend this technique if you are looking for a comfy, secure fit that does not cut off all blood circulation to your feet. It’s also an advisable knot to use for rocky or rough ground to provide better support for your ankles.

The heel lock uses the surgeon’s knot as its start but then you thread your laces in the top eyelets of the boot and cross thread them downwards towards the surgeon’s knot before finally tying off at your ankle fold.

Heel locks can be altered into a low-cut boot with eyelets. These types of hiking boots have the last two holes next to each other and not one on top of one another.

Make sure to tug your laces through the first eyelet then down through the next hole that is still on the same side. Do not tug them too tight.

Next, tie the laces back over the loops that you made and tug the laces up against them, keeping your heels secure in the boots.

4. Window Lacing

Window lacing aids in relieving the sharp pressure point along the top of the foot, below the gusseted or bellows tongue of your hiking boot. It does this by creating a window between the tighter areas of lacing.

If you choose to use this technique, recognize the focal point of friction or pressure, and undo your bootlaces to just below the pressure point.

Re-do the lacing straight up through the next hook above the pressure point, as an alternative to crossing the bootlaces. You then pass the bootlaces and lace your boots to the topmost part of the boot as usual.

Window lacing eases compression from the top of your feet. You should use this method of lacing if you have high arcs or have been feeling pressure and discomfort on the top part of your feet.

The video below explains this technique well, but takes a long time to get to the point. Wind on to the 40 second mark for the actual method.

5. Toe Relief Lacing

This method is comparable to window lacing. It is used for stress points that happen in the toe box. If there is distress in your toe box, ensure that it is not from your heel slipping or inadequate comfort from the gusseted tongue.

To exercise this method, you should entirely undo the lacing of your boots, and then re-do the lacing as you would typically do but ignore the first eyelets completely.

This method offers momentary relief if your bunions or toes begin to hurt. This lacing is mostly used when you have bunions on your toes, your hiking boots are tight at the toe box, or when you are on a hike and your toes are killing you.

Again, this video has a slow start, the action begins around 1:15.

6. Marathon loop

This final boot lacing method is another one used to keep your heels in place. If your heel is not held steadfastly, your foot can slip bumping your toes at the front of your shoes and giving you heel blisters. The marathon loop fixes this.

This is very similar to the heel lock method, and is routinely used by runners which is why it is known as the marathon method.

First, you should tie your boot laces routinely, overlapping them until you arrive at the second-from-top eyelet. Tug at each lace end on the same side and insert the end into the upper aperture on that same side. A loop will be formed.

You then pull each lace end diagonally through the loop formed before to the other side of the shoe.

Jerk, the lace ends up and out few times to reduce the size of the loops so that the bootlace can be secured on each side. Tie your boot laces as per preference.

Choosing Quality Shoelaces

If you find that your laces have become too old, replace them with suitable laces.

Apart from tying your bootlaces, you should also always choose good quality laces. Consider the material of the laces, their length, and their durability.

Choose a material suitable for your needs. For walking boots, for example, laces should be able to stretch to allow for adjustment. They should be large enough that you can grip them well and neither too long (tripping hazard) nor so short that you can’t tie a proper knot.

Laces used on boots should be durable enough to endure heavy usage, particularly if you wear them frequently. Added durability comes from reinforcing materials such as Kevlar or even nylon.


You need to wear your hiking boots correctly and be comfortable in them without blistering or injuring your toes.

It’s amazing the difference you can experience in walking comfort when you tie your boot laces to meet the needs of your feet.

All feet are different., so you should know your foot and what technique works well with you and adjust accordingly.