This video explains how hikers and backpackers can use different lacing techniques to get a better fit from their hiking boots.
We’d all love it if there was such a thing as a perfect fit with a pair of hiking shoes, but we know that’s not really the case. Luckily, there are some easy lacing techniques to make that shoe fit a little bit better and hold your foot in place. Because everyone has different shapes and volumes in their feet, not one single lacing system or technique is going to work for everyone. If you have a lower volume foot, or a low arch to no arch, you may be able to use techniques that put pressure and tension over the top of the foot. If you have a high arch or a very high volume foot, that may not work for you, as it may put a little too much pressure and restrict circulation; there are other techniques that you can use to work around that. Following are a few examples of lacing techniques to try that may help you increase the comfort of your hiking shoes.
1. Try a general double overhand knot: start to tie your boot like you would start to tie any lace, but go underneath a third time and pull that tight. A kind of a lock lace will be formed, so that structure will be holding tension on its own without a knot behind it. And you’re going to be able to lock the lower section of the shoe off from the top section; you can almost tension the separate sections differently by using something like this. This double overhand knot can also be used down at the base of the laces, too, and you can lock it in at the low part of the ankle or at the top of the ankle where you’re tying the knot off.
2. Say you really want to secure your ankle at the back of the boot. This is actually what most people are looking for most of the time because they have a shoe that’s a little too long and the foot is sliding forward in the boot and causing sore toes, or perhaps the shoe is a little too short and the toes are pressing at the front of the boot. In both cases, you want to hold the ankle and foot to the back of the boot to prevent the toes from pressing to the front of the shoe and becoming injured. Start with that double overhand knot to lock off some tension through the lower part of the foot. Make sure you leave enough fluidity and movement through the laces for the rest of your foot to be comfortable.
The second part of this technique is a little trickier, especially if you have a speed lacing system where the lace moves in and out freely near the ankle and doesn't allow you to secure the lace there very well. Start by going through both speed lace anchors on both sides, almost skipping the eyelets.Then, take your laces and cross them over. Repeat this on the other side, tucking the lace underneath the long lace that’s coming up between the top two eyelets or speed lace anchors. You will end up with a sort of web system that snugs the ankle of the boot around your ankle.
Add another one of those double overhand knots to get tension. For extra back up, you can put a double knot anywhere you're tying a knot, and that really secures your ankle to the back of that boot. Using this technique, it’s going to be more difficult for your foot to slide forward and move around, creating that toe banging issue. It also makes it more difficult for your foot to rise in and out of the boot in the back because you’ve created a lot more pressure and tension near the ankle.
3. If you are having problems with pressure on top of your foot, or if your feet swell after you hike, or even if you feel like your shoe is not quite wide enough, a good lacing option is to unlace your boot and then re-laced it through the eyelets up the sides basically skipping a lot of back and forth lacing. You can do that double overhand lace lock near the lower ankle, and then lace through the eyelets on each side. Employ the technique covered in the previous section if you want to lock your ankle in as well, but the nice thing with this loose lacing technique is that it basically gives the top of the forefoot a little bit of room to breathe and expand. If you have a high arch or high volume foot, this technique also works very well to increase comfort.
A final thought to keep in mind when you’re using different lacing techniques: if you do skip eyelets or you loosen the boot in different places, you may lose the ability to attach that boot as securely to your foot. You may need to experiment to find what works for you. And remember, there is no fixed rule that states you must lace your boot a certain way. There are many different techniques out there in addition to those covered here. Find one that works for you and your feet will be more comfortable.