by Diane Spicer
Lacing your hiking boots seems like a straightforward activity, doesn't it?
Except that if your feet are prone to problems, how you lace your hiking boots is one of the most effective weapons you have against foot issues on the trail.
These How To tips will help you get those hiking boots laced up correctly.
You have my full permission to play around with the different "zones" of lacing on your boots: ankle, top of foot, toes.
Quality time spent with your hiking boot lacing strategy will pay off on the trail.
That's how you're going to get into the best hiking terrain, right?
Blisters are at the top of the list of most common foot problems plaguing hikers.
Here is an entire page of blister prevention ideas.
Followed by blister treatment ideas.
Because it's smarter to prevent than treat, right?
Rest assured, there are specific boot lacing tricks for blister prevention, focused on the zones of your boots. Let's get to them.
Your hiking socks and boots will press against the sides and tops of your feet, as well as on your ankles.
That's inevitable, and it's normal to feel some pressure.
Every hiker has a particular set of foot issues, including unique shapes and volumes:
You know you have boot issues when you get feedback from your feet in the form of aching, pressure, sensitivity, bruising and cramps.
You don't want to compress tissues and slow down blood flow into, and most importantly out of, your feet!
Here's a boot lacing trick if you have a high arch that presses the top of your foot against your boot:
Long steep trail descents also make you a candidate for this pressure relieving technique.
As do swollen feet near the end of a long hard hike.
Don't overlook it!
Sometimes you need to lock your foot down tight into your boots, whether due to terrain, the hiking socks you've donned, narrow heels, or a boot that is too big/long or has a short toe box for your foot.
Use the well named heel lock approach to make sure your heel doesn't slip and slide around inside your boot, putting pressure on your toes and arches.
This video shows how locking down your heel can help you avoid ugly (or missing) toenails, among other things.
What can I say?
Punishing your toes and toenails because you didn't lace up your hiking boots properly is something you'd be smart to skip on the hiking trail of life.
Here's a detailed explanation of various boot lacing techniques, both written and visual. Select the solution that addresses your particular foot issues.
It includes the creatively names for the approaches mentioned above:
Don't ignore the customization features on your hiking boots called laces.
They're attached to the boots in various ways:
When you shop for boots and commit to a particular type of laces, you also need to consider which lacing method is best for final customization of the fit of the boots.
If you get to know your feet well, this will be make future boot buying decisions much easier.
For the most control over slippage, pressure and hot spots, choose a boot which features old fashioned boot laces and eyelets.
And don't be afraid to get inventive with the scientific method of trial and error.
One last tip:
Give up the myth of the perfect hiking boot. It ain't out there.
Work with what you've got! You can come pretty darn near perfection using these tips for best strategies for lacing hiking boots ;)
And read these boot buying tips to be sure that what you've got is the best fit for your hiking feet.
Lacing Hiking Boots
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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