How to Lace Boots Like a Pro: 6 Expert Ways

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Oct 16, 2020
How to Lace Boots Cartoon Drawing of Boot Laces Front On

Either you picked up a pair of new boots and you want to lace them the right way or you’ve got an old pair and you want to try something unique. 

Or your dog absolutely destroyed your laces when you left him alone for five minutes. Don’t worry, we feel your pain. 

Whether you just want to get your boots back to normal or give them a cool twist, our list of six expert boot lacing techniques will have you looking like a total pro. 

How to Lace Boots: 6 Easy and Expert Ways

#1: Criss-cross Standard

This is the most common kind of lacing and it’s how most boot and shoe manufacturers ship their products. 

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If you go into a shoe store to try something on, it likely has the criss-cross standard lacing. It’s the easiest and most intuitive method, but that doesn’t mean you can go at it carefree. 

The key to a clean looking criss-cross lacing is to go slowly and make sure the laces are lying flat on every cross. If you don’t straighten the laces every so often, you’ll end up with some unsightly twists that ruin the uniformity. 

This method also uses a relatively short amount of lace (especially compared to the “Paratrooper Method” down below). 

Step 1

Run the shoelace through each of the bottom eyelets. Run the tabs from the outside toward the inside. 

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Pull the strings up to make sure you have an equal amount on both sides. 

Step 2

Bring the lace over the tongue diagonally. Coming in from the top, string the lace into the next eyelet. 

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Do the same for the other side. 

Note: Always string the same side first. If you’re moving from right to left, keep that same pattern throughout the whole boot. Otherwise, the pattern will become inconsistent and won’t look neat. 

Step 3

Lace your boots to the ankle. If you have a lot of excess lace, you can wrap the laces around your ankle once before tying. 

criss cross laces demonstration

#2: Army Method

This boot tying method is a favorite among the military. Armed forces use this because it allows a lot of slack in the boot leather. 

Military boots aren’t known for their comfort and can cause severe blisters for weeks (to the point that Army folks have been known to soak their boots in water and wear them all day just to break them in). 

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You don’t have to be in the Army to appreciate the look of this lacing style, though. This looks especially good if you have a high-contrast color lace, like white on black, or red on brown. 

Step 1

If you have an even number of eyelets, string the lace through the bottom eyelets moving from inside to outside. 

If you have an odd number of eyelets, do the opposite, moving outside to inside. 

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After you’ve strung the bottom eyelet, hold the laces up to make sure you have both sides even. 

Step 2

Cross the lace diagonally over the tongue and under the next eyelet. Do this for the other side of your lace, too. 

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You should have a straight lace on the bottom eyelet and a cross above it now.

Step 3

After you’ve pulled the lace out from the eyelet, string it through the next eyelet up, coming from the outside in. Do the same for the opposite side.

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Repeat steps two and three until your laces are up to your ankles. 

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#3: Over-Under and Friction-Free

This simple twist on the classic criss-cross method is deceptively simple looking. 

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There’s less friction on the shoelace because it doesn’t rub against the eyelet section. Rather than the consistent crossing pattern, there are two levels of crosses. This looks just as good on sneakers as it does for boots. 

Step 1

For an even number of eyelets, lace the bottom eyelet from the outside in. For an odd number of eyelets, lace the bottom from the inside out. 

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Hold the laces vertically to ensure you have an even amount of lace on each side.

Step 2

In this example, our boot has an even number of eyelets, so we’re using an under-cross. Starting with one side, bring the lace over the tongue and through the opposite eyelet from inside to outside (you’ll be coming from overtop if you have an odd number of eyelets. If you are, all instructions from here on should be reversed). 

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Pull the lace through and repeat for the other side. 

Step 3 

Bring the lace across diagonally again, but this time running it through the eyelet from inside to outside. Repeat for the opposite side. 

over under boot lacing method demonstration

Repeat steps two and three until you’ve laced up to your ankles. 

#4: Paratrooper Lacing Method / Paratrooper Ladder

US Paratroopers often use this style of lacing because it’s extra secure. When they’re landing on the ground (and often starting at a full sprint) they can’t afford to have any slip in their boots. 

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If you’re looking to keep your laces firm and tight around your ankle, this is the pattern for you.

Step 1

Run your laces through the bottom eyelet from the inside out. Hold the laces vertically to ensure you have equal amounts on both sides. 

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Step 2

Insert the laces in the next available eyelet vertically (not horizontally like you’ve done for the previous patterns). After doing this, your laces will now be on the inside of your boots.

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Step 3

Cross the laces over the tongue and through the loop created by the two vertical eyelets. You shouldn’t be running the lace through an eyelet in this step: you’re just running it through a loop you’ve already created.

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Step 4

Lace your shoestring through the next vertical eyelet, similar to step two. Remember to keep the same order you started with (so if you started left to right, don’t change). 

paratrooper boot lace demonstration

Step 5

Repeat step three and four until you’ve laced your entire boot. 

#5: Rope Ladder

This is another interesting lace pattern that looks great with contrasting colors. It’s very secure and looks great, too. 

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You might try the rope ladder with combat or service boots for a rugged look, or give it a shot for your hiking boots for a little extra ankle support. 

Step 1

Run your laces through the bottom eyelet from the inside out. Hold the laces vertically to ensure you have equal amounts on both sides. 

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Step 2

Bring both laces across horizontally at the same time. Instead of running them through any eyelets, twist them once around each other and pull taut. 

rope ladder boot lacing demonstration 1

Step 3

Lace the shoestring through the next vertical eyelet, moving from the inside of the boot to the outside.

Step 4

Repeat steps two and three until you reach the ankle of your boot. 

#6: Italian Corkscrew

This simple method of lacing your boot leaves strong parallel bars over the tongue of the boot. 

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You’re only working with one end of the lace, so while it looks simple, getting the right length on either side may take a few tries until you get the hang of it.

This pattern makes it very easy to loosen the ankle of the boot, so it’s a fantastic option if you have boots that are usually too tight to squeeze on.

Step 1

String your shoelace through the bottom set of eyelets from the outside in. Your lace should be on the inside of your boot now. 

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Step 2

One side of your lace should have only five to seven inches (depends on the length of the ankle on your boot. 

Take the short end of the lace and string it through the very top eyelet on the same side, from inside to outside. 

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Step 3

With the longer half of the shoelace, string through the next horizontal eyelet, making sure you keep the short end of the string underneath the cross you’re creating.

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Step 4

Continuing with the long end of the lace, bring your shoestring over your boot to the next parallel eyelet and string it through. 

Step 5

Repeat steps four and five, only using the long end of the shoelace, until you’re near the ankle.

Step 6

At the final eyelet (up near the ankle) you should have your shoestring inside of your boot. The next move according to the pattern would be stringing it through the next horizontal eyelet, but the short end is already there.

Just bring your lace through the next vertical eyelet, moving from inside to outside. 

Hopefully, either end of your shoelace is roughly the same length. You can now tie your boots and tighten the laces as needed. 

Laces Out

There are hundreds, if not thousands of other variations possible, and you can find some bodacious and creative patterns. 

But these six are fairly easy to achieve and can help you whether you need more support, need some breathing room, or want to give yourself a subtle fashion edge. 

Which lacing style will you try?

FAQs

What is the best way to lace boots?

Criss-cross lacing is the simplest and easiest. There are different methods, like “The Ladder,” which offer more support and security for your foot. And there are styles like the “Spiderweb” or “Italian Corkscrew” that are more stylish. None is better than the other, but it depends on why you want a lace variation.

How do you lace leather boots?

You can lace leather boots the same way you would with any other style of shoe. Some lacing patterns look more rugged, or can offer more support for your foot. Other lacing patterns, like the “Army Method,” are designed to allow for more flexibility for the leather in the boot.

How do you lace military boots?

Infantry often use the “Army Method.” This allow the leather more flexibility, which can be helpful for getting through the difficult break-in period a lot of military boots have. But airborne units often use the “Paratroopers Ladder” because it offers the most ankle security.

How do you lace safety boots?

You can lace safety boots any way you like, but two excellent methods for security are the “Paratroopers Ladder,” and the “Rope Ladder.”

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