How to Tie Boots: 4 Ways

A good pair of boots is a trusted companion that can support you on your outdoor adventures or polish up an outfit for an evening event. Whether you’re donning a chelsea boot, a chukka boot, or a moc toe boot, the styles can vary just as much as how you lace them up.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a number of different lacing techniques that do far more than simply tie your shoes. Whether you’re looking for improved comfort or an eye-catching style, here are four unique ways to lace your boots. 

#1 Criss-Cross Lacing

Odds are, when you buy a fresh pair of boots, your new footwear will arrive at your door (or your shopping bag) with the shoelaces tied into a criss-cross lacing. This criss-cross lacing is the standard you’ll find in nearly every shoe store and seller. And if you’re short on shoelaces, this method is the one that uses the least amount of lacing.

For those who need to tackle this technique by hand, or are wanting to return to the store default, here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Step 1 – Run the shoelace through the bottom eyelets starting from the outside, going in. When you pull the laces tight, you should have an equal amount on both ends.
  • Step 2 – String one of the ends of the laces into the next eyelet diagonally over the tongue of the boot. Then, repeat for the other side. As you progress, continually string the same side first, so you can be sure to leave a clean, criss-cross pattern.
  • Step 3 – Continue this pattern until you’ve laced both sides up to the ankle. Finish it off with a simple bow knot at the top. 

#2 The Army Method

Military boots are notoriously rigid and difficult to break in. So, this lacing strategy gained popularity amongst service members as a way to offer additional slack, making the boot more comfortable and less likely to cause blisters.

Even if you don’t need this lacing technique for military application, you’ll still enjoy the army method’s approach as a way to achieve both comfort and style. This technique pairs especially well with laces that contrast with the boot material.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s the rundown:

  • Step 1 – Identify the number of eyelets. For an even total of eyelets, string the shoelaces through the bottommost eyelet moving from the inside of the tab outward. For an odd number, do the opposite.
  • Step 2 – Cross the laces over the tongue and through the inside of the next diagonal eyelet. Repeat this on the opposite side. 
  • Step 3 – Once you pull the shoelace through the eyelet, string the end through the eyelet located directly above on the same tab, moving from the outside inward. Doing so should form a small, external loop on your boot.
  • Step 4 – Repeat for the other side. Then, begin steps two and three again by crossing the lace over the tongue and through the inside of the next diagonal eyelet. Repeat until you’ve completely laced up the boot.

#3 Hiking & Biking Lacing

If you’re an avid hiker, biker, or outdoor adventurer, then this is the lacing for you. When done properly, the laces distribute weight evenly, allowing for more comfortable movement. 

This method also keeps the laces on the inside of your biking, men's waterproof boot or hiking boot, preventing any ends from getting caught by errant twigs or bike chains. And with the right boot, this technique can fit the bill when it comes to both function and fashion.

To try these on your latest pair, follow these steps:

  • Step 1 – Start the lacing on the inside heading outward on both of the bottom eyelets. Pull each end until you have an even length on both sides.
  • Step 2 – Facing the shoe, take the left lace and string it through the eyelet above, moving from the outside in. Then, place the same end through the inside of the parallel eyelet across the tongue.
  • Step 3 – Take that same lace and string it through the second eyelet on the outside of the tongue, skipping the eyelet directly above it.
  • Step 4 – Proceed to the right side and string the lace outside, moving into the eyelet you just skipped. Lace this end through the inside of the eyelet parallel to the tongue like you did in step two.
  • Step 5 – Complete this lacing pattern. To check your work after you’ve finished, you should have parallel laces across the tongue and no ends that share the same eyelet.

#4 Italian Corkscrew

Struggling to slip into your favorite pair of boots because the ankle is too tight? The Italian corkscrew method can help loosen the ankle area, allowing you to slide your leather boots on and off with ease

More importantly, this method creates a parallel set of laces across the boot, a stylish look for high ankle footwear. This technique takes a bit of practice, however, so make sure you’re getting the lengths right when you try it out:

  • Step 1 – String the lacing through the bottom eyelets from the outside moving in. Pull each side of the laces so that you end up with one long end and one short end. The short end should measure about 5 to 7 inches long.
  • Step 2 – Take the short end of the lace and string it through the top eyelet on the same side, ending on the outside.
  • Step 3 – Take the long end of the lace and string it through the inside of the next horizontal eyelet. Continue to the next eyelet on the other side, this time moving from the outside in.
  • Step 4 – Repeat this process until the boot is fully laced. Each time you lace a new eyelet, make sure the longer lace is over the shorter end of the cross.

Discover Men’s Boots from TOMS

The right bootlace is all about finding the technique that speaks to you. Now that you know how to tie boots in a number of different ways, why not—or shall we say knot—test your skills on a new pair. 

TOMS offers a great selection of men’s boots, with options like ashland boots, chukka boots, hillside, navi, and fremonts. Each style comes in various colors, shapes, and materials, providing comfortable, fashion-forward looks that are easy to love. Shop the men’s boots collection today and find your perfect pair.

Looking for more helpful information on men’s boots? Check out our latest blogs on ‘What Are Chukka Boots?’ And ‘How to Wear Chukka Boots’. 


Bootspy. How to Lace Boots Like a Pro: 6 Expert Ways.

Ian’s Shoelace Site. Hiking / Biking Lacing.

Reviewed By Dan Caves

Dan Caves is the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at TOMS and has been operating in the digital space for 6 years, writing about the latest trends or styles and helping brands make bold statements with innovative tactics and creative concepts. He's determined to go all the places, see all the things, and pet all the dogs.