Army Lacing

Lacing (pic)

Used on combat boots by various armies. Inner crossovers and outer verticals allow the sides to flex more easily – perfect for stiff army boots.

Eight pairs of eyelets

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Lacing Technique

• For even numbers of eyelet pairs, begin straight across on the inside (grey section) and out through the bottom eyelets.

• For odd numbers of eyelet pairs, begin straight across on the outside (grey section) and in through the bottom eyelets.

• At each eyelet pair, alternate between a crossover on the inside and out through the next higher set of eyelets or running straight up on the outside and in through the next higher set of eyelets. Repeat until lacing is completed.


Allows more flex

Loose fit

Harder to tighten

“Lengthens” ends


• Combat boots are notorious for being made of thick, sturdy leather that does not flex very easily, making them hard and uncomfortable for any manoeuvering. This lacing eliminates any crossovers that would hold down the sides of the boot, allowing the leather to crease more freely. These creases can be seen clearly on the black combat boots in the 11th photo below – particularly near the ankle area.

• Because Army Lacing uses significantly less shoelace length than regular Criss Cross Lacing, re-using the original shoelaces will result in much longer loose ends. I definitely recommend shorter shoelaces to eliminate that excess.

• Interestingly, once the correct length (ie. shorter) shoelaces are used, another surprising benefit becomes evident – particularly on tall boots with many eyelets. Tall boots usually require quite long loose ends, which prevents them from being pulled out of the top eyelets when loosening the lacing enough to remove the boots. With Army Lacing, this “loosening allowance” isn't needed because it has only half as many crossovers as regular Criss Cross Lacing, thus only half as much lace gets pulled through when loosening. Likewise, when the boot is tightened, there is only half as much leftover at the top, resulting in a more “normal” sized knot.

• As pointed out by Humphrey P., the Dutch military teach that the inner crossovers are less likely to get caught when crawling through bushes.

• I've been told that Army Lacing is – or was – used by the British, Dutch, French, Italian and Brazilian armies.

• If you would prefer to have a more rigid military lacing, such as for marching, parachuting, or for preventing ankle injuries in rough or slippery terrain, Ladder Lacing would be a better choice.

Army Lacing is also useful for skateboarders. With other lacing methods, some lace segments run across the edges of the shoe uppers, where the high points are quickly chewed through by the grip-tape on skateboards. Army Lacing eliminates those high points, so the laces don't suffer as much wear and tear.

Shoelace Lengths for Army Lacing

Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs104 cm41 in+14.6 cm+5.7 in
7 pairs101 cm40 in+10.9 cm+4.3 in
6 pairs91 cm36 in+10.9 cm+4.3 in
5 pairs87 cm34 in+7.3 cm+2.9 in
4 pairs77 cm30 in+7.3 cm+2.9 in
3 pairs74 cm29 in+3.6 cm+1.4 in
2 pairs63 cm25 in+3.6 cm+1.4 in

NOTE: These are approximate shoelace lengths for using this lacing on an average sized sneaker. For more accurate lengths, use the Shoelace Length Calculator.

Comparative Length

• Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

• If the original shoelaces are re-used, this method effectively lengthens the ends.

More details about length comparisons.

Visitor Feedback

I must agree with the comments by James R. I don’t find Army lacing difficult to tighten at all. Quite the reverse.

It has also been a godsend in eliminating lace clutter when opening or closing a 9 hole boot. No more fists full of lace.

– Peter, Chessington, England, Jun-2020

The explanation you gave for “army lacing” is not what we were told (in Holland). The reason the crossovers are underneath in stead of on top is so that your boots don't get caught by some stick or branch when crawling through bushes.

– Humphrey P., Australia, Apr-2017

I'm tending to use army lacing most of the time on these boots, it's so quick to tighten/loosen and the vertical bars complement the stitching on the sole rather nicely. Oh, and it's very comfortable and flexible too!

– Tim P., UK, Jan-2016

Whilst perusing for longer laces to purchase, I found your website and tried the army lacing method. Now I don't have to buy new strings! It didn't occur to me, and wouldn't have if I'd not found your site, that I could lace them differently to get more length.

– Amy W., Virginia, USA, Feb-2013

As an infantryman for 26 years, i adapted the standard boot lacing to the “army” style but only for 1 or 2 eyelets at the point the ankle bends in. This added flexibility at that point and reduced the pressure of the strings. This kept the strings tight, a weakness you pointed out with the army lacing, but flexible where it was needed.

– Milton I., San Diego, CA, USA, Jun-2011

I have always used the army lacing method ... on my boots, and I've no idea how you came to the conclusion that it is harder to tighten. You can just poke your fingers into each loop where the lace runs vertical on the outside, then pull. Do this all the way up and you've got nicely tightened boots within just a few seconds.

– James R., UK, Oct-2009

I actually use the Army pattern on one foot only because it relieves the pressure where I broke my foot years ago. So there you go – therapeutic applications, as well!

– Cynthia W., Mar-2008

I decided to use your website as an idea for my science project, my test is “Do different types of lacing affect how comfortable your shoes are?” I already did it with 31 people and the averages on a scale of 1 to 10 were Army Lacing: 6.68, Criss-Cross: 5.81.

– Cameron C., Baton Rouge, LA, USA, Jan-2008

I was very happy to see new Army Lacing, since it remainds me of old time in the Italian Army.

Until a few years ago all italian citizens had to do a 12 months service.

Army lacing was the lacing of choice for boys in the last months of duty.

It was unofficial, and allowed (or, better, tollerated) only to people with long service, the so called nonni (grandfathers).

Newcomers (so called rospi, toads)usually weared criss cross or shoe shop or double helix lacing.

– Max, Italy, Aug-2007

Have a look at your “bow tie lacing”. The picture is of course as seen from the OUTSIDE of the shoe. But if you interpret the picture as seen from the INSIDE of the shoe, you will see another way of lacing, used in the dutch army to lace high combat boots. The boot shaft tends to bend forward more easy that way, because the leather curls OUTWARD, which is good for walking.

– Erik T., The Netherlands, Oct-2006

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This page last updated: 06-Jun-2024. Copyright © 2007-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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