CAF Combat Boot Lacing

Lacing (pic)

The official method prescribed by the Canadian Armed Forces for lacing combat boots, safety boots and lineman boots.

Eight pairs of eyelets

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Lacing Technique

• Begin straight across on the outside (grey section) and in through the bottom eyelets.

• For the left boot, the bottom crossover has the left (blue) end crossing over the right (yellow) end, then both ends are fed in through the next higher set of eyelets.

TIP: Use the “Flip” button to show the diagram and instructions for the right boot.

• The next crossover is done in reverse so that the blue end is once again on top, then both ends are again fed in through the next higher set of eyelets.

• Continue up the boot, alternating the crossovers so that the blue end always ends up on top.


Easier to loosen

Harder to tighten

Tricky to lace correctly


• This method is a subtle variation of Display Shoe Lacing, with the only difference being the orientation of the crossovers in the middle of the boot. The prescribed technique specifies mirroring the crossovers at each row and also mirroring the left and right boots.

• One way to easily alternate all crossovers is to begin with the end nearest the little toe and lace diagonally left and right all the way to the top of the boot. Next, take the end nearest the big toe and similarly lace diagonally all the way to the top of the boot. The “big toe” end will then naturally be on top at each crossover.

• This lacing is also used by some Canadian ice hockey players, who believe that it creates a tighter fit for ice skates. In this context it is often referred to simply as “Canadian Lacing”.

Military Specs

(Excerpt from the official document A-DH-265-000/AG-001, dated 15-Dec-2017):

 • Chapter 2: Policy and Appearance
  • Section 2: Appearance
   • Subsection 20: Footwear
    • b: Footwear shall be laced as shown in Figure 2-2-6.

CAF Herring Bone Method diagram

• Figure 2-2-6 includes the caption “Herring Bone Method”. Strictly speaking, the alternating crossovers of this method don't produce a true “herringbone” pattern. An accurate herringbone pattern (such as is used in fabrics, tiling, parquetry, etc.) has consistent crossovers – either all left-over-right or all right-over-left.

• Figure 2-2-6 also included a separate “Straight Across Method” for ankle boots/shoes (not shown here – see Straight Easy Lacing).

Shoe lacing photo

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Shoelace Lengths for CAF Combat Boot Lacing

Pairs of
length needed
8 pairs133 cm53 in
7 pairs123 cm48 in
6 pairs112 cm44 in
5 pairs102 cm40 in
4 pairs91 cm36 in
3 pairs81 cm32 in
2 pairs70 cm28 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

• Same length shoelaces as those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

More details about length comparisons.

Visitor Feedback

If it helps, I would also suggest making the following points in the description: First, that the lace which is on top “points at the big toe” (if you look at the laces nearest the toe of the boot) and then consistently crosses on top of the other lace all the way up. Second, that every time either lace is to pass through any hole (eyelet), the aglet must “dive down” through the eyelet toward the foot (or leg), and not come up through the eyelet from underneath.

– Jon L., Alberta, Canada, Dec-2018

The Canadian Forces still uses ladder lacing on the ankle boots, and for the combat boots, cross laces, but always with one lace always passing on top to make it easy to undo the boot with a knife to have an injured foot looked at. The laces are also fed from the top of the eyelet, not underneath. I have no idea why, but that's how it's done.

– Kimball M., Canada, Jan-2012

It makes tightening easier since only one lace rubs against the shoe. I make it so my right hand pulls on the bottom lace while my left hand (assumed to be less strong due to my right-handedness) pulls on the top lace.

– Bill P., Michigan USA, Aug-2006

The idea is that the laces are supposed to stay tight due to the friction between the tongue and the sides of the shoe. So, the portion that has already been tightened actually seems to stay locked in whereas, the criss-cross method actually seems to come loose as the shoe expands due to its sponginess. 1 problem with the criss-cross method is that by time you've tightened the top, the middle and lower parts become loosened. I find it hard to explain, but the problem becomes much more apparent in ice skates, where it's tight at the top, but loose at the bottom. The criss-cross method has this problem because the portion of the lace that is about to pass through the eyelet is inbetween the tongue and the sides, thus creating friction and making it harder to tighten, and the portion already passed through the eyelet is relatively loose by comparison.

– Eugene W., Surrey, BC, Canada, Nov-2004

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This page last updated: 09-Apr-2024. Copyright © 2019-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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