Hiking / Biking Lacing
Distributes pressure evenly, plus keeps knots and ends to the inside – away from scrub (hiking) or to the outside – away from chains (biking).
Lacing Technique – for even numbers of eyelet pairs
• Begin straight across on the inside (grey section) and out through the bottom eyelets.
• The left (blue) end runs straight up on the outside, then straight across on the inside.
• Both ends run straight up on the outside, each skipping one eyelet and feeding in two eyelets higher up.
• Both ends continue straight across on the inside and out through the adjacent eyelets.
• Alternate running up on the outside and across on the inside until the ends emerge through the top and second-from-top eyelets on the same side.
• Variation 1 is for shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs.
• Variation 2 is for shoes with odd numbers of eyelet pairs (see details below).
Evens out pressure
The “inside-out” layout may look weird – but it gives this lacing several important benefits:
- The horizontal segments on the inside distribute pressure evenly across the whole foot upper;
- The horizontals are pressed against the foot, eliminating the usual “gaps” that typically catch leaves, twigs and branches when hiking through scrub;
- On heavy leather boots, the horizontals no longer hold down the sides of the boot, allowing the leather to crease more freely.
This method is also asymmetrical – in particular the fact that the knots are tied at the side. As explained in the “Usage Notes” (see below), the intent is that the left and right shoes are laced in reverse (flipped horizontally), which positions the knots either towards the inside (between the ankles) or towards the outside. This creates a balanced pair that is then both visually and functionally symmetrical.
Odd Eyelet Pairs Limitation
Hiking / Biking Lacing only works neatly on shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs (eg. 8 pairs = 16 eyelets). This is because the shoelace must cross the shoe an even number of times so that the ends will meet and can be tied together.
On shoes with an odd number of eyelet pairs (eg. 7 pairs = 14 eyelets), a workaround is needed so that the ends still meet. The “across and back” workaround (shown above) is probably the best compromise in terms of retaining the overall look plus allowing a regular knot.
See below for several other odd workarounds.
Using This Lacing for Hiking / Bushwalking
Lace the left shoe with the regular instructions and the right shoe with the instructions flipped horizontally. This will result in a pair of shoes with both knots positioned towards the inside (between the ankles), which keeps the loops and loose ends further away from rocks, branches and undergrowth on narrow trails.
Using This Lacing for Biking / Cycling
Lace the right shoe with the regular instructions and the left shoe with the instructions flipped horizontally. This will result in a pair of shoes with both knots positioned towards the outside, which keeps the loops and loose ends further away from the bicycle chain, cranks and other moving parts.
Shoelace Lengths for Hiking / Biking Lacing
|8 pairs||112 cm||44 in||+10.5 cm||+4.1 in|
|7 pairs||109 cm||43 in||+6.9 cm||+2.7 in|
|6 pairs||96 cm||38 in||+8.2 cm||+3.2 in|
|5 pairs||93 cm||37 in||+4.6 cm||+1.8 in|
|4 pairs||80 cm||31 in||+5.9 cm||+2.3 in|
|3 pairs||76 cm||30 in||+2.3 cm||+0.9 in|
|2 pairs||63 cm||25 in||+3.6 cm||+1.4 in|
• Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.
• Longer ends if the existing shoelaces are re-used (+28% on average).
More details about length comparisons.
As mentioned above, Hiking / Biking Lacing only works neatly on shoes with even numbers of eyelet pairs. Here's several common workarounds for shoes with odd numbers of eyelet pairs, using sample diagrams with seven pairs of eyelets.
Ends Don't Meet
This first diagram shows how the ends don't meet naturally, instead ending up diagonally opposite each other. This defeats the whole concept of this lacing, in which the ends are intended to be tied at the side of the shoe.
Across and Back
As shown in more detail in the main lacing diagram above, the second-from-bottom straight section runs straight across from left-to-right (on the inside), then right-to-left (on the outside), tucking under the vertical section on the left side. Contributed by Jeremy J.
Twice Through One Eyelet
Start straight across the bottom with the ends emerging through both bottom eyelets, then run one end back across the bottom, under the side and out through the same eyelet as the other end. Both ends are now emerging from the same bottom eyelet (in this example, the bottom-right). Contributed by Dan S.
Use a single diagonal somewhere in the lacing, such as shown here at the very bottom. Near the middle, a diagonal may be positioned to line up with and run through a tongue centering loop (if the shoe has one).
Instead of trying to hide a single diagonal, this alternative makes a feature out of a single crossover, similar to the look of Roman Lacing.
Unlike the above “One Diagonal” variation, the crossover cannot be placed in the middle of the lacing.
Like a squashed version of the above “One Crossover” variation, both ends run straight across one pair of eyelets and feed a second time through the opposite eyelets. Being near the bottom, any difficulty with tightening or loosening this section is not so noticeable as the shoe doesn't need to open wide at that point.
Skip One Eyelet Pair
All of the above odd workarounds are laced normally through an even number of eyelet pairs, then something is added that may be either visually or functionally awkward. An alternative is to not add anything – instead leaving either the top or the bottom pair of eyelets empty, or even to skip one pair of eyelets somewhere in the middle of the lacing.
Cut and Tie Off
Finally, if you're prepared to cut your shoelaces, the two portions can be anchored diagonally opposite each other at the bottom of the shoe, either with simple stopper knots or using “Lace Anchors”.
For a neater (though slightly less comfortable) variation, the lacing can be done inside-out, with only the top two horizontal sections fed under the sides of the shoes to emerge through the top and 2nd from top eyelets (where the knots will be tied). This is effectively a side-knotted version of Straight Bar Lacing.
This picture, sent to me by Stephen P., shows some shoes laced with inside-out Hiking / Biking Lacing, with the knots and loose ends positioned towards the outside for biking / cycling.
The result is much neater, particularly when the sneakers have contrasting shoelaces, which would otherwise look messy with the vertical sections visible on the outside. However, it no longer has the benefit of even pressure distribution because the straight horizontal sections are now on the outside.
The hiking/biking lacing is really useful. I've not had an issue with my laces getting caught in my gears since, even though the ends are longer than they used to be! They're real easy to tighten, too. Perfect lacing, at least for my shoes.
– Percy D., California, USA, Oct-2022
I'm very happy I found your instructions for Hiking/Biking lacing.
When tying my motorcycle boots I always tuck the loops and loose ends of the knot under the “horizontal bits of lace” (do those have a name?) to avoid getting a loop stuck around the foot-clutch on the left or the rear-brake on the right.
When riding this is not a problem, but when you stop it is. I've seen two friends of mine stop at a traffic light, tilt to one side, move one foot to the floor to stand on but fall on the asphalt instead because their lace was stuck to the motorcycle... With this technique I can thoughtlessly tie my laces without the fear that one day I probably will forget to tuck them and fall too.
– Yannic H., The Netherlands, Nov-2020
When your appearance on “Going Deep with David Rees” aired I visited it again to read about lacing patterns because you brought up hiking/biking lacing. Although hiking isn't in the equation, I thought it would help me, and it does.
For a stiff, paunchy old man such as I, bending forward to tie or untie my shoelaces while my toes point away from me is not so easy and usually requires sitting on a staircase. If I'm in a chair or on the side of my bed, it's far easier to reach my foot by putting it up across the other knee, but then the inner side of the shoe, not the upper side, is facing me. Having the ends of the lace and the knot on the inner side of shoe, as for hiking, lets me see what I'm doing.
Just thought you might like to know that there's another use for it.
– David T., Illinois, USA, Sep-2014
Please find enclosed photo of my favorite method.
Extremely Comfortable – the eyelet tabs are held away from the foot, and the ladder lacing is next to the tongue giving even pressure.
Quick and easy to loosen with one hand – one tug and the entire assembly opens wide – great for 8 hole plus boots
Looks a little weird to the un-initiated
Taught to me by a friend who was in the British military – said they use it on especially long hikes to protect against blisters.
– David O., MI, USA, Feb-2005
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