Surgeon's Knot Feedback
Also known as the “Tibetan Trekking Knot” or “Sherpa Knot”, this is the most common secure shoelace knot. Make a Standard Shoelace Knot, but before pulling tight, run the loop around and through the middle for a second time.
What Others Have Said
The following are excerpts from some of the many e-mails that I've received about the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot.
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Over the many other years of life, I had also independently figured out the Surgeon's Knot, to keep my regular shoes tied. I was very pleased to see that you have it as a specifically named knot, for just that purpose. I've also taught that to members of my daughters' sports teams, as it keeps their laces tight during games and all you have to do to untie is pull on both lace ends simultaneously. I think that's pretty much the secret of that knot; it doesn't come undone by pulling just one end, it takes pulling both ends, simultaneously, in opposite directions, to untie it. Quiet genius!!
– Chuk G., NC, USA, May-2020
I discovered the surgeon's knot back in 2005. Will give the “Ian Knot” a try.
I also like the double starter knot. I've found that helps keep the whole thing more secure.
– Mark N., Mar-2020
How many have commented that the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot feels like a misnomer, since the knot used by surgeons begins with the double overhand knot, rather than ending with it? (My mother is a surgeon, so I am sure that ABOK is correct about this.)
I stared on Ian's Secure Knot for a long time, eventually deciding it must be identical to the Surgeon's knot. Only a number of klicks later, did I find an official statement agreeing on this. Maybe it would be a good idea to cross-reference closely related knots better? (Ashley is pretty good at this.) Closely related could for instance be knots which are equal, but are tied with different methods.
– Johannes S., Jul-2019
Of all the knots I tried, Ian's Secure Knot felt by far the best. The only other knot I also liked was the Surgeon's Knot. That one felt quite secure as well.
– S.H. B., Zoetermeer, The Netherlands, Jan-2018
Thanks for the surgeon knot variants.
This type of knot is doing better for me.
– Tom K., Apr-2015
I've been showing people how to tie the Surgeon's knot since I was taught how to do it in Manhattan by a Madison Avenue Florsheim salesman – about 45 years ago. I tell many middle school and high school students that this is an important lifelong lesson, especially if they are wearing athletic shoes.
– Len R., Ohio, USA, Nov-2014
I was sometimes even using a surgeons knot because I knew it made the knot tighter, but I was doing a proper surgeons knot where you double up the first knot, instead of doing it on the second knot where it could have been useful on shoes.
– [anonymous], Texas, USA, Jan-2014
just tried your lug ladder and surgeons knot on a 7 mile walk, kept my altama junglies MUCH tighter than usual, and didn't have to retie after a rest at the halfway mark!
– Paul G., North Wales, UK, Jul-2012
OMG how fun!!! Not only do I know how long my next shoelaces need to be for my 6 eyelet pink sneakers, but I will be able to do a perfect straight bar lace and finish it off with a fabulous surgeon's knot! That knot is so cute and I got it to wind around lay perfectly thanks to your instructions and diagrams!
– Cecily, USA, Feb-2012
I have been using the Surgeon's Shoelace knot for years (and spreading the word of it's benefits) without knowing it's actual name. I like to slip my shoes on and off easily instead of tying and untying, but also retain the option of tying the laces tighter for added support in certain situations. The Surgeon's has helped me do this. I have literally tied my shoes once a year.
– Steve W., Aug-2007
I've used the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot for some time and I find it works better and looks better if you make a double starting knot to begin - like a normal one but tuck an end through again.
– Sean W., Bournemouth, UK, Jun-2007
I use the Double Starting Knot, it matches the twists together (that is, same number of twists above and below). And spreads the cinch loop, I've also found it uses up more shoelace, so if the laces are slightly long this version is good.
– Robert E., Ontario, Canada, Jun-2006
I have been using a secure knot since my teens, shown me by a shoemaker in the East of England. It winds up looking just like Ian's Secure Knot, but it seems (to me) simpler, but maybe one of the other ones is topologically the same. I just do a Standard Knot, but pass the yellow loop through the “hole”, and then back over and through again - it adds a couple of milliseconds to the knot, but gives me a knot which has never come undone!
– Paul M., UK, Apr-2006
I found that the Surgeon's shoelace knot made a nice symmetrical bow to compliment the Roman lacing and was perfect for the length of my shoelace.
I printed the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot instruction and tucked it in my shoe since it's not my everyday knot. This way I will tie my shoe perfectly for the next special occasion. I will let you know if the adage is true that ladies notice shoes :)
– Eric, Mar-2006
I have a way to tie my shoes that I haven't seen anywhere. It does not come apart even on long days or when wet. And it takes up a bit of that extra lace that is always in the way. It's closest to the surgeons knot that you have shown but with an extra turn at the first wind. I'm not crazy about the Surgeon's knot because the length of the top and bottom turns are not so equal. and they work open after a while. This way makes the top turns and the bottom turms closer to equal and if it is dressed up neat- it hardly ever needs to be retied.
– Tom W., Massachusetts, USA, Mar-2006
Such fun to see this - “Surgeon's Shoelace Knot” (which your Mum taught you a long time ago) is EXACTLY the knot that my mother taught me, over 60 years ago! As a child I hated it, but now I value it immensely.
– Martha F., Sep-2005
My preferred shoelace knot is the one you call the surgeon's knot. My mum taught it to me at an early age. Um, it was I, not she, that was at the early age. She learned it from a shoe saleswoman at Gilchrist's department store in Boston, Mass., in the late 1930s.
The surgeon's knot bow works well in non-cotton laces, even nylon.
You correctly note that it's an inverted surgeon's knot. Our family has always called it, “Putting the loop through twice.” It is easily taught to anyone under the age of about seven. Older people do not bother to learn it, as they already know how to tie their shoes, and see no difference between one knot and another. They go on tying the “granny” bow that results in the top part being vertical on the shoe, and that always fails. They curse their shoes but they never learn.
– Peter N., North Carolina, USA, Jul-2005
Many of the secure knots, both yours and the surgeons, are a major improvement over what I was using--the ugly [double] knot that stays secure but is miserable to untie, especially when wet or ice-impregnated.
– Russ, Kentucky, USA, May-2005
Ive been doing the surgeons knot for several years now and despite tying it as a slip knot (as i learned from you site - how embarrassing) it has kept my knots together superbly.
– Richard G., Glasgow, UK, Feb-2005
I have been teaching elementary teachers the surgeon's knot for years. Didn't know it had a name.
– Mary Lynn F., USA, Feb-2005
As I was walking the dogs before going over to work this morning, I noticed for the upteenth time that the lace on one of
my boots had come untied.
Tried the surgeons knot and it stayed tied all day. Think I will save the “Ian's Secure” for after Xmas.
– Barry T., North Carolina, USA, Dec-2004
A few months ago, the laces on my shoes were fraying. Rather than find new laces, I relaced them with 550 paracord, a nylon-covered sleeve around several nylon strands. Paracord is VERY strong, but I found out, does not take to a typical shoelace tying very well.
Thanks to your site, I've adopted the surgeons knot for now to get a much more secure knot.
– Dan C., Apr-2004
I am actually excited about this information. Can't wait to teach my grandchildren how to tie their shoes and keep them tied.
– Theresa G., USA, Apr-2004
A variation on the surgeon's bow knot is one more wrap of the “starting knot”; this is also known as a “Steeplejack Knot”. As the story goes, steeplejacks used this on their boots, as you certainly didn't want a loose lace on the top of a tree or skyscraper.
I learned this from my instructor while practicing bypass suturing.
– Tim M., California, USA, Mar-2004
i knew the surgeons knot but DUMB me, never thought to use it on laces...what an insight!
– Gil G., Mar-2004