Sore feet are one of the top complaints of hikers and backpackers. Although well-fitting boots are the first step to overall foot comfort, lacing technique can make your new boots feel custom-made for you—and it’s a way to deal with issues that crop up unexpectedly when you’re out on trail. If you’ve ever experienced pain, pressure or blisters after a walk in the woods, consider trying out one of these alternative lacing methods.
If your tightly laced boots are causing discomfort across the top of your foot, creating lace “windows” can help take away some pressure. Especially helpful in downhill descents or for those with high arches, this method allows you to customize the area in which you need the most relief.
How to: Unlace boot until just past the point of pressure, then create a “window” by lacing up to the adjacent eyelet rather than across the boot.
If you find yourself with blisters after every hike, odds are your foot is slipping in your boot. Help avoid this by creating lace tension around the ankle with the heel-lock technique.
How to: While wearing your boot, pull the laces taut, keeping the uppermost lace hooks undone. Bring your laces to the first lace hook, then straight up to the adjacent lace hook. Cross the laces and hook them beneath the vertical lace. Finish by tying the ends in a standard knot.
Your toes undergo a massive amount of force every time you take a step. This trick reduces pressure around your big toe, preventing any under-the-nail bruising (or loss of toenail).
How to: Starting from the lowest eyelet on the outer edge of your foot, bring the lace diagonally up across the shoe and out through the uppermost eyelet on the inside of your ankle. With the outer lace, crisscross the lace as usual to the top eyelet.
Similar to the window-lacing technique, the toe-relief method aids those who suffer from too much pressure in the toe box. By disregarding the bottommost eyelet, hikers with wide feet can breathe a sigh of relief.
How to: Unlace boots, then skip the first set of eyelets and relace as normal.