Use This Simple Lacing Method to Make Your Boots Fit Better

Use This Simple Lacing Method to Make Your Boots Fit Better
Because new boots shouldn't mean blisters.

Ah, fall. Perhaps the best time of year for men's style. The cooler weather allows us to take advantage of multiple layers, creating a smart, put-together look. It also means you may be gearing up with some new boots. There's something reminiscent of Christmas morning when I open a box of new, rugged boots. The creaseless leather inspires new adventures…and that new leather smell – nothing else like it. You can find many options that are hardy and built to last, and there's something about them that just makes you feel ready to take on the day.

The problem is, it can be hard to find a pair of boots that just fit quite right. Since many are still simple designs, with the upper being almost entirely one layer of leather, they lack the foam and rubber that are present in athletic shoes that conform to your foot. Many of us find ourselves in-between half-sizes, or with one foot slightly different from the other, but even on perfectly fitted new boots the breaking-in period can be a painful one.

One common problem is the heel of your foot not staying in place. This slippage can cause blisters and other annoying problems that many guys just assume they have to put up with.

Well I'm happy to say, there's a super-simple lacing technique that should stop all the slipping and provide a comfortable, snug fit with your beautiful new boots. Used for ages by climbers, runners, and shoe store salesmen, utilizing this “lock lacing” technique known as the Heel Lock can make a surprisingly dramatic difference in how your footwear fits.

(Like the look of the boots featured here? The top pair are a service-style boot by Wolverine, and the moc toe boots are from Thorogood.)

lock lacing heel lock boot tie

tie heel lock lacing animation

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

19 Comments

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    James

    Just got a pair of Chippewa Service Boots in Cordovan (with no speed hooks). Not having a lot of experience with boots other than desert boots, I look forward to trying this method as I found a little slippage in the heel as you mentioned. I was thinking of sizing another half size down, but I’ll try this first. Thanks!

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Dan

    Thorogood Moc Toe’s?

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Marcus

    I first learned of this lacing method as a cure for running shoe’s slipping, never thought to apply it to boots as well.

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    browneagle44 ロベルト

    I tried this on my wingtip boots at the office just now, and they already feel better.

  • Reply October 28, 2014

    Allen

    Why not just lace the uppermost eyelet?

    • Reply October 28, 2014

      Andrew

      Two reasons, first I find the uppermost eyelet too high for my tastes, it restricts ankle movement too much, and second you don’t get the heel locking effect.

      • Reply October 28, 2014

        James

        So, on boots that only have eyelets and no speed hooks, would you say to forgot the top set of eyelets as well?

        • Reply October 28, 2014

          Andrew

          It’s just a personal preference, try it both ways and see which feels better. 🙂

  • Reply November 3, 2014

    Glenn

    Interested to see your review of these boots as I see them mentioned a lot on the site. Any thoughts or experience with Chippewa boots? I don’t think I’ve seen them on any of your boot articles.

    • Reply November 3, 2014

      Andrew

      Hey Glenn,

      I’ve got a pair of Chippewa boots I’m going to review as well!
      Andrew

      • Reply November 3, 2014

        Glenn

        Awesome! I’m bouncing between those and the Thorogood so I’m looking forward to see what you say.

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  • Reply November 7, 2014

    Gary Bratton

    Trying this now on a pair of Chippewa service boots that have been killing me lately…you’d better be right, Snavely! (By which I mean to say: THANK YOU!)

    Feels more secure already…I’ll check back and post whether my heels have been saved or destroyed at the end of the day.

    • Reply November 7, 2014

      Gary Bratton

      So, after a couple hours of walking, my heels are fine. So excited to read about this…these boots have been killing me!

  • […] pleasantly surprised me. Snug in all the right ways, I got rid of any heel slippage by using the lock lacing technique I mentioned a few weeks ago. If you find them to be too stiff right out of the box that can be […]

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