Accurate Shoelace Lengths

Accurate Shoelace Lengths

Calculating a reasonably accurate shoelace length for a particular shoe with a particular lacing method requires taking into account many factors and some pretty complicated mathematics.

Shoelace Length Factors

Shoes with EYELETS

For shoes with eyelets, the shoelace length depends on FOUR measurements plus the lacing method used (such as Criss Cross Lacing in the diagram below):

Shoelace length factors diagram - Eyelets

[P] - Pairs of Eyelets. The diagram at right has 7 pairs of eyelets.

[H] - Horizontal spacing between centres of adjacent eyelets, measured with the shoe tight on the foot. On my screen, the diagram at right has a horizontal spacing of 36 mm.

[V] - Vertical spacing between centres of eyelets, or from the top of one eyelet to the top of the next eyelet. On my screen, the diagram at right has a vertical spacing of 12 mm.

[L] - Length of each shoelace end (with which you tie your knots), measured from the middle of the knot to the end of the shoelace. 250 mm (10") is usually ideal; allow more if you prefer a larger bow, less if you like it compact.

NOTE: For an accurate horizontal value "H", do the measurement while wearing the shoe. This will allow for a wider or narrower horizontal spacing for those with wide or narrow feet.

Shoes with LUGS

For shoes with LUGS, the width of those lugs is also considered. This means that the shoelace length depends on FIVE measurements plus the lacing method used (such as Lug Criss Cross Lacing in the diagram below):

Shoelace length factors diagram - Lugs

[P] - Pairs of Lugs. The diagram at right has 4 pairs of lugs.

[H] - Horizontal spacing between the inside edges of adjacent lugs (where the laces pass through), measured with the shoe tight on the foot. On my screen, the diagram at right has a horizontal spacing of 33 mm.

[V] - Vertical spacing between centres of lugs, or from the top of one lug to the top of the next lug. On my screen, the diagram at right has a vertical spacing of 19 mm.

[W] - Width of lugs, measured vertically. On my screen, the diagram at right has 8 mm wide lugs.

[L] - Length of each shoelace end (with which you tie your knots), measured from the middle of the knot to the end of the shoelace. 250 mm (10") is usually ideal; allow more if you prefer a larger bow, less if you like it compact.

NOTE: If either the Horizontal spacing [H] or Vertical spacing [V] varies between one pair of eyelets (or lugs) and the next, just use an average.

Calculating The Length

Having measured the shoe to determine the above factors for P, H, V, W and L, an accurate shoelace length can now be calculated for any lacing method on that shoe. This can be done several different ways:

  • Shoelace Length Calculator The easiest way is to enter the measurements into my web-based Shoelace Length Calculator. This will automatically calculate the correct lengths for all of the different lacing methods.
  • Shoelace Length Formulas The next most difficult way is to refer to the underlying Shoelace Length Formulas, then enter those formulas into a spreadsheet, substituting your own measurements for P, H, V, W and L.
  • The hardest way is to again refer to the underlying formulas and manually calculate the result. Remember the order of precedence: Brackets, then Multiplications and Divisions, finally Additions and Subtractions.

Non-Technical Method

Measuring the actual shoelace

Not everyone enjoys mathematics, and most people won't need to resort to the above measures to determine a reasonably accurate shoelace length. If the shoes contain existing laces that are already the exact length (or close to it) but that need replacement for whatever reason, it's easiest to simply remove and measure those laces, adjusting by a small amount if necessary.

If the shoes don't contain existing laces, a piece of cheap string can be used instead. Lace the shoes as required, tighten comfortably, tie with suitably sized bows, trim the loose ends so they won't get underfoot, then remove and measure that string. This takes into account all the subtleties that can't easily be factored into a mathematical formula.

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