Army Lacing

This inside-out version of Bow Tie Lacing is used on combat boots by various armies. With the crossovers on the insides, the sides of the boots can flex more easily.

Diagram for 8 pairs of eyelets

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Lacing Technique

• For even numbers of eyelet pairs, begin straight across on the inside (grey section) and out through the bottom eyelets.

• For odd numbers of eyelet pairs, begin straight across on the outside (grey section) and in through the bottom eyelets.

• At each eyelet pair, alternate between a crossover on the inside and out through the next higher set of eyelets or running straight up on the outside and in through the next higher set of eyelets. Repeat until lacing is completed.


Allows more flex

Loose fit

Harder to tighten

33% longer ends (approx.)


• Combat boots are notorious for being made of thick, sturdy leather that does not flex very easily, making them hard and uncomfortable for any manoeuvering. This lacing eliminates any crossovers that would hold down the sides of the boot, allowing the leather to crease more freely. These creases can be seen clearly in the photo below (the boot with the knife alongside), particularly near the ankle area.

• As taught by the Dutch military, another benefit is that the crossovers are less likely to get caught when crawling through bushes.

• If you would prefer to have a more rigid military lacing, such as for marching, parachuting, or for preventing ankle injuries in rough or slippery terrain, Ladder Lacing would be a better choice.

• I've been told that Army Lacing is – or was – used by the British, Dutch, French and Brazilian armies.

• Army Lacing is also useful for skateboarders. With other lacing methods, some lace segments run across the edges of the shoe uppers, where the high points are quickly chewed through by the grip-tape on skateboards. Army Lacing eliminates those high points, so the laces don't suffer as much wear and tear.

Shoelace Lengths for Army Lacing

Pairs of eyelets: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Length needed: (N/A) 63 cm
25 inch
74 cm
29 inch
77 cm
30 inch
87 cm
34 inch
91 cm
36 inch
101 cm
40 inch
Lengths available: 27" 27" 27" 36" 36" 40"

NOTE: These are approximate shoelace lengths for using this lacing on an average sized sneaker. For more accurate lengths, use the Shoelace Length Calculator.

Comparative Length

Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

Longer ends if existing shoelaces are re-used (+33% on average).

More details.

Army Lacing Feedback

"I was very happy to see new Army Lacing, since it remainds me of old time in the Italian Army.

Until a few years ago all italian citizens had to do a 12 months service.

Army lacing was the lacing of choice for boys in the last months of duty.

It was unofficial, and allowed (or, better, tollerated) only to people with long service, the so called nonni (grandfathers).

Newcomers (so called rospi, toads)usually weared criss cross or shoe shop or double helix lacing."

– Max, Italy, Aug-2007

"I decided to use your website as an idea for my science project, my test is 'Do different types of lacing affect how comfortable your shoes are?' I already did it with 31 people and the averages on a scale of 1 to 10 were Army Lacing: 6.68, Criss-Cross: 5.81."

– Cameron C., Baton Rouge, LA, USA, Jan-2008

"I actually use the Army pattern on one foot only because it relieves the pressure where I broke my foot years ago. So there you go – therapeutic applications, as well!"

– Cynthia W., Mar-2008

"I have always used the army lacing method ... on my boots, and I've no idea how you came to the conclusion that it is harder to tighten. You can just poke your fingers into each loop where the lace runs vertical on the outside, then pull. Do this all the way up and you've got nicely tightened boots within just a few seconds."

– James R., UK, Oct-2009

"As an infantryman for 26 years, i adapted the standard boot lacing to the 'army' style but only for 1 or 2 eyelets at the point the ankle bends in. This added flexibility at that point and reduced the pressure of the strings. This kept the strings tight, a weakness you pointed out with the army lacing, but flexible where it was needed."

– Milton I., San Diego, CA, USA, Jun-2011

"Whilst perusing for longer laces to purchase, I found your website and tried the army lacing method. Now I don't have to buy new strings! It didn't occur to me, and wouldn't have if I'd not found your site, that I could lace them differently to get more length."

– Amy W., Virginia, USA, Feb-2013

"I'm tending to use army lacing most of the time on these boots, it's so quick to tighten/loosen and the vertical bars complement the stitching on the sole rather nicely. Oh, and it's very comfortable and flexible too!"

– Tim P., UK, Jan-2016

"The explanation you gave for 'army lacing' is not what we were told (in Holland). The reason the crossovers are underneath in stead of on top is so that your boots don't get caught by some stick or branch when crawling through bushes."

– Humphrey v.P., Australia, Apr-2017

If you'd like to send feedback about Army Lacing, please Contact Ian.

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