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.
• 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
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 pointed out by Peter, Army Lacing results in less less leftover shoelace after tightening tall boots. During tightening, the sides of the boots are drawn closer together. Each crossover becomes narrower and thus uses less shoelace. Because this lacing has fewer crossovers, less shoelace gets pulled through to the top eyelets, so there's less leftover.
• As pointed out by Humphrey v.P., the Dutch military teach that the inner crossovers are less likely to get caught when crawling through bushes.
• I've been told that Army Lacing is – or was – used by the British, Dutch, French, Italian and Brazilian armies.
• 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.
• 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
Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.
Longer ends if existing shoelaces are re-used (+33% on average).
Army Lacing Feedback
I must agree with the comments by James R. I don’t find Army lacing difficult to tighten at all. Quite the reverse.
It has also been a godsend in eliminating lace clutter when opening or closing a 9 hole boot. No more fists full of lace.
– Peter, Chessington, England, Jun-2020
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
If you'd like to send feedback about Army Lacing, please Contact Ian.
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