CAF Combat Boot Lacing

This subtle variation of Display Shoe Lacing is the official method prescribed by the Canadian Armed Forces for lacing combat boots, safety boots and lineman boots.

Diagram for 8 pairs of eyelets, variation 1

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Lacing Technique 1 – Left Boot

• Begin straight across on the outside (grey section) and in through the bottom eyelets.

• For the left boot, the bottom crossover has the left (blue) end crossing over the right (yellow) end, then both ends are fed in through the next higher set of eyelets.

• The next crossover is done in reverse so that the blue end is once again on top, then both ends are again fed in through the next higher set of eyelets.

• Continue up the boot, alternating the crossovers so that the blue end always ends up on top.


1 For the left boot, the blue end – which started at bottom-left – is always on top.

2 For the right boot, the yellow end – which started at bottom-right – is always on top.


Easier to loosen

Harder to tighten

Tricky to lace correctly


• The subtle difference between this lacing method and Display Shoe Lacing is the orientation of the crossovers in the middle of the boot. With Display Shoe Lacing – as with most other lacing methods on this website – I've used consistent left-over-right crossovers. With this method, the crossovers alternate. This results in the same end (either the blue end or the yellow end) always being on top.

• In addition, the left and right boots are laced in reverse (mirror image) to create a mirrored symmetry. Finally, the ends are tied across the top rather than tucked in.

• One way to easily alternate all crossovers is to begin with the end nearest the little toe and to lace diagonally left and right all the way to the top of the boot. Only then is the other end (nearest the big toe) similarly laced diagonally all the way to the top of the boot. The "big toe" end will then naturally be on top at each crossover.

• This lacing is also used by some Canadian ice hockey players, who believe that it creates a tighter fit for ice skates. In this context it is often referred to simply as "Canadian Lacing".

Military Specs

(Excerpt from the official document A-DH-265-000/AG-001, dated 15-Dec-2017):

 • Chapter 2: Policy and Appearance
  • Section 2: Appearance
   • Subsection 20: Footwear
    • b: Footwear shall be laced as shown in Figure 2-2-6.

CAF Herring Bone Method diagram

• Figues 2-2-6 includes the caption "Herring Bone Method". Strictly speaking, the alternating crossovers of this method don't produce a true "herringbone" pattern. An accurate herringbone pattern – such as is used in fabrics, tiling, parquetry, etc. – has consistent crossovers – either all left-over-right or all right-over-left.

• Figure 2-2-6 also includes a separate "Straight Across Method" for ankle boots / shoes (see Straight Easy Lacing).

Shoelace Lengths for Criss Cross Lacing

Pairs of eyelets: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Length needed: 70 cm
28 inch
81 cm
32 inch
91 cm
36 inch
102 cm
40 inch
112 cm
44 inch
123 cm
48 inch
134 cm
53 inch
Lengths available: 27" 36" 36" 40" 45" 45" 54"

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

Identical length shoelaces to those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

More details.

CAF Combat Boot Lacing Feedback

If it helps, I would also suggest making the following points in the description: First, that the lace which is on top "points at the big toe" (if you look at the laces nearest the toe of the boot) and then consistently crosses on top of the other lace all the way up. Second, that every time either lace is to pass through any hole (eyelet), the aglet must "dive down" through the eyelet toward the foot (or leg), and not come up through the eyelet from underneath.

– Jon L., Alberta, Canada, Dec-2018

The Canadian Forces still uses ladder lacing on the ankle boots, and for the combat boots, cross laces, but always with one lace always passing on top to make it easy to undo the boot with a knife to have an injured foot looked at. The laces are also fed from the top of the eyelet, not underneath. I have no idea why, but that's how it's done.

– Kimball M., Canada, Jan-2012

It makes tightening easier since only one lace rubs against the shoe. I make it so my right hand pulls on the bottom lace while my left hand (assumed to be less strong due to my right-handedness) pulls on the top lace.

– Bill P., Michigan USA, Aug-2006

The idea is that the laces are supposed to stay tight due to the friction between the tongue and the sides of the shoe. So, the portion that has already been tightened actually seems to stay locked in whereas, the criss-cross method actually seems to come loose as the shoe expands due to its sponginess. 1 problem with the criss-cross method is that by time you've tightened the top, the middle and lower parts become loosened. I find it hard to explain, but the problem becomes much more apparent in ice skates, where it's tight at the top, but loose at the bottom. The criss-cross method has this problem because the portion of the lace that is about to pass through the eyelet is inbetween the tongue and the sides, thus creating friction and making it harder to tighten, and the portion already passed through the eyelet is relatively loose by comparison.

– Eugene W., Surrey, BC, Canada, Nov-2004

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