Two-One-Three Lacing

Lacing across the ankle area in "2-1-3" sequence creates a firm Double Cross that reduces pinching and may help prevent painful "lace bite" in tightly laced boots or skates.

Diagram for 8 pairs of eyelets

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Lacing Technique

• Above and below the ankle area, the eyelets are laced with basic Criss Cross Lacing, whereas the eyelets at the ankle area are laced in "2-1-3" sequence as follows:

• Cross the ends on the inside and emerge through the set of eyelets two rows higher up the shoe (skip past one pair of eyelets). This is row 2 of the "2-1-3" sequence.

• Cross the ends on the outside and feed in through the next lower set of eyelets. This is row 1 of the "2-1-3" sequence.

• Cross the ends on the inside and emerge through the set of eyelets two rows higher up the shoe (skip past one pair of eyelets). This is row 3 of the "2-1-3" sequence.


Firm across ankle

Tricky to tighten

5% shorter ends (approx.)


Heavy boots such as work boots, logging boots and army boots as well as active footwear like ice skates and roller skates are often tightly laced in order to provide stability during vigorous activities. This tight lacing can cause the leather to pinch and press into the tendons on the ankle upper, which in turn can lead to a painful condition known as "lace bite".

The theory behind Two-One-Three Lacing is that the three overlapping crossovers form a very firm section that makes the boot less likely to pinch and instead conform more evenly to the bend in the ankle – especially during the "breaking-in" period.

Gap Lacing Note that Two-One-Three Lacing is probably not a good solution for someone already suffering "lace bite" and seeking relief. Instead, a more open method such as Gap Lacing is preferable because it actually removes pressure from the affected area.

Shoelace Lengths for Two-One-Three Lacing

Pairs of eyelets: 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Length needed: 94 cm
37 inch
105 cm
41 inch
115 cm
45 inch
126 cm
50 inch
136 cm
54 inch
147 cm
58 inch
157 cm
62 inch
Lengths available: 36" 40" 45" 45" 54" 54" 63"

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

Longer shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

Shorter ends if existing shoelaces are re-used (-5% on average).

More details.

Two-One-Three Lacing Feedback

The lacing did an amazing job,keeping the shoes very tight while hiking.

– Manuel B., Jul-2019

I've just recovered from a sprained ankle and remembered the 2-1-3 lacing method from figure skating.

It feels great! Right foot has the injury/is actually how I wear the boot currently. Tightening is difficult!! (but worth it).

– Maura H., USA, Nov-2017

I got my first pair of White's boots about 20 years ago. I was living in Colorado in the western United States, where these boots have been relied upon by generations of ranchers, firefighters, and outdoorsman for over 100 years.

At the time, a seasoned wildland firefighter "in-the-know" schooled me in the proper care and wearing of these unique boots, which are handmade in Oregon (USA) and are completely rebuildable.

That edubication included gems like filling new boots with boiling water to soften the leather, pouring it out and lacing them tightly to customize the fit (the shank is leather vs steel), and lacing them this way. The leather in the upper and shaft is 7-8 oz leather, and quite a bit heavier than the leather in most other shoes. Factor in the fully gusseted tongue (which is folded over double when lacing), AND lacing in a full length leather brush guard/kiltie, you're looking at 4-7 layers of leather right at the fold at the ankle. The resulting stiffness, which can be made worse by traditional Crisscross lacing, is referred to as boot bite in these new and stiff boots, due to the resulting pinching on the top of the foot.

This method serves two functions:
1. It relieves having a criss-cross lace over the top of the foot and relieves the pinching, and
2. It "trains" the boot to flex properly while breaking it in by allowing the laces to shift.

The "boot bite" I mentioned (which, ironically, my friend calls "White's bite") is a common problem for this type of leather boot when its new and stiff and still breaking in to your foot. While I have adopted (and adapted) this lace style for my everyday use, my friend prefers it for new boots only.

– Mike S., USA, Oct-2013

If you'd like to send feedback about Two-One-Three Lacing, please Contact Ian.

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