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How to Lace Tactical Boots

Once you buy a new pair of tactical boots from 5.11, you'll want to lace them up so they look good and provide the comfort and support you need to perform. There are myriad ways to effectively tie a tactical shoe – so many that it can be overwhelming to choose which method will work best for you.

At ease, soldier. Let 5.11 take you through the basics, and then follow our step-by-step instructions to try the most secure and supportive lacing style out there.

 lace tactical shoes

Popular Methods for Lacing Tactical Boots

When it comes to lacing tactical boots, you have a seemingly endless variety of different patterns to choose from – ranging from purely aesthetic styles to purpose-driven practical methods to highly supportive and secure techniques. Which method works best for you will depend on your job's dress code requirements and your personal preference.

Some of the most popular lacing patterns include:

Criss-cross Lacing

This method is the standard diagonal lacing pattern typically used on sneakers and regular boots, which can be adapted to create a range of visually appealing and unexpected designs, as well. For a more uniform look, cross the same side on top each time. This variation is called over-under lacing.

Straight-bar Lacing

This pattern makes the laces appear horizontally parallel all the way up the shoe or boot. It provides a very clean appearance and easy tightening ability but very little foot and ankle support.

Army Lacing

As the name suggests, this pattern is commonly used on boots worn by various armed forces. By keeping crosses on the inside, laces are less prone to snagging and allow the sides of the shoe to flex easily, but this style can also be less supportive than some other techniques.

Ladder Lacing

The ladder lacing method offers the most stability and support. Its ladder-like appearance makes a strong visual impression while providing sturdy performance that won't budge. Due to its complexity, it requires long laces and looks best on tall tactical boots with lots of eyelets. It is often preferred by paratroopers looking for the most support, but it can be more difficult to tighten in a hurry.

How to Ladder Lace

Your Tactical Boots

We provide step-by-step instructions for the ladder lace method because it is a popular pattern for lacing combat and tactical boots and provides the most support for your feet and ankles. It's a little more complicated than most methods, so it can take a bit of practice to master. Here's how to try it yourself:

  1. Grab a pair of long shoelaces. Tip: Try this technique with the laces you have before buying brand new ones. If you own a pair of 5.11 boots, the laces they came with should be long enough.
  2. Start at one boot's bottommost eyelets.
  3. Run a lace straight across the inside of the bottom row of eyelets, pulling the ends evenly upward on each side.
  4. Gently pull the end of each lace to the vertical eyelet directly above it, and push in each end.
  5. Cross each end over the boot's tongue to the other side.
  6. Instead of pulling the ends immediately through the opposite side's eyelet, thread each lace under the vertical section created by the other lace.
  7. Pull each lace taught to secure the hold, and then thread each end into the next highest vertical eyelet.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you thread your laces through all of the eyelets. Tip: When crossing laces over the tongue, always follow the same pattern – left over right or right over left – for a uniform look.
  9. When you reach the top, you can tie your knot on the inside of the shoe, or thread the laces under the opposite side's last vertical section for additional tightening.
  10. Use a double or square knot to keep your laces from coming untied accidentally. Tip: If you have a lot of excess shoelace, wrap the ends around the boot at your ankle before tying your knot, and tuck the ends of the bow inside the boot to keep them out of the way.

The end result should look like a ladder. Now, you can sport your 5.11 tactical boots for professional duties and recreational activities alike, without having to worry as much about your laces coming untied or your feet slipping where they shouldn't.