Given how much we hike, run and roam, many of us dream about the perfect-fitting hiking boot or running shoe. One of the problems in achieving that goal is that our feet have unique shapes and volumes. These factors not only vary between people – one person can have variation between their right and left foot.
That means even the best footwear can leave you wanting some fine-tuning. Luckily, there are a number of lacing techniques that can improve the fit of your shoe or boot.
Given the variation
in foot shape and volume, you need to keep some things in mind when you
consider lacing techniques.
We aren’t often forced to answer these questions in our daily lives. Everyday footwear is usually forgiving and, for most of us, our normal daily activity doesn’t include hiking 10 miles over rough terrain carrying heavy weight. However, these factors become very important when choosing footwear for situations in which your feet will be experiencing extreme stress and pressure, such as hiking and running.
High-volume feet often
need room. Undersized boots compress them, which causes decreased circulation
and discomfort. Low-volume feet are the opposite: they slide around inside an oversized boot,
resulting in uncomfortable rubbing and blisters.
People with high
arches usually find arch support comfortable, whereas people with mid- or low
arches experience strong arch support as a painful stab in the bottom of their
If your feet are
different in length, you’ll want to buy a size based on the larger foot.
shape and characteristics of your feet will help you determine which inserts
and lacing techniques are right for you. For example, if you have a lower
volume foot or a low arch, you would benefit from snug fit and support. If, on
the other hand, you have a high-volume foot or a high arch, those same
techniques could apply too much pressure, resulting in discomfort and restricted
For boots with basic, non-structured insoles, one way to get a better fit is to replace them with a more advanced insole. Insoles designed for low-volume feet provide a better fit by taking up some of the extra space in a boot, which can reduce rubbing. Insoles with structured arches provide support for feet with high arches.
Often called a double overhand knot, you can use this technique to customize sections of your boot’s lacing. For example, you can use this technique to lace some sections of your shoe tightly while leaving other areas loose.
Try it and you’ll see that these entwined laces will maintain tension. For a demonstration, watch the first chapter of our video below.
Your heel should not
rise and fall inside the boot to any significant degree, nor should your toes
bang against the end of the boot. To pull your foot back and snug your heel
down, you can use this technique.
This technique can be a little confusing the first time. For a demonstration, watch the second chapter of our video below.
A common hiker complaint among those with high-volume feet is pain or irritation across the top of the foot, or instep. This sensation can be amplified as your feet swell from extended exertion. One way to address this is to bypass the areas experiencing pressure or pain.
This technique is simple. For a demonstration, watch the third chapter of our video below.
Depending on the
eyelet placement on your shoes or boots, you may need a variation on of these
techniques. Alternatively, you may find a completely different technique that better
Given the high degree of variation in people’s feet, there simply isn’t one single insert or lacing technique that will work for everyone. Look around. Ask friends. Don’t be afraid to combine techniques or experiment.
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