The poor hiking boot is a seriously traumatized piece of hiking gear. For those who hike consistently, it’s recommended that you upgrade your hiking boots every 600 to 1,000 miles. One of the first things you’ll have to replace is the laces. But what size should you be looking for? How long are hiking boot laces on average?
On average, hiking boot laces are around 63”. The standard hiking boot has between 12 and 16 eyelets, requiring 62” to 70” laces. Higher top hiking boots are the same, but the high end is longer at 62” to 78”. Hiking boots with 20 eyelets should have a lace length of 84”.
The higher the top, the more eyelets are required to secure the boot to your foot and lower leg. If you count more than 16 eyelets from the bottom to the top, add 5” for every additional pair of eyelets.
How to find the right lace length for your boots
Boots can’t be equated with shoes when it comes to the length of the laces, even the hiking boots that highly resemble a pair of sneakers until someone came along and decided to give them an earth color aesthetic.
Boots are made out of thicker materials. Thicker materials mean more substantial eyelets and extra padding, along with the lacing and a thicker tongue. Plus, regular sneakers tend to have softer laces with a smaller diameter than hiking boots for obvious reasons.
All hiking boots aren’t created equally, however, but you can generally tell from the size of the hiking boot and the number of eyelets, what the length of the new laces are going to be before you hand over your hard-earned money.
Here’s a super useful table for figuring out the size of the laces:
|✌️ Number of eyelets||➰ Laces (in inches)||🥾 Type of boot|
|8||55||Low- to mid-top boots|
|16||70||Mid-size military boots|
|20||84||Tall military boots|
Most of your tall boots (really high-top variations) are military boots or, at least they are designed in the military style. These may not be the most common boots but the military uses them for field op, which includes brutal overland humps that often cover 20 miles worth of territory.
You can find high-top boots in Army and Navy Surplus retailers and they are usually manufactured by Belleville, Danner, and Garmont. They’re worth mentioning because they require extremely long laces, sometimes over 100”. They’re also great for hiking, waterproof, and extremely durable.
Other factors that affect the length of the laces
So far, we’ve only touched on the number of eyelets and the high-, mid-, or low-top variations in hiking shoes that affect how long your laces are going to be. But there are other factors to consider as well. A hiking boot in one brand may not be nearly as thick as the same size hiking boot in another brand.
Most of the time, unless your laces just came completely apart, it’s a good idea to pull the laces out of the boot and just measure them, especially if they are already the perfect length for you. However, if you just had to make a guess, there are a few aspects of a hiking boot to consider:
- The shape of the laces
- The materials of the boot
- The length of the tongue (not YOUR tongue, duh!)
To one degree or another, all of the above will be a play a role in the determining factor for what the length of your boot laces need to be.
The shape of the laces
Boot laces come in flat or completely round types. Sometimes you may find them in unique shapes that are more of an aesthetic thing than something practical for hiking. When it comes to hiking boots, however, flat and round are your two types.
The round shape is the one that takes up the most space, is more expensive, and is used with hiking boots that utilize hooks rather than eyelets. While the hooks certainly have practical uses, they do enable you to alter how you lace your boots, whether that is a preferred style or you like to leave a couple of empty hooks up top.
The material of the boot
The thicker and wider the material, the more real estate that you have to cover as you are lacing your boots up. Some boots which have fewer eyelets than others may require the same length in laces simply because it is a thicker and wider material.
The material that the laces are made out of is important as well. You never want to go with natural fiber shoe laces. Synthetic laces and paracord are the go-to shoelaces that you want. You get a little less length on them, they are larger, and they are generally more expensive. However, they are definitely worth the expenditure, in terms of durability and longevity.
The length of the tongue (not YOUR tongue, duh!)
It’s not always where the laces are placed, but how far the distance is between each pair, which tends to be longer if the boot has a long tongue. Some boots are designed with a bare minimum of eyelets, yet they are extremely long and the spacing between the eyelets increases the length of the lace.
So, the above table is applicable, for the most part, with most boots. However, you can throw all of that out the window if you’re looking at a long boot that is designed with minimal eyelets.
The best hiking laces (in my personal opinion)
Replacing the laces in a pair of well-worn hiking boots is one of the most important decisions about your hiking boots that you can make. It’s not as if you can wear the things without them, after all.
The laces that are going to fail you the quickest are almost always the laces that come with the boots. That’s true even for the more expensive boots. Laces just aren’t the primary focus when manufacturing a high-quality boot that needs to hit the market at a particular price point.
There are three materials that you want to look for if you want to pick a shoelace length, string them through your boot’s eyelets, and never have to worry about replacing your laces again. In fact, these three laces will long outlast your boots and you can transfer them easily to the next pair. At least they did when I tried them back when I was in the navy.
The three materials are:
- Rhino laces
- 550 Paracord
- Kevlar Boot Laces
Let’s have a look at the first one.
Rhino is a company that doesn’t mess around when it comes to manufacturing durable laces. They even come with a lifetime warranty because these shoelaces are marketed as nearly indestructible.
If you choose to go with some Rhino shoelaces, you will have a choice in lengths from 44” to 86”, which will take care of low-top to most high-top hiking boots. If you have a pair of military boots, however, the length may not be enough.
The diameter on these laces is .14”, which is about the standard in terms of shoelace sizes and you won’t recognize a difference between these and just about any other rounded shoelaces.
The best part about these laces is the lifetime guarantee. If they fray, snap, or cut, Rhino will replace them FOR FREE.
550 paracord laces
Paracord is one of those things that simply belongs in every hiker’s pack. 550 paracord is immensely strong, owing to its namesake to the fact that a single paracord, with a diameter of .2”, can hold 550 lb. before snapping.
Another great feature of paracord is the enormous variety in color choices. If you’re down with the old-school red laces look on your boots, you will find just about every shade of red that you can imagine.
You can also buy this stuff in hundreds of feet at very little cost, whether you order lengths of it online or like to go down to your local hobby or hardware stores, all of them will usually carry a supply of paracord.
The only issue with paracord is that it isn’t sold as a boot lace. However, you can cut it down to size pretty easily. Weave it through your eyelets or hooks, then use a butane lighter to burn your ends and you’re all set.
Kevlar boot laces
Kevlar boot laces resemble paracord and they come in the same diameter of .2” and are sold anywhere from 40” to 102”, so they will work with most of the boot sizes available on the market.
The kevlar reinforcement doesn’t quite put them up there with paracord but this is still a very durable lace that is far more difficult to cut than paracord.
While the average length of hiking boot laces is 63”, there are enough varieties, in terms of boot sizes, shapes, materials, and types of boot laces, that you shouldn’t just go with 63” without doing your homework first.
If your boot laces ever give out on you or they are looking a bit frayed and ready to retire, give it some consideration before you hit up an online marketplace or head down to your local shoe store.