4 Ways to Lace Work Boots

4 Ways to Lace Work Boots

How much thought do you give to how your work boots are laced? Most boots come standard with what’s called criss-cross lacing. It’s a straightforward lacing method that allows for quick lace up and reasonably smooth tensioning. But there are other ways to lace your boots that can affect comfort, security of fit, ease of tensioning, or simply the overall look of your boots.

Here are our top four work boot lacing methods. They might take more time to lace up initially, but each method has its own advantages.

tying boot on beam

X-Lacing Reduces Lace Friction

The X-lace method is a simple variation on standard criss-cross lacing. It reduces lace friction, so you can easily open your boot and slide in your foot. Tension throughout the lace system can be increased or decreased using just the ends of the upper laces.

The main difference from a standard criss-cross lacing pattern is the process. Rather than feeding the lace ends through each eyelet from the inside, the X-lace method alternates between feeding from the inside and feeding from the outside. The result is a clean X pattern that works well with most leather work boots.

Step-by-Step X-Lacing Instructions

  1. X-lacing starts with feeding the lace between the two bottom eyelets. Go straight across the bottom, feeding the lace from the outside to inside on the left and right side of the boot.
  2. Pull the laces up to make sure the left and right ends are the same length.
  3. Cross the laces and feed them through the next pair of eyelets, from the inside to the outside.
  4. Then cross the laces and feed them through the next pair of eyelets, from the outside to the inside.
  5. Repeat steps four and five, alternating the feed between the inside and outside as you move up the boot.

Ladder Lacing Creates a Secure Fit

If an extra-secure fit and even tension is what you’re after, ladder lacing locks the laces in place. The extra security of ladder lacing means it’s more difficult to adjust. But once you have it adjusted, the lacing holds tension evenly for a snug fit that doesn’t loosen over the course of the day. This process can be used on boots of any height, but is a popular method for using on taller boots, such as the men’s and women’s Cincinnati 8” work boots.

Step-by-Step Ladder Lacing Instructions

  1. Ladder lacing starts by feeding the lace through the bottom two eyelets, with the lace ends feeding from the inside to the outside.
  2. Pull the laces up to make sure the left and right ends are the same length.
  3. Take the right lace and feed it through the next eyelet above on the same side, outside to inside. Leave it relatively loose, and repeat the steps on the left side.
  4. Then take the right lace, go straight across to the left side, and run it underneath the left lace. Now, feed it through the next eyelet up, outside to inside.
  5. Take the left lace and go straight across to the right side. Then run it underneath the right lace. Now, feed it through the next eyelet up, outside to inside.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you get to the top of the boot.

Army Lacing is Good for Tall, Stiff Boots

As the name implies, army lacing is a popular lacing method for combat boots. It provides secure tension that improves the overall comfort of a tall, stiff boot like those worn in the military. Army lacing is not as secure as ladder lacing, but it lets the boot flex more naturally by crossing the laces under the upper.

Step-by-Step Army Lacing Instructions

  1. Army lacing starts by feeding the lace through the bottom two eyelets, with the lace ends feeding from the inside to the outside.
  2. Pull the laces up to make sure the left and right ends are the same length.
  3. Take the right lace and feed it through the next eyelet above on the same side, outside to inside. Repeat the steps on the left side.
  4. Take the right lace, run it diagonally across to the left side and feed through the next eyelet up, inside to outside. Repeat the process on the left side.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get to the top of the boot.

Try Bar Lacing for a Clean Look and Secure Fit

You can dress up your work boots with the hidden lace style of the bar-lacing pattern. It creates a clean look and secure, even tension. It works well with any boot or shoe, but is more difficult to adjust than more traditional lacing methods. Once adjusted, it maintains even tension and a secure fit.

Step-by-Step Bar Lacing Instructions

  1. Bar lacing starts by feeding the lace through the bottom two eyelets, with the lace ends feeding from the outside to the inside.
  2. Run the right lace straight up to the next eyelet, and feed it through from the inside to the outside. Then run this lace horizontally across to the eyelet directly to the left, and feed it from the outside to the inside.
  3. Run the left lace straight up, skipping the eyelet that the right lace used, and feed it through the next eyelet up, from the inside to the outside. Then run this lace horizontally across to the eyelet directly to the right, and feed it from the outside to the inside.
  4. Run the right lace straight up, skipping the eyelet that the left lace used, and feed it through the next eyelet up, from the inside to the outside. Then run this lace horizontally across to the eyelet directly to the left, and feed it from the outside to the inside.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get to the top of your boot.


Bar lacing works best for boots with an even number of eyelet pairs. If your boots have an odd number of eyelet pairs, the pattern will not finish. You can resolve the problem by adding a single diagonal crossing at some point in the lace pattern, but this results in a visible crossover. Alternately, you can cross the lace and use the next eyelet up, from the inside to the outside. This creates a double bar at one of the crossings, but it also maintains a clean look.

Lacing Lets You Customize Your Boots

Trying out a new lacing method is an opportunity to customize the fit and feel of your work boots. Whether you’re looking for a more secure fit or want to reduce lace friction for easy on-and-off, there is a lacing method to match your needs.

Tying boot on truck bummper

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