Everyday shoes are pretty simple to understand. It is so simple, in fact, that we learn how to tie them before we even enter elementary school. Hiking boots, however, are a little bit more difficult to figure out because they have additional features, such as hooks.
These hooks, which are called lace or speed hooks, help speed up the lacing process and also makes it easier to put on shoes that are over 6 inches. These hooks also make it super easy to slip on the boots and tie them. Conversely, they make it easier to take off the hiking boot after a long day on the trail.
Have speed hooks also makes it very quick and easy to clean your hiking boots and laces. Just throw your laces in the wash while you hose off your muddy boots and you’re good to go. Even though speed hooks may seem like a minor contribution, they are actually one of the best parts of hiking boots. Let’s learn more about them.
Why Do Hiking Boots Have Hooks?
Hiking boots typically come up above the ankles in order to add stability and protect the ankle from rolling while on a hike. Obviously, this feature of tall hiking boots is incredibly beneficial on the hike because it keeps your feet comfortable and safe.
One thing that could be potentially annoying about hiking boots would be putting them on or taking them off if you had to lace the shoelace through holes. Think about it this way. If the shoelace went through holes, you would have to take extra time to loosen the shoelaces before sliding your foot in or sliding your foot out.
I don’t know about you, but after a long day of hiking, the last thing I want is to have to exert extra energy just to take my shoes off. That is exactly why hiking boots have hooks instead of holes. The speed hooks make it much easier to lace up or untie your boots.
What Are the Lace Hooks on Boots Called?
The hooks on hiking boots are typically called lace hooks or speed hooks. Both names make a lot of sense. Some call them lace hooks because they’re hooks intended for lacing your shoes up. The name speed hooks refer to how they speed up the process of putting on or taking off the hiking boot.
How Do You Install Lace Hooks?
Adding lace hooks to your hiking boots usually requires installation a specialty boot store. However, you can actually find lace hook kits that come with tools and instructions needed for installation that you can install yourself. This can save you a decent amount of time and money
Installation is pretty simple, you will need to use a special pressing tool to pop each lace hook into place along each eyelet of your boot, one at a time.
We recommend using a lace hook kit like this one. It comes with the lace hooks, a pressing tool, and the boot eyelet pieces.
How Do You Use the Hooks?
You use speed hooks to lace up your hiking boots. There are a number of different ways you can lace up the shoelaces, depending on your foot size and shape. For example, there are specific lacing techniques for a wider foot or toe cramping.
Generally speaking, you use these hooks by wrapping the laces behind them and pull tightly. You perform whichever pattern you want until you reach the top of the boot. From there, you tie the shoelaces securely.
If you find that the shoelaces slip off the hooks, that is a sign that you need to lace them up tighter. It may be helpful to use both your arm muscles and leg muscles together by pulling and pushing in opposite directions.
This will help you to tie the laces tighter. In contrast, if your foot feels uncomfortable or in pain, simply loosen the laces a bit.
How Do You Tie Hiking Boots?
How you tie your hiking boots will depend purely on you. Here are a few favorite methods based on foot needs:
When You Have No Special Foot Needs
If you have no special foot needs, then you can tie up your hiking boots just as you would normal shoes. This includes tying them in a crisscross motion so that they crossover one another.
Hook the lace around the speed hook to change the direction. At the top, you can simply tie them as normal. We recommend double knotting.
To Prevent Heel Slip: The Surgeon’s Knot
If your heel slips when you hike, you probably have a lot of volume at the top of your foot. You can use the surgeon’s knot to keep your heel in place.
Begin by pulling all the slack in the laces. The boot should feel snug over the top of your foot. Now, find the lace hooks that are close to the bend of your foot. At this point, you will begin using the surgeon’s knot. Before this point, you will do the normal crisscross motion.
For the surgeon’s knot, simply wrap the laces around one another twice. Pull them tightly and go to the next speed hook to ensure the tension is kept. Repeat the surgeon’s knot on the next set of speed hooks. After that, go back to the regular crisscross lacing.
To Prevent Top-of-Foot Pressure: Window Lacing
If you feel pain at the top of your foot, you’re likely having too much pressure at that point. Use the window lacing technique to remove this pain.
Begin by unlacing the boot to right below the point where the pain starts. Chances are, you will have to unlace the boot quite a bit. Now, relace the boot by bringing the laces straight up to the next hook. In other words, you should not be crossing over to the other side. This will create a window look.
Now, start lacing the boot in the normal way. You may want to incorporate the surgeon’s knot in the higher lacing for a firmer hold.
To Prevent Toe Pressure: Toe-Relief Lacing
Hiking can put a lot of pressure on your toes, so much so that the toenail beds get bruised and fall off (I know from experience). You can use this lacing technique to hopefully relieve some of that pressure.
Simply unlace the entire boot. When it’s time to lace it back up, skip the first set of hooks. This will create a more open box for your toe to sit in. Begin lacing as normal at the second set of hooks. Feel free to use the surgeon’s knot as well.
When Is It Time to Buy a New Pair of Hiking Boots?
Hiking boots keep you safe and comfortable on your hike. You should not be hiking in boots that are overly worn and unsafe. Here are a few signs that it is time to invest in a new pair of hiking boots:
- Worn laces are the first sign that your hiking boots are becoming overly worn. Obviously, if they are simply becoming worn at the ends, you can just invest in a new pair of laces. If the laces are ripping from the hooks, however, your boots may need to be replaced as well.
- Broken speed hooks are an obvious sign that your boots need to be replaced. If these parts are broken, you can’t properly tie your shoe.
- Worn ankle support is dangerous and can lead to injuries. Get a new pair of hiking boots if your ankle support is looking worn.
- A midsole that is cracked definitely shows that your hiking boots need to be replaced. This also includes visible compression lines.
- Constant pain and discomfort are other signs that your shoes may need to be replaced. Of course, your feet will probably ache from a hike, and they will hurt more when you’re breaking in the boots. If you notice they suddenly hurt more than before, however, cushioning may be wearing thin.
All in all, the speed hooks on your hiking boots make it easier to put them on, take them off, and also clean them.
Lace hooks also give you the option to quickly re-lace your boots with various specialty knots to aid your foot in one way or another.
If looking to add lace hooks to your existing hiking boots, be sure to try a do it yourself lace hook kit. Installing them yourself can save you quite a bit of time and money by saving you a trip to a specialty boot store.