How to Lace Hiking Boots to Prevent Heel Blisters

Blisters are one thing that sure are a menace to hikers.

If you wear high top hiking boots, backpacking boots, or mountaineering boots, I just recorded a quick video demonstrating the lacing technique I use to prevent heel slippage. And guess what? I’ve never had a heel blister!

Blister Prevention Shortcuts!

    1. Lace your boots properly! Watch the above video again if needed. Check out these tips if you wear low top hiking shoes.
Hiking Socks and Sock Liners
Putting on my hiking sock over my toe sock liner socks – prevents blisters!
  1. Wear two pairs of socks. An inner “liner sock” will wick moisture away from your foot to an outer sock. Prevent moisture = prevent blisters! ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Make sure your boots fit your feet!

Still want to learn more? The Hiking Lady website is full of tips about hiking boot fit, blister prevention, proper socks, lacing, and more, so be sure to check out these other articles. There is no need to ever have blisters!

Here are some articles I’ve written about preventing blisters in your hiking boots:

Give this lacing technique a try, buy a pair of liner socks, and let me know how it goes.

Happy trails!

Hiking Lady

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  1. Strontium90 says:

    If you want to stop your heel from sliding lace your boots properly from the start. Tighten the toe box until it is snug, after the third eyelet put in a Surgeons Knot to manage the tension, then continue to lace while tightening the eyelets until you put another Surgeons Knot at the last eyelet loop. After that put a Surgeons Knot in each lacing hook and tighten appropriately snug. You will never slip your heel, will not get blisters, and always have stable footing. I know this from decades of use.

  2. Van says:

    Thanks foo much or this tip, Hiking Lady! Really is a perfect & easy fix to this problem. Went to Chicken Point in Sedona yesterday to try it out.

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Megan,
    What a bummer! I unfortunately don’t have any suggestions for the pain and swelling, except to try a different pair of boots. Maybe you laced them too tight at the ankle? Perhaps try a low top hiking shoe? Good luck!

  4. Megan W says:

    I thought my boots fit great, but then I went on a hike and there is pain and swelling on the back of my legs just above the achilles. Any tips? Do these boots not fit after all? (They are mid-height Keen Durands.)

  5. Hiking Lady says:

    I am so glad to hear it Julie! Thank you for taking the time to write the comment. Happy trails ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Julie says:

    Omg you are a life saver, I have just bought my second pair of walking boots and right foot has a blister due to heal slippage. Just tried your lacing technique and wow it’s amazing just testing it out round garden and feels much better. I’m walking about 8 miles a day at the moment and never had a blister until I got my much need new boots. Thanks again ?

  7. Susan Bryant says:

    I think this may save me! Feels great so far! I have nasty blisters from a Walls of Jericho Hike last weekend!

  8. Hi – I normally use strap on Grivel crampons with Scarpa plastic winter boots and while I have a little heel slippage, the boots/crampon combination is very comfortable and warm for cold winter days. Never a heel blister. I have tried the strap on crampons with different leather hiking boots and almost always get heel blisters. Normally, the boots fit fine with little heel slippage and never get blisters until I use the crampons. Any thoughts on how this might be prevented?

    Thanks, Harry

  9. Sarah H says:

    OMG!!! THIS IS A LIFESAVER! I’m a biologist with the National Park Service, and spend most of my time far of trail in rough conditions. Our uniform program changed the boot model that had been my trusty stand-by for years, and the heel cup slipped terribly on my feet in the new boot. This tying method had SAVED MY POOR BLISTERED HEELS!!! I can’t believe what a difference it made! I stumbled on your video while Pinteresting, and have subsequently perused your website. I’m planning on getting some toe sock liners based on your recommendations. Thank you SOOOOOOO much!

  10. My Name says:

    You are completely missing the mark on the boot lacing video and comments. First off think about what the boots are designed for and how they are built which is for support so they are stiff. For those complaining about too wide this may help as well. Start by wearing enough socks to pad and wick moisture away, next line up the laces near the toe so you can just fit in the boots, get them on and start at the toe laces with number Two and pull them hard so you tighten the toe cap to the point where you begin to feel the boot on your foot. From there you will need to keep your heel resting on the ground with your foot up at a 45Deg angle. Hold those laces tight and pull the next pair to compress the boot to fit your foot. This continues over the ankle where that wide loop for the laces is and make sure they are snug/tight/no slack on your foot, and from here loop up the upper keeping it tight. At the top instead of the usual bow, tie a Surgeons Knot which is looping through twice and this will keep the laces tight while you tie them. At this point you are thinking the boot is too tight but with you stand up and your foot straightens out the tension will be reduced but as you walk your heel will not slip. I can tell you that pulling the Toe Cap in properly will eliminate that too wide feeling most women complain about.

  11. Sue Brand says:

    I need a D width in a hiking boot. Very frustrated in ordering wide boots from Lowa and LL Bean. Wide boots seemed to be no wider then the normal width booth. I know other people who have had the same problem. Any suggestions?

  12. George Anthony says:

    You’re a life saver! Just bought some boots for my last minute trip and found my feet were slipping out of the heel. With little time to spare this superb trick has prevented me from having to look for some new boots. Thanks again! George

  13. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi again Kim! Pressure points are tricky since it is very much person specific. I’d recommend that he try some thicker socks, perhaps a medium cushioned SmartWool sock. He also should try some different boots if he can. Order a few pair on since they offer free shipping both ways. That way he can try them out (at home) and see if he can find a pair that works for him! Hope you and your hubby can go adventuring together! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Kim says:

    While I absolutely LOVE my boots (Ecco Receptors 13+ years & going strong), my hubby bought some Danners that are giving him probs w/pressure points at the top of his arch. And because I’m trying to get him into hiking & snowshoeing, I’m afraid if we can’t get this prob solved he will give up on adventuring w/ me before he even starts! Do you have any lacing techniques for alleviating pressure points? Boots were bought at Cabelas.

  15. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Nate – great question! I think combat boots tend to be quite heavy for hiking. While they provide excellent support, they are generally not the best option. Happy trails!

  16. Nate says:

    Would you recommend combat boots for hiking? I’m particularly partial with them, but I’ve had mixed recommendations about them. Just want to know your thoughts before I test them out for myself. Thanks.

  17. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the great blister advice. Just finished my section if the AT hike and no blisters! Used your method of foot prep and tying boots. On to the next section next yr,

  18. Dave says:

    Hi…you mentioned in your how to prevent heel blisters that you’ve
    shown previously how to tie running shoes. I can’t find that video.

    Could you send me the link?

    Thanks, Dave

  19. Sam Leijen says:

    Many thanks for sharing that video…Works a treat.
    Now i’ll checkout the rest of your site.
    Regards..Sam…New Zealand

  20. Miss Chaos says:

    I absolutely love your website, it is a total gem! The last couple of treks I’ve been on, I’ve been wearing liner socks and wool socks but still getting heel blisters. Can’t wait to try this technique on my next trek. Thank you!

  21. Jo Bainbridge says:

    Many many thanks for sharing this technique. I have used this since suffering terrible heel blisters during a long distance walk 2 years ago and I have never had a blister since. This weekend I took part in a 100k walk in under 29 hours for charity and did not suffer from a single blister. I cannot thank you enough

  22. Matt says:

    Thank you very much ma’am. So far it seems to work out quite well, so the true test will come Saturday for our 15 mile ruck with 65lbs. I’ll inform you how it performs. Thanks again!

  23. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Matt,
    Great question. If you’ve only got eyelets, try this lacing technique at the point in your boot where your ankle meets your calf. In the example in that link, you’ll see that the shoes are low top hiking shoes, and that one of the eyelets is offset from the rest. Basically, when you’ve laced your Acadia Combat Boots up your foot and are at the 2 eyelets before you are at your ankle, do Steps 1 and 2 (make the loops using the last 2 eyelets you have before the ankle, and then thread the laces through the loops). Then, continue lacing your boot up the ankle as you would normally. This should help keep your heels down and prevent blisters. Let me know if this all makes sense. Happy trails!

  24. Matt says:

    What if we have eyelets instead of grommets? I have some desert acadia combat boots that are eyelets only.

  25. Emily says:

    I’m going hunting in a few days and this really helped to stop my heel from slipping in my boots. Thanks a bunch!

  26. Jim Duvall says:

    I tried this technique and, while I had to adapt it to eyelets, it still really helped. Thanks!


  27. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Jack,
    Blisters on the bottom of the heels are a bit unusual…what kind of socks are you using? Also, if you haven’t done so already, you will probably want to add your own pair of insoles (like Superfeet) since after 33 years the support and cushioning will have deteriorated.
    I think it is time to trade up to a new pair of boots!
    Happy trails!

  28. Jack says:

    I use an old pair of army boots for hikes (they’re 33 years old) and I get blisters on the bottom of my heels, can’t understand why – maybe I should buy new boots?

  29. Betsy says:

    This lacing technique is unbeatable! I had been given another tip for keeping my laces tight, but it just never kept my heels from getting blisters, or my foot from sliding forward in my boot a little when going downhill. This really does the trick! I am so happy I stumbled across this video ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Robyn! Lucky you! I personally haven’t hiked the Inca Trail, but a good friend did it 3 years ago. The best thing you can do to train is to hike at the highest altitude you can… sounds like you’re doing that already.
    Also, if you haven’t seen this article I wrote in response to a similar question last year, this may be helpful:
    Have fun in Peru!!

  31. Robyn says:

    Thank you for your tips on blisters and how to lace hiking boots to prevent them. I am currently training – hiking in the mountains around Las Vegas – for my upcoming 4-day Inca Trail into Machu Pichu in Peru coming this June. I’ve never hiked more than 12 miles in a day/weekend, so this 28 mile hike is going to be my first big challenge. Have you done that trail and if so, do you have any specific tips for it? I have appreciated your website and have gotten many great tips from it.

  32. Donna says:

    I have not only narrow heels but narrow feet too. I tried your lacing technique and it really worked. Thank you Hiking Lady.

  33. Richard says:

    Hiking lady,

    Thank you so much for the video. I have a very long foot (EU 46) with a narrow heel that tends to slip in my ice climbing boots. Your lacing technique has made a noticeable difference. Thank you.

  34. Eddie Gillespie says:

    I just watched this and haven’t tried it yet but it makes perfect sense! I have a nice pair of soft, flexible La Sportiva Aurora hiking boots that have NEVER blistered my feet and then I have these stiff as a board La Sportiva Lhotse boots (which look remarkably like your boots you use in this video) that are sometimes pure murder on my feet if I wear them for several miles a day for a few days. I do most of my packing in the dead of winter in the mountains of North Carolina where ice is pretty common at 5500+ feet in February so that’s why the Lhotses for the step in crampon compatibility. (Black Diamond Saber Tooth crampons) I can see how your technique would hold the heel in place better than the standard lacing technique.
    I also have a little trick to prevent the laces from slipping up over the top of boots and onto your leg, which has happened to me before and is very annoying. I skip over the next to the top hook and go directly to the top hook and then back down to the second hook from the top and tie it there.

  35. Jennifer L says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I have a wide fore foot and a narrow heel so I can’t buy a narrow boot. I was having problems with my almost perfect fit until I found this video on your site. This tip saved my heels, now the fit is perfect!

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