Chapter 45: How to Tie Your Shoes For Backpacking (or Anything)

I’d like to share 2 tips for keeping your shoelaces tied when you’re backpacking, or any other time.

First, take a look at your shoes after they are tied. If the laces lay flat across your shoes, you are in the approximately 50% of people who tie them correctly. You are naturally tying what is called a square bow, or square knot, or reef knot. They are all the same thing.

But if your laces tend to end up more in line with your toe and heel, you are tying a granny knot, or granny bow. When I found this information, I was in the granny group. A granny knot will come undone much easier no matter what the activity. It’s interesting that about half of the videos on the internet are showing children how to tie their shoes with granny knots.

The way your laces end up lying doesn’t lie, but you can double check your results by pulling the ends of your laces out through the knot and then examining the knot. If it’s a square knot, you were tying correctly. If it’s a granny, it’s time to change.

If you’re tying grannies, you can correct it in either of 2 ways. We’re creatures of habit, so either way you are going to have to change a habit. In the second step of the tying process, if you are now tying by circling your loop forward, reverse it. If you are tying a granny while reversing your loop, change to a forward loop.

But if you are tying grannies, it’s probably easier to change the first step of the tying process. Just change whichever lace goes over the top. You can keep the second step the same as always, and you’ll end up with a square knot.

Here’s the second tip. When you make the loop in the tying process, go around one more time and make a second loop, whether it’s forward or reverse. Everything else is the same. Your knot will hold much better, and your knot will untie the same as always, by just pulling on the laces. With these tips you won’t have the annoying problem of untying old-fashioned double knots with cold hands.

Have a great hike. Now you can keep your head up and enjoy the scenery a little more.