I recently came across a hiking boot maker with a front page photo showing someone walking off trail in ankle high boots that are untied.

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This seems to be a current fashion trend, and if you google untied boots look you get several hits showing and describing how to get the 'look'

Shopping in the mall, with untied boots is one thing. But I wonder if there are negative impacts from trail (or off trail) hiking with untied boots.

We have the existing Q&A Is ankle support a myth? that goes into detail about ankle support, presumably all the linked studies had people wearing properly laced foot wear. I am not asking about ankle support in this question. We also have a Q&A about When is it OK to hike off trail? which is not the subject of this question.

How important is it to "properly" lace and tie your boots when hiking? Can I just hike in boots without laces at all?

3 Answers 3


This seems to be the definition of valuing looks over function. I mean, yes you can hike with the laces untied, but its going to make you more likely to trip and slip around and your feet are going to slide around around in your boots and that will lead to blisters.

Personally I have never understood why people spend an inordinate amount of money to look cool in the outdoors where there are so few people to impress.


The greatest risk with unlaced shoes or boots is that a lace will slip out of the shoes or boots and you will trip on a lace dangling on the ground.

I often go around with unlaced tennis shoes (although not while playing tennis) not to look cool, but because lacing and unlacing is just one more tedious thing to do. My laces occasionally slip out and I have to stop and tuck them back in. On a sidewalk or indoors, it is easy to notice a dangling lace.

But if your laces slip out and dangle while hiking, especially off-trail, you might not notice, and you could take an uncomfortable fall, and a fall far from help if you need it. So if you want the unlaced cool look while hiking, I recommend that you remove the laces from your shoes or boots.


With laces untied you're more prone to slipping around in your shoes thus increasing your chances of getting blisters.

Also (from own experience with using low shows untied) those shoes wear down much more quickly because they get strained differently than they're designed for.

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