If I'm hiking in the wilderness and my shoelace breaks, what's the best way to go about fixing it assuming I have no spare?
First, I always have at least one shoe lace in my first aid kit (I know, not the most usual place, but I never forget it and it only needs a very small space).
Also some piece of washing line (e.g. for drying clothes) can be used.
If you don't have one of those and the shoe lace has broken on multiple places, you can cut the other shoe lace and use half of it to lace your shoes every other hole. It will not fit as good as a 100% length shoe lace, but better than having one good and none for the other.
There's a number of options for dealing with such an issue, each can be appropriate depending on the situation in hand.
- The wonders of paracord can come to the rescue if you have some on hand (and if not, why not!) It's usually a bit thicker than shoelaces but can squeeze through the holes and do the job surprisingly well. Depending on the length of the hike, you may want to seal the ends to stop it unravelling.
- If the lace has broken near the top, you should be able to tie a simple reef knot to connect the two ends together.
- If it's broken at an awkward place then use half of it to just tie around the top holes; and you may be able to do the same with the bottom holes with the other half. This won't be as comfortable, but if you're just on a day hike it should do the job in hand.
I always carry para chord with me. It can be used for building shelters, hanging food (to hide from bears), securing items to a back pack, staking down tents, and also it can be used as a shoelace.
Para chord is usually made out of spectra or nylon (the same as climbing rope) and has a tensile strength of (usually) between 400 and 600lbf.
So next time you are in the wilderness and your shoelace breaks you can just take out your para chord and re-string the shoe!
Real 550 cord (paracord) has an outer braid over multiple twisted strands of fiber (7, I think). If the cord is too thick, whack off a piece and pull out as many strands as you need to get the job done. It's incredibly versatile stuff and you probably should consider it basic survival gear. But make sure that it's the real deal. I'm not sure that a lot of those paracord "survival bracelets" that are so popular these days are made out of quality cord.
The easiest is to just tie a knot in it and use it as is but treading it in the shoe so the knot is not going to interfere with the job.
The easiest knot to use is an overhand knot, (also known by many other names and I have never met anybody who was not able to tie it.)
Tie it in both ends at the same time, having the broken ends sticking out together and as short as you can and still get the knot to tighten properly.
Now the tricky bit, feed the shoelace in so that the knot does not restrict the tightening of the lace.
If the break is somewhere in the middle of the lace you can just use it as usual, at the lower end of the shoe, lacing up with each half of the lace alternate, (as most people seem to lace up their shoes.)
But if the knot is near the top of the shoe, but not all the way out, you may need to use an alternate lacing way which has knot out of the way. Bring the long end of the lace out of one of the bottom loops, the knot at the inside, and the keep the short end of the lace out of the way below the lacing while you use the long end to connect all there is to be connected, till both ends are the same size. Then use both ends alternatively for the top of the shoe.
In some cases the knot is in such a position that you have to keep it nearer the top of the shoe when starting out.
If you want to learn about lacing up shoes before you set out, I can recommend Ian's shoelace site.
If you do carry a spare lace or a useful bit of string you can use it instead. But the knot in the existing string has rescued many a person on everyday trips where shoe laces where not in their gear.