Shoe Laces by the Yard

By , August 31, 2010

We’ve noticed lately that we go through a lot of shoe and boot laces around here. It seems to be because mass manufactured eyes are more commonly made without attention to quality, leading to rough or sharp edges. Cheaper, softer metals used in eyes damage more easily, creating rough edges where none existed before. And, many laces are now braided, a woven sheath covering a tougher inner core. These cords are only as strong as the sheath; when the sheath breaks or chafes through, the lace becomes practically useless.

As the quality of shoe and boot laces decrease, the price seems to rise. We’ve found a simple way to stop this trend dead: we use mountaineering line for shoe laces.

I figured this out when I needed to replace a frayed starter cord on our gas generator. I found mountaineering line at the sporting goods store; 1/8″ diameter worked for the cord. At less than $10 for 100 feet, it was a cheap solution that worked well, and left me with most of the line left over for other odd jobs around the homestead.

It didn’t take me long to try the cord as bootlace. It’s slightly bigger than many bootlaces, but there’s a rule of thumb in sailing that using the biggest diameter line for the job reduces wear and tear on the line and the equipment. As with sailboats, so with hiking boots, apparently!

Before restringing the boots, I smooth the eyes with a chainsaw sharpening file or fine grit sandpaper. Then I cut laces to length, seal the ends with a flame, and I’m good to go. The cost: about the same as two middle quality pairs of bootlaces off the shelf. I’ll probably get about 16 pairs of laces for that price!

Mountaineering cord is manufactured for strength and durability under extreme conditions. It’ll be a long time before lengths of this line, re-purposed as boot laces, wear out.

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