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I own different shoes like Adidas track shoes using drawstring laces and Sperry Boat Shoes that uses leather laces. (Pardon me if I wrongly describe the facts-)

Frankly speaking, I’m not too good at tying tight shoelace knots after so long. Usually I would tie a butterfly knot and then do a knot to finish up as a double knot, and sometimes it takes a fairly long time to tie it (I don’t know how long people take on average to tie good shoelaces, I take 15s for normal shoes. I usually don’t retie my knots before I depart for another journey unless they already came undone from a previous trip. I simply slot in my feet in and somehow I can always do it efficiently.

This way of tying suffices for normal drawstring laces for shoes like Adidas but doesn’t really work for tying Sperry laces. “Doesn’t really work” means it tends to go undone in the midst of travelling and a possible reason I would give is that they are shorter than average and don’t really grip too well. The fact that I do occasional sprints in hope of catching a leaving train or bus might cause the laces to come undone too, I don’t know.

However, my main question would be in the midst of travelling, especially when you are going to reach a destination where your shoes will be removed for a long time and you are only 5 minutes away from your destination, me being a lazy person would not want to go into a corner and spend 15s (and let everyone know that I take long to tie “simple” shoelaces). Is there a quick fix to the situation to temporarily prevent the laces from coming undone and being stepped on before I reached my next destination. This problem happens occasionally for the drawstring laces of Adidas, but happens very often for my Sperry shoes.

I welcome any answers relating to add-ons to my shoes, alternative tight and quick tying methods that can apply to a particular type of shoe, preferably those that can be applied to any shoe that I mentioned and solutions tackling some other reasons that might cause my shoelace to come off.

  • I've found that some shoe laces are just low quality - and I believe they're designed to lose their grip after being used so you'll buy a replacement pair. I found that's the case with some I've bought in the past. You may be able to find better replacement shoelaces that keep their grip and stay tied. Do look at reviews online before you buy any. – BrettFromLA Oct 24 '18 at 19:19
  • This post certainly took longer than 15 seconds to write. – M.Mat Oct 25 '18 at 16:27
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The solution to this is to simply tie the laces properly in the first place, with a real shoelace knot:

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That you describe laces coming undone sounds like a typical problem of users tying so-called "granny knots": both parts of a regular knot tied in the same direction leading to an asymmetrical knot that slips easily. It is often characterised by the loops not hanging to both sides equally but having a tendency of one going to the top and one to the front of the shoe.

With a small variation in tying you can achieve much better grip and a neater appearance of your laces: just tie the first loop in the opposite direction you were used to tie them.

This is explained wonderfully at Ian Fieggen's knot site, devoted to shoelaces:

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If you then double that again with a double knot, now again in the opposite direction from the second (the finishing) knot, it will be quite unlikely that your laces come untied in the first place.


Not recommended: If you insist on a very temporary solution, that only prevents stepping on the laces, just tuck them into your shoes. They will slip out again, in quite a short time if you continue walking and of course your shoes will not fir tight anymore.

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The best solution against walking with undone laces is to tie your laces in such a way that they will not come undone. And while it might seem unneeded, untie and re do the knots when you take your shoes off or even when you are in the house between going out. Freshly tied shoes fit better and the laces are less likely to come undone.

Tie a surgeons shoelace knot, as shown here on the site of Ian Fiegen.
If your knots end up the wrong way around, see lower down, the Granny knot bit.
You can also tie one of the other knots of the site which have the extra bit of knotting in the middle of the knot, (and not an extra knot made out of the loops,) like the Berluti, the Better Bow knot, the Ian's secure knot or the Turquoise Turtle Shoelace knot.
All these knots are based on winding the one loops twice (or more) around the other.

It is not unlikely that your problem comes from tying Granny knots, where you start the knot from the same site for both the first half and the second half. This results in the loops pointing at your ankle and toe rather than at your other foot and out on the other site.
It is rather hard to just change the way you tie the second half of the knot. Part of changing it is tying a different version of the second half of the knot.
But it is easier to relearn the first half of the knot the other way around.
If you do not want to do a Surgeon style knot (which is very reliable) you may want to try out the Ian Fast shoelace knot, which is not only fast but also so much a different way of tying that you are likely able to get out of the granny knot fall.

On the same site you can also find ways to feed your laces in so you do not have to tie knots (but the shoes will not sit tight.)

I am not connected with Ian Fieggen or his site. It is just the best site about knots and laces for shoes.

  • Can recommend the fast shoelace knot technique. I taught that to my 4-year as "magic fingers" and he can tie his laces almost instantaneously. – mlinth Oct 25 '18 at 15:26
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What I recommend doing in such a situation is to stuck the lace inside your shoes or pass the outlying part of lace into one of the holes in shoe. This just makes sure that you do not fall in case you or someone else steps on the lace

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Use shoelace toggles instead of knots. There are many products available, in lots of colours and styles, so I won't post any pictures.

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Consider replacing your short, thick, inflexible leather laces with a brown acrylic corded version of some greater length

The most common way for longer shoelaces to come undone is for one of the non-loop ends to catch on something or be stepped on by the other foot. The best technique I've found for avoiding this occurrence is to tie the shoelace knot as normal then either:

  • bundle the two loops and two nonloop tails together and tie the whole lot in a simple (round in a loop and through) knot or
  • tuck the two loops and two nonloop tails underneath one of the criss cross parts of the laces (the bits that tighten the shoe fit when you pull on the laces)

There are other techniques for preventing the knots coming undone:

  • tie a reef/square knot before you do the bow - still looks like normal laces but undoing the bow doesn't undo the actual knot
  • tie the bow loops in another knot - also known as double knotting
  • after forming the bow loops, pull the tails so the loops are very small, make another large loop by folding the tail in half and pass it half way through the small loop, then pull the small loop tight against it. The large loop will jam the small loop from coming undone but this knot can still be undone by pulling the tails. The main knot body needs to be quite solid and tight for this to work
  • consider replacing the laces with elastic cord under a mild tension and tie a permanent knot like a reef/square - the elastic will give a little to assist you putting on the shoe without undoing the knot
  • The reef knot (Americans call it square knot) will not come undone when you undo the bow, but it will be hard(er) to undo it when needed and you will still trip over the laces. And many bows come undone without the ends being disturbed. – Willeke Oct 27 '18 at 14:29
  • I considered this when answering; A square knot can be undone with some perseverance, and given that the original complaint was that laces keep coming undone and the OP also has a system he's happy with, for putting his shoes on and off without undoing and redoing the lace knot, I figured that a more permanent knot wasn't necessarily a detriment. If the bows are too long after knotting the laces can be trimmed, or the bows tucked into a criss cross section of the laces (above the tongue of the shoe) – Caius Jard Oct 27 '18 at 18:11

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