Types of Shoelaces – When to Use What Type

Photo of author

In Brief: Types of Shoelaces

Shoelaces can be classified on the basis of their length, shape of the cross-section, the material used and purpose into specific types. Other specially designed shoelaces such as no tie shoelaces, waxed shoelaces, etc. are also available.

Shoelaces, do they need any introduction? But how many of us have really thought deeply about them?

If not, you are in for a surprise!

Shoelaces are made from a variety of materials and can come with several features. they are also available in various lengths, widths, and colors.

Shoelaces, thus, have different types, and in this article, we explore them –

Types of Shoelaces

There are various ways to classify shoelaces. Here they are –

Based on length

Shoelaces are available in various lengths, ranging from 30 to 120 inches.

The length of the shoelace to be bought for a shoe can depend upon the number of eyelets present.

Eyelets are small holes surrounded with plastic or metal grommets that present in the shoe’s upper.

Shoelaces are wound through the eyelets and tied together to hold the shoe together.

The required length of the shoelace depends upon the number of eyelets, more specifically the number of eyelet pairs, present in the shoe.

Shoelaces are manufactured in such a way that they cover a specific number of eyelets.

The number of eyelets present in a shoe gives us a good idea of how long the shoelace has to be in order to wind its way through all the eyelets.

Also, wider shoes require longer shoelaces than narrow shoes with the same number of eyelet pairs by virtue of their width.

Based on Cross-section

Shoelaces, based on their shape, can be round, flat, oval, tubular or a specialty shoelace.

Round laces are those shoelaces that have a round cross-section.

Their primary advantage is that they can be untied very easily, even from a very complex knot.

Flat shoelaces are thinner than round shoelaces. Flat shoelaces can stay in their knots for a longer time and do not untie easily.

This is due to the fact that their flat area increases the friction between the knots.

Flat shoelaces are, therefore, easier to lace up. They also spread pressure across the shoe’s upper.

Oval laces are a mix between a round and flat shoelaces.

They not only stay tied in the knot of the shoelace like a flat shoelace, but they also are more dimensional like a round shoelace. They are popularly used in sport’s shoes.

Specialty shoelaces are designed to possess a customized set or properties, that can then be chosen by the user according to his/her convenience.

Based on Material

Most shoelaces come with a core made of cotton fibers.

Synthetic shoelaces are also available which are made of nylon, textured polyester, spun polyester, and polypropylene.

Hemp shoelaces are also available.

Based on the Purpose / Use of Shoes

Shoelaces are designed to be used in only particular kinds of shoes and for particular purposes.

They can be classified into casual, dress, athletic, hiking and boot laces.

Waxed and Unwaxed Shoelaces

Shoelaces can be waxed or unwaxed.

Waxed shoelaces are those shoelaces that are coated with natural or paraffin wax.

The wax protects the shoelaces from getting wet, thus making them waterproof and giving them a longer life.

One major advantage that waxed shoelaces can be adjusted to be loose in some areas and be tight in others.

Waxed shoelaces also tend to stay up tied for a longer time. They can pass through eyelets with relative ease and can be gripped and tied easily.

They do not skid and nor do they slip. Hence, they are preferred to be used in sport’s shoes.

However, waxed shoelaces do tend to snap easily. The wax coating over the shoelace also does not stay forever and can come off easily. Moreover, waxed shoelaces are difficult to untie.

Unwaxed shoelaces are normal shoelaces without the waterproof coating. They do not offer a stable knot and nor do they last long.

The only benefit they offer is that they are inexpensive compared to waxed shoelaces.

Elastic Shoelaces

Elastic shoelaces are one of the latest models of shoelaces. The primary advantage of elastic shoelaces is that they offer ease in slipping the shoes on and off.

Elastic laces are much thinner than normal shoelaces. They have small curved springs attached to their ends.

Once the shoe has been laced up using the shoelaces and tied into a knot, the springs help in the shoelace tips to lock in place.

Thus, these shoelaces are called locked laces.

This means that the shoe will retain its knot. Thus, the shoe need not be laced up again and again and the shoe can merely be slipped on and off without changing its lacing.

Effectively, elastic shoelaces transform laced shoes to slip-on shoes, removing the hassle of tying and untying of shoelaces.

Hence, they are called no tie shoelaces.

Elastic shoelaces evenly distribute lace tension and offer a snugger fit.

They are also easier to maintain.
They are commonly used in sport’s shoes as well as in shoes for the elderly and children.

BOA Laces

BOA laces are widely used in athletics shoes.

They consist of nylon guides, steel lace, and a mechanical wheel.

The mechanical wheel can be rotated to adjust the tightness of the lace over the shoe.


So, now you know even a shoelace can be complicated 🙂 It is interesting to know just how many varieties of them are available in the market and the purpose they serve.

Next time you are in the market to buy shoelaces, make sure you remember to purchase the “right one”.