Last Updated on 12/10/2022
Can You Use Paracord For Shoelaces?
In this beginner’s guide to paracord shoelaces, we answer the question, can you use paracord for shoelaces and how? We share our tips on the perfect length and diameter your paracord should be and how to seal the ends so there are no stray fibers.
In the past, I have gone through a shocking amount of shoelaces and have discovered that paracord is a much better alternative. There are some things you should be aware of though like paracord doesn’t always stay tied in a single bow or you need to do something with the ends to prevent them from fraying out of control.
Sometimes you get unlucky and your laces snap while you’re hiking. Other times it might have something to do with the puppy you looked after finding your laces to be the ideal chew toy, or perhaps one of the eyelets on your boots has a sharp edge that constantly weakens them. Whatever the reason, paracord is always going to be stronger than the laces that come with your boots.
Top 2 Best Paracord Shoelaces
There are dozens of generic brands out there but these two are specialists and have a wide variety of colors and types of para laces. Both of these stay tied better than your average roll of paracord.
Paracord Planet Milspec 550 Paracord Boot Laces
The Paracord Planet Milspec 550 Paracord Boot Laces come in a size of 54 inches or 72 inches for boots and shoes respectively. The ends are protected by heavy-duty aglets (tips) made from metal and you don’t have to worry about cutting anything to size. These are one of the two paracord shoelaces we would recommend.
IRONLACE 550 Paracord Boot and Shoe Laces Type III
The IRONLACE 550 Paracord Boot and Shoe Laces Type III are 100% nylon military spec rated and are manufactured in the USA for good measure. You can get them in a variety of lengths to match your boots and to ensure you never have to cut your laces down. The tips are made from plastic and help keep the weight down.
5 Benefits of Paracord Shoelaces
Regular shoelaces are fine for regular shoes but hiking boots, work boots, and other types of outdoor footwear require something a little tougher. Here are the main advantages of choosing paracord instead of shoe laces:
1. Paracord is Stronger
Paracord is incredibly strong thanks to its multi-fiber core which is then covered by a high-density sheath. Paracord is strength tested and often sold in reels based on how much weight it can hold. So when you buy some 550 lb paracord you know it will be more than sufficient to keep your boots tied.
2. Paracord is More Durable
Not only is paracord incredibly strong but it is also exceptionally durable. The outer sheet provides maximum protection for the multiple filaments inside and these filaments ensure that even if one or two of the strands are damaged the other 12 or 16 strands will keep working. So if you scuff your laces by accident they aren’t going to fall to pieces.
3. Paracord is Cheaper
You can often buy an entire roll of paracord for the same price as a single pack of laces. This will be enough to lace every pair of boots and shoes you and your family buy for the next 20 years. The win-win is that not only are homemade paracord shoelaces cheaper, but they are also stronger.
4. Availability: You Probably Already Have Some
If you don’t have a roll of paracord or aren’t interested in getting an entire roll then if you have a look around your garage, shed, or outdoor gear closet you can probably find some. A great place to check is on tents as their guy lines are often made of paracord which can be borrowed and replaced if you need a shoelace in an emergency.
Paracord is incredibly useful in a survival situation and even a small length can be utilized with great effect. You can split open a piece of paracord and use the fibers inside for fishing, sewing, making snares, or building shelters. On more than one occasion I borrowed my shoelace to hang a bushcraft pot over a fire and replaced it with my boot in the morning.
3 Downsides of Using Paracord for Shoelaces
It is true that the benefits of paracord outweigh the downsides but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. Here are some of the minor disadvantages of paracord boot and shoe laces:
1. Coming Undone
It won’t take you long after making your first paracord shoelaces to realize that they don’t like to stay tied as much as flat shoelaces do. For some reason, the material loosens itself and doesn’t keep its grip.
Our solutions to this are to either tie a double knot at the end or to remove the entire filament core. We talk more about this in our tips at the bottom but to save you time, we normally just tie a double know, because why not?
2. Chunky on Sneakers
Paracord won’t really stand out on a pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes but on a pair of sneakers or gym shoes, the chunky paracord might be a bit much. Yes, it will work, but it will look clunky and you may be able to feel the cord through the tongue material (which is way less padded than even lightweight hiking boots, etc…).
When you cut paracord you have to go through every individual strand which leaves an awful lot of loose ends. We cover how to prevent paracord shoelace ends from fraying further down the page but even after you have sealed them, they can still come loose. If paracord frays too much the sheath can become loose from the core and start to travel which then makes the fraying worse.
How Long Should Paracord Shoelaces Be?
The best way to figure out how much paracord you need for each shoe you can follow this guide:
- 4 Eyelets – 45 Inches / 114 cm
- 5 Eyelets – 50 Inches / 127 cm
- 6 Eyelets – 55 Inches / 140 cm
- 7 Eyelets – 60 Inches / 152 cm
- 8 Eyelets – 65 Inches / 165 cm
- 9 Eyelets – 70 Inches / 178 cm
Cut one shoelace to length and thread your shoe or boot so that you can see how long the laces are and whether any needs to be trimmed off.
What Type of Paracord for Shoelaces?
You can get paracord with a diameter of less than a millimeter or paracord that goes up to around 6 mm (after this point it is generally considered rope). We would generally recommend 550 lb paracord as the biggest and most of the smaller sizes of paracord will probably work for shoelaces, Here is a list of the different types of paracord:
- Nanocord – 0.75 mm
- Microcord – 1.18 mm
- Type 1 Paracord – 1.85 mm
- 275 Paracord – 2.38 mm
- 325-1 Paracord – 3 mm
- 325-3 Paracord – 3 mm
- 425 Paracord – 3 mm
- 550 Paracord – 4 mm
- 650 Coreless Paracord – 5 mm
- Battlecord – 6 mm
How To Make Paracord Shoelaces in 3 Steps
The items you will need are a sharp knife/scissors and a lighter. Once you have these, follow these 4 steps you need to take to make a simple pair of paracord shoelaces.
Step 1: Count the eyelets on your shoes or boots and measure out the appropriate length of cord using the length guide above.
Step 2: Use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the paracord and try not to let the cut ends fray out too much.
Step 3: Use a lighter to set the cut ends alight for 2-3 seconds then blow out the flame. This will turn the material to molten plastic so be careful not to touch it for around 30 seconds. Once it has cooled and hardened all the frayed fibers should have melted together in a tight seal – if not then repeat this step.
Step 4 (optional): Once you have sealed the ends you can then add a lace tip if you want but this isn’t totally necessary. To add one you simply place the tip over the end and use the lighter to heat and shrink it around the paracord for a tidy finish.
6 Tips for Making Shoelaces from Paracord
Here are the six tips for making your own paracord boot and shoelaces:
1. Use a Slightly Thinner Paracord
550 paracord is the standard size you will find in most places and this is fine but as mentioned above, it doesn’t always like to stay tied. A slightly thinner 325 or 425 paracord has a much better grip on itself and is plenty strong enough to keep your footwear securely on your feet.
2. Cut One Shoelace to Length and Make Sure It Is Right Before Cutting the Second
To save yourself cutting two shoelaces that are too short, cut one and then lace up your footwear. You can always trim some more off but you can’t add any more on so be generous with your first cut. Once you have the first boot or shoelace cut to size then you can use that as a template for the second one.
3. Make Sure the Ends Are Sealed
It is very important to make sure you fully seal the ends either by burning or using a shrinkable tip (or both). This ensures that the fibers won’t fray and you won’t need to replace your shoelaces again in a few weeks. You can even tie a knot at the ends which adds an extra layer of security.
4. Use Shoelace Tips for Extra Protection
You can buy some fancy-looking shoelace tips or just for the standard black. You can also get rolls of the material used to make the shrinkable tips which means that you can seal every cut you make on a large roll of paracord.
5. Pick a Funky Colour
Most hiking shoes and boots come with dark-colored laces and we think it’s time to bring back a bit of color. It was only 30 – 50 years ago that pretty much all hiking boots had bright red laces but nowadays there is only a handful of companies who still use them. You don’t have to pick red though, you can get paracord in almost every color and pattern you can think of.
6. Use Adjustable Toggles
Lace locks are awesome. This is the biggest hack to paracord shoelaces and is such an easy way to both solve the knot loosening problem but also level up your laces. I don’t know why more lacing systems don’t use an adjustable toggle to keep them tight and instantly loosen them off, it is more efficient than tieing a bow that’s for sure.
Can You Use Paracord For Shoelaces? We hope we answered all of your paracord shoelaces questions in this guide. Let us know in the comments how you get on.