Lace-In Boot Zippers

Recently I received an email from someone who wanted to know about my experience with lace-in boot zippers as he was considering using them for a new pair of boots that he got at work.

Yes, I have had experience with boot zippers…

Here is the question:

I was googling around for info on lace in boot inserts and you seem to be an… expert on boot comfort. My work provided me with 8″ high timberland steel toe boots and I want the slip on convenience but maintain a sturdy fit. Do you recommend any particular lace in boot zipper brands of have any thoughts on the topic? I see mixed results on Amazon and even from inserts from brands like Danner. Seems that metal pull and stops are a must for these zippers?

Lace-in boot inserts or zippers have been around for a long time. The history seems as if they were introduced to the market soon after World War II as a way for men to continue to wear (for the few who wanted to) their combat boots but with a faster and easier way to pull them on, wear them comfortably, and take them off.

The internet is filled with complaints about tying boot laces. Most men don’t want to bother with tying boot laces, especially tying them in a decorative style. Most guys just want to pull on their boots and take off.

These days, the only boots I have seen that regularly use boot zippers are station boots, of which I own several pair. While I have owned and worn many pairs of military boots, those with zippers have a built-in side-zip, not a laced-in zipper down the middle.

My favorite boot to wear when I ride my Harley are Chippewa Firefighter Boots. These boots fit well since the lacing with the zipper is adjustable for each of my feet which are a little different from each other in size, width, and bone structure.

A boot zipper can be adjusted to accommodate differences between feet. Once laced in, a boot zipper naturally adjusts in its lace “tightness” with walking. This is sort of like “break-in” for the laced-in zipper.

This was my response to the writer of this question:

Thank you for your message. I have boots with lace-in boot zippers (or laced-in inserts). They have 8 eyelets on each side.

What is important to me is to get boot zippers that are made with a YKK zipper. These appear to be the most durable. They have metal teeth and a metal pull and a stop at the top. They are rather inexpensive and can be found from many vendors on the internet. They are much more durable than zippers made of nylon or plastic.

I have seen boot zippers only in black for military-style boots.

Boots with center boot zippers will have a sturdy fit and be easy to put on and take off. However, it takes time to lace the zipper onto the boot to get the fit right. But once the lacing and fit adjustment is finished, then you will not have to readjust at any time in the future. That is my experience anyway.

The lacing technique is explained here on my website.

It is important to note what I said:

It takes time to lace the zipper onto the boot to get it to fit correctly. Yes, it IS a pain in the ass to lace a zipper into a boot, but once done, you don’t have to do it again. The first few times you wear boots with a zipper, the laces will adjust themselves.

Life is short: boot zippers are great for the right kind of boots.

2 thoughts on “Lace-In Boot Zippers

  1. How timely. I just bought some New Old Stock Addison Steel Toe Combat Boots. These are of the the Navy (USN) type with a smooth Biltrite Flat Sole. Ten Eyelet. They also came with GI Issue Lace in Zippers (Flight Deck Boots?). Addison’s usually last forever unless you buy the Molder Boots with the Elastic sides that blow out. I’ve only placed one set of Zippers in some Old McNamera Type 1980’s Combat Boots. It took forever.
    To get the right tension you have to be wearing them. I used 4 laces and there was a lot of tucking to make them look nice and clean.
    No Diagrams? Pictures? Video? On how to laces these Zippers in? For shame!

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