Let’s face it — the quality and versatility of shoe and boot laces tends to get overlooked. We’re wondering why footwear companies tend not to put as much effort into this component as they do sole construction, padding, and breathability. It has created a misconception that all laces are the same. When the laces on your sneakers or boots break, you usually replace them with some store-bought boot laces of questionable composition, or a generic piece of cord, right? That being said, we felt this oft-neglected product deserves closer inspection. Here, we’ll show you some options you probably never knew existed before.

We discovered some brands out there that’ve put the time and research into creating laces far superior to what you’re used to seeing. Whether it’s using your boot laces as a SERE tool or survival cordage, we decided to take a look at some brands offering laces that made us raise an eyebrow. We not only examined the features you’d expect to see in this column, but also decided to torture-test each brand by using them to cut through a piece of ½-inch PVC pipe. Whether they were originally designed for that function or not, we hope this sparks your interest in re-examining the importance of boot laces and investing in some better backups in case your primaries fail. Come to think of it, maybe you’ll be motivated to preemptively replace your boots’ laces with one of these brands.

boot laces cover

DIY Laces

If you’re feeling crafty, here are some material options to consider that would also work well to create improvised boot laces:

900-pound Braided Kevlar kite string

550 Firecord

620-pound Titan SurvivorCord with fishing line, tinder, and wire strands

Mil-spec 550 paracord

Glow-in-the-dark paracord

UST Paratinder Boot Laces

UST boot laces

Length: 63 Inches

Colors: Black, Green Camo, Orange

Materials: 550 paracord with tinder core interior

MSRP: $5

Where to Buy: UST para Fire Tinder Shoe Laces under $5 at Amazon

Inside the paracord covering, these boot laces feature a tinder core that can be lit and used as a fire starter. You could use a little at a time and reseal the lace by melting the tip, or remove the whole core at once. This enables the wearer to relace their shoes after the core is removed, rather than having to burn the entire lace as kindling. Exposing the interior waxed tinder strand will require cutting off one end. Although we’d prefer more length options, these fit our 5.11 Apex 8” Boots (which originally came with 72-inch laces) easily. The paracord outer sheath ruptured about ¾ of the way through our PVC pipe test, but the firecord interior managed to cut through the remaining pipe. Although maybe not the best for escape and evasion purposes, these boot laces could be a lifesaver in cold, wet climates. Made in China.


  Reasonably priced

  One of the few options on the market designed for fire-starting

  High-vis and low-vis colors


  More length options would be desirable

ITS Tactical ITS Escape Laces

its tactical boot laces

Length: 54, 60, or 72 Inches

Colors: Black

Material: Kevlar

MSRP: $11 to $13

Where to Buy: store.itstactical.com

As the name suggests, ITS Tactical makes these boot laces specifically for escaping restraints, and they get points for not calling attention to themselves by looking too tactical. The webpage for this item even features a video on how to tie the laces around your feet and bicycle kick to cut through zip-ties. It passed our test sawing through PVC pipe with little to no fraying of the material. Although escape and evasion may not be your primary focus, you may want to check these out if you’re a firefighter, welder, or working in some other capacity where your boots are exposed to high heat.


  Versatile design works with different styles of footwear

  Made in the USA


  Only three lengths offered

  Only comes in black

Oscar Delta T72 Hybrid Technora Boot Laces

Oscar Delta boot laces

Length: 72 inches (Custom Sizes Available)

Colors: Many

Material: 55o Paracord Outer / Technora Interior

MSRP: £15 GBP (approx. $19)

Where to Buy: www.oscardelta.co.uk

Oscar Delta is well known for making escape and evasion tools. These laces were thick and pliable. We especially liked the metal tips (fun fact: these are called aglets). The paracord exterior surrounds an inner single braided strand of Technora — a high-performance fiber made by Teijin, similar to Kevlar made by DuPont. It passed our PVC-cutting torture test and didn’t appear to damage the exterior. We think, given the options for sizing and colors, these boot laces would work well in numerous capacities. Custom made to order in the UK.


  Custom sizes available

  89 color options

  Free shipping worldwide with minimum purchase


  Tips had to be cut off to access interior cordage

Diamond Performance Diamondlace

diamondlace boot laces

Length: 45, 54, 63, 72, 84 inches

Colors: Black, Brown

Material: Proprietary Synthetic Material

MSRP: $10 to $16

Where to Buy: Diamondlaces on Amazon for $10

The diamondlaces come in a metal tin, which definitely earns them an A for presentation. We were also pleased to see that the company stands behind the product with a lifetime guarantee. Although these laces were svelte in terms of thickness, they cut through our PVC pipe with ease and the material didn’t show any damage. We would’ve liked more color options, but are sure the existing selection would work in everything from an improvised emergency device to a bowfire drill or campsite cordage. The company also offers other high-strength cordage items for power tools and pull-start motors.


  Made in the USA

  Lifetime guarantee

  Numerous sizes


  Only two colors

Shomer-Tec Escape/Survival Boot Laces

Shomer tec boot laces

Length: 36, 45, 54, 60, 72 inches

Colors: Black

Material: Technora

MSRP: $18 to $20

Where to Buy: www.shomer-tec.com

Aside from the sheer strength of the materials, Shomer-Tec’s laces also feature a removable handcuff key that slips over one of the lace’s tips. The key’s rubberized boot allows you to grip it easily. The tip of the key is plastic and, although it worked on a pair of Smith & Wesson handcuffs just fine, be cautious as to how much force you use, lest you break it off inside the cuffs. We felt that having two keys as opposed to one would be a little more inconspicuous — one lace tip looks different than the other, and this could cause kidnappers to take notice and confiscate the very thing you’re relying on for escape. However, since the key is non-metallic, it also gives you the option to conceal it elsewhere.


  Innovative design

  Cuts through PVC pipe with no damage

  Made in the USA


  Only comes in black

  Only comes with one key

Ironlace Unbreakable Boot Laces

ironlaces boot laces

Length: 33, 45, 54, 63, 72, 84, 96, 108 inches

Colors: Black, Brown

Material: Proprietary Synthetic Material

MSRP: $16

Where to buy: www.ironlace.com

Ironlace Unbreakable Boot Laces are also on Amazon for around $16.


We liked that there are lots of size options available for these laces, which make them suitable for everything from street shoes to tall boots. Geared toward anything from industrial work to first responders to military, they’re made in the USA and the company also backs them with a lifetime guarantee. They cut through our PVC pipe just fine and all the company’s products support employment for the blind. Ironlace also makes other products specific to athletics like skateboarding and hockey.


  Made in the USA

  Lifetime guarantee


  Only two color options

Kg’s Boot Guard KG-XTREME Heavy Duty Boot Laces

kg boot guard boot laces

Length: 45, 54, 63, 72, 84, 108, 120 inches

Colors: Black

Material: Kevlar / Heavy Duty Nylon

MSRP: $8 to $13 (at time of writing)

Where to Buy: Currently $12.98 on Amazon

These wax-coated laces are geared toward industrial work, but we think they’d also make sense for SERE and outdoor use. They cut through PVC with ease and didn’t appear to be damaged at all afterward. We like that they’re competitively priced. We wish there were more color options available, but they definitely work as great all-purpose laces. The company also offers other footwear protection and cleaning products. 


  Numerous size options

  Made in the USA

  Satisfaction guaranteed


  Only comes in black

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