Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Knowing types of eyelet can help you select best hiking boot

Hiking boots can come with different types of eyelets: from left to right,
D-rings, webbing and combination of D-rings and hooks.
Photo courtesy of Photoree.
As with any shoe, to ensure your boot fits tight, you’ll lace them up and tie a knot. With hiking boots, however, you can choose from a variety of eyelets that the laces run through. Each eyelet offers various advantages and disadvantages that plays a role in deciding which boot to purchase.

Punched eyelets
The most common eyelet is a hole that has been punched out of the upper and then reinforced with a metal grommet; sometimes they are simply referred to as an eyelet. This kind of eyelet rarely breaks, making it the most durable of the types. Still, the cheaper the boot’s construction, the more likely the grommets will loosen and tear out of the upper. The primary problem with punched eyelets is that the lacing is not easy to adjust.

D-rings are metal, D-shaped loops riveted to the upper. Laces are much easier to adjust with D-rings than with punched eyelets; they’re fairly durable as well but are more likely to tear out of the boot. The main downside is that each rivet can become a painful pressure point.

These eyelets consist of an open-backed metal rivet attached to the upper; they sometimes are referred to as speed hooks because they can be laced very quickly. Their other primary advantage is that laces can be more easily adjusted than with any of the other eyelet types. The bad news is that hooks provide the least secure form of lacing. Loose laces can slip from the hook; laces, not to mention the hooks themselves, tend to bend and even break when caught on brush or rubbed against boulders.

An alternative to metal hooks are loops of fabric. Lacing is slightly easier to adjust on webbing than with punched eyelets. They also increase the lifespan of your laces by causing less chafing than the other types of eyelets. However, the fabric loops tend to wear and can get caught on brush.

Some hiking boots use a combination of the above four types. The most common combos are using either D-rings or webbing for the eyelets nearest where the tongue attaches to the rest of the upper and then using hooks for the top three or four eyelets. This increases the eyelets’ overall durability while allowing for fast lacing.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.