Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

There was a time when bootlaces continually gave me fits. They’d always break at inopportune times-like when I was in a rush to make it to my deer stand before daybreak. They’d also be nearly impossible to untie when they were caked with snow, my fingers were cold, and I desperately needed to get at a stone embedded in my heel.

After years of frustration, I decided to substitute the laces in my hunting boots with parachute cord-a strong, thin rope that I have used for other functions. That was five years ago. The boots have long since worn out, but those same shoelaces now adorn a new pair, and all my other footwear is strung with this durable cord. It has worked especially well in my wading boots, which take an endless pounding from streambed rocks throughout the trout season.

Only 3/16 inch in diameter and sometimes referred to as 550 cord (for its 550-pound breaking strength), parachute cord won’t stretch or abrade the way conventional laces do. And it is much easier to undo, even when wet and tied in multiple knots. Because of this, I tie mine in square knots, which rarely come undone and don’t leave any dangling loops to snag on brush. Melt the ends with a lighter to keep them from unraveling. The olive-drab color blends in nicely with any hunting garb, but perhaps parachute cord’s best attribute is its price. One set of sure-to-break conventional laces can cost about $2, whereas 100 feet of parachute cord runs about five bucks at military surplus stores and will outfit a lifetime’s worth of boots. A final note: By making the laces longer than needed and wrapping the excess around your ankle before tying them, you’ll always have some extra cord handy for emergencies.