Flat Shoelaces vs Round Shoelaces: A Definitive Comparison

The world of shoelaces is a complicated one. You’ve got round and flat laces, which type you choose really depends on your preference. In this post, I will be exploring the differences between flat shoelaces and round shoelaces so that you can easily decide which kind of shoelaces you should buy for your running shoes, hiking boots, and dress shoes.

So, flat shoelaces vs round shoelaces, which one is better? Round shoelaces tend to be stiffer and they retain their shape longer. Flat laces, on the other hand, can add some flair to the look of the shoes.  The stiffness of round shoelaces can sometimes make them difficult to slide through the shoe eyelets. Flat laces are usually easier to feed through eyelets and can minimize the pressure points on the top of your foot. The choice between round and flat shoelaces is primarily a matter of personal preference and the style of the shoes.

Why do Running Shoes Have Flat Laces?

The reason why running shoes or trainers have flat laces is that the stiffness of round shoelaces also makes it more difficult for players to tie their shoes quickly before beginning play.

For these reasons, most athletic footwear manufacturers now produce their shoes with flat synthetic shoelaces that will retain their shape better.

Flat shoelaces are found to be suitable for multidirectional activities like tennis, running, sports, and skateboarding. If you check out running and athletic shoes of different brands lie New Balance, Brooks, Adidas, you’ll see that their laces are flat.

Here is what a person comments on the flat shoelaces:

I’ve used the flat laces from Nike running shoes on my tennis shoes, and they tend to slip around easier, allowing you to pull them through the holes faster, but once tied, they hold up just fine.

Source: tennis-warehouse

Do Flat Laces Stay Tied Better Than Round Laces?

Most people seem to agree that, yes, flat laces do work better than round ones. Flat laces should work better than round ones because they lie flatter and don’t get as easily tangled. Furthermore, due to increased surface area, flat shoelaces can be more crimpled in a knot as compared to round laces.

However, the advantages are not as great as some people claim them to be. There are so many variables involved in keeping the laces securely tied. The most important variable among them is the material of shoelaces.

For instance, some polymer fibers are slippery and tend to come untied easily. On the other hand, cotton material stays tied well, but it is not enough durable. If you ever feel that laces trying to untie quickly, you can make a double square knot. You can also try Grani knot or Ian knot. Try all one by one. The one that fits perfectly, you should continue with that.

Also Read: How to lace running shoes for numb toes

Why Round Shoelaces Are More Durable than Flat Shoelaces?

The most obvious advantage of round shoelaces is durability. Flat shoelaces simply don’t last as long as round ones do because they get twisted up more easily and wear out faster under normal conditions. Not only do they work themselves loose more quickly, but they also fray at the ends more rapidly.

If you use the same material for round and flat shoelaces, round ones will last longer due to their higher density and stiffness. Round shoelaces are 3D tubular weaves woven around a firm core. This increases their strength and enhances durability.

To understand this concept in an easier way, you can consider shoelaces as a bar. According to the science and engineering principles, rounded bars are resistant to flex and torsion. Furthermore, they offer more strength with lesser weight. The same is the case with the round shoelaces.

With the same size and material, round shoelaces will offer more strength with lesser weight as compared to flat shoelaces.

Round or Flat Laces for Hiking Boots?

It can be seen that almost all hiking shoes or boots have round laces. The reason is simple as I discussed above. Round shoelaces are more durable as the material is weaved over a firm core like the rope.

 Also, round laces have a higher strength/weight ratio due to their circular cross-section. Since hiking shoes are already heaver, the round shoelaces won’t put so much weight on them.

The other reason for round laces in hiking footwear is that they don’t feature typical eyelets like traditional footwear. Hiking shoes feature hooks, which are like small cylindrical tubes through which round laces pass much easily as compared to the flat laces.

Also, round laces provide a more supportive and tighter fit, which is essential while walking over rugged terrains during hiking. In this way, this combination of hooks and round laces wraps your foot tightly and spreads out the tension evenly so that you would feel it all over the foot.

Why Dress Shoes Have Round Laces?

Dress shoes have round laces because thin and waxed round laces look great on them. Flat shoes add flair to casual sneakers like Vans or Chucks. For formal shoes, round shoelaces should be your choice.

In the picture below, you can see a person has compared casual sneakers in both round laces and flat laces. For me, they look dumbass in round shoelaces. So, the flat shoelace option (left one) is preferred for casual sneakers.

sneakers look better with flat shoelaces
Source: Reddit

In another picture, a person is comparing his formal boots in flat and round laces. You can see from the below picture, formal boots look good in round laces.

dress shoes look better with round shoelaces
Source: Reddit

Combination of Round and Flat Laces

For running shoes, a combination of round and flat laces is also constructed by several companies that provide strength and tight fit like round shoelaces, while staying tied all day long like flat shoelaces. Oval shoelaces have excellent grip coefficients. They are suitable for rigorous activities like running, jumping, and climbing.

Recommended Round Shoelaces for Different Footwear

 Laces Features
IronlaceAvailable in 54, 63, and 72 inches. Strength is great, but the color fades out significantly faster when gets wet. You can have a problem with laces getting undone on dress shoes. They are thin and tough. Work with shoes with small eyelets. You can try out this shoelace knot to keep them tied
Technora Cord by LawsonAvailable in 36 to 84  inches of length. Great for work boots. Stay tied easily
Allen Edmonds ShoelacesBest for dress shoes. Leather material

Recommended Flat Shoelaces for Different Footwear

 Laces Features
Flat Laces by ShinefromCrowdMade of polyesterAlmost 1/4 inch wide. Perfect fitting of running shoes. Available in multiple colors. Can also be used for sneakers. Available in only 47-inch length of shoelace, which  fits in 5 to 6 eyelets
Birch ShoelacesMade of polyester. Available in 29.5 and 37 inches of length. 0.25 inches wideStay tied for all day long. They stretch out longer than the original length after some time
Delele ShoelacesMade of polyester. Stretches just like Birch laces. Available in a wide range of sizes as compared to Birch laces
Miscly Flat ShoelacesAvailable in only 4 colors (black, brown, grey, white). 5/16 inch wide. Available in 27, 36, 45, 54, and 63 inches of length. 63 size is perfect for high-top sneakers. 45 length is perfect for 9.5 Ultraboosts

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