Have you ever had a pair of hiking boots or shoes, which after using for a while, you notice that the tongue starts to slip to the side? If you're not sure what I mean, check the photo out below of an old pair of Scarpa boots I have.
See what I mean? As you can clearly see, the tongue is leaning to the left hand side, from the front view. As you can see, it doesn't look particularly good and it probably doesn't help with getting a really neat fit on your feet.
So, what is this? How did it happen? Well, I have to say that this perplexed me for a while when I eventually first noticed it. I was wondering why the hell the tongues in these hiking boots, it's the same in the other boot I should add, seemed to be slouching to the side.
At first I thought that it must be a design flaw. The boots just mustn't be the best quality. However, I paid nearly $300.00 for these hiking boots at the time so for that kind of money, you can expect to have a decent design and build as well as durability.
So what Causes This?
Well, after a chat with a gear guru one day some years back, I eventually found out what the issue is and how a tongue on a brand new pair of hiking boots can quite quickly end up slouching to the side like this.
Basically, when you get a nice new pair of hiking boots, they will quickly try and adapt themselves to your feet. Now, no-one has perfectly shaped feet and in most cases, people will have a bit of bending or bowing in them.
When you put your boots on, nature, as always, seeks the path of least resistance and the tongue can very easily slide to the side where it feels most comfortable, or rather, has the least amount of hassle to find a resting position.
When you have your first few hikes with the tongues of your boots in this position, you of course sweat and, quite possibly, there's some water in the form of rain or snow landing on your boots. This dampness from inside and outside molds the tongue into the shape it has found for itself. This can happen after just a few hikes and once its started, it's difficult if not impossible to undo.
How do you Prevent This?
The good news my friends is that this is very easily prevented. When you get your brand spanking new hiking boots and you take them out on their inaugural hikes, be sure you pay special attention to how you lace them up.
Take a bit more time on this and make sure the tongue stays dead center over your foot. Evenly tie the laces up till they are snug. As with any shoes aim for the same length of lace on each side and be sure to keep the final knot even and balanced over the center of the tongue … the opposite of the picture of my old boots above 🙂 … The tongue should be comfortable on your foot and secure in a straight line aiming up your leg, not leaning to either side in any form.
If you have enough lace, once you have pulled the laces tight up to the top, try and loop them again at the second from top set of lace eyelets. Don't worry if you don't have enough lace to do this though, just run with the detail in the last paragraph.
If you get this embedded into the natural form of the hiking boots as they adapt to your feet, it will go a long way to keeping the tongues of your boots in a straight position. Keep an eye on them as you walk through your first few hikes in them. If you notice them slipping to the side, readjust and get them aligned.
Do that a bunch of times and pay good attention to your boots when you tie them, and you should be good to go!
So, there you have it, a very simple tip to help stop the grand old hiking boot tongue slide from happening 🙂 I have to say that even with the lopsided tongues on my old Scarpa boots, they're still pretty comfortable. However, I think they would probably be that bit more secure and probably more comfortable if the tongues were aligned properly.
This is an easy thing to do when you buy a new pair of boots so it's worth taking the time to prevent it from happening at the start. Once the boots get aligned properly after regular use, they are unlikely to start to slip out to the side. However, don't be complacent, as a rule, you should always tie your hiking boots evenly as listed above.
That's it for today. If you're in the market for a pair of hiking boots, remember to check out the hiking boots buying guide which goes into detail on all the things you need to consider when buying a pair of hiking boots. Check out this other post on how to find the perfect fit too, it's linked from the guide as well but worth mentioning here for convenience.
I hope you found this useful. Please share, like and comment 🙂