Why Do Hiking Boots Have Red Laces? (Fashion & Benefits)

As an experienced hiker and backpacker, I’ve seen and used a wide variety of hiking equipment, including boots with various laces. But have you ever wondered why red laces are so common on hiking boots?

This seemingly insignificant detail turns out to serve a purpose. Red laces on work boots date back to mountain rescue teams, who used them to identify hikers in distress. 

Today, the tradition lives on as a symbol of trail safety and preparedness. Join me as we investigate the history and significance of red shoelaces, as well as if they are necessary for any serious hiker.

Quick Summary 

  • Red shoelaces have become a tradition and are often associated with high-quality, durable hiking boots. 
  • They offer benefits such as increased visibility and adding a pop of color to your hiking gear. 
  • Whether or not you should buy red shoe laces ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs.

Why Do Hiking Boots Come With Red Laces?

danner mountaineering boots

Some hiking boots have red laces because many people consider them to be a staple of hiking gear. The long history of red laces on hiking shoes dates back to the 1970s when hiking boot manufacturers such as Timberland introduced their iconic yellow boots with red laces. 

The boots were originally designed for construction workers, but their rugged durability and unique style quickly caught on with the hiking boot industry.

The boots were a hit and soon became a longstanding tradition, with their distinctive color scheme and practical design making them a popular choice for people from all walks of life. You’ll often find skinheads wearing red laces.

Since then, work boots with red laces have become a staple of outdoor gear, with many other brands following in Timberland’s footsteps. Today, it’s not uncommon to see hikers sporting hiking boots with red laces on the trails, and the style has even crossed over into popular culture.

Red-laced leather boots have been featured in music videos, movies, and television shows, cementing their place as an iconic piece of footwear.

Their popularity can be attributed to their practicality and style. The bright red color is a bold and eye-catching feature that makes it easy for hikers and rescue personnel to spot you in case of an emergency.

The laces also serve as a subtle reminder of the boots’ quality and durability, signaling that they are designed to withstand the rugged terrain of the great outdoors.

In popular culture, red has become synonymous with adventure and the great outdoors. They are often featured in outdoor-themed photo shoots, advertising campaigns, and social media posts, and have become a symbol of exploration and adventure.

Many people view them as a status symbol, representing a commitment to quality, durability, and adventure.

Related Article: Are Timberland Boots Good for Hiking

Are There Any Real Benefits of Using Red Laces?

danner new leather boots for hiking

Hiking boots are essential for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers who need to traverse rough terrain.

One way to add a personal touch to your hiking boots is by using red laces.

However, red laces are not just for looks; there are real benefits to using them on hiking boots.

In this section, we will explore some of the benefits of using red laces on hiking boots.

1. Increased Visibility

One of the most significant benefits of using red laces on hiking boots is increased visibility [1]. Red is a bright and bold color that stands out against the earthy tones of hiking boots. This makes it easier for others or rescue personnel to spot you if you get lost or injured. 

In low-light conditions, hiking boots with red laces can also make it easier for you to find and tie your boots. I’ve known many people in the hiking community who have found red laces to make all the difference when trying to keep an eye on their friends.

2. Enhanced Safety

Hiking can be dangerous, and safety should always be a top priority. Using red laces on hiking boots can help enhance safety in several ways. The increased visibility of red laces can help prevent accidents by making it easier for you to spot potential hazards on the trail.

Additionally, the bright color can make it easier for search and rescue teams as well as forest rangers to locate you in an emergency.

3. Psychological Enhancement

It’s also worth noting that the color red has been shown to have psychological benefits for an outdoor enthusiast, such as increasing feelings of confidence and motivation [2].

This can be especially helpful during challenging hikes, when the hiker may need an extra boost of energy and encouragement.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Wearing Red Laces Hiking Boots?

While red laces can offer visibility, style, and a sense of adventure to hiking boots, there are a few potential disadvantages we would like to mention.

Firstly, the aesthetic appeal of red laces may not align well with certain types of hiking boots, such as brown leather boots, where the contrast may be less desirable.

Additionally, wearing hiking boots with red shoe laces might draw attention, potentially making them more noticeable in certain outdoor settings.

Lastly, while red laces are common in most hiking boots, they may not suit everyone’s personal taste or preference for a more subdued or understated look.

What Other Justifications Exist for Red Laces on Hiking Boots?

In addition to the benefits I’ve already covered, there are several other justifications for using red laces on hiking boots. Let’s explore some of these reasons below.

Fashion Statement

Hiking boot laces can also be a personal statement, and the red laces can be a way for a hiker to express their individual flare. So, when it comes to hiking equipment, it’s not uncommon to see that hiking boots have red laces.

Hiking is a sport that involves spending a lot of time in nature, and the red laces can be a way for the hiker to bring a bit of their own personality to their gear.

Support Charitable Causes

Red is often associated with charitable causes, such as supporting AIDS awareness and research. Some hiking boot companies sell red laces with a portion of the proceeds going to these causes.

By using these laces on your hiking boots, you can show your support for these causes and help raise awareness.

What Should I Wear With Red-Laced Hiking Boots?

wearing shorts with Red-Laced Hiking Boots

Red-laced hiking boots can be a stylish and functional addition to your outdoor equipment, but figuring out what to wear with them can be a challenge.

However, there are a number of ways to put together an outfit that compliments your pair.

One of the easiest ways to coordinate with red laces on hiking boots is to stick with earth tones in your outfit.

Tones like brown, khaki, and green complement the boldness of the laces while still allowing them to be the standout feature of your outfit.

Pairing red laced boots with brown cargo pants or a green parka, for example, creates a rugged and outdoorsy look that’s perfect for the trails.

They’re also a statement piece, and you can use outdoor equipment to accessorize your outfit around them. Consider a backpack, hat, or jacket that has some red accents or detailing to tie the outfit together.

It’s important not to overdo it with the red, though, as it can become too busy and clash with the boots.

Red-laced hiking boots can double as hunting boots, making them an excellent choice for hunters who want a bit of style with their function.

You can pair them with other hunting gear like camouflage jackets or pants for an authentic and practical hunting outfit. This combination of tones and muted colors is also great for blending in with nature.

Another great option is to pair them with leather accessories. This creates a rugged and rustic look that’s a perfect fit for nature.

Consider pairing your boots with a leather jacket, belt, or hat. Not only does this create a cohesive look, but it also provides added durability and protection from the elements.

Related Articles:

Should You Buy Red Laces Hiking Boots?

a pair of red laces for my hiking boots

In my opinion, red shoelaces can be a fashionable and one-of-a-kind addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s wardrobe.

The most important factor to consider when purchasing leather boots is to ensure they are comfortable and durable and support your feet when walking or trekking.

If you can find hiking boots that offer both, go for it! Here is a review of the best women’s hiking boots in 2023, where our team tested and compared them.

Personally, I prefer brown laces or white laces with my pair of leather boots.

But I’ve seen hikers on the trail with bright red laces who seemed to enjoy them and looked great against a natural backdrop.

Red lace hiking boots are a great option if you’re an avid hiker looking to add a splash of color to your hiking outfit while also finding a comfortable pair.


Does Red Symbolize Adventure?

Yes, it is a popular color choice for outdoor gear and clothing, as it is typically associated with adventure, excitement, and boldness. This makes it an ideal color for hiking boots, and the red laces add a pop of color that is both functional and fashionable.

Are Red Laces on Hiking Boots Functional or Just for Style?

Red laces on hiking boots do not have a specific functional purpose. However, they do serve to enhance the overall style and appearance of the boots. The bold pop of color is eye-catching and sets boots apart from other types of footwear, making them a statement piece for outdoor enthusiasts.

Why Do Vintage Hiking Boots Have Red Laces?

The use of red laces in vintage hiking boots may have been due to their high visibility and contrasting color for functional purposes, the association of red with strength and energy for aesthetic purposes, or simply a tradition or trend that caught on among manufacturers and hikers at the time.


  1. https://www.outdoors.org/resources/amc-outdoors/outdoor-resources/the-brightest-most-visible-safety-colors-for-cyclists-and-runners/
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-color-psychology-of-red-2795821
Catalin Geangos

Catalin Geangos

Catalin is a writer and outdoor specialist who has been traveling in over 35 countries so far. He loves spending time in nature, enjoying mountains and nature adventures, and ultimately inspiring people to travel more. In his time off, he is testing, analyzes, and reviews hiking and other outdoor gear and accessories.

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