One of the things I really like about my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX trail runners is the lacing system.
Before buying them I was an old school cloth lace and double knot kind of guy. Since then, I am a kevlar system convert. I would have trouble going back. I just find it so damn easy and convenient.
However, I never really considered what I would do if a lace broke, wore out, or…. you know… was eaten by a dog.
You can’t just buy any old lace and thread it through the shoe. You have to first buy a special Kevlar Replacement Kit…
… and then you have to figure out how to use it, which is where it gets tricky.
You see that white sheet of paper in the image above. Those are the instructions. You can ignore them.
No, seriously. Save yourself some frustration. Unless they have been updated since I attempted this 6 months ago, those instructions are a notch below useless.
I wasted a few hours on them, and then some more time trying various Google searches for better instructions, before I stumbled upon a “review” for the replacement laces on REI’s website. It was posted by someone who called himself “Joe in Atlanta”, and it included a step by step guide explaining how he re-laced his Salomons.
I followed his method (almost) exactly, and it worked!
Long live Joe in Atlanta!
Here are his steps, with photos and some notes about my experience.
Note: If you are doing both shoes, I highly recommend doing only one at a time – keep the other as a point of reference in case you get confused or need to re-orientate yourself. I found this especially handy when attaching the little button mechanism thingy.
- Notice that there are different numbers of shoe loops on the opposing sides of the tongue of the shoe: You will find one more loop on the inside edge than on the outside edge. For these instructions, I will label them as “I” (for “inside”) or “O” (for “outside”), and will count from the toe. So my shoes, for example, have I1, I2, I3, I4, I5, and O1, O2, O3, and O4.
- Before cutting loose the old laces, you will notice that they are strung with closed loops going through two of the lower shoe loops, starting at I1, winding up and back, and ending at I2. This was possible because the original laces were placed before sewing was completed on the shoe. Your new laces will be threaded in a different fashion.
- The laces in your package are the same laces that could be used during manufacturing, and therefore they contain the same closed loops on both ends. You cannot use these closed loops as in the original installation. The instructions say to cut them away (and burn the ends to prevent fraying). You can do this now, but you may find it easier to wait, as the closed loops provide a helpful rigidity when squeezing the cable through the small loops.
- Thread one cable through the shoe loop I1 (see my nomenclature in step 1) and pull it through so that half the cable is on each side of the loop. Use a small Phillips head screwdriver (or something similar) to loosen the loop if this proves difficult.
Note: The video at the end of this post has some good suggestions about how to thread the laces.
- Pull BOTH free ends of the cable through shoe loop O1.
- Leaving one cable alone for the moment, thread just one cable back across the shoe through shoe loop I2.
- Now thread each of the cables up alternating loops: one side of the cable follows the path I1 > O1 > I3 > O2 > I5; the other side of the cable follows the path I1 > O1 > I2 > O2 > I4 > O4.
- Take note of the picture in the instructions to identify the pieces labeled as locker, button, and ring.
- Thread the two strands of the cable through the locker, keeping the flat end of the “locker” toward the toe of the shoe.
- Note that one side of the “ring” is beveled. Slide the flat (NON-beveled) end through the top of the locker, keeping one cable on each side of the ring, and push it down.
- Take the “button” and squeeze its knob through the slot in the locker until it snaps into place with the ring. (This took a couple of attempts on my part. Make certain you are working in an area where you are not likely to lose the parts if they spring away.)
- Cut loose the closed loops at the ends of the cable, if you have not already done so.
- Take the two interlocking pieces of the “break away lace”; feed each one onto opposite sides of the cable (take care that you feed the cable through the narrow opening first, as the wide ends are the parts need to lock with each other.)
- Tie the pieces together with a square knot (or some other kind of reliable tight knot) at an appropriate length (your cables are likely to be longer than you need). Singe the knot with a lighter or candle to melt the plastic and make slippage less likely.
Note: This step did not work for me. No matter how tight I tied the knot, I could not get it small enough to fit the end caps over it. I resorted to simply cutting the ends loose and then singing them as seen in the photo below. Even then, it was still a struggle to get those caps on. A much easier way of doing this appears in the video at the end of this post, at about the 6 minute mark.
- Cut away the free strands of the cables.
- Slide the pieces of the “break away lace” (end caps) over the knot and lock them together.
- If you find that your break-away lace is not centered, you can wind the cable through to adjust its position.
And that is that!
I have to say, even after I found Joe in Atlanta’s awesome instructions, it still took some finagling and figuring out. This project definitely has a frustration factor to it, as illustrated by some of the comments you can find online from others who have tried. But it was satisfying to finally make it work… and if you love your Salomon’s as much as I love mine, it is certainly worth the effort.
If you still have trouble with your laces, or if you would like to try a different “method” of lacing your Salomon’s, check out this video from REI. Personally, I find their methods a little confusing compared to the Joe in Atlanta method, but the video does go into detail and has some great tips so is worth a watch no matter how you decide to do it.