These are still my favorite shoes ever, but a whole lot of abrasive desert mud the past few months has revealed a serious design flaw; the webbing lace loop over the instep. By a month ago, three of the four had cut through. This is a big deal, as on these relatively floppy shoes that tension holding the heel down is vital for foot stabilization. Something had to be done.
This isn’t an uncommon problem, as webbing lace loops are lighter, cheaper, and often more zippy looking than metal loops or grommets. If the shoe in question is designed well, a worn lace loop is worth fixing definitively. All the things you usually need, save a hammer for the grommet press, is pictured below: a 1/4″ grommet kit from Joanne’s, a sharp and pointy knife, and a lighter.
The first task is to remove the lace loop entirely. You’ll want to use and generally enlarge the hole where the loop is sewn into the shoe, and any webbing or bulk left within the shoe will make the grommet less secure. This is standard bartack removal, but on a small scale. Cut all the external stitching, slide the blade in between the layers of webbing, get things as loose as possible, then keep sliding the knife in to various spots until everything comes free. Don’t get impatient and end up with a big ol’ hole in your shoe.
Once that is done, enlarge and melt the edges of the grommet hole. Best security will come from exactly enough room for the grommet, no more. Rest the inside of the shoe and press on the corner of a sturdy workbench, and pound the heck out of the grommet. All edges should be nice and flat. I should mention that standard grommets like this won’t work on thicker materials like burly leather boots. This technique is generally restricted to things in the light hiker or trail runner class.
Then relace and get walking.