Most of the eyelets on my hiking boots wore out, leaving them unwearable. The boots are old, but not ready to be thrown away. It seemed a shame to discard them when the soles and uppers were in pretty good shape. Plus, they were expensive, and I really didn’t think something as simple as eyelets would wear out that way (why they use fabric instead of good old tried and true metal eyelets is beyond me). So, I wanted to fix them without investing any money on hardware, and I wanted to do it quickly so I could wear them.
Block of scrap wood
Step 1: Drill a New Eyelet
Measure your laces and pick a drill bit that is approximately the same thickness.
I decided to drill through both the leather and what was remaining of the fabric eyelets.
Use a block of scrap wood underneath to protect the rest of the shoe.
Wear safety glasses and be careful. Remove the shoe from your foot! Don't drill a hole through your shoe or your hand or other body part. Hold the block of wood firmly. When you drill fabric, it tends to get squirrely, so hold on. Or better: clamp the shoe to a work table.
Drill a new hole, centered, through the leather area that held the webbed eyelets.
Step 2: Lace Up Using Your New Eyelets
Lace the boots using the new drilled eyelets. That's it. Simple repair. Took me only a few minutes.
Since the repair I've worn these boots on one 5 mile mountain hike and many, many walks in the woods. The are holding up. I know the repair won't last forever, but I do hope to it lasts long enough till the rest of the boots wear out so I can get my money's worth.
These are Keene boots, and they do have an excellent warranty. My boots were well beyond the warranty, but Keene has a warranty claim form on their website. If your Keene boots rip like this before the warranty expires, be sure to make a claim. I'm thinking of making a claim anyway, just to see if they'll give me a coupon or something.
Hope this helps you get a few more hikes out of your boots!
Update: It's been over 6 months, many, many hikes, plus wearing them around town during the winter. The fix is still working! The holes I drilled have held up and the leather has not ripped and continues to hold the laces. It's lasted way beyond what I thought.