Introduction: Light-Up Combat Boots

About: I'm a freelance illustrator who likes to make fun crafty stuff in my free time :)

Who says light-up shoes are only for kids? I decided to take an old pair of falling-apart combat boots (that I absolutely love and was so sad that they were falling apart!) and give them some some new life by adding lights from a pair of kid's light-up sneakers. They're a lot of fun, and will draw all kinds of attention.

Step 1: What You Need

  • One pair of combat boots
  • One pair of light-up sneakers
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • E-6000 or Shoe Glue
  • Something to apply glue to small areas - I used dry pasta sticks, but popsicle sticks or toothpicks would work as well

It helps if the boots are already kind of falling apart, maybe the heels are flopping off. That makes it a lot easier. The sneakers I already had on hand, but a pair of kid's light-up sneakers can be found at thrift stores for pretty cheap. The sneakers don't have to fit you, they just have to have working lights.

If you have an alternate glue preference, go for it, I just personally like E-6000.

Step 2: Demolish Your Sneaker - Tear Out the Lights

Using your scissors and X-acto knife, start tearing the sneakers apart. Your goal is to get the battery/sensor pack from the heel of the shoe, along with the connected wires and lights in the side of the shoe. You want to be careful not to cut the wires between the lights and the battery/sensor pack in the heel, so cut slowly and carefully. I went for the lights first, cutting around them, then sliced open the side and followed the wires to where the battery/sensor pack is.

Pull out the battery/sensor pack and the wires with the lights all in one piece. At this point, you can throw the sneakers away, their part here is over!

Step 3: Pry Open the Boot - Install the Battery/Sensor Pack

Using the X-acto knife and some patience, you need to pry the heel of the boot away. In my case, it was pretty easy for one boot because the heel was flopping off already, but the other boot was a little trickier. Try to slice between the sole and the boot without actually cutting the material of the boot itself.

Once you have it open, figure out where you want to place the battery/sensor pack. I recommend putting it maybe an inch or two further forward than I did, the sensor isn't in quite the right spot in this picture and I have to stomp oddly to trigger the sensor.

Use the X-acto knife to cut away enough of the inside of the heel to fit the battery/sensor pack and fit it in snugly.

After this you're going to want to put your foot in the boot and make sure you can't feel the battery/sensor pack through the bottom of the boot. If you can feel it too much, carve a little more space in the heel. But if you don't feel it at ALL, it may be too deep in the heel to trigger the sensor when you walk. In that case, cut a square of foam core or cardboard and stuff it under the sensor in the heel, and try it again.

When you get it fitting properly, you can glue it down or not, it's up to you. I didn't glue it and had no problems.

Step 4: Feed the Lights Into the Boot

Now you need to decide where you want the lights to be placed on the boot. Keep in mind how long the wires are, and how it will look when you're done. I decided to put them along a seam to hide some of the holes for the lights, and so it looked a little less out-of-place.

Slice open between the boot and the heel, and peel away some of the glue to get into the shoe. I'm not sure about other designs, but on these shoes, there were two layers of material - the outside pleather, and the inside flannel lining. I fed the wires between these two layers (I had to peel them apart a little), so there wouldn't be bare wires rubbing against my foot on the inside of the boot.

Using your X-acto knife, cut small slits in the outside pleather, and feed the lights through the holes. Apply small dabs of glue to the lights just around the slits, using a toothpick (or whatever you have on hand) to apply it if the opening on the glue it too big. If you make a mess, make sure to clean it up now, because that glue will not want to come off after it dries.

Step 5: Glue the Boot Back Together

When the sensor/battery pack is in, and the lights are in the right spot, it's time to put the boot back together again. Apply liberal amounts of E-6000 or Shoe Glue to the heel and the bottom of the boot, anywhere it's coming apart. Again, clean up any glue oozing out now before it has a chance to dry.

You're going to want to put some weight on the boot while it dries. I had to get a little creative here, and I used my Bed Buddy (a tube sock full of rice) and a hammer so there would be enough weight on it.

Follow the directions on your glue to see how long it should set. I left mine alone for three full days before I picked it up, and by then the glue was set up.

Step 6: Rock the Light-Up Boots

Once the glue dries, you're done, and you can rock your new light-up boots!

Who says light-up shoes are only for kids? Not me!!

Before and After Contest

Participated in the
Before and After Contest