Boots are some of the most comfortable footwear you can own, but that comfort can come at a price. When you buy a new pair of boots, you need to expect to break them in. Rarely can you wear boots straight away without some kind of discomfort. Many of us wonder how to break in boots quickly.
Durability and quality will stray across the board for various boots and their makers, but there is a universal method for breaking in your footwear and more than one best way to go about it. From preventing blisters to getting your boots to the perfect comfort level, several tips will help you break in your new boots.
The most important thing when buying boots is to ensure you are purchasing the proper size. Just because boots are made of leather (for the most part) does not mean that you can make a smaller size fit you more comfortably. How Should Boots Fit?
If your toes cram into the front of the boot, you will not be able to stretch the solid construction of the toe to fit you appropriately. If your shoes are too big, your heel will rub against the back continuously, and the friction will cause a painful blister.
You want your heel to be slightly away from the back of the boot and not come in contact with the back. Your toes need roughly an inch between them and the toe of the boot and should not slide inside the boot and come in contact with the toe.
You want to make sure that the sides of your feet are comfortable in the new boots and not pressed against the side.
Break Them in Slowly
For at least the first week, you need to take baby steps when it comes to trying out your new boots. You are excited to wear them out but, doing so will likely result in blisters and sore feet. It is best to wear your shoes for short periods, preferably before your feet begin sweating.
If you can hold off, wear your boots around the house at first to stretch the leather a little bit at a time.
Trying out your new boots by taking a walk around the house will also give your foot arches time to get used to the arch of the boots, especially if you have not worn them before.
For the sake of your foot, wearing the shoes inside for an hour a day for the first few weeks, without walking a great distance, will be more comfortable for you and will break in new boots easier.
Wear Thick Socks
One of the best tricks to breaking in new boots is to wear a pair of thick socks inside them when you are breaking them in around the house. Wearing thick socks or layers of socks will help expand the inside of the boot with heat and help stretch the parts that are too tight until they mold to your foot.
One of the best reasons to walk around your house while breaking in your new pair of shoes is because you will likely get up and down, taking several breaks while performing daily tasks, thus giving your feet the break they need.
When the leather is new, it is stiff and uncomfortable to wear. Old boots are so comfortable because they have softened and stretched due to years of heat and moisture. Natural movements from walking allow the material to become more pliable. Wear your boots in the house with socks for the first few days, at least, and stretch and bend your toes, arch of your foot, and heels, so the boot has a chance to conform to your proper size.
Let the Leather Rest
You love your new shoes and want to be wearing them all the time, but you need to give them a break. The moisture that comes off of your foot while you are wearing your boots needs time to dry. Give the leather a day or more between wearing them so your shoes can fully dry; also so your feet can get a break from any pain.
Allowing the leather of your boot to dry off excess moisture will prevent odor as well. To help the extra dampness evaporate, use a shoe tree, which will also allow the shoe to hold the shape you have worked hard to mold.
You want to make sure that your boot doesn't hold excess moisture, so throwing them in a dank closet and hoping they will air dry is not enough. If you want your boots to live up to your expectation, you need to do your part.
Apply Leather Oil
It takes roughly 80 hours to fully break in your boots so that they will begin to feel as comfortable as a second skin. If your boots are leather, then leather oil can help soften leather without causing damage that is likely when you use heat or water.
Apply the oil to your leather boots weekly until the boots are comfortable and broken in. After your leather boots are perfect, apply the oil as part of a monthly routine to protect your pair of boots and to soften the leather.
Leather oil will help prevent your boots from cracking, which can cause a further breakdown and lead to holes over time.
Use a Boot Stretcher
A boot stretcher is a wooden foot mechanism that expands and elongates inside your shoe so that it stretches the material gradually.
Using a shoe stretcher is as easy as inserting it into your boot and turn the knob to widen the toe section. You want to stretch the boot enough so that the leather makes a minute noise and then leave it to do its work. You want to be careful not to stretch the leather out too quickly.
Set the stretcher only as wide as you need to get some resistance, expanding a little more each time throughout several nights.
Use moisturizer as you break in the boot with the shoe stretcher so that the leather remains supple and does not crack. Using a stretcher will a great way to expand the boot to prevent some of the soreness your feet would otherwise go through, but the leather will not form to your feet until you wear them for several hours.
If you are using a boot stretcher for some of or the bulk of the breaking-in process, don't forget to add the leather oil as you would after wearing them, but only once a week.
When you are on the verge of your boots fitting you comfortably, or if you just can't resist wearing them out of the house, you can always resort to putting a Band-Aid on your heel and the big toe to protect against any rubbing that may occur.
Keep Your Boots Clean
Keep your leather clean. For the longevity and quality of your boot, you need to remove any debris such as mud, dirt, or other grimy substance that will strip the leather boots of natural oils.
If you are in an environment where your new boots will become dirty often, make sure you brush off your pair of boots before using a small amount of water and mild soap to clean them. Once the boots have dried, use conditioner or leather oil to keep them in good shape.
If you are in an environment that is damp or has moisture, treat your boots with a leather preservative so that they become more water-resistant. Do not put your boots on a heater where they may become hot and crack; instead, use a shoe dryer that will dry the shoes at room temperature. Again, a hairdryer will be too much heat for drying your boots.
What Not to Do
Some tips that you might see on other sites that aren't good for the leather of your boots and will do more to destroy them in the process are abundant. Take heed and do research when considering how to treat your boots. Whether you are stretching or cleaning your kicks, it is essential not to take the wrong advice.
Do Not Soak Your Boots in Water
Do not soak your boots in water, despite some websites saying that it will loosen the leather. The water can damage your boots by drying out the leather, causing the opposite effect.
Some may argue that leather is tough and should withstand water and that leather is immersed in water as part of the manufacturing process, but that is done in a controlled way with experienced people.
Soaking your boots in water could lead to a very expensive mistake, so it's a better bet to try a different method before you resort to such drastic and potentially disastrous methods.
Do Not Use Heat to Break in Leather Boots
When you break in a pair of boots, it cannot be said enough that heat will crack the leather. Do not put your boots near fire or a heater, or use a hairdryer if they get wet. No matter what you have read in an online post, when your shoes get too hot, the leather will crack and become broken.
Heat will undoubtedly make the leather soften for the time, but it will only weaken the life of your pair of boots and make them look old and worn rather than comfortable. If you find your feet hurt, they are tight and cause you a great deal of discomfort, then you have bought the wrong boots or a size too small.
New boots shouldn't hurt so much that you resort to drastic stretching methods to get them to shape more quickly.
Bottom Line: How to Break in New Boots
Boots are durable and made to be worn for years, if not decades, or a lifetime. The more time you take to break in new boots, the less pleasant it will be breaking them in and, the life of the boot will be significantly longer.
You can cut corners and use a faster method to work out all the discomfort of your new boots, but you shouldn't. It is hard to wait to see how perfect your boots will look once all the work is done, but it's well worth it.
A good pair of boots is an item that can be tough and treated a bit rough but also needs a great deal of care and works to keep them in good condition. Breaking in boots will happen along the long journey they carry you on, so take your time and enjoy.