How To Break In Boots

Everyone loves a new pair of boots but they aren’t always comfortable right out of the box. Instead, you usually have to go through the process of breaking them in and making them stretch until they’re comfortable to wear all day every day.

In this article, we will look at eight easy steps to break in boots so that they’re comfortable enough to wear.

1. Choose The Right Size

The first, and possibly the most important, step to breaking in boots is to make sure that your boots are the right size to begin with. Although leather and some other materials can stretch, they won’t stretch enough to make too-small boots into the right size.

Likewise, if your boots are too large they will just make your feet blister because your feet will always slide around in boots that are too big.

2. Wear Thick Socks

When you first start breaking in your boots, wear the thickest pair of socks that you own. If you don’t have socks that are particularly thick, then you can wear two pairs instead. 

Brand new leather is always stiff and takes a combination of heat, moisture, and pressure to begin stretching. Using thick socks helps this process because they will create a warm and sweaty environment within the boot while also exerting gentle pressure on the upper. 

You can also make this process a little quicker by breaking in boots in the summer as the temperatures are naturally higher.

This isn’t always practical, of course, but consider buying winter boots at the end of the winter season so you will have all summer to break them in.

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3. Don’t Wear Them Everyday

As we said earlier, boots get broken in through a combination of heat, moisture, and pressure. When your feet sweat in your boots, it takes more than a few hours break for the leather to fully dry so give your boots a rest and don’t wear them every day.

Let the boots dry out and give your feet a rest at the same time.

While your boots are resting and drying, you can use shoe trees to help keep the shape and draw out the moisture more quickly.

If you only have your new boots to wear this can be difficult, but your boots will benefit from not being worn every day if possible.

4. Concentrate On The Bends

Two of the most important places to stretch and break in your new boots are where the boots bend. These places can be found at the ankle and at the ball of your foot, just below your toes.

As you take a step, these are the two places that bend the most and they need the most work when breaking in boots. 

Although these places will naturally bend as you walk, you can speed up the process by bending them manually. When you remove your boots at the end of the day, take each boot in hand and bend the leather of the sole backward and forward.

You should also try to crease and crush the leather around your ankle. You don’t need to be too gentle as you do this as you’re only doing the same action as walking.

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5. Scuff The Heels

One of the main areas that are prone to blisters is your heels. This is because as you walk, your feet move in your boots and your heel is especially at risk of rubbing against the boot, especially if the inner lining is smooth.

Eventually, this becomes less of a problem as you will create a heel pocket inside the boots which protects your heels and prevents blisters from forming.

How To Break In Boots (1)

You can speed up this process a little by lightly sanding the inside of the heel with a piece of sandpaper. Only use fine-grain sandpaper and be gentle with it as you only want to rough up the leather – not destroy it.

By scuffing the leather of the heel, you will give your socks something to grip onto and reduce the amount of blister-causing friction. 

6. Treat The Leather

Another way to add some moisture and speed up the breaking-in process is by treating the leather. This is especially useful if the uppers feel too tight.

You can treat the leather with some leather softener which will increase how much give the leather fibers have.

Just don’t use too much as you want the leather to remain a little stiff.

7. Use A Shoe Stretcher

If your boots are the right size and fit well but you need a little extra width to make them more comfortable, you can use a shoe stretcher. These look like a shoe tree but they have a crank inside them that can expand and will stretch the boot.

Put the shoe stretcher inside, open the crank, and leave the boot overnight. Combine this with some leather softener for the best results.

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8. Ask A Professional

If all of these steps seem to be too complicated or time-consuming, then you can always take your boots to a professional.

Cobblers and shoe repairers have special tools that allow them to stretch boots and they can also add extra padding to problem areas such as the insole and arch.

You may need to leave your boots with them for a couple of days and there will be a charge for the service, but a professional cobbler should be able to safely stretch your boots for you.

Final Thoughts

There are many steps you can take to break in a new pair of boots. Although it can be a lengthy process, once your boots are correctly broken in you should be able to comfortably wear them for several hours as often as you need to.

We hope that the hints and tricks in this guide will make your new boots as comfortable as your old ones.