When spending your hard-earned money on a pair of exquisite Doc Martens, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable wearing them. It’s typical for shoes to feel tight when you first wear them; Doc Martens are no exception.
But we’ve got you covered. This guide breaks down the top 10 foolproof ways to break in your Doc Martens painlessly. With that being said, let’s get right into it!
1. Choose the Correct Shoe Size
First, you can’t expect to break in a pair of Doc Martens if you don’t have the correct size, so you need to ensure that you get them in the right size first. We recommend that you try the shoes before buying them to ensure they fit you well.
If the boots feel slightly tight but comfortable at the same time, then this is the right size for you. However, if you feel uncomfortable once you put on the Docs, you need a bigger size. According to the official website, you should size down if you typically take a half-size.
2. Walk Around the House Wearing Them
This method is the most common to break in all types of shoes, including Doc Martens. Put on your pair of Docs and walk around the house for a few minutes, then take them off.
The first time you wear your boots, avoid wearing them for an extended time. You want to start slow at the beginning and walk for only a couple of minutes. Then you can gradually increase the walking time each time you do this. You also want to remove your boots as soon as you feel pain.
Continue doing this for a few weeks—you want to spend a few minutes daily walking around your house in your Doc Martens until you break them in. You can wear your Docs for longer if you feel more comfortable or take a walk while wearing them.
3. Protect Your Feet
People typically feel pain in their heels. You want to protect the areas where you experienced pain walking in the shoes. Find any area with blisters or redness and use bandages or moleskin to cover these areas.
- Tip: Compared to a bandage, moleskin is slightly thicker and can adhere better.
4. Wear a Thick Pair of Socks
You can break in your Docs more quickly by putting on thick socks. Re-lace your boots and tightly secure the laces.
Socks protect your feet against blisters. The lining of these shoes can create friction and damage your feet. By wearing socks underneath your Doc Martens, you’re reducing the pain that many Doc Martens owners experience due to friction.
5. Try the Traditional Newspaper Method
Get some old newspapers and start stuffing your Docs with them. Removing the laces can make stuffing the entire pair of boots easier. The toes of your shoes should be packed with newspaper. This helps in stretching the toe box of the shoes.
This method is similar to the previous one, so if you don’t feel like walking in your Docs wearing socks, you can simply let the newspaper do the work for you.
- Pro tip: you can get a boot stretcher from a shoe store instead of stuffing your Docs with newspaper or wearing socks underneath them.
6. Wear Them Without Walking
At home, put on your shoes for 1-2 hours. You can wear your Docs around the house for a little longer after protecting the hurt areas. Once the shoes start to make your feet ache again, take them off immediately.
7. Remove the Insole
Removing the insole of your shoes is a great way to decrease the pain of breaking them in. This is because the lining of the shoes is made of an abrasive material that can cause blisters. You can prevent or reduce friction by simply removing the hard insole from the shoes.
8. Apply a Shoe Balm
To speed up the process a little more, remove the laces and apply balm on the leather. Full-grain, stiff leather is the material used to make Doc Martens. The leather can be easily cleaned, protected, and made softer by using Doc Martens Wonder Balsam, according to the company’s official website.
This balm contains lanolin, coconut oil, and beeswax that help moisturize and protect your Docs. You can still get an off-brand product containing the same ingredients or make the balm yourself. But if you decide to purchase an off-brand balm or make it yourself, you want to ensure that it has beeswax, which keeps your precious pair of Doc Martens water-resistant.
9. Heat Your Shoes
Another effective method to break in your Doc Martens is to aim a hairdryer at the area where they’re the tightest. You want to wear them with thick socks first, then apply a thin layer of your balm and start heating your shoes with the low setting on the hairdryer for a maximum of 10 minutes. This will help melt down the oils you applied and make them absorb into the leather faster. Also, avoid using the high heat setting since this can result in splitting and cracking.
- Important: don’t take off the shoes until they’re completely cool!
10. Hammer Them!
Hit the heel of the shoes with a hammer after wrapping them in a towel to protect the shoes. This is another way to speed up the breaking-in process. We know it’s not easy, but you want to spend 15 to 20 minutes hammering the shoe’s heel and sole. If you are concerned about damaging your expensive Doc Martens, opt for a rubber mallet.
Finally, keep in mind that it may take up to three weeks for your Doc Martens to break in completely – all you need is consistency and patience.