A new pair of boots should be an exciting moment, but often it can be the complete opposite. You spend a lot of money only to have them give you blisters.
The best way to break boots in quickly is different for different materials. For leather boots, the best way is a combination of heat and oil. For synthetic materials, it is wearing the boots around the house or using thicker socks until they are broken in.
How To Break In Boots – Give New Boots That Old Boot Feeling
It’s well known that although an old pair of boots may be worn down, battered, and in some cases totally broken, they will be extremely comfortable and no new boot will be able to replace that level of comfort no matter how good the initial fit of the boot is.
This is because new boots are actually quite stiff and their shape means that your foot and your joints are more likely to move around and cause awkward blistering or chafing.
It’s well known that a boot won’t really be safe or comfortable to use until it has been given some time to break in and start molding to the shape of your foot.
This can take some time depending on the type of boot, its materials, and how much you wear it. This means that some boots can be broken in much quicker than others, and there’s a surprising amount of variation.
Luckily there are many ways to break in your boots, and not all of them require you to put yourself through daily foot torture until the boots finally start supporting you correctly.
Some of these methods are quite easy, while others are preventative tips and insights to help mitigate the problems people often face when breaking in a new pair of boots, be they Doc Martens or a pair of Timberlands.
Materials – What Your Boots Are Made Of Matter
Before we continue, it’s worth noting that some boots will become comfortable far more quickly than others.
While there’s no hard and fast rule for this, it’s generally known that leather boots take a little longer to become comfortable than synthetic or suede boots, which is a naturally softer and more pliable material.
The flip side of this is that once a pair of leather boots have finally become accustomed to your feet, there will be few types of footwear that can compete with the level of comfort they provide.
There’s also the added bonus that leather boots will often last much longer than other boots, so you’ll be able to enjoy their comfort for longer than a lot of other boots that may be quicker to break in.
9 Methods To Break In Your Boots In No Time
In this section, we’re going to look at the various different ways you can go about breaking in your new boots, be they hiking boots or a more casual option.
Heat And Oil – Break Your Boots In Like A Pro
So first you take your pair of new boots and warm them up. You can use a space heater, hairdryer, or leave them outside on a hot summer day. This will allow the boots to become a little more pliable and opens the pores of the leather fiber.
Don’t apply too much heat to any part of the shoe that is glued like the insole or outsole. This can break down the glue and cause other problems. This is why a hairdryer is great for this because you have direct heat on a specific area.
You then take your mink oil or leather conditioner and apply it liberally to the outside and inside of the boots. Just make sure if you use mink oil you know that it can change the color of the leather. So you may want to test it on a small part like the inside of the boot first. Or just stick with a leather conditioner.
When applying the conditioner to the inside of the boots, just make sure you ONLY apply it to the leather and not the sole. A note about this is that this can make for some messy socks while breaking them in.
Then you just wear your shoes around after they have been conditioned inside and out. You want to reapply the boot oil as needed over the next couple of days to make sure the leather really absorbs all of the oil and the leather fibers are nice and conditioned.
Viola, the break-in process of your new boots is complete!
Wear Them At Home – Then You Can Take Your Time
Probably the most popular option for breaking in boots, especially boots made of synthetic materials like hiking boots, is to wear them around the house.
This is a great choice because it means they can be removed quite easily or swapped out if they become unbearably comfortable, without you needing to head home or bring alternative shoes with you.
It’s also great because you’ll be able to use this time to try your boots on with many different outfits.
This is a method that works whether you’re walking around a lot or simply sitting down, as both will help the shoe to start stretching around your foot and becoming more comfortable.
Wearing your boots around the house will start to help ease their stiffness and even wearing them during a sedentary period will start to relax the materials and laces, while also giving the insole a good chance to start sculpting to the shape of your foot, giving the best support possible.
The downside of this method is that some boots can have quite a harsh tread which may damage carpets or certain floor types, leaving marks or scuffing them up.
This can result in pretty unsightly damage, so make sure to be careful when wearing boots in your home and try to only step quite carefully. This has the added advantage of reducing the chance of your shoes causing blistering or soreness on your feet.
Another downside is that wearing your boots at home for long periods of time can cause them to smell bad quite quickly, so to prevent this try taking them off for short periods and not allowing your feet to sweat in your boots for too long at a time.
Overall this is a great option for those who aren’t sure about a new pair of boots and has the added benefit of not voiding your ability to return or replace the boots if they are too uncomfortable to be used properly.
The soft and safe environment of your home will prevent them from getting damaged or dirty making it far more likely for a return to be accepted.
Use Some Newspaper to Stretch
When you’ve taken your shoes off or you go to bed, there’s a neat little trick you can use to stretch your shoes out and make them more comfortable the next time you wear them.
All you’ll need is some scrap magazines or newspaper to scrunch up and shove inside your boot.
Pack in plenty to allow the paper to stretch the material of the boot, but don’t overdo it, as this could make the boots uncomfortable or even damage their shape.
You just want enough so that you can see the boot is filled and is holding a shape that replicates the boot being worn.
This is a neat option because it doesn’t require you to actually wear the boots, and is a cheap time-efficient solution to helping break your boots in and retaining their shape.
Wear Thick Socks – Stop The Friction
Another great option is to wear thick pair of socks, especially if you’re going to wear your new boots out for the first time. This is well known for hikers and why they love thick socks made from wool to pair with their hiking boots.
Wearing socks that are a little thicker than normal is a great idea because it works by both stretching the boots out a little more, and cushioning your foot from the worst of the chafing and blistering that breaking in new boots can cause.
It’s not a good idea to use this method for especially long walks as thick socks can only provide so much protection, but it works quite well for shorter walks where you’re starting to really break in the soles and the body of the boot outside the comfort of your home.
Loosen the Laces
Many boots can be strung up incredibly tightly when brand new, and loosening the laces can make a huge difference in allowing the boot to fit your feet more comfortably and more quickly.
It’s super simple and you can even experiment with how the boot is laced to make sure that you’ve got the best lace configuration for your needs.
Use a Boot Stretcher
Using a boot or shoe stretcher is a little more elaborate and is essentially a more refined approach that uses the same idea as stuffing your new boots with scrap paper.
This method is a little more refined and gives a more direct pressure to the important parts of the and gives you more control over how much pressure you apply.
Bags of Water In Your Boots – Not Only For Practical Jokes
This one might sound a little outlandish, but some people swear by it. Get sealable freezer bags and fill them with water. Most people opt for a gallon freezer bag.
Once you have them filled and sealed, then put them in your boots. Take your new boots and move your ice cream out of the way, because your boots are moving in! At least, overnight.
The magic that happens in the freezer is the water expands as it freezes and presses on the boots. You may want to note that this can stretch your boots. So if they already are a little loose, then this method isn’t for you.
This boots in water technique makes me a little nervous since you just spent good money on boots, but I did want to add it to make sure our list is complete.
This is less of a tip and more of a prescription. Never leave home without a bandaid when wearing any new shoes, boots especially.
A band-aid will work well to protect your heels or toes from blistering if you feel friction starting to build up.
Proper blister plasters are even better and can help heal any existing damage and often stick in place longer than bandaids, making them a better long-term investment.
Whichever type you use, keeping a few spares will give you great peace of mind when wearing your boots on longer walks with normal socks and will allow you to get home without really damaging your feet.
Hikers even go as far as to bring duct tape to use to stop blisters. It is also good to hold your boot together when you are far into a hike and nowhere near a cobbler.
Bring Comfortable Shoes Along
If you have space, bringing a spare pair of shoes to wear can be a godsend on long journeys or while traveling. Even a blister plaster can only last so long, and running out of band-aids is a sure way to end up in a world of hurt.
Bringing a spare pair of shoes will save you from having to blister or go barefoot, allowing you to break in your shoes a little bit and then switching out of them once the discomfort starts to build up.