Howdy there, buckaroo! Done and got yourself some new cowboy boots? They too blame tight on the beetle crushers and got you feeling all-overish? Got trouble riding the shank’s mare in ’em? Land sakes, you gotta break ’em in, pardner! Don’t go and have a conniption fit! Chase them blue devils away by settin’ a spell and reading these here tips.
Do this and you will have the most right smart out-and-outer boots you ever had in all your born days! Don’t y’all fret, city slickers. The rest of this article’s gonna be in plain ol’ English so even dudes from the old states can get gussied up in wrangler duds.
Table of Contents
- The Two Pairs of Socks Method
- The Steam Method
- The Submerging Method
- The Ice Method
- The Stretcher Method
- The Dry Heat Method
- The Spoon Method
- The Have Someone Else Do It Method
- Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Feet?
- How Should Cowboy Boots Fit on The Calf?
- What Kind of Cushioning is Best for Cowboy Boots?
- How To Walk In Cowboy Boots?
- What To Wear With Cowboy Boots?
The Two Pairs of Socks Method
Assuming you already have two pairs of socks (we hope you do) this method is completely free and mess proof. However, it can be a little painful and requires a lot of patients. Maybe you should only do it in the winter when an extra warm layer on your feet won’t be such a bad thing.
However, it should also be done when the day is fairly warm so the leather will be more pliant. Just wear two pairs of socks under your feet to get them to stretch. It should be no more than two pairs or you will get some nasty blisters.
The Steam Method
This method is as cheap as boiling a kettle of water. It’s not very messy and can get you a close to custom fit. Keep in mind that waterlogged leather might fade or (ironically) dry out the leather.
Leather takes a long time to dry and it can be painful to wear leather while drying. (In fact, a damp leather headband was an interrogation tactic in the Wild West.) Follow these instructions to steam fit your boots.
- Use a garment steamer or a kettle of steamy hot water to direct the steam toward the interior of the boot to the area you want to stretch for about twenty seconds.
- Direct the steamer away from you and the boots then push the affected area with your finger. If it is firm to the touch and seems structured, steam the area for about fifteen seconds.
- Once it is warm, soft and flexible (yet not completely saturated); slip the boots on your feet and walk about in them.
- If possible, you should keep them on until they dry to make sure that it molds to every contour of your feet. If it is too uncomfortable, take off the boots once the material is cool and let them air dry. Do not utilize a heat source to hasten the process because this might mar the material.
- Once dry, condition your cowboy boots with a product such as a mink oil. It must be appropriate for the type of leather your boots are made of.
The Submerging Method
There is an old Indian trick of breaking horses by leading them into a river. You can use something similar to break in your boots. This method has all the pros and cons of the steam method only the water is not hot and there is a greater risk (guarantee actually) that your boots will get wet.
Hold your boots down in a tub of lukewarm water while taking care no water gets inside the boots. Then you pull the boots on and walk around in them for a while. You can put plastic bags over your socks if you hate walking in damp socks. This is something best done during warm seasons. Don’t forget to condition your boots when they are dry.
The Ice Method
This method doesn’t require you to do any walking around. It costs as much as to freeze some ice. It stretches in small increments, reducing the risk of ruining the boots. It is time-consuming, however, and focuses more on the toe box area. And it only works if your boots fit in the freezer.
You fill two zippered plastic bags with water, stuff them in the toes and put the boots in the freezer. If it’s cold enough where you live, you can leave them out overnight. The ice will make the leather stretch as it freezes.
The Stretcher Method
You could use a tool made to stretch a boot. It is non-intrusive and fast-acting. You can stretch the boots up to one size greater. You can target certain spots. It is a bit pricey and generally only stretches the width.
You will also need some shoe stretch spray to apply before you insert the plug. It is a better investment if you have more than one pair of boots. Every model will have its own method of working. Read the instructions it comes with.
The Dry Heat Method
This uses heat to stretch your boot leather without getting them wet. Wear thick socks while doing this so you don’t get a hotfoot. Use a hairdryer to apply heat to problem areas such as the heel and sides of the boot. Keep the heat source about eight inches from the leather. Put the still on boots on and walk around until they cool off.
The Spoon Method
This is easy and inexpensive, providing you already own a spoon. It doesn’t break the leather so much as breaking in the heel and sole. Rub the convex part of a spoon vigorously over the bottom of the heel and the sole. A medium-sized spoon works best. The friction will wear it down even faster than walking.
The Have Someone Else Do It Method
If all else fails, you can always take your boots to a professional cobbler. It may be a little pricey but you are going to someone who has all the tools and know-how to get this done just right. The cobbler will zero in on the trouble spots and get them to fit just right. Find one that specializes in cowboy boots.
Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Feet?
There are two schools of thought on this. Because a lot of modern cowboy boots have pointed toes on par with a stiletto heel, they can cause the toes to scrunch together. The rigidity of them immobilizes the ankles and forces the knees into the role of the shock absorber.
On the other hand, the heel lift can reduce stress on the Achilles tendon. The rigid metal shank throughout the sole offers solid support. Ironically, it’s the boots that require little break in that are not good for feet.
Breaking in the boots makes them more supple and custom fit so that they are practically part of the leg. Real cowboy boots will be slim enough to fit in a stirrup but the toe will be round rather than sharply pointed. Like most boots, these days are more for fashion than functionality it may take some effort to find a real cowboy boot.
How Should Cowboy Boots Fit on The Calf?
Let’s start by measuring your calves. (The lower part of your leg, not a baby cow.) First, sit on the floor with your feet directly in front of you. Wear the same socks and trousers you would wear with the boots.
Wrap a tape measure around the thickest part of your calf and record the circumference. Round up to the nearest quarter inch. Measure the other calf. If there is any difference, the larger size is your calf size.
It’s normal for new boots to be snug to the point of discomfort. The leather will gradually stretch and become more comfortable. The leather should feel like it has some give to it. Here are some further tips on how to find the correct size for your cowboy boots.
- When you try your boots on, wear the kind of socks you plan to regularly wear with them. Keep in mind that thick socks will take up more room than thin socks.
- If you use an insole or an orthotic, wear that as well and see that it fits your chosen boots. Place it inside when you try the boots on.
- Feet are apt to swell throughout the day. The same can be said of legs. Because of this, you should try boots on at the end of the day.
- While sitting down you can pull the boots on or stand up into them. Sitting is typically easier.
- It might take a bit of effort to push your foot in but it should not be forced. Some people have heard a popping sound when the foot settles itself into the footbed. This means you have a good fit.
- Check out how much toe space you have. You would not want them to be squished in any way. See to it that they have at least a little movement and can be wiggled.
- Don’t forget to observe the heel slippage. Most new boots will have a very stiff sole so it would be typical for your heel to slip around a quarter of an inch. Truthfully, you want it to do that. Any slippage more than a quarter-inch and it’s too big. If it’s less or none at all then it’s too small.
- Walk a bit around in boots you are considering purchasing and make sure your feet feel reasonably comfortable. You should not notice any pressure points.
What Kind of Cushioning is Best for Cowboy Boots?
Boot insoles can be worn with cowboy boots. Take them with you when you go shopping for new boots. The insole should be half a size smaller than the boots. As for socks, you need something thick and soft. Many boot manufacturers also make boots specifically to be worn with their boots. They can keep your feet comfortable and protect them from blisters.
How To Walk In Cowboy Boots?
The comedian Gallagher had a bit on this. He said a cowboy has a few things in common with a lady at a party. They both wear high heeled shoes and a wide-brimmed hat. The only difference was how they held their elbows. The lady at a party would have her elbows drawn up to her rib cage and the hands held delicately.
The cowboy had his elbows thrust out with thumbs tucked into the pockets of his jeans. The “mosey” walk associated with cowboys may be due to becoming slightly bowlegged from hours in the saddle. But what is the “right” way to walk in boots?
A natural heel to toe stride is the most recommended walking method. Navigating stairs can be tricky. You might want to angle your foot a little before stepping on each stair. The banister is your friend in this case.
It may take some practice before you can do this with fluidity. If you are still getting used to walking in cowboy boots, try something with a walking heel of less than half an inch. The longer Cuban heel is designed more for riding with stirrups.
What To Wear With Cowboy Boots?
Unless you’re planning to dress in full cowboy costume, don’t go too far on the western wear. A belt and jacket may be the fashion statement you want to go for. Collared shirts are stylish but a t-shirt will do if you’re going to a country music performance. Your jeans should be dark and close-fitting. The boot-cut is best, of course. The cowboy hat may look a little strange north of Texas, but you might be able to pull it off.
There are many ways to break in cowboy boots. One of the above should work for you. Always remember to condition, condition, condition. This will not only make the leather more supple but also it will make them better looking and longer-lasting. The West wasn’t won in a day and so it may take some time for your boots to be broken in to fit properly. Keep doing it until it works and it will be happy trails from then on.