Have a brand new pair of leather boots you’re just dying to wear? We know the feeling!
But you know what we don’t love? The breaking in process.
With the exception of some sneakers, almost all shoes need some amount of breaking in to get them to their maximum comfort level. But boots can be one of the trickiest types of footwear to get just-so.
Want to know how to do it?
Here’s how to break in boots without destroying them before you get to enjoy them.
Soften Them Up
Depending on the quality of leather, some boots tend to be a bit stiff, especially the first few times you wear them. To start the breaking in process, it’s best to treat your new footwear with a leather conditioner.
Leather conditioner will soften your boots and protect them from snow, sleet, and whatever else Mother Nature throws your way.
Lots of footwear designers make their own leather conditioners, so whenever possible, buy one from the brand who makes your shoes.
There are lots of different qualities and types of leather out there, so make sure the conditioner you choose is safe to use on your leather skin.
If you can’t find a leather conditioner you like, mink oil works just as well!
Once you find the leather conditioner that works start with a small amount to make sure it matches your boot. Then rub it in with a shoe brush and soften up your boots.
Wear Them At Home
There’s nothing worse than going out for the day in your brand new boots only to return home with painful blisters. As tempting as it may be to want to put them on and head out the door right now, it’s always best to wear them around the house before you even step outside.
But it all starts with having the right size in the first place.
If they’re too tight, don’t assume that they’ll stretch out.
They may stretch out a bit, but they’ll never feel right if they aren’t the proper size.
If your feet are in between sizes, go up a size. You can always wear thicker socks to cushion your tootsies and fill up that extra bit of space.
Put on some thick socks and spend a few hours each day wearing your new boots around the house. It shouldn’t take long for them to feel like they’re molding to your feet!
Crush the Heel
Most people agree that the heel is the most uncomfortable part of any boot.
And we’re not talking about the heel height or shape. We’re talking about the actual construction of the shoe, the part that wraps around the back of your heel just above where the leather meets the sole.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to break in this part of the boot, and it’s usually referred to as “crushing.”
Take your wrist and push down on the heel as hard as you can.
This won’t damage the leather, but it will help to soften up the construction of the boot. You can also do it the actual heel of your foot. Just step on the boot at the back heel and push down.
It’s kind of like when you put on a new pair of jeans and do a couple of squats to get them just right.
Like denim, leather will give way in time, and that stiff heel will naturally wear in the longer you wear them.
Crushing it with your foot or your wrist is just giving it a bit of a head start!
Try a Shoe Stretcher
Shoe stretchers can be very effective, especially if your shoe feels a bit snug. A good pair of boots should start naturally breaking in after a few wears. But if they don’t, a shoe stretcher can help do it for you.
Shoe stretchers won’t stretch your boots instantly.
It will take some time.
So you should wear them around the house for a few hours then put your shoe stretchers in overnight. Within a few days, you should start to feel a difference.
Invest in Blister Pads and Band-Aids
When it comes to footwear, we’re all about taking some preventative measures. In other words, invest in some blister pads and Band-Aids before you ever put those new boots on your feet.
Think about the places where blisters tend to form on your feet – at the heel, at the back, around the toes. Put on as many blister pads as you want before you step out in those new boots. Between the pads and a thick pair of socks, you should have enough cushioning to get you through a few hours pain-free!
What NOT to Do
The internet is full of useful information on how to do just about anything.
But when it comes to breaking in boots, it offers up some really bad solutions that no footwear designer on earth would ever suggest you do.
We’re talking about fire and water.
Some people will tell you that heating up your boots, either in the oven or with a hairdryer, will help break them in faster.
Heat does, in fact, cause the leather to soften, which can make them easier to break in.
But heat can also make leather crack. And there’s no reason to heat and crack your expensive new boots before you ever get to wear them.
Another myth for breaking in boots involves soaking them in water.
Like heat, water can also cause the leather to soften, but it can make it shrink too. And that’s the exact opposite effect you want to achieve if you’re trying to break in your boots and make them more comfortable.
What’s the Best Way to Break in Boots?
The best way to break in boots is to wear them. But if you want to jumpstart the process, there are a few things you can do.
Start by buying the right size and adding some leather conditioner to soften and protect them. Wear your boots around the house for a week or so with a thick pair of socks. Crush the heel to make it softer and insert a shoe stretcher if they’re still too tight after a few days.
Like all good things in life, getting your new boots just perfect requires a bit of patience. And while beauty may be a pain, there’s no reason to subject yourself to blisters and red feet. Slap on some blister pads or Band-Aids ahead of time to avoid any pinching or pain.
In a week or so, your new boots should be starting to feel just like your favorite old ones – soft and comfy and starting to mold to your feet!