How to Break in Boots

home remedies to soften leather boots

What is breaking in boots?
Breaking in boots is the process of softening & shaping new boots so that your feet get to fit them in. This means your feet get to mold the shoes so that you do not feel uncomfortable.

We all know the process of getting a shoe that fits you right can be tough. And even the wicked sisters of Cinderella can testify to that fact. And hence the need for the tips below on how to break in boots.

Breaking in boots ensures that you get the glass slipper of your dreams and it actually fits, after a bit of getting used to.

Spoiler title
As much as you are tempted to wear your new pair of boots, patience is key. You must be willing to spare some two weeks (tentatively) before you can put them on. You might think it would be better to put them on while ignoring the tightening discomfort. But truth is, you will not walk comfortably and blisters might just pop up.

General ways to break in a safety boot

Leather conditioner
If you do not take the time to break in your new pair of boots and especially those made of leather you are definitely going to torment your feet and even destroy the boots.

Taking a walk in your new pair of shoes will lead to their expansion and rather too quickly. Therefore, the leather will have cracks.

The best way to prevent this is to ensure that you apply a layer of leather conditioner so as to soften stiff leather. This way the leather, hence the shoes, will easily stretch. This fastens the breaking in process while at the same time protecting both your feet and shoes.

A leather conditioner is also another way to waterproof the shoes which increases their durability.

Go for band aids
Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, if you want to avoid blisters because of friction between your feet and your new safety shoe, you need to cover the areas at such a risk.

You definitely know the areas of trouble around your feet and therefore you can use a foot tape. In case you’re not sure where the problem areas are then wear the new shoes for at least half an hour around the house and you will definitely find them.

Use a shoe stretcher
If you really need to break into your boots and you find yourself doing it frequently because you get new work shoes regularly then it’s about time you invested in a boot stretcher.  It is a better shortcut in skipping all the hard work involved in the breaking in of boots.

This is because the wooden insert simply mimics the shape of your foot. And it can be left in the shoe for quite some time.  So how does it work once inside a boot?

Once you insert the stretcher inside the shoe you simply crack the bar on the opposite end and it expands the insert which then expands your shoe.

Indoor booting
It might seem crazy but you should try to wear your boots indoors as much as you can.  This is because every minute you spend in these new shoes will speed up the breaking in process.

Tie your boots in a snuggly manner and as soon as your boots feel comfortable enough when indoors start wearing them for short outdoor trips. And sooner or later you’ll be strutting the streets.

Wear socks
Go ahead and put on some socks that are at least as thin as the ones you normally wear with your boots.
Bringing some heat
This here is a solution for genuine leather boot. If it is not genuine leather it will melt. So wear your double layer socks and directly aim a blow dryer at your feet where the leather wraps or where the shoe is tightest. These are the hotspots of your feet.

The heat will make them soft and quickly allow your feet to fit into the shoe so that the leather can hold according to the shape of your feet. Only apply the heat for 30 seconds per area.

Bending and twisting
Leather boots are tough simply because they undergo several chemical treatments and therefore their fibers are very rigid. To loosen them up simply bend and twist the boots gently after wearing them for some time.

This ensures that the softening process continues in areas that you feel have already started molding. Remember the keyword is ‘gently’.

Bending and twisting
This is a modern technique that really works when you find yourself in a tough place. All you need to do is take a spoon and rub its smooth round side against the back of the heel of your shoe or any other tough spots that you cannot reach.

And then make sure that you mimic the motion of your feet with the spoon. This softens the rough leather.

Seek professional advice
If you try all these tips of how to break in boots and none of them seems to be working then it is a sign that you should head to a cobbler. While it may be expensive, a cobbler will do the breaking process for you faster and correctly.

He/she is the master and should come up with a solution for any type of discomfort you may have with your boots. However, you might have to leave your boots with them for about 3 to 7 days.

Problems and Solutions

New boots
When you are dealing with new boots then a flex break-in is recommended.  The first thing you should do is get the boot and flex the sole repeatedly whereby you mimic the bending movement of your foot. Then take your time and push in at the top part of your heel counter then again back to the boot.

This will soften and flex the boot in that particular area to prevent the heel from slipping.  You will then flex the shaft of the boot at the ankle area.

Do this several times then push on the seams on the side from the inside of the boot to get them to flex outwards.

Stiff boots
This is where you need to get a good leather conditioner that will make the leather softer.  Ensure the conditioner you go for is one that sucks deeply into the leather making it loose and softening its fibers.
Tight boots
Work the area that is tight by stretching it.  This means that you can stretch the bottom area or the top area or any area that you feel is tight on your feet.
Your ankles are rubbed by side seams
Use a bat to break in your boots.  This does not mean that you beat up your boots. Remember you need to be gentle so as to soften the side seams.
Too tight to wear
Some boots are hard to put on simply because the throat is too narrow.  You have a number of options on how to deal with this problem. The fastest and the best solution is stretching.

You can do this on your own using the tools mentioned above or you can simply go to a cobbler to do that for you.

Sometimes when work boots are too tight to get into, you might simply need a zipper to be added if there is none.

Listening to your Feet

As much as you are in love with your new boots it is very important that you note the pain points. These are small problems that can eventually become bigger very quickly. Therefore, if you feel pinching or a hot spot on your feet it is better that you get a solution quick. One of the top tactics in preventing feet problems is by learning how to lace your boots.

Most of the time we master the process of tying shoes while in elementary school and after that we do not think much about lacing. But when it comes to your boots it is important to learn a few new tricks so as to improve your walking experience.

Below are a few ways to lace your workplace shoes.

Boot lacing methods

  • Window lacing
  • Surgeon’s knot
  • Top relief lacing

Window lacing
Window lacing helps you to deal with top of foot pressure. This method is also known as box lacing. All you need to do is unlace the boots down to the hooks, then lace straight up to the next hook and then cross the laces over. Finally finish lacing the rest of the boot the usual way.

Surgeon's knot

The surgeon’s knot helps to prevent heel slips. When your heel seems to be slipping excessively it means that there is a lot of volume in your shoe’s interior especially at the top of your foot. All you need to do is put down your boot hold it in place and then do the following:

  • Pull out slacks in the laces
  • Find 2 pairs of lace hooks that are close to the point where the top of your foot begins
  • Wrap the laces around each other 2 times then pull them tight. Repeat this process on the next highest set of the lace hooks.
  • Finish lacing of the boot as usual.

Toe relief lacing

Toe relief lacing reduces toe box pressure. All you need to do is completely unlace the boot then lace it back up. But in this case you have to skip the first set of hooks so as to open up your toe box and take off some pressure.

Avoid any quick fix solutions such as soaking boots or walking long distances with new ones because that would only be bad for your boots and you will be committing an offence against your feet.