Your fancy leather boots, or maybe they are work boots have just been delivered. You are excited; you just can’t wait to wear them. But wait, have you heard about how to break in leather boots?
Wearing new leather boots straight outta the box is a big mistake! They can give your feet hell. That is why we advise you to break in the boots. Actually, breaking in boots is something that you should do for all new shoes. If you buy a pair of hiking shoes, break them in a few days before the hike, and so on.
Why it is important to break in leather boots
Unlike fabric, leather is tough. It can get really stiff especially on new boots. Thus, when you buy your new pair of leather boots, you need to break them in. This means getting your feet and the boots accustomed to each other.
In most cases, you just need to wear the boots and walk about with them in the house for an hour or so. However, when the boots feel a little bit too tight, well, you need to do much more than wear them to break them in.
If you have new work boots, it is very important that you break them in. You will be spending a lot of time on your feet, so you cannot afford to wear a pair that hurts your toes or your heels.
When you buy workplace boots, do not wear them to work straight away. Rather, take some time to break them in. Order them at least a week in advance, so you can have enough time to break them in.
When you break in the boots, you get them to fit or conform to the shape of your feet. You make them more comfortable and most importantly, you get to wear them without blisters.
We will break this into two sections. One, we will see how to break in boots that fit too tightly, maybe too narrow for your feet.
Two, we will look at how you can break in boots that fit well, on the precept that you should break in all new boots.
How to break in leather boots that feel too tight
1. Buy true to size or slightly bigger leather boots
The first factor in wearing a fitting pair of leather boots is to buy the right size. If you buy boots of the wrong size, even breaking them in might not work.
So before you can hit the order button on your favorite online marketplace, know your size well. You might also want to check the return policy, just in case the boots do not fit. Some people like to order a size bigger than what they wear, and that is alright.
However, even if you order half or a size bigger, you will still need to break the boots in. The reason for this is that new boots could hurt your heels, or your toes. They might even feel too narrow, thus hurting your feet sides when you wear them.
The good thing about ordering the right size or slightly bigger is that the leather boots take much less work to break in than when you order smaller. Please take note of that!
2. Stretch them in the freezer
Honestly, this is one of the best home methods for how to break in leather boots. If it fails to work, most likely the next best thing will be to take them to a cobbler.
When water turns into ice, it expands. It is during this expansion process that the boots are going to stretch and fit you. It is not hard either. Just pour cold water into plastic bags, tie them up tightly so that they do not leak and then place them in the boots.
Place the boots in the freezer and wait for the water to turn into ice. Do not pour the water directly into the boots because leather absorbs water. Thus, when the water inside the leather starts to turn into ice, it will tear the leather.
Let the boots stay in the freezer for sometime even after the water turn to ice. That way, you keep the leather in the stretched state enhancing how it enlarges. After 4 to 5 hours, take them out and break the ice. If you wear the shoes then, you will feel the comfortable fit.
Please note that if the boots were too tight, one or even two sessions in the freezer might not work. The good thing is that you can repeat this process a few times. If it does not work the third time, the shoes probably won’t fit you, so take them to a cobbler or give them to a person with smaller feet.
3. Remember to use leather conditioner for your boots
After stretching your leather boots in the freezer, remember to use leather conditioner to bring the boots back to proper shape and health.
Think about it for a moment …
When you stretch leather, you are forcing something to give in the leather. Thus, there is a likelihood that the boots may not last as long as they should because you disfigured the leather. If you do not condition the boots, the leather will start to crack.
In fact, it is recommended that you apply the conditioner on the boots before you start stretching them. The work of the conditioner is to cure the leather, to soften the fibers so that they stretch without breaking.
When the leather softens up, it even becomes easier to stretch. When you are done stretching the shoes, apply another treatment of the conditioner so that the leather cures nicely. This will enhance the health of your leather boots and they will last a long time.
Leather conditioner also helps to waterproof the boots. You must have a conditioning product at home all the time if you love your boots.
4. Stretch the boots with heat
We did discuss the heat application in our article for how to stretch boots that hurt the back of your ankles. However, it is ok to repeat a good thing a few times.
Take a hairdryer and with the shoes on your feet, start blowing at them with the hot air right at the spots where you felt the pinch. When you stop blowing at them, wear them immediately and walk with them around the house for a few minutes. As they cool down, they will conform to your feet.
Wear thick socks with the shoes as you condition them with heat. If you would rather stuff the shoes and then apply heat, do it. Stuff them with old newspapers and rags, force them in especially if you feel the boots fit too tightly in the toe box area. Apply heat thoroughly and continuously, stuff more rags and then let the boots cool down.
Please note that this technique mostly works with leather boots that pinch just a little bit. If the shoes are too tight, you may need to use ice, or take them to a cobbler to be given a real stretching.
How to break in leather boots that fit
When you buy a new pair of leather boots that fit just well, you may be tempted to think that you do not need to break them in. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even if they feel comfortable, you still need to break them in. After all, the main reason why we break in leather boots is to get them to conform to the shape of our feet.
Bottom line: If the boots are new, break them in!
How do you go about breaking in leather boots that fit well? It is simpler than when you break in leather boots that feel quite tight.
1. Wear the boots a few hours daily
Wear your leather boots a few hours daily and walk about the home with them, then take them off and repeat the process the following day. You are doing this in assumption that you will wear them for prolonged times soon.
You also want your feet to become used to the high arch of the boots, the fit of the leather as well as the stiffness. If this is your first pair of boots, it will take some time to get your feet used to the boots. Thus, wear them a couple of hours only.
2. Do not lace up the boots fully
Ease up on the laces a little, will you? In the workplace, there will be a lot of bending, kneeling and so on. Thus, when the lacing of the boots is very restrictive, these boots are going to hurt you. When you kneel, the boots may bite your joints, you know, the place where the ankle joins the foot. However, you can give them a breather by easing up on the laces. You may even skip a few eyes, say, about two to give your legs a break.
3. Swap thick insoles with thin ones
We hardly think about this, but hey, it works every time. Thick insoles take a lot of space in the boots, space that could otherwise be occupied by your feet. People think that thicker insoles are better and to some point, they are. However, there are thin insoles that are quite protective.
If you can have thin insoles that offer the required support, you do not need thick ones. Besides, having thin insoles allows you to wear thicker socks and still have some breathing space inside the boots.
You cannot wear new leather boots without breaking them. They may feel comfortable at the start but as the day progresses, they will hurt your feet from here to kingdom come. To prevent that, you have seen the techniques for how to break in leather boots. It does not matter whether they are work boots or just casual boots, break them in!