How to Break In Leather Hiking Boots Painlessly

Suitable footwear is crucial to every style of hiking or trail running. A pair of hiking boots or even trail runners might be the best possible choice for your next hiking adventure. However, before taking them to the trek, beware that a break-in period is mandatory.

And you have to break in leather hiking boots correctly. Otherwise, they’ll be useless.

In general, boots are durable and have a long lifespan. They are consisted of, pretty much, a universal foot mold, around which they take their shape and are stitched. Every kind of foot is unique due to the body structure and the way every person walks. So, callouses and arches might be a common sight on your foot when wearing hiking boots.

If you wonder why that happens, brand-new boots have stiff soles, universal insoles, and firm upper. They cannot flex and move as your foot moves, resulting in friction points, which end up in blisters and soreness. Avoid, therefore, taking your new boots on an excursion trip right away. Take time to break them in first.


What is Breaking In?

Breaking in shoes is about softening, smoothing the sole and fabric, and making it fold into the contours of your foot. In this way, the footwear will mold to your foot, becoming comfortable. To do that, go outside for walks. Also, make each walk a bit lengthier than the last one, so you give time to your shoe to get to know your foot better.

Keep in mind that synthetic hiking boots are comfy out of the box without needing too much breaking in. However, do wear them a bit before heading out to the outdoors to soften them more. 

Here are the best tips about how to break in hiking boots fast and effectively:

Keep Wearing Them in Your Home

I know that it feels weird wearing new leather hiking boots inside your house, but honestly, it is the best way to soften them. So, put them on with hiking socks and start walking around your home. Wear them while cooking dinner, while cleaning, or when watching your favorite sitcom.

By moving around, you are forcing your boots to move the way your feet do. The heat generated by the movement softens the construction materials. For example, the soles will flex beneath the ball of the foot. At the same time, the upper of the boots will begin creasing close to your toes and nearby the ankle. By doing so, you realize that maybe you have bought the wrong boot size. And if you did, you can still return it to the store since you did not wear it outside.

Take the Boots For Short Walks

Having walked with the boots inside the house will definitely have softened them a bit. But that might not be enough to break them in completely. You have to take them outside for constant walking, now. Next time, therefore, you have to run for an errand or need to go shopping, do not neglect to wear your new boots.

How to break in leather hiking boots another way is to tightening or loosening the laces. There are a bunch of lacing styles that will help mold the boot to your feet. You could, for instance, try to tighten the lower laces while the top ones are loose or something along those lines. Aim to find what provides the best comfort, stability, and support. 

Having walked for a few hours in an outdoor environment will have softened the boots and flexed to your walking pattern.

Wax the Leather

Sof Sole Mink Oil for Conditioning and Waterproofing Leather

Traditional leather is hard to soften. But full-grain, genuine leather, such as the one found in hiking boots, is even harder to smoothen. In every case, though, leather will soften fast with wax and a bit of work from the boot owner.

Try to work the wax with your fingers into flexion positions near the toes and the ankle. Afterward, take the boots, and flex them while using both of your hands. In this way, you soften the sole, too, as a stiff sole causes the heels to lift, which is inconvenient. 

A popular hiking boot treatment is NikWax Waterproofing Wax. You could also use a leather conditioner, such as Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, instead of wax—something to have on your mind.

Mark Your Weak Spots to Avoid Injury

Take a moment and notice the points getting sore during your walks. These should be the areas around the heel, the upper, and the top of your big toes. If you find yourself injured, use sports tape or surgical tape to reduce the rubbing of the boot on your skin. It might not be the best solution, but it is much better than just taking the pain.

Time for Longer Walks and Day-Hikes

How to break in new leather hiking boots last step is to go on a day hike. After fixing and taping up your hotspots, feel free to head out for a longer walk, as blisters will be non-existent by this point. Do go up hills over rugged terrain, as you would if you were hiking, as there, your movement pattern changes.

Remember to protect your hotspots in day-hikes. Don’t get super excited just yet. Your boots will still need few days and short hikes to break in. Ultimately, they will soften, so you will not need to keep using tapes or hiking cautiously.

Shop Without Rushing

As a final note, do not shop carelessly. Take time and find the boots that make a good fit without rushing. Every brand is different and offers a distinctive boot style, so find the one that matches your needs and preferences. In other words, ensure that before leaving the shop, the boots that you chose fit you. If you are not sure what to buy, you could check out our list of the Best Hiking Boots for Men or our comparison article between hiking shoes and hiking boots.

There are two types of boots that you could purchase: synthetic boots and leather ones. Those with synthetic materials are comfy out of the box without needing to break in. But they are not as durable or do not offer the same amount of support that leather boots do. And if you follow our tips, boots with natural leather will not be uncomfortable anymore. They will take the shape of your foot and provide incredible support and stability. 

Avoid This Temperature Extremes

Some insist that there is a way to break your boots in faster than by wearing and using them. Take extra caution when you read such advice, as in most cases, when it’s wrong, you’ll end up harming your new purchase. 

Avoid putting the boots in the freezer, and don’t heat them with a hairdryer. In both cases, you will ruin them by either melting the glue that holds together the outsole with the rest of the shoe or split them apart. Consequently, follow our tips and take your time, as breaking in a pair of boots might be a long process.

Just like with shopping, do not rush. Your hiking boots will get comfier as you wear them over time. That is until they fall apart from constant hiking, and you purchase a new pair, initiating the breaking-in process again. 

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Last update on 2021-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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