When you purchase a new pair of boots, breaking them hurts. One day they’ll fit like a glove, but for the time being, features you adore, like the thick sole and stiff, premium leather, can make you loathe wearing them.
According to a survey of 12,000 people, wearing a pair of work boots for a few hours every day for a week can significantly increase their comfort level.
I know that it can be a challenge, especially if boots are stiff and uncomfortable. But, with the right techniques and materials, you can make your work boots more comfortable and ready for any job.
Never fear, though; I’ve put up the most comprehensive list of pointers and tactics to make breaking in tough boots as easy as possible. This is a break in the process, so please be patient. How? Read on.
What does breaking in work boots mean?
Breaking in work boots is a process of stretching and softening the leather to make it more comfortable and flexible. It eliminates rubbing and pinching that can cause blisters.
How To Break In? – 10 Proven Ways
1. Select the Appropriate Size
Neglect about the leather stretching; if a pair of boots is too tiny from front to back, there is nothing you can do. No amount of breaking-in will help if your toes are crowded or your foot hangs over the footbed. Conversely, too-large boots are little more than blister generators. If you’re sliding around with every step, you’ll never move past the break-in stage because blisters form where there is contact.
Visit your neighborhood shoe store and have yourself measured with a Brannock device if you are unsure of your exact size. Even while not all manufacturers are true to size, it’s a good place to start. Try on boots before you buy them if at all possible, and experiment with sizes that are a half size larger and smaller than your real size.
If you purchase something online, make sure to check our evaluations and think about getting two sizes and returning one when you’re sure. Not all boot brands are made to fit best when you order a half-size smaller, though! Fortunately, you’re covered by our reviews.
Before you even think about walking in them, make sure that the boots are comfortable. Once you have the right size, wear them around the house or in the store for at least half an hour. Pay attention to the areas that rub or pinch, and try to identify where exactly the discomfort is coming from. You should also be aware of any pressure points and how the boots affect your overall balance.
2. Wear them around the house
If your boots fit well, the best way to break them in is to wear them around the house. This lets them conform to the shape of your feet, flexing the leather and forming to your particular foot shape. You can avoid a lot of discomfort by wearing them for an hour or two every day for a few days.
3. Wear them outside
Once you’ve worn them around the house, it’s time to wear them outside. Start with short walks, and gradually increase the distance and time spent on your feet. This will help to form the leather on your feet and break in the soles of your boots.
4. Stuff them with paper
To stuff your boots with paper, first, make sure to use newspaper or another type of paper that will absorb moisture and not just slide around in the boots. Fill the boots with as much paper as possible, making sure to get the paper in all the nooks and crannies. You can also stuff the tongue of the boot to give it a more custom fit.
Once you’ve stuffed the boots with paper, wear them around the house to break them in. The paper will compress as you wear them, helping to form the boots to your feet. If you’re feeling uncomfortable in certain areas, you can add more paper to those areas to give yourself extra cushioning.
5. Bend the Boot, Step on the Heel
Bend the Boot, Step on the Heel is a technique used to help break in stiff work boots. The technique involves using your hands to bend the boots at the toe area, and then stepping on the heel of the boots with the weight of your body. This action creates more flexibility in the leather, helping to shape the boot to match the contours of your foot.
6. Conditioning and moisturizing
Conditioning and moisturizing your work boots are essential for breaking them in and keeping them in good condition. When breaking into a pair of work boots, it is important to soften and condition the leather to make it more flexible and comfortable.
A survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association revealed that using a boot softening cream or conditioner was the most popular method for breaking in work boots, with 75% of respondents using them.
To do this, use a leather conditioner and moisturizer specifically designed to keep leather boots in good condition and protect them from wear and tear. Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to the outside of the boots, then use a brush or a soft cloth to evenly distribute the product.
Allow the conditioner to absorb into the leather overnight. After the conditioner has been absorbed and the leather has softened, use a moisturizer to protect the leather from cracking.
Apply a thin layer of moisturizer and allow it to absorb into the leather before buffing it with a soft cloth. Following this conditioning routine will help keep your work boots looking and feeling great.
In terms of lubrication, The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded that using a lubricant such as neatsfoot oil can help break in and soften leather work boots.
7. Wear Them in Short Periods
One of the best ways to break in work boots is to wear them for short periods and gradually increase the length of time you wear them. This will allow your feet to adjust to the boots and the leather to stretch progressively and soften.
8. Use a Boot Stretcher
A boot stretcher is a tool that can be used to stretch the leather of your work boots. The boot stretcher is inserted into the boots and then turned to apply force.
A toe-box stretcher can be used while breaking into work boots. This type of stretcher is designed to provide gentle, even pressure to the toe area of the boot, allowing the leather to stretch and conform to your foot.
9. Use an Insert
An insert can be a foam or rubber material that is inserted into the work boots to help break them in. The insert will help to reduce the pressure points on the feet and make the boots more comfortable.
10. Wear thick socks
Wearing thick socks can help break in new shoes for a few reasons. First, the extra padding of the thick socks helps to soften the pressure points on the feet, which can help reduce discomfort from rubbing and blisters. Second, the extra cushioning helps to create a better fit, as the socks will fill in any gaps between the shoe and foot. Third, the extra warmth of the socks can help to expand the leather of the shoe, molding it to the foot more quickly and easily than if the shoes were just worn with thin socks.
A pair of thick socks are especially beneficial when breaking into a stiff leather shoe, such as a dress shoe or a boot. The thick socks help to create more pressure and friction when the shoes are worn, which helps to soften the leather more quickly. This helps to reduce the chance of discomfort from rubbing and blisters as well.
When selecting a pair of thick socks, look for ones that are made of wool or synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or acrylic. Wool is an excellent choice as it is breathable and helps keep your feet warm and dry. Synthetic materials are also suitable because they offer some cushioning and are generally easier to wash and care for.
But do not wear them too tight. Overly tight socks can have the opposite effect, making the shoes feel even more uncomfortable. It is also important to make sure the socks are the correct size for the shoe, as too big of a sock can create an uncomfortable fit as well.
What to avoid while breaking-in work boots?
Breaking in a pair of boots is an important part of owning them, but it can also be a tricky process. The wrong approach can cause a lot of discomfort, damage, and even ruin the look of your boots. To ensure your boots break in properly, here are a few stuff on how not to break in boots.
- Don’t Force Them On
Trying to cram your foot into a boot that’s too small is a surefire way to damage both the boot and your foot. If the boot is too small, it will not stretch to fit your foot and will cause discomfort, so make sure to size up if need be.
- Avoid Wearing Them Unlaced
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when breaking into a pair of boots. Wearing them unlaced not only causes discomfort but can also cause the boot to stretch unevenly and cause damage to the material. Make sure that you always lace your boots before wearing them, even if you’re just wearing them for a few minutes.
- Say No To Harsh Chemicals
Many people think that using harsh chemicals like alcohol, bleach, or vinegar will help soften the material and make it more pliable. This is not true, and using these chemicals can damage the material and cause discoloration.
- Excess of Anything is Bad
Wearing a boot for extended periods in the early stages of breaking them in can cause excessive wear and tear. Instead, wear them for short periods and in short bursts until they’re properly broken in.
- Overheating is Not Good
Using a blow dryer to try and speed up the breaking-in process can be damaging and should be avoided. Heat can alter the shape of the boot and cause it to become brittle and break down over time.
- Don’t Oversaturate with Water
One important thing to remember when breaking in a new pair of work boots is to not oversaturate them with water.
Soaking a pair of work boots in water and then wearing them can cause the leather to stretch too quickly, resulting in an ill-fitting boot once dry. It can also weaken the leather and cause it to dry out and crack over time. A waterlogged work boot can also cause blistering due to an increased sweating rate.
What happens when you do not break in new work boots?
We all know the importance of wearing the right pair of shoes when it comes to working. But did you know that if you don’t break in your new work boots, you could be in for a world of hurt?
1. Potential Discomfort
A new pair of work boots may look great, but if you don’t take the time to break them in properly, you’re going to be in for a world of discomfort. Even the most well-crafted work boots need to be broken into a mold to the shape of your feet and become comfortable. Without doing so, you may end up with blisters and sore spots due to the stiffness of the leather.
2. Risk of Injury
If you decide to skip the break-in period, you’re more likely to suffer an injury while on the job. An ill-fitting pair of work boots can cause your feet to slide around in them, which increases the risk of slipping, tripping, and spraining something. Additionally, if your boots are too tight, you may develop foot and ankle problems, such as Morton’s neuroma, over time.
3. Loss of Efficiency
Additionally, if your work boots are not broken in, you will be less efficient on the job. Ill-fitting boots may cause you to tire more quickly or cause you to lose balance, resulting in slower work times. You may also be putting yourself at risk of developing chronic injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, that can lead to long-term pain and discomfort.
How Do I Prevent Chafing When Breaking In The Work Boots?
When breaking in a new pair of work boots, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of chafing:
1. Make sure the boots fit properly: Poorly fitting boots can put extra pressure on your feet and cause chafing.
2. Wear moisture-wicking socks: Choose socks made from materials designed to pull moisture away from your feet, such as wool, which can help reduce chafing.
4. Air out your boots: Take breaks in between wearing your boots to let them dry out and avoid prolonged exposure to moisture.
5. Rotate between two or more pairs of boots: This will allow the boots to rest and can help reduce chafing.
Ultimately, breaking in work boots takes time and patience, but it can be done easily with the right techniques. Use the above methods to soften the leather, stretch the boots out, and add cushioning with insoles, and your work boots should be good to go in no time.
We hope you found this article helpful. In case of any questions or doubts, feel free to ask in the comment section below. Thank you for reading!
I’m Richard Gravener, founder and editor of Bootzine. I have 19 plus years as Safety Officer in the construction industry. I have been qualified as a Safety Inspector since December of 2000, and have been a Workplace Safety Coordinator/Advisor since September of 2008.
Workplace safety First – Therefore, it’s crucial for workers to have good footwear to protect their feet from different dangers at work! On this blog, I aim to share all my knowledge and expertise in dealing with workplace safety, especially in choosing the right footwear for different jobs and foot care, hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!