You just bought a new pair of boots and pull them on before heading to work on Monday. Life is great until, right around mid-morning, you feel the familiar sharp pain of a blister forming. You look down at your new boots in dismay. How could this be? Quality boots, especially those made of leather, take a little breaking in to get them comfortable for continuous wear. Here are tips on how to break in your new boots.
Get the Proper Fit
Image via Flickr by Katie Simmons-Barth Photography
The most important step when breaking in your new boots is making sure you have the proper fit before you buy. Boots often fit differently than other shoes, so it’s not enough to purchase your regular size.
Try on your normal size, then a half size up and a half size down, to find the right fit. Toes should never be touching the front of the boot, and your heel should stay properly in place as you walk (not rubbing excessively up and down inside the boot). If you have any doubt, head into a specialty retailer like Russell’s and consult with an expert boot fitter.
Take It Easy
New boots are never the right choice for a long day of work, hiking, or walking around town. Begin by wearing the boots for one to two hours at a time. This will allow your feet to get used to the boots, and for the boots to start to relax enough for comfortable wear.
Walk on a variety of surfaces such as pavement, concrete, and grass to get a feel for where the boots are rubbing or causing pressure on your foot. For common pressure areas, use a lotion like Body Glide or a tape like Moleskin to decrease friction until the boots are broken in.
Work on the Leather
Leather boots aren’t just meant to last for ages, but to hug your foot over time. To get to the comfortable “hugging stage” of boot wearing, the leather needs to soften and relax. If there’s a spot in your boots that is particularly troublesome, you can move the process along by softening the leather in that spot with beeswax or conditioning oil. Waxes and oils can change the look of leather, so be sure to test a small area before using this method to break in your new boots.
Wear Padded Socks
Padded socks have thicker cushioning on the bottom and around the widest part of your foot. Padded socks are great for not only preventing blisters and providing a cushion when you are breaking in your boots but also for helping to stretch out the leather. Pick padded socks that wick sweat away from your foot to help reduce friction and therefore prevent blisters. Wool and other natural fibers are great choices.
Breaking in new boots takes time and a bit of patience. Once they are comfortable to wear, however, you will be able to enjoy your boots for a long time.