New leather boots are always nice, but they are a dazzling beast until you break them in. If you just bought a pair of leather boots, you need to know how long it takes for them to become comfortable. Knowing this average time will help you prepare for wearing the boots and understand when the boots are not right for you.
Leather boots usually take 3-4 days to break in. However, to achieve this average quickly, you should not always be wearing new boots. Instead, take short walks every two to three days until the boots feel comfortable. If you want to wear leather boots, you need to know if your boots are suitable and how the break-in process works. Reviewing this information will save your feet from unnecessary pain.
How Long To Break In Leather Boots?
Many boot manufacturers claim that it takes approximately 80-100 hours to break in leather boots. This equates to about 3-4 days.
It is important to note, however, that you cannot speed up this process by wearing leather boots daily to form wrinkles. Ironically, during the break-in process of leather boots, the more frequent “breaks” you take, the faster the process will be completed.
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How To Break In Leather Boots
1. Start With The Right Size
Forget what you have heard about leather stretching. There is nothing you can do about boots that are too small back to front. If the toe is too tight or the foot is wider than the sole, no amount of breaking-in will fix it. On the other hand, boots that are too big are nothing but a blistering machine. If they blister where there is friction and slip every time you walk, they will never break in.
Not all manufacturers are true to size, but this is a useful starting point. If possible, try on the boots before you buy them and try them on a half size larger or smaller than your actual size. If you must buy online, read our reviews carefully and consider ordering two sizes and returning one when you are sure. Many brands of boots are designed to fit best when you go down a half size, but not all. Fortunately, our review has you covered.
2. Wear Thick Socks
First, the thickest socks you have (or two if you can manage it!) and try on your new boots in the house. This way you can determine if they are the right size without getting them dirty, and you can always turn them inside out. You can also start stretching the leather.
Ready-made leather is so much stiffer, and the combination of gentle pressure, heat, and moisture will make it softer and stretch better. Rising outside temperatures and increased humidity from sweaty feet (gross, but true) provide the perfect conditions to loosen the leather fibers. Bulky socks can partially mimic this phenomenon by warming the foot, applying pressure to the upper, and conforming to the shape of the foot.
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3. Bandage The Foot
After wearing your new boots for a while, you will be able to clearly see where the blisters are on your feet. There is no need to martyr yourself for it. Just make a note of these areas and apply a dressing the first few times you wear your new boots out into the world. A little preventive medicine goes a long way. Large cloth dressings work best, as plastic dressings slip off easily and do not apply well.
4. Bring Your Old Shoes
Don’t commit to wearing new boots and working 12 hours a day. No matter how comfortable you are at home, your arches will need rest after a few hours. New boots are best put on at the beginning of the day when your feet are cold and taken off a couple of hours later (feet expand throughout the day due to body pressure). Keep old boots by your desk or in the trunk of your car and change them if you feel any discomfort.
5. Take Breaks
Don’t wear your new boots for days on end. It takes more than one night for the moisture in your feet to completely evaporate and wearing leather for a day or two will not only give your feet a much-needed break but will also give the boots time to dry completely before you wear them again.
In addition, continuing to use this method for the life of the boots will minimize foot odor. It is recommended that you use a shoe tree every time you wear your boots to soak up moisture and keep the boots in shape. If you need to break in your new work boots, we understand that this can be difficult. Just because you need to break in your new boots doesn’t mean you can take a day off work.
Also Read: Best Boots for Asphalt Work
6. Bending Work
The two main places where boots bend are at the ankle, just below the toe, and at the ball of the thumb. These are the areas where the leather flexes when you take a step forward and should be handled during the initial break-in. After wearing the new boots for a while, right after taking them off, work the leather by holding the boots in your hands, bending the creases in the sole back and forth, and crushing the leather fibers around the heel and ankle. Don’t worry about being too gentle here. You are not damaging the boots, you are just speeding up a process that occurs naturally as you wear them.
7. Heel Scuffing
Heel slippage is a very common problem (especially in boots with smooth leather linings), and as you know, friction can cause blisters. Blisters are not always caused by boots, as a “heel pocket” will form on the inside portion of the heel as the boots are worn. Lightly sanding the inside of the heel area with fine-grit sandpaper can help speed up the development of heel pockets. You may worry about damaging the leather, but there is no need to overdo it. Just a little scratching is all that is needed to allow the shoe to grip the sock better and reduce friction.
9. Stretch It Out
If the shoe is very narrow (and you are sure that the rest of the shoe fits well), you can use a shoe stretcher. It looks a little like a cedar shoe tree, but it has a crank on it that you can use to widen the wooden foot. It is best used in conjunction with a leather conditioner or softener to soften your new boots. Simply insert them into the trunk, open the crank, and let them sit for 6-8 hours.
10. Try Different Lace Combinations
If you feel the tension in your arches and ankles and want to give your feet more room to bend and stretch, skip a few eyelets when you put the boots on. After all, the purpose of breaking in is to stretch the leather, not the laces. This is especially useful if you are using a pair of boots with a gusseted tongue to add volume for break-in.
11. Leave The Boots to the professionals
If you really can’t be bothered to break in your boots yourself, you can use a cobbler. They have specialized stretching tools to widen the problem areas of your boots and pad the insoles and arches.
Also Read: Best Rain Boots For Men
How Long To Break In Leather Boots | Video Explanation
Leather boots generally break in after 80-100 hours of wear, but this range should be used only as a guide. Always begin the break-in process indoors to check the size of the boots. To break in boots properly, you must start on the “right foot”. Leather boots should be exchanged until you know the correct size before starting the break-in process.
Hi, I am Brian, Lives in Mooresville, North Carolina, and Went to The University of Texas at Austin, I am a shoe lover & know the inside out of shoes. I am well aware of the qualities of top-quality boots. That’s what I’m sharing with the reader of About Shoes/boots/footwear. Read More Here