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How to Break in Walking Boots

How to Break in Walking Boots

15.10.2014 | Hiking How to Guides

It can often be a long process to make sure you pick out the best walking boots for you. You’ve probably tried on many pairs to find the right ones so it’s important that you also break in your new boots properly. Follow these top tips from the experts on breaking in walking boots.


Why do you need to break in walking boots?

‘Breaking in’ is a term used to describe the process of wearing new boots so they mould to your feet. The process will also soften up the material of the boots so that they don’t rub your feet uncomfortably. Breaking in your boots is the best way to ensure that they don’t cause discomfort when out on a hike or trek.


How to Break in Walking Boots

Breaking in Leather Boots vs Fabric Boots

As a rule of thumb the heavier the boot, the longer it will take to break in and the lighter the boot, the quicker it will be to break in.

If you choose leather boots then expect to spend more time breaking them in. A full grain leather boot will take longer to break in than suede or fabric boots because leather is naturally a lot stiffer. There isn’t really any way that you can ‘cheat’ the process without having a negative impact on your feet or boots.

A lightweight fabric boot will be a lot quicker to break in than a leather boot, so if time isn’t on your side, it would be worth considering these as an option.


Buy well in advance

Allowing enough time to break in a new pair of boots is very important. Plan to buy your boots well in advance of any big walks you have planned; you should give yourself at least a month. Avoid buying a new pair of boots for a walk at the weekend as it is unlikely to end well, for your feet at least!


It will not make uncomfortable boots comfortable

Remember though that breaking in a new pair of walking boots will not make a poor fitting boot fit better. If the boot itself feels uncomfortable when you try them on initially, if they pinch or feel tight, then breaking them in is unlikely to make them more comfortable. In this case you should choose a different pair of boots. Again, don’t leave it till the last minute to buy your boots!


Wear them around the house

Initially you should wear your boots around the house. Make sure you wear a pair of socks that you are most likely to wear whilst actually out hiking. Give yourself a good 48 hours of wearing them whilst doing everyday household activities. You should start to feel them ease up on your feet.

Often it becomes obvious quickly if they aren’t going to fit right. After this time, if they feel like they pinch, rub in certain areas or your toes feel squashed then most manufacturers will allow you to return them if they haven’t been worn outside.


Take them for a test walk

Next up you should take them for a test walk around the block. Go for a short, relatively flat walk around town to see how they feel. Make sure your boots are laced up correctly to ensure they fit as they should.

If they feel comfortable after this, take your boots on walks of increasing difficulty and start to introduce some inclines and declines as the boots allow.


Increase the amount of time

You should then start to increase the amount of time you spend in your boots. Introduce some more ‘hiking conditions’ by wearing a pack with weight in to see how they hold up in conditions similar to the walk you have bought them for.


Flex the sole

If the soles are particularly stiff throughout the break in process you should flex the sole with your hands, this will help soften the sole and the foot bed. A stiff sole is often the cause for a lot of problems for your feet when walking. Don’t be too heavy handed though as you don’t want to damage the sole! Performing squats whilst wearing your boots will also have the same result helping to soften stiff soles.