High-quality work boots can serve you a lifetime, but breaking such footwear takes patience. It’s like buying a new house or joining a college fraternity. Even if you made the right pledge, there’ll still be a substantial amount of agonizing hazing. For work boots, that hazing is the dreadful break-in period.
Like every new thing, work boots generally take some time to adjust in your life. This is especially painful with sturdy, heavy-duty work boots. Simply put, to make your feet comfortable in them, you need to break in work boots fast.
Your feet will only feel comfortable inside your boots once they’re broken in properly. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. We discussed the various best practices when breaking in tough work boots:
Table of Contents
Tips on How To Break in Work Boots
Start With the Right Size
When it comes to size, footwear has a lot more going on than just a number. Some brands run small and some run large. For work boots that you’ll be spending days doing labor in, conduct your search focusing on brand and model.
Be sure to determine how wide you want your work boot to fit. For instance, if you get hot easily, you may be better with extra room in the toe irrespective of whether or not your feet are wide. The same way runners need to measure their gaits to know the right running shoes, those looking for new work boots should determine how much arch support they will need.
Flatter feet call for more arch support. So choose wisely. You don’t want to feel like you’re meant to forever work in pain with a pair of unbreakable boots when size is the actual problem.
Wear Your Boots at Home for the First Few Days
While leather is a tough material, work boots will involve more effort to break in properly in comparison to regular boots. This is because of just how hard the leather is. Due to their construction, work boots tend to flex into the shape of your foot with constant wear.
One best way to get around tough leather work boots is to wear them around the house for the first few days. In case you’re short on time on weekdays, give them 20-30 minutes before and after work, then walk up and down the stairs all weekend wearing them.
Step the midsole on the edge of a staircase, and rock your foot back and forth to help facilitate the process. Do this for two or more days, then gradually up the amount of time you spend wearing the boots around the house. We suggest that you don’t head to the workplace straight away after buying your work boots. Wear them for at least a week while at home.
Soak Your Boots in Warm Water
Heat can be a great way to loosen the fibers of the leather. This method is used by military members to achieve that comfortable fit. To break in your boots, simply soak the shoes in a bucket of warm water for about 30 minutes depending on the leather.
Note that finished leather may take longer to fully soak. Thus, it’s important to check through the boots during this process. Otherwise, too much soaking can lead to the permanent wrapping of the leather and even damage. Once you’re done soaking, remove the boots as well as the excess water.
Then put them on with socks for up to an hour or so. This should make the fibers mold to the shape of your foot, and for a precise fit. The boots will also dry up as you wear and when fully dried, the molded shape will remain.
This method involves using frozen water to stretch leather work boots. This method should be considered for fully waterproof boots and under keen monitoring. Subject to the quality of the leather, the fabric may be damaged if not done properly.
For better results, simply fill up a plastic bag with water and eliminate any traces of air before sealing. Put the bag of water into the boot and place it in a position where the boots pinch. Then, place the boots in a freezer.
As the water freezes into ice, it expands and stretches the leather outward. Once the water is completely frozen, let the ice thaw out before removing the bag. Your boots should fit better and more comfortably.
Condition & Moisturize Your Boots
Be kind to your boots despite the dreaded break-in period. Leather conditioners and moisturizers are usually designed to soften and relax the boot’s upper. This, in turn, makes stretching fibers easier. Workboot manufacturers may recommend certain types of products for specific models.
Mink oil, for instance, darkens the leather. That means you should only use a pinch. Spray conditioners have silicon in them, which dries out the compound bonds in leather. Some leather oils are infused with pine sap, which is a natural preservative. After conditioning, allow the boots to air dry before putting them on. Below is a summary of the process:
- Take your new work boots
- Apply the leather conditioner liberally on the upper of the boots
- Leave-in for some hours
- Put them on when the fibers are soft
- The boot will mold to the shape of your feet
- Rub off the excess conditioner with a wet cloth
- Dry your boots using a dryer
Boot and leather products are necessary even before the break-in phase. Maintain your boots every three to six months to prolong their overall lifespan.
Stretch Your Boots Using Stretchers
A boot stretcher refers to a shoe-shaped mechanical tool that is used to stretch shoes to the desired shape and size with the use of force. The stretcher is attached to a mechanism that moves the front of the stretcher (positioned in the toe) and the back of the stretcher (positioned in the heel) further apart. Simply insert the boot stretcher inside the boots and then pull the stick as much as you can. Remove the stretcher and wear the boots to see if the problem is solved.
Insoles are also a great way for molding tough work boots and making them comfortable to wear. There’s a wide variety of insoles available on the market ranging from thin padding to thick gel inserts. Just be sure to choose those that work for you and the ones designed to fit into work boots. The insoles will make the boots more comfortable and improve flexibility. Such extra cushioning makes the boot conform better to your foot over time.