How To Break In Leather Boots Without Damaging Them

You just purchased a new pair of leather boots and can’t wait to wear them to a party tonight. But, when you wear them, they bite in your feet. Usually, some nasty blisters also form up. That deters you from wearing the boots and doing a little show-off.

Every new pair of leather boots demands some break-in period. Once you have paid this due, your new boots will accept you as their master. Although you can not bypass this process yet, you can speed it up, and this guide will help you do just that.

What does breaking into leather boots mean?

stiff boots need break in period

During the manufacturing process, the leather goes through several treatments that make it extra stiff. You have to soften the leather up by stretching and crushing it gently until its fibers have loosened up again.

One thing to bear in mind is that this process takes time. Regardless of the break-in method you use, the boots won’t be ready to wear overnight. Hold back a little and take it slow.

My Vetting Process For Techniques That Help Breaking In Boots

just bought new boots

1. No Damage To Boots

Boots are not cheap, and no one would like them to get damaged even before wearing them.

So, I made it the top priority that the techniques I suggest in this guide to break in leather boots do not have even a remote chance of damaging your pair in any way.

I tested and tried these techniques on my new Red Wing boots before enlisting them in this guide. Thus, you can rest assured that all of them are effective and safe.

2. No Special Supplies Required

I wanted to make sure that any supplies needed to apply the break-in techniques described in this guide are readily available in your home. I hate to sell unnecessary products in the disguise of helpful guides.

The supplies mentioned such as oil, conditioner, ice, water, alcohol, etc. are everyday household items and are readily available in most houses. These items are more than enough to do the trick.

3. Break In Period 3-7 Days

With the break-in techniques discussed in this article, most leather boots will be ready to wear for work or party in three days or less.

However, some boots, such as Red Wing Iron Ranger, are notoriously stiff and hard to break in. In such cases, the techniques may take up to 7 days to make them ready to wear.

4. Work On Most Types Of Leather Boots

Leather is leather, and the type of boots doesn’t make much difference. 

I used the techniques on different types of boots, such as dress shoes, work boots, hiking boots, and even cowboy boots. The results always remained positive.

One thing you must be mindful of is that these techniques are for boots made of 100% genuine leather. I do not recommend applying these techniques on suede or nubuck leather.

5. Work On The Stiffest Of Leather Boots

I wanted to make sure that the techniques are effective on leather boots with any level of stiffness. For this, I picked up the Iron Ranger by Red Wing as my guinea pig for all the testing.

Red Wing boots are notoriously hard to break in. It may take anywhere around 20-30 days to break into them naturally without using any extra help. These techniques will help you reduce that time to 3-7 days max.

7 Techniques to Break in New Leather Boots Fast

1. Natural Is The Best Way

Natural is the best way forward. It may take you ten or so days to break into your leather boots naturally, but it is the way that stresses your boots the least and leaves no damage to them at all.

To naturally break into your leather boots, wear them in the morning. In the morning, the weather is cooler and your feet are of their smallest size. 

Put on a thick pair of work boot socks and wear your boots for as long as you can.

Refrain from wearing boots during the afternoon as your feet swell up and are slightly bigger that during the morning. 

Instead, put the boots off and gently twist and bend them for a while. If you have a blister-prone area on your feet (for most people, it’s the heel), focus on that part. Wring, skew, and do all the movements necessary to soften up the leather.

2. Use Band-Aids

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Most people use band-aids only after the boots have caused blisters on their feet. However, a smart move would be to apply the band-aid before the pair has the chance to hack into your feet.

To stop any unwanted friction from happening, you may want to plaster a band-aid over the trouble area. You can also apply one inside the boots. This way, the shoes will get the time they need to stretch out, and your feet will stay protected.

Make sure that the band-aid you use comes with high-quality glue. If it slips off your problem area, you can say hello to blisters. It wouldn’t hurt to wear a pair of thick socks as well.

3. Use A Leather Conditioner

The whole idea of breaking in boots is to expand the leather and make it feel softer. A leather conditioner will soften the stiff leather. Plus, it will prevent any cracks that might occur from forced breaking in.

One added benefit of this method is that you don’t necessarily have to wear the boots. The use of a conditioner for a few days will do the job.

4. Heat the boots up

No, you don’t have to “cook” your boots. Just pull out a blow dryer and aim it at your boots. Don’t focus on any one area for long, and keep moving your hands over the boots. This option is only recommended for pure leather boots, as faux leather can melt.

It’s even better if you can aim the blow dryer at the boots when you are wearing them. This will allow the pair to get soft and mold around your feet.

5. Put the boots on ice

  • Take two plastic bags that can seal the water inside and fill them halfway with water to create a bulge.
  • Now, squeeze out the air and add each bag into each boot.
  • Place the boots into the freezer overnight. The water expands as it freezes, and that will eventually stretch the leather boots as well.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Do not pull out the frozen bags forcefully. Instead, wait for them to melt down before pulling them out.
  • Do not fill the boots with water without the bag. This can cause tears in the leather, making it rot.

6. Use A Mixture Of alcohol and water

Applying a few puffs of alcohol and leaving it overnight should be good to soften up the leather. Repeat the process for 2-3 days to fully break in your boots.

This solution is more professional, but it may be rather harsh on the leather. This is why you must first dilute the alcohol with some water before using it on the boots.

  • Add two-thirds water into one-third alcohol.
  • Pour the mix into a spray bottle.
  • Now, spray it inside the boots. 
  • Depending on the thickness of the leather, you might want to repeat this process a couple more times.

7. Take It To A Cobbler

Use this as a last resort only.

If you want to break in your leather boots without wearing them and none of the techniques seem to be working for you, approach a good cobbler or shoe repairing shop in your area.

A cobbler has all the necessary tools and experience needed to do the job without ruining the shape of the boots.

Before You Go

There are several ways to break in your leather boots. What’s most important is to remember that no solution is magical.

You must ease into your new pair of boots slowly, or you may damage them and catch foot blisters. The more you wear them, the faster they will accept you as their master.

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