Do you even need to break in your boots these days? The answer is, maybe. If you have lightweight Gore-Tex fabric or similar walking boots, you may be able to wear them as soon as you get them out of the box.
However, if you have a new pair of leather boots then you probably will need to break them in. Leather will be stiff to start with, but will soften and mould to your foot over time.
Breaking in is not a substitute for buying the right-sized boot in the first place. Buying boots or walking shoes online may not be the best idea. You need to not just try them on (with the socks that you will wear walking), but also walk around the shop (preferably with some weight on your back) for a while, before you will have some idea as to whether they will fit you properly. Breaking in boots takes time – don’t buy new boots the day before you are due to catch the ferry to mainland Europe for your walking holiday! Quick fixes such as soaking your boots in water and walking in them long distances will only destroy both your feet and your boots. If you are really short on time then look for lighter boots or walking shoes, which will be quicker to break in than traditional leather boots.
Three Steps to Breaking In Your New Boots
- Always wear the socks you intend to walk in when breaking in your boots. Be careful when lacing your boots up to make sure that the tongue of the boot lies flat and evenly- a crooked tongue at this point will be a point of annoyance for the life of the boots.
- Start with wearing your new boots around the house for short periods of time. If any issues show up at this point it may be worth considering returning your boots (if the retailer offers a right of return – and it’s a good idea to buy from one that does).
- If your boots feel good then start wearing them outside and for an increasing length of time. If they are still feeling good then add some weight to your back. Your feet can swell with heat, and in the afternoon, and flatten when carrying a load.
If overall your boots feel good but there is one tight spot which is causing an issue – then ask at a reputable shoe repair shop or the original retailor. It’s possible to spot stretch leather to help give bunions and other foot shapes more space.