Man and a woman with their dog, hiking down a train on a fall afternoon.

Breaking in your hiking boots is a gradual process and is the best way to ensure that the boots form to your feet. This process is also especially important to help prevent injuries. With that in mind, here is a short guide on how to break in your boots.

How Long Will It Take?

Your timeline depends on the type of hiking boots. Lightweight hiking boots will feel ready almost immediately while heavyweight hiking boots have may take weeks to properly break-in. Take the time to properly break in your boots and forgo any long and strenous hikes before then.

How To Break In Your Hiking Boots

Follow these steps on how to break in your hiking boots. At the end of the day, how the boots feel on your feet will determine when they are properly broken in.

  • Start Inside - Start by lacing up your boots completely and wearing them around the house for a few hours at a time over several days. Be sure that you are wearing the hiking socks and insoles you plan to use with the boots. Pay attention to fit and comfort. Remember that some stiffness is normal, but noticeable rubbing and pinching won’t get any better. Some minor fit problems can be solved using shoe stretchers or different lacing techniques, but this is your chance to return hiking boots and try a different style if they don’t feel right.
  • Move Outside - If your hiking boots feel comfortable after a few days inside, take them out to do errands, walk the dog, or do yard work. Gradually wear your new hiking boots for long periods of time and continue to pay attention to areas that rub or cause discomfort.
  • Start Slowly - Wear your new hiking boots on short day hikes with little or no weight on your back and gradually increase your mileage before you plan a multi-day backpacking trip.
  • Apply a Leather Conditioner - When the leather is moist (not waterlogged), it will conform to the shape of your foot more easily. This will also be important to keep your boots from cracking as they age, which will help keep them waterproofed.

Common Myths

There are many common myths surrounding breaking in your boots. Here are a couple misconceptions.

  • Water - You may have heard of soaking your boots as a remedy for time. This will warp the leather and the boots will lose their shape, making them unwearable. There goes $400 down the drain.
  • Heat - Another myth for a time remedy is applying heat. This will crack the leather and result in boots that aren’t waterproof.

Remember that having proper fitting boots can make or break your hiking trip. By taking the time to break in your boots, your boots will keep you and your feet comfortable and healthy for years to come. For more info on hiking boots, or any outdoor adventures, visit your local Sun & Ski Sports.