Leather boots are durable footwear that can take the beating of wear and tear. But before you can wear it to work, you first have to break it in. This is the process of softening the material to mold perfectly on your feet. It prevents the nasty blisters that you often get when wearing leather shoes for the first time. I will share 10 of my tried and tested methods to break in work boots fast in this post.
Take note that the break-in period is something you can’t skip. Doing so will punish your feet. Imagine wearing stiff leather boots on a 10-hour shift. You’ll end up with injuries that will take weeks to heal fully.
Instead of suffering, you can try these ten effective breaking in a new pair of work leather boots.
1. Wear it around the house
The best way to break in your new work boots is to wear them around the house. This will allow the leather material to naturally soften and conform to your feet. So far, this is the easiest way to achieve the best fit for your new work boots.
However, the downside here is that this natural break-in process will take time. With this method, you need at least three weeks of regular wearing to fully break in the leather shoes. Unfortunately, not all of us have the time to go through this.
Still, try wearing your new work boots for a few hours each day. You should also tip-toe, stretch, squat, and bend while wearing the shoes. This will help stretch the material evenly.
The good thing about this method is that the shoes will be perfectly contoured on your feet once the break-in process is done.
2. Soaking in warm water
If you can’t wait for weeks, one way to break in a new pair of work boots is to soak them in warm water. However, it would help if you only did this on leather shoes made to be exposed to water. Otherwise, you’ll be ruining the adhesive.
For the warm water method, you need a bucket of water enough to fit your new work shoes inside. A deep basin will also do. Make sure that it’s filled sufficiently to soak the shoe upper.
Let your leather shoes soak in the warm water for up to an hour. This is believed to soften the leather fibers. However, you shouldn’t over-soak as it could damage the shoes.
After that, remove the shoes from the water and let the excess moisture drip. After that, wear it with socks to let the leather shape to your feet as it dries. When the boots are almost dry, use a hairdryer to finish them while wearing them still.
3. Using a shoe stretcher
If you feel that soaking the shoes in warm water is too much, you can try a shoe stretcher instead. This will work like artificial feet using a mechanical design.
You only have to slip it inside the leather shoe, and it will do its job. So far, many people swear by the effectiveness of shoe stretchers, which is the second-best method next to the natural process.
Make sure that you adjust the shoe stretcher to achieve the best results. Also, you should leave it in place for about 8 hours a day to soften the leather material of your work shoes.
The good thing about shoe stretchers is that they don’t use any moisture or chemical. But just like the natural process, it will take time and patience. Still, there’s no doubt that this is one of the best ways to prep your new shoes.
4. Applying leather conditioner
Another way to soften the fibers of your leather shoes is by using a leather conditioner. It’s always a good idea to apply leather conditioner on any break-in method you’re going to use. Aside from helping soften the material, it will also prevent cracking and damage to the surface.
After applying the leather conditioner, let it sit for a few hours. This will allow the leather fibers to absorb the conditioner and become soft.
The next step is to wear the boots to shape your feet. Once the shoes are on, use a clean cloth to wipe off the excess conditioner. If you want, you can also blow-dry your work shoes to make them even softer.
You may need to repeat this process repeatedly until you achieve the softness that you find comfortable—wearing it around the house when you can make the process faster.
5. Heating it up
Using heat to break in your new work shoes might work well if you take the risk. The concept is using heat to soften the leather fibers.
However, the only issue is if the work boots have a special coating. The excessive heat may damage such coating or make the footwear look discolored.
But if you’re willing to try, the process is pretty simple.
First, you have to heat the work shoes using your hairdryer. Low to medium heat should work for this purpose.
After that, put the shoes on and walk around the house. This will let the soft fibers conform to your feet. Feel free to repeat the process until you achieve the feel you like.
6. Using ice bags
The opposite of the heat method, the ice pack technique might be the solution you’re looking for.
For this, you need to place a bag of water inside your work shoes. Place it on the part you want to expand or soften. After that, put the shoes inside the freezer and let them stay there until the water in the bag freezes.
As the water freezes, it will expand, thus stretching your boots. You need to take the shoes outside the freezer and let them thaw naturally. After that, put the boots on and see if it fits you better.
However, this method doesn’t guarantee immediate results. Also, it may not be suitable for all types of leather as the extreme cold may damage the material coating. But then again, it’s about trying at your own risk.
7. Wearing thick socks
Another trick you can try is wearing thick socks inside your new work boots. This will prevent the stiff material from chafing your skin while forcing the leather to stretch with the extra thickness of the socks.
Also, this method will let you check if the work boots are the right size for you without getting them dirty. So in case it doesn’t fit well, you can still return it to the store.
The good thing about wearing thick socks is it helps warm up the leather. In turn, the heat will soften the fibers and allow them to contour on your feet. Still, this process may take time, so consider heating the material a bit using your hairdryer.
Do this for several days, and you’ll notice the work boots getting softer and more comfortable to wear.
8. Hammering it out
If you badly need to get your work boots broken in, you can try the hammer method. It borrows the same principle as when breaking in a new pair of football gloves. By pounding on the leather material, it will become softer quickly.
However, you’re not going to smash your leather work boots as if you’re burying a nail to a door frame. The process is gentle and localized.
First, you need a towel to cover the part you’re going to pound, ideally starting on the heel area. Next, start hitting with moderate force. This should help soften the stiffest parts of your work boots.
Still, you need to wear your work boots around the house to allow the leather to conform to your feet. You should also wear thick socks the first time you wear the boots to avoid blisters.
9. Massage the boots
Massaging the leather material is an excellent alternative if hammering is too intense for you. To do this, you need to bend your boots at the crease of the toe then fold the heel gently. After that, massage the rest of the leather material to help it become softer.
After doing this, I suggest applying a leather conditioner to sustain the softening effect of the ‘massage’ technique. It would help if you did this for a few days aside from wearing the boots around the house for a few hours. Thick socks also come in handy here to prevent hurting your feet during the break-in process.
10. Apply mink oil
Another technique many people swear by is using mink oil to soften the leather material of boots. It works like a leather conditioner, but it acts faster in softening the fibers.
The process for this method is the same as when you’re applying leather conditioner. You need to cover the entire leather material and leave it on for a few hours.
After that, you need to wipe off the excess oil using clean tissue paper. You should also wear boots around the house to make the break-in process fast. Massaging the leather before applying mink oil is also a good move to give the material a head start.
The only downside is that mink oil tends to be expensive, exceptionally pure. But if you’re willing to spend a few more bucks, this method is worth the try.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long do work boots take to break in?
A: Leatherwork boots may take up to 5 weeks to fully break in naturally. Still, you can try some quick alternatives if you don’t have the luxury of time. However, you should know that nothing beats the result of the natural break-in process.
Q: How do I stop my feet from hurting in work boots?
A: If your work boots are punishing your feet, you can try wearing thicker socks. You can also switch to a softer insole or lace it up for a tighter fit. If all of these don’t work, your work shoes might be poorly broken in and still requires further softening to conform to your feet entirely.
Q: How can you break in boots without wearing them?
A: A shoe stretcher comes in handy in breaking in your new leather boots without wearing them. This is the case if you’re busy at work and don’t have the time to soften the leather material naturally. You can also try applying a leather conditioner to help soften the material even more.
Q: Why are my work boots so uncomfortable?
A: If your work boots feel too uncomfortable, there are two possible scenarios: you have the wrong fit, or you still need to break it in. Make sure that you check these two aspects to solve the problem. Just remember that leather boots will still stretch, so it’s normal for them to feel too snug at first.
Q: Do boots get bigger when broken in?
A: New leather will still stretch, so don’t worry if it feels tight the first time. Over time, your new boots will achieve their optimal fit as you break them in. This is why you should never size up from your standard size when purchasing leather footwear.
Q: Why are my work boots giving me blisters?
A: A poorly sized work boot will surely give your feet blisters. This is due to the material chafing your skin as you walk. It’s also possible that the boots aren’t fully broken in yet, which is why it feels stiff.
Knowing how to break in work boots fast takes trial and error. You need a few days to weeks to fully soften the leather so that it will contour on your feet nicely. The natural way of wearing it around the house is still the best resort. But if you don’t have much time, the other methods I discussed here will surely help.
Do you have any methods to add? Share your thoughts below!