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How To Break In Leather Boots – The Easy Way, Step by Step

You found the perfect pair of leather boots online, and they’ve finally arrived.  But much to your chagrin, they hurt your feet!  I will discuss how to break in leather boots to make them fit just right.

How to break in leather boots is a method of stretching leather for a better fitting boot.  Breaking in leather boots requires purchasing the right size boots and can include various techniques such as wearing them with thick socks or using a shoe stretcher to provide durable comfort for your feet. 

Do you have a pair of leather boots that fit in the store but rubbed you the wrong way after wear?  Do you need your leather boots to fit and feel better on your feet?  This article provides different techniques for breaking in leather boots.

What Is Breaking in Leather Boots?

Breaking in leather boots is a method of stretching and relaxing leather boots to make them fit your feet better.  Brand-new leather can be pretty stiff, making any new boots uncomfortable, even in the right size.  By choosing the right size at the right time, wearing the boots with thick socks, conditioning the leather, or just using a shoe stretcher, you can break in leather boots to make them more comfortable.

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • Reasons You Might Choose To Break in Leather Boots
  • Variations of How To Break in Leather Boots
  • How To Break in Leather Boots Overview Table
  • Skill Level of Breaking in Leather Boots
  • Tools and Supplies Needed for Breaking in Leather Boots
  • How To Break in Leather Boots Step by Step
  • How to Get Better at Breaking in Leather Boots
  • My Personal Research on How To Break in Leather Boots
  • Helpful Insights on How To Break in Leather Boots
  • Key Takeaways
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Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

One myth about breaking in leather boots is moisture.  It’s been said that soaking leather boots in water and then wearing them will help break them in.  However, water will more likely shrink leather boots, so avoid this method. 

Another myth is that the application of heat will relax leather boots.  Leather is made to be resistant to things like moisture and heat, but both can cause damage to the leather.  Breaking in leather boots must be done correctly to prevent damage.

Reasons You Might Choose To Break in Leather Boots

There are several reasons why you might choose to break in your new leather boots.  One is they feel too tight on your feet.  Our feet get slightly larger later in the day with activity and fluid intake, but sometimes the size we think we are isn’t our actual size. 

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Also, brand-new leather being stiff can make leather boots uncomfortable.  There may also be spots where the leather boots rub, pinch, or cause blisters, in which case you probably want to break them in a little faster. 

To break in leather boots fast, condition the leather, then wear them around with thick socks for 8–10 hours daily.

Variations of How To Break in Leather Boots

There are a few variations of how to break in leather boots, and some are easier than others.  You may choose a method that works with items you already have at home, or you may choose to purchase tools to help you in the process.  Let’s look at some methods for breaking in leather boots.

  1. Wear leather boots often.  With frequent use, the leather will relax quicker and break in the boots faster, making them more comfortable on your feet.  This may not work in some cases if you’ve got a dress code to think about or if they’re causing sore spots.
  2. Wear leather boots with thick socks.  When you wear a pair (or two) of thick socks while donning leather boots, you’ll cause some stretch in the leather quicker.  This method can probably also prevent blisters, but it’s also not comfortable.
  3. Stretch the leather boots with shoe stretchers.  These devices fit inside shoes and boots and have plugs for problem areas (think corns or bunions).  It has a handle that you can turn every eight hours that will gently stretch leather boots for a better fit.
  4. Consult with a cobbler.  A boot and shoe cobbler is a professional that can expertly stretch and refit leather shoes and boots for your perfect fit without ruining the leather.  It will cost extra, but there’s little risk.

How To Break in Leather Boots Overview Table

Area of PreparationDetails
TechniqueHow To Break in Leather Boots
Overall Level of Skill (1-5)3
Time to Complete (minutes/hours)80–100 hours
Workspace NeededMinimal
Skills NeededMinimal
Tools and Supplies NeededShoe stretchers, thick socks
Key Helpful TipCorrect size
Characteristics on How To Break In Leather Boots

Skill Level of Breaking in Leather Boots

Thankfully, it really doesn’t take a great deal of skill to break in leather boots the right way.  You don’t need a lot of special tools or even knowledge, just the right size, and some patience.  It won’t happen overnight and may even cause some discomfort, but breaking in leather boots using the correct methods is better for your investment.

Tools and Supplies Needed for Breaking in Leather Boots

There are only a few tools and supplies you will need for breaking in leather boots, and it depends on the method you decide to pursue.  Here is what you need for all the methods:

  1. Leather boots
  2. Leather conditioner
  3. Thick socks (1–2 pair)
  4. Shoe or boot stretcher
  5. Bandages and/or foot cushions

How To Break in Leather Boots Step by Step

  1. Now that you are prepared, let’s take this step by step. 
  2. First – start with leather boots that are the right size for your feet. 
  3. Rub some leather conditioner onto every inch of the outside of the boots.
  4. Put on one to two pairs of thick socks.
  5. Put on leather boots and walk around the house, run errands, work, etc., for one to two weeks.
  6. If you develop blisters or sore spots, place bandages or foot cushions to prevent pain.
  7. Use the shoe or boot stretcher if the leather boots still don’t fit right after steps one through five, two weeks at a time.

Check out this video from TheBootGuy for helpful tips on sizing and breaking in leather boots.

How to Get Better at Breaking in Leather Boots

How can you get better at breaking in leather boots?  It’s easiest when you start with leather boots that are the right size.  They shouldn’t be more than a half size too small or even too big — they should just fit with a couple of tight spots. 

Then it takes using the correct methods and giving it time.  You could even try different types of boots-riding boots, cowboy boots, patent leather, and genuine leather, and over time you will learn which methods work best with each type of leather.

My Personal Research on How To Break in Leather Boots

With so many suggestions when researching how to break in leather boots, I asked friends and family what method they prefer to use most. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about how to break in leather boots.

Method for Breaking In Leather BootsTimes Selected
Wearing often42%
Wearing with thick socks25%
Using a hair dryer (can lead to cracking and damage)8%
Using a shoe stretcher9%
Conditioning leather16%
Popular Methods for Breaking In Leather Boots

Helpful Insights On How To Break in Leather Boots

How do you break in leather boots fast?

To break in leather boots fast, condition the leather, then wear them around with thick socks for 8-10 hours daily.

How do you soften and break in leather boots?

To soften and break in leather boots, use leather conditioner and wear the boots often.  This will break them in quicker and ensure a comfortable fit.

How do you break in new leather boots?

New leather boots can be broken in by wearing them often or with thick socks. Through motion and pressure, the leather fibers stretch and become flexible making leather boots fit more comfortably over time.

How do you break in boots overnight?

An overnight method of breaking in boots would be using a shoe or boot stretcher. Place any plugs to target problem areas like bunions and then insert the shoe stretcher turning the handle to the desired length and leave them overnight.

How long does it take to break in leather boots?

It generally takes 80-100 hours to break in leather boots, depending on how often they’re worn.

How do you break in leather cowboy boots?

Leather cowboy boots can be broken in with thick socks and frequent wear. This stretches the leather fibers making leather boots more flexible and comfortable.

Can you break boots in with water?

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While some types of leather boots can be broken in with water, this method can make leather shrink and cause cracking and damage.

Key Takeaways

  1. Always buy the right size of leather boots, no less than one-half shoe size smaller than your feet.
  2. Leather is made to be durable and maintain its shape, so patience is key when breaking in leather boots.
  3. Protect your feet from blisters and callouses when breaking in leather boots.

In Closing

Leather boots are an investment in any wardrobe, and protecting them from damage is key to having great-looking boots for a long time.  Breaking in leather boots takes time, patience, and the right supplies.  Always start with the right size, protect your feet, and be patient when breaking in new leather boots.  Which type of leather boots will you start with?

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