How To Break In Your New Hiking Boots
It’s hard to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of a hike if your feet are in constant agony. That’s why it’s essential to break in your boots beforehand, to help prevent painful blisters and cuts. If your old pair of boots are showing signs that they’re no longer at their best, it could be time to replace them for a new pair. Here’s some pointers for knowing when to replace your walking boots. Once you have a new pair, you may need to break them in, and there are a variety of ways you can go about doing this. We’ve pulled together a few of our top tips and tricks to help you out.
Do you need to break in your new walking boots?
Breaking in your new walking boots is essentially the process of moulding your boots to the shape of your feet, by repeatedly wearing them. Embedding your footprint into the boots will allow them to conform to your feet so they are more comfortable, as well as softening up the material so that they don’t rub your feet and cause blisters. Breaking in your new boots will mean when you do wear them for a proper hike, they are comfortable and don’t cause harm to your feet.
Here’s our top tips on how to break in your new hiking boots
There are plenty of things you can do to help break in your new hiking boots before you wear them for a big or long distance hike. It’s important to make sure your feet will be comfortable so here’s our top tips for breaking in your new hiking boots.
Buy Well In Advance
Although it’s tempting to put on your new walking boots and head for the hills straight away, we strongly advise not to! Most walking boots require a period of adjustment (usually around 3 weeks) so make sure that you buy them in advance, giving yourself time to break them in. Gradually build up the length of time you wear them, and take note of any uncomfortable areas that might require extra protection initially until they are more worn in. Leaving yourself plenty of time will mean by the time you do get to go on that hike, you’ll be reassured that your boots won’t cause you any problems.
Wear Them Like A Pair Of Slippers
Trade up your cosy slippers for your new walking boots! By wearing your new boots around the house it will help begin the breaking in process, allowing the boots to mould to your foot shape.
Wear them on different surfaces around the house, and even go up and down the stairs a few times. However, make sure to wear a pair of thick walking socks with your boots to prevent nasty blisters. Wearing them in the house rather than your slippers will give a good idea of where you may have problem areas, so you can address this before wearing them outside.
Go On A Few Short Walks
Once you’ve got used to wearing them around the house, it’s time to take them outside! Take them on short 10-20 minutes flat walks to see how they feel. As they become more comfortable gradually start walking longer distances, treading across different terrain, and doing more uphill routes. By building the distance up slowly, it will allow the boots time to adjust to your feet and you to get used to the weight and how you wear them.
Going on short walks will also allow you to identify any areas of concern when you are wearing the boots out in the real world. Usual places for these tend to be the heel, tops of your toes or the sides of your toes. Using surgical tape which gives added protection, tape up these hotspots to reduce rubbing against your skin that can develop into blisters if left.
Wear With the Correct Walking Socks
Wearing your new hiking boots with the correct walking socks is very important! Be sure to wear the correct walking socks when breaking in your new walking boots as this will help reduce any rubbing whilst the boots are at their stiffest. It will also allow the material to become softer and more flexible. Take a look at the Grisport Merino wool walking socks, they have unbeatable comfort and offer a superb fit.
Go For A Longer Hike With A Loaded Pack
Once you’ve got used to wearing them around the house, and have taken them on some short walks, it’s time to go on a longer hike whilst carrying more weight. By doing this you can see just how far your boots will take you before your feet start to get tired. You’ll be able to plan future walks better, because you’ll know roughly how long your feet will last. Embedding your boots further for longer will make them more comfortable, and the sooner that happens the better.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are some further detailed do’s and don’ts that come with breaking in walking boots, including some old wives tales that aren’t actually very good for your boots. Here’s some of the do’s and don’t for breaking in your new hiking boots carefully:
Do: Get The Right Fit
The break in process won’t turn a poor fit into a good one, so it’s important to make sure that you get the right fit. If your new boots are either too big or too small this can damage your feet or cause injury. Getting the right fit is something you must do initially, before you even begin to break them in. Read our guide for more detailed information on how to fit your walking boots, so that you get it right the first time.
Do: Bend The Sole or Get An Insole
Insoles can be of great help when getting the right comfort level for your walking boots. If you use specialist insoles ensure to put them into your new walking boots. You might also find insoles useful if one of your feet is a slightly different size or shape from the other, as it can counterbalance the difference. Take a look at the Grisport range of insoles for an idea of which may be of benefit to you.
Do: Work the leather
The tongue and ankle cuff of your new walking boots will typically be stiff for the first few times that you wear them. They will gradually soften over time, however you can help speed up the process by working the leather with your fingers. Bend and flex the leather where possible to a reasonable degree, which will loosen and soften it ready for when you put the boots on.
Do: Use Leather Conditioner
A proper leather conditioner is much more beneficial than using water or a hairdryer, as it won’t remove the properties of the leather that make it such a good material for hiking boots. A good leather conditioner can keep the leather soft but strong, and prevent cracks or damage that would reduce the durability of your hiking boots.
Don’t: Use A Hairdryer
You may have heard the tip of using a hair dryer to heat your boots and stretch the leather, however we wouldn’t recommend this. Although it may soften the leather it also dries it out and draws natural oils out of the leather. Keeping these properties in the leather is vital for keeping the hiking boots in good condition for longer. Ultimately you will get more wear out of them.
Don’t: Soak Them In Water
Leather is a porous material, so when it becomes wet it softens. Which leads to another common tip – to soak your walking boots in water. Then wearing them whilst they’re wet to help them mould to your feet. However, similar to the hairdryer hack this dries out the leather and can cause it to come brittle. Wearing wet boots also isn’t the most pleasant experience!
Don’t: Freeze Your Boots
Another supposed ‘hack’ to breaking in your walking boots is to freeze them. This is done by filling freezer bags with water, placing them inside your boots and then placing the boots in the freezer. The water then freezes and expands, aiming to stretch the boot. However, this is difficult to control and could lead to the seams splitting, and exposure to extreme temperatures can damage the leather.