How to Break Hiking Boots In

How to Break Hiking Boots In

Good hiking boots are a staple for any outdoor enthusiast, especially since foot care is so important while hiking and backpacking. Knowing how to break hiking boots in properly is an essential step in preventing blisters and staying comfortable on trail. The break-in period can vary from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how you wear them and the type of boot. Some lighter hiking shoes feel broken in right out of the box, while other leather or heavier boots have to be broken in properly to soften up and fit your foot the best they possibly can. The most important thing to keep in mind is that breaking in a boot won’t change the way they fit your foot, so start with a boot that fits properly.

Step By Step Instructions On How to Break In Hiking Boots

Start with a good fit

As we mentioned above, a boot won’t fit differently after it is broken in, so the most important part of breaking in a boot is how it fits you to begin with. Avoid going too tight across your instep or toes, and make sure that there’s ample room for your heel without any slippage. Having a large foot box is essential in avoiding issues with your toe nails. We highly recommend visiting a professional outdoor outfitter like REI and working with someone to pick out the perfect boots for you. 

Wear them around the house or town

Start by wearing your boots around the house. If they’re a new pair of leather boots, make sure you put some mink oil or another conditioner on them to help soften the leather. You can also wear them around town while going about your business. This will help the boot conform to the shape of your foot and loosen up any stiff areas. 

Start with short hikes

Once you feel like the boots are starting to loosen up, start by going on shorter hikes and deliberately hiking on varied terrain. This will help the boot conform to the shape of your foot and prevent any blisters or hotspots from forming. Always carry moleskin or duct tape for blister prevention just in case. 

Increase distance gradually

As you get more comfortable in your boots, gradually increase the distance of your hikes. This will help break in the boot while also preparing you for that long hike you have been planning.

Pair with the proper socks

Wear wool socks with a fitted sock liner, as this combination helps absorb moisture and reduce friction, hopefully resulting in less blisters during the break in process. Avoid cotton, which is more likely to leave you with sweaty, blistered feet. 

How Long Does it Take to Break in Hiking Boots?

Most people will tell you that it takes about two weeks to break in a new pair of hiking boots. However, this may vary depending on how stiff the boots are and how often you wear them. The best way to break in your new hiking boots is by wearing them around the house for short periods of time and gradually increasing the amount of time you wear them. If you’re struggling to break in your new hiking boots, you might want to consider buying a different pair. Comfort is key when it comes to hiking, so don’t push yourself too hard to break in your new boots – they should be comfortable from day one!

Quick fixes are a bad idea.

Many people want to know how to break hiking boots in faster. But this is the wrong way to go about it. A boot that is improperly broken in can cause all sorts of foot problems, such as blisters and hotspots, or even toe nail loss. So take your time, wear them around the house, and increase the distance gradually to make sure you’re comfortable on that long hike.

In Conclusion

Breaking in a new pair of hiking boots can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it’s important to do it properly so you don’t end up with any foot problems later on. Blisters are an extremely annoying side effect and prevention is key. Even though boots need to be broken in, they should be comfortable from day #1. If they’re causing issues, consider exchanging them for a new pair. It’s worth it to take the time to find a comfortable pair of boots that will support you and your many upcoming adventures. 

FAQ

How do you speed up the break in process?

While there’s some ways online people recommend for speeding things up, ultimately it’s worth it to take the time and do it properly. Skipping steps will only leave you wishing you had slowed it down, so we recommend just doing it the right way the first time.

How do you break in hiking boots without getting blisters?

Blisters are side effects of friction and moisture, so take steps to reduce these things. Wool socks absorb excess moisture, and sock liners help reduce friction. You should also re-do your laces after the first few minutes of walking, so you can make sure your foot is properly positioned inside the boot. If socks and laces aren’t the cause of the blister or hot spot, consider exchanging your boots for another style. 

How long does it take to break in new boots?

This varies greatly depending on the shoe and how much time you spend wearing them during the process. We recommend giving yourself some time around town and the house, in addition to 3-5 shorter hikes on purposely varied terrain. If you aren’t able to hike, wear them for 2-3 hours a day and create your own varied terrain using stairs, curbs, hills, and dirt at your local park. 

Should new hiking boots be tight?

Hiking boots should always fit snug, but never tight. The ‘loosest’ part should be the toe box, which should never touch your toes and should offer room to wiggle your toes, even at the end of the day when your feet may be swollen. Visit a professional outfitter like REI to work with someone trained in picking out the perfect boots for you.

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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