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How To Break In Cowboy Boots? – Do’s and Don’ts – 12 Ways

You’ve bought Ariat cowboy boots and feel unhappy at the first moment putting on boots.

The heel always slipped off the heels of cowboy boots.

The sole of the boots is not flexible for moving.

The width of the boots is not enough room for the feet to feel comfortable.

You feel heel pain and feet numbness.

You feel it’s a big mistake to buy these cowboy boots!

You want to return these boots immediately!

But wait … actually it’s not that bad.

How to make boots become more friendly to you?

All you need is to break in your new boots.

Cowboy Boots 1 video

How to break in cowboy boots?

Actually, the problems mentioned above are the ones that often happen with new cowboy boots.

With cowboy boots made from genuine leather, it is quite hard when first putting on them.

At this time, the sole, heel, shaft and toe of cowboy boots are very new, so when you wear them, it can cause foot pain and discomfort.

This is what many people do not realize. Then they think that leather cowboy boots are always uncomfortable so they decide not to buy these boots.

In essence, leather is a material with good elasticity. Therefore, the more you go, the more you feel the softness and firmness of the leather shoes.

Like newlyweds, the early days of family life can be difficult. If you try your best for your spouse, the results will be sweet.

Cowboy boots are the same case, as long as you give it a little time. You absolutely can have a nice love affair with it up to … 15 years.

Don’t rush to throw your new boots, try these ways to get along with them:

How to break in cowboy boots Actually, the problems mentioned above are the ones that often happen with new cowboy boots. With cowboy boots made from genuine leather, it is quite hard when first putting on them. At this time, the sole, heel, shaft and toe of cowboy boots are very new, so when you wear them, it can cause foot pain and discomfort. This is what many people do not realize. Then they think that leather cowboy boots are always uncomfortable so they decide not to buy these boots. In essence, leather is a material with good elasticity. Therefore, the more you go, the more you feel the softness and firmness of the leather shoes. Like newlyweds, the early days of family life can be difficult. If you try your best for your spouse, the results will be sweet. Cowboy boots are the same case, as long as you give it a little time. You absolutely can have a nice love affair with it up to … 15 years Don’t rush to throw your new boots, try these ways to get along with them:

12 ways to break in your cowboy boots

The first 3 methods are considered the best ones without affecting the quality of cowboy boots.

Method 1: Wear them

Give your boots more time to adapt to your feet.

Wear them everywhere, wear them daily, wear them to work, hang out, go flirt with your partners, go to the supermarket… Even when sitting, don’t let your feet stay still.

All you need is to put your boots on and go. Pretty simple and effective way, right?

These are the most effective ways, once the boots have been broken-in, they will fit you like a glove.

When using this method, it often takes 1 to 3 weeks to get your boots broken in.

Remember: Love is only beautiful when overcoming sufferings.

In fact, to ease suffering, you can wear cowboy boots with thick socks. Thick socks will be soft enough to serve your feet while waiting for the boots to break in.

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Method 2: Use Leather Conditioners & Leather Stretcher Spray

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Last update on 2021-03-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Currently, there are many Leather Conditioner products for cowboy boots on the market.

These products make the leather of boots soft and flexible. They shorten the time for breaking in cowboy boots.

In addition to that function, these products also make the leather cowboy boots shiny and look new. They maintain the boots in this way to make the boots durable, beautiful and waterproof.

Besides, there are specialized sprays (It’s called Leather Stretcher Spray) for stretch tight fitting boots, you can easily spray on the places where the boots need breaking in.

Method 3: Use Cowboy Boot Stretchers and Boot Shapers

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FootFitter Men's Professional Western Boot Stretcher (Small)
FootFitter Cast Aluminum Combination Boot Instep and Shaft Stretcher
FootFitter Aromatic Cedar Best Boot Shapers, Keep Boots Standing Up and Prevent Creasing - CB22
FootFitter Men's Professional Western Boot Stretcher (Small)
FootFitter Men's Professional Western Boot Stretcher (Small)
FootFitter Cast Aluminum Combination Boot Instep and Shaft Stretcher
FootFitter Cast Aluminum Combination Boot Instep and Shaft Stretcher
FootFitter Aromatic Cedar Best Boot Shapers, Keep Boots Standing Up and Prevent Creasing - CB22
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Last update on 2021-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Cowboy boots without breaking in will not fit your foot the best, some places can be tight. For that reason, they can be painful for you.

Newly purchased cowboy boots often cause a cramped feeling in the foot, making you uncomfortable.

To have the best shape to support your feet, you will probably need boot stretchers for your cowboy boots.

This type of product will make cowboy boots stretch out in tight positions.

To speed up the break in process, you can use a combination of boot stretcher and boot shaper.

This way has two advantages:

  1. This method helps your boots stretch to a certain extent (You can adjust Boot Stretcher). From there, the cowboy boots will fit your feet better.
  2. You can keep your cowboy boots in shape.

Cowboy boots are always characterized by a higher shaft than those of other boots. So keeping the shape of cowboy boots is also important.

You should be careful when storing cowboy boots. Keeping the shape of the shaft neat and free of wrinkles is essential.

How to Use the "Boxer" Boot Stretcher by HOUNDSBAY

Method 4: Break in leather sole of cowboy boots

One of the very important things when getting a new pair of cowboy boots is that you need to break in their leather outsoles.

Traditional cowboy boots with leather outsoles can absorb moisture very well, which makes your feet breathable and bring a comfortable feeling.

However, leather soles have the weakness that they are very slippery, and not everyone can balance easily in them.

The most basic way that most people use to break in the leather sole is to scuff it up.

By rubbing the leather sole surface onto the concrete pavement to create more traction for it.

Or some people use sandpaper to rub on the leather sole surface to increase the grip.

If you do not want to damage the beautiful leather sole with the boot manufacturer’s signature, there are several other methods you can use such as a protective sole, rubber heel cap, traction spray, changing walking style, etc.

We have an interesting tutorial on how to increase grip for leather sole cowboy boots here!

However, this method only applies to leather soles. Why not the rubber sole? Because it already has a good grip!

Method 5: Use a hair dryer

Use a hair dryer to heat the inside of your cowboy boots.

Warm up areas where cowboy boots make your feet uncomfortable (Don’t get heat too high or it will affect the leather quality of your boots).

This will promote the breaking in process of cowboy boots. And the parts of cowboy boots that hurt your feet will free up some space.

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Last update on 2021-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Method 6: Use lotion

Take a little lotion from your girl and then apply it inside cowboy boots, especially the toes and heels.

This way you can quickly achieve some stretch for your cowboy boots. The inside leather of the boots will become soft quickly without damaging your feet.

Besides, the lotion also prevents cowboy boots from irritating your skin at first when they haven’t been broken in yet.

Method 7: Use alcohol to soften leather

It seems like you have a good reason to go to the grocery store to buy wine.

The key to stretch new leather boots is making leather softer. You can use alcohol or wine to rub the inside of the boots.

When the wine has evaporated, the boots will be comfortable.

Remember to use alcohol to break in cowboy boots, not to drink.

Method 8: Spray warm water

Using a spray bottle is also a good way for stretching your boots. To do that, just spray a little water (remember just a little bit) into the uncomfortable areas.

Do not overdo this way. After spraying, you should dry your boots by the natural wind. Keeping your boots dry will last their lives.

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Method 9: Steam inside your cowboy boots

Same as method 8. Instead, this time use warm steam to soften the leather of your boots.

This method has the advantage of making the leather softer and way more effective than water spray.

Warm steam can make the leather more relaxed and softer, thereby making your feet more comfortable.

Due to the softer leather, cowboy boots will fit your feet faster.

Take advantage of the kettle available in your home, use the steam rising from the kettle to steam inside cowboy boots.

The hot steam will make leather cowboy boots softer and stretch, shortening the break in process.

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You can combine this with the boot stretcher method or wear them after steaming.

But remember not to wear them while they are too hot and remember to put on socks!

Don’t forget to dry the cowboy boots after using the steam method. Leaving the boots wet too long will affect the quality of leather.

This is also the way that cobblers often use.

Method 10: Use boot trees

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One way you can shorten the break-in time of cowboy boots is to use boot trees.

Boot trees have two primary uses: keep the shape of cowboy boots and dehumidify cowboy boots.

Moreover, you can use boot trees to support the break-in process of your boots.

Just insert boot trees inside cowboy boots and leave them overnight. That’s it!

You should own boot trees in the rainy season or snow. They can absorb moisture and keep cowboy boots from shrinking due to the cold weather.

In case your cowboy boots shrink due to weather or temperature, you might need to break in cowboy boots again. That’s when you need the boot trees to restore the shape of cowboy boots.

Usually, after resoling cowboy boots, you might have to “break in them again”.

Method 11: Use Ice

Another method to break in the foot of cowboy boots is to use a bag of… ice.

It sounds a bit strange, but this unique way can help those who don’t have time to wear cowboy boots to shorten the break-in time.

All you have to do is prepare a plastic zipper bag and fill it with water. The amount of water in the bag must be a bit tight with the inside of the cowboy boots.

Then put all your boots in the freezer of the refrigerator. Leave overnight and you will get surprising results.

This method will relax the inside of the cowboy boots, then you can wear them comfortably.

Stretch your Boots with Ice!

Method 12: Give your cowboy boots a break

It may seem a bit contradictory to the “break-in” I mentioned above, but it is true that leather boots need to “breathe” between uses.

That helps limit the excessive elasticity of cowboy boots. Besides, it helps the leather cowboy boots to have time to “adjust” its shape to fit the wearer’s feet.

If using the boots 3 times / week, you should let them “take a rest” 1 day per week.

How To Break In Cowboy Boots

2 ways that you CANNOT use to break-in your cowboy boots

We have just skimmed through some articles that show the different ways to break in cowboy boots.

Surprisingly, there exist some “horrible” ways. They will really make you throw away your new cowboy boots.

The first horrible method: Submerge your cowboy boots into the water

Please don’t do that, they will kill your leather cowboy boots immediately.

Water is the number one enemy of all leather boots. Water is not only harmful to leather, but also extremely harmful to suede.

Suede boots can be softer, more comfortable than normal leather boots, but they are not as water-resistant as leather.

When cleaning cowboy boots, we have professional cleaning solutions and hygiene tools. These products were born to minimize leather contact with water.

As we said from the beginning that the first 3 methods mentioned above are the 3 most effective methods that don’t adversely affect cowboy boots.

For the stubborn leather cowboys boots, we should try other methods.

So you should never put your boots completely underwater with the hope of breaking in it.

You should carefully use leather products. In addition to specialized products for leather care, you should limit the use of other products.

(For example, if you want to use Olive oil to polish your boots. Don’t use them often, they can discolor your boots)

Read More: How To Keep Cowboy Boots from Rubbing Leg?

The second horrible method: Wear cowboy boots even at bedtime

Oh come on, you’re not a five year old kid: hug your new bike while you sleep.

I have read a number of articles that suggest wearing cowboy boots to bed to break in them. Unbelievable! This is the worst way because it is very harmful to your feet.

Obviously, while sleeping, your feet need to be as relaxed as possible for a good night’s sleep.

However, you may know that your new boots can hurt your feet when breaking in. And they recommend you wear them at bedtime? Totally ridiculous!

Doing so not only affects your sleep but it also causes serious foot problems.

While you sleep, your feet are relaxed but a new cowboy boot is uncomfortably stiff. The next morning when you wake up, you will find that your legs are swollen with pain and the boots are not broken-in at all.

Believe me, don’t hurt yourself like that. Take your time and break in your cowboy boots while you’re awake – while your feet are strong.

Read more: Are Cowboy Boots Bad For Your Feet?

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[FAQ] What is the best way to break in cowboy boots?

That’s the first way, use your own feet to break in cowboy boots.

This will make your boots fit your feet perfectly after breaking in.

To help keep your feet from pain, use a pair of thick socks throughout the break-in period.

Once the cowboy boots are broken in, believe me, they will give you the best experience that no shoes can ever bring to you.

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How long does it take to break in cowboy boots?

Depending on how often you use your cowboy boots for 1 week. If you use about 5 days / week, or use the methods to accelerate the break-in process above, then your boots have successfully broken-in within 1 week.

If you wear it 2 to 3 days a week, it may take 2 to 3 weeks to break in the boots.

Of course, this is just a subjective judgment based on our experience, we have used many cowboy boots of many different brands, especially Ariat.

The time to break in your cowboy boots can be faster or slower depending on the line of cowboy boots you are wearing (Workhog boots, Riding boots, Western Boots, Ankle Boots & Booties, Stockman …).

Read more: The 20 Best Jeans to Wear with Cowboy Boots Mens

Are cowboy boots comfortable?

Sure, cowboy boots are extremely comfortable.

In fact, not all cowboy boots require a break-in period to please your feet. Some are very comfortable at the first time wearing them.

Cowboy boots are born to serve the wild west cowboys. They are durable and strong to defeat the harsh sun and wind in that place.

To serve cowboys all day wandering around the western pastures, cowboy boots need to be especially comfortable to wear, of course.

Cowboy boots these days have insoles that can support the arch very well. In addition to leather outsoles, many boots also have rubber or synthetic outsoles for added comfort.

Besides the traditional pointed toes and round toes, cowboy boots have been developed with square toes to bring more room for your toes and increase flexibility.

Safety, comfort, durability and beauty are the values that cowboy boots will bring to you.

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How to break in cowboy boots fast?

Most people still break in their cowboy boots by wearing them often during the first few weeks – this is the most common way.

However, if you still want to break in your boots faster, you can use some other tricks such as:

  • Use cowboy boot stretcher and boot shapers
  • Use boot trees
  • Use leather conditioner
  • Use a hair dryer
  • Spray water
  • Steam inside the cowboy boots
  • Use alcohol
  • Use lotion
  • Use ice

In addition to 4 ways to break in cowboy boots: wear them regularly, use leather conditioner, use boot trees or use cowboy boot stretchers and boot shapers, please do not overdo the rest methods.

The products are not specialized for leather boots, which might degrade leather quality. So if it’s not necessary, don’t apply these methods.

If it is not an emergency to use cowboy boots immediately, just take your time. Remember that any cut corners also have both sides.

Read more: Difference Between Mens and Womens Cowboy Boots

How to break in cowboy boots

How to break in cowboy boots overnight?

This is a very good question.

As we answered in “2 ways that you CANNOT use to break in your cowboy boots”. You can’t wear cowboy boots even when you go to bed. This is very harmful to foot health.

Also, do not use water methods to break in cowboy boots overnight, they can ruin your cowboy boots.

However, there are many ways to break in boots overnight: using leather conditioner, lotion, alcohol or especially using cowboy boot stretchers and boot shapers. These ways are very effective for breaking in cowboy boots overnight.

  • Using leather conditioner, leather stretcher spray, lotion, alcohol to stretch cowboy boots: Just apply them inside the cowboy boots where you want to stretch, then leave them overnight.
  • Using cowboy boot stretchers and boot shapers in cowboy boots: Put it on the inside of the cowboy boot, go to sleep and wait for the result.
  • Using boot trees: Just put the boot trees inside the cowboy boots, leave them overnight, and you’re done.
  • Using ice: Place a plastic bag with water on the inside of the cowboy boots (the plastic bag must be a slightly tight with the inside of cowboy boots). Put cowboy boots in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. Leave them on overnight.

Reminder: You should only use water methods to break in cowboy boots when you’re awake since you can dry your boots at that time. Don’t leave leather cowboy boots in water for too long or it will affect the quality of your boots.

Before you leave

Before you leave, we have some tips for you. Hope they help:

If your new cowboy boots have heel slippage, don’t worry, this often happens in new cowboy boots. 1/4″ to 3/8″ of slippage will disappear once breaking in your boots.

If you have flat and wide feet, it may be a major reason for foot pain when wearing cowboy boots. You should consider that possibility.

Don’t be too upset about your new boots, just relax. With the new cowboy boots, foot pain in the beginning is normal. Time will make cowboy boots soft because that is their essence.

Don’t expose your cowboy boots to too much water or it can ruin the leather in a short time.

If the above methods do not work, it seems that you bought the wrong cowboy boots size. Or the boots are defective. You should go to a professional repair shop or contact customer service to find solutions or return.

For Ariat’s return and exchange policy, you need to exchange within 30 days. It is enough time for you to try the above methods.


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