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How To Break In Cowboy Boots? – Do’s and Don’ts – 15 Ways

How To Break In Cowboy Boots? – Do’s and Don’ts – 15 Ways

You’ve bought 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 does not have 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.

Man and women wear cowboy boots for working

Some things you should know about the break-in process of cowboy boots

Imagine before starting a football match, what is the most important thing you have to do? It’s warm-up.

The purpose of a warm-up is for your muscles and joints to become warmer, more flexible, and supple, thereby avoiding injuries during high-intensity activities. It also makes you more flexible and durable.

The process of breaking in cowboy boots is like when you warm up! For cowboy boots, this process ensures they are softer, easier to on/off, more flexible, mold to your feet better, and reduce heel slippage so you can be more comfortable when wearing cowboy boots.

Even so, the break-in process usually takes a long time (about 10 days), and you can absolutely speed it up with some of the methods that we show you today! Let’s check it out!

Key takeaways

  • There is almost no way to shrink cowboy boots, but there are many effective ways to stretch them.
  • Softening cowboy boots is the key point when breaking in. Once they are softer, it’s easy to stretch them.
  • Be careful when applying heat or water methods. Don’t immerse the entire cowboy boots in water or overheat them.
  • Constantly test the fit of the boots on your feet when stretching them to make sure they don’t expand too much.
  • Some methods such as using alcohol, lotion, and leather conditioner can darken cowboy boots, you need to consider more before applying them to the surface of light or white boots.

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 put 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:

15 ways to break in your cowboy boots

We’ll show you all the methods, from the ones you can do at home to the ones that cobblers use.

The crucial thing to do during the break-in process is to soften cowboy boots. From there, they can stretch and mold to your feet more quickly when you wear them.

There are many ways to soften cowboy boots, such as using alcohol and leather oils, using heat (steaming, hair dryer), or using water (such as a warm spray, or placing a bag of warm water inside the boot).

It is important that when breaking in boots, you put on them continuously to ensure the best fit and softness that you feel most satisfied with.

Note: The methods below can help you break in cowboy boots faster than usual, but not immediately. So if you haven’t reached the goal, repeat the process.

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 suffering.

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.

Tecovas Boot socks

Tecovas Boot Socks | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

Method 2: Use Leather Conditioners & Leather Stretcher Spray

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

Leather Care Kit includes Leather Cleaner and Conditioner with Cloth from Tecovas

Leather Cleaner and Conditioner | Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

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

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.

How To Stretch Western Cowboy Boots with FootFitter's Western Boot Stretcher

This type of product will make cowboy boots stretch out in tight positions. There are many different products to stretch cowboy boots in different areas such as toe box, vamp or shaft.

This is one of the best ways to quickly break in your boots and one of the most effective ways to treat cowboy boots that are too hard to break in.

Besides, one thing to note is that cowboy boots often lose shape. Their shafts fold, making them uncomfortable, you may have to “break in them again” after each wear.

So I suggest using a boot shaper to keep them straight.

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

Method 4: Break in the leather soles 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 brings a comfortable feeling.

However, leather soles have a drawback: they are often very slippery, which can make it difficult for some people to maintain their balance easily.

The most basic way that most people use to break in the leather sole is to scuff it up. Rubbing the leather sole surface onto the concrete pavement creates more traction for it.

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).

The essence of this method is that the heat from the hair dryer will cause the leather of the boots to relax, thereby softening the boots and making it easier to stretch them.

From there, cowboy boots will mold your feet and calves better and accelerate the break-in process.

pink hair dryer

Method 6: Use specific oil for leather

In fact, there are many specific oils in the market today used to soften leather, including mink oil, neatsfoot oil, or leather oil (mixed with many oils).

You can use them like leather conditioners, apply to the inside of cowboy boots, and they will speed up the break-in process of cowboy boots.

Leather oil can make leather softer, retain the original color and quality of cowboy boots, and especially accelerate the break-in process.

The procedure is quite simple! Just make sure your cowboy boots are totally clean and dry, then apply the oil inside your cowboy boots, where you feel uncomfortable.


Method 7: Use warm, damp bath towels

Another DIY method that I found out is very simple to do and can give the best result: tuck the warm and wet bath towels inside your cowboy boots.

It will relax the leather and help cowboy boots break in faster, thus comforting your feet.

What you need to do is roll up the towel, spray warm water on it, then put it inside your cowboy boots. Until the warm towel cools down, repeat the process until you feel your cowboy boots get softer and more comfortable.

How to feel it? Each time you take out the cool towel, put on your cowboy boots and walk until they are dry.

Repeat the process until the cowboy boots are completely broken in!

However, don’t forget to “totally” dry your cowboy boots after this process.

Method 8: 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.

However, for this method, I suggest you apply a small amount of lotion to your cowboy boots first to see if it can darken them before actually applying a generous amount.

Method 9: 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.

Or you can prepare a spray bottle, put alcohol in it, and then spray the entire vamp, heel and toe box of cowboy boots (I guess that’s enough).

Then put your boots on! Walk until they are totally dry! I believe they will be softened, stretched and mold your feet very quickly.

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

Quick Cowboy Boots Break in Under 30 Minutes

Method 10: Spray warm water

Using a spray bottle is also a good way to break in your boots.

This is another popular method used by cowboy boot lovers to break in cowboy boots. And I have to admit, it is pretty effective, too.

What you need to do is spray water over the entire foot of cowboy boot (don’t spray on the shaft). Then put on cowboy boots and walk again until they are dry (within 30 minutes I guess).

Repeat this process several times until you feel comfortable. Cowboy boots will be broken in, soften and mold your feet better.

And don’t forget to dry your boots completely after this process. I like to spray water to break in cowboy boots rather than submerge them all in water. I will explain the reasons below!

Method 11: 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.

steam over boiling water

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

After each steam, wait for the cowboy boots to cool down and put them on, walking until they are completely dry.

Repeat the process several times and trust me, your boots will be broken in very quickly.

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 the leather.

This is also the way that cobblers often use.

Method 12: Use boot dryer

As one of the die-hard fans of boots (not just cowboy boots), you definitely have a boot dryer in your house in case the weather is rain or snow. The boot dryer can dry many boots over and over again.

MaxxDry Heavy Duty Boot Dryer [ The Boot Guy Reviews ]

As you know, high heat and water can completely cause the leather to stretch. All you need to do after steaming the inside of the cowboy boots (or spraying water inside the boots) is to put them in the boot dryer. Dry them!

Once the boots are almost dry (slightly damp), put them on and walk around the house. Repeat this process a few times until you feel cowboy boots are soft and mold your feet and calves well.

That’s it, you have successfully broken in them!

Method 13: Use boot trees

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

Boot trees have two primary uses: to keep the shape of cowboy boots and to 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!

Mens boot tree from Tecovas

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | Click image for more info

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 14: 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 their 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 15: Give your cowboy boots a break

It may seem a bit contradictory to the “break-in” methods 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 per week, you should let them “take a rest” 1 day per week.

Don’t force your cowboy boots, give them time to rest, they will break in soon. Be patient!

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. 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, and more comfortable than normal leather boots, but they are not as water-resistant as leather.

We mentioned spraying water to break in cowboy boots, I think it makes sense because you don’t wet the whole cowboy boots, only the parts that need to be broken in. These parts are usually the vamp, heel, and toe box. You don’t have to get the entire shaft wet.

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 the first 3 methods mentioned above are the 3 most effective methods that don’t adversely affect cowboy boots.

For the stubborn leather cowboy 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 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?

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.

Man wear cowboy boots stand one leg on the rock

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 per 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.

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

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 a 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 Men and Women 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 a leather conditioner, lotion, alcohol or especially using cowboy boot stretchers and boot shapers. These ways are very effective for breaking in cowboy boots overnight.

  • Use 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.
  • Use 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.
  • Use boot trees: Just put the boot trees inside the cowboy boots, leave them overnight, and you’re done.
  • Use ice: Place a plastic bag with water on the inside of the cowboy boots (the plastic bag must be 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 you break in your boots.

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 to break in them or it can ruin the leather in a short time. Besides, you can repeat the methods we have instructed above if necessary.

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

For many brands, the return period is usually 30 days. I believe that within that time, if your cowboy boots don’t break in, you can return them in time.

Good luck!