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How To Break In Hiking Boots? | 15 Practical Methods

You were probably excited at the point of shopping for your hiking boots. After all, you are going for a fun adventure, maybe for the first time or fourth or fifth.

You already have everything set. Your hiking clothes, checked; a backpack, in place, and if you are going on a group hike, everyone is ready for the fun adventure.

However, all the fun and excitement probably went down when you realized that your hiking boots were stiff and making you uncomfortable. But of course, this is pretty much normal with new hiking boots.

But first, you should note that there is a difference between stiff hiking boots and ones that are just extremely tight and not fit for you. As long as your boots fit okay, you can break them in, and you can enjoy your future hikes.

And no, your future hikes will not be a disaster because you can break your hiking boots in easily to make the material relax around your feet. So if you’re wondering about how to break in hiking boots, then you are reading the right article.

We have some of the best methods you can try to break in your hiking boots, and we are sure you want to know them.

Let’s get started.

Cowboy Boots 1

How To Break In Hiking Boots?

Like we mentioned earlier, you can break your hiking boots using different methods. But, first, we should inform you that breaking your hiking boots may not always be a five minutes solution, so you have to be patient.

And at the same time, you should not be in too much of a rush that you go overboard and ruin your hiking boots in the process. So now that we have established that, let us get into how to break in hiking boots.

1. Wear them

man wearing jeans and brown hiking boots sitting on a big rock

Breaking your hiking boots in doesn’t always have to involve using an object. Instead, you can try a natural means, which is wearing them.

Naturally, your hiking boots should stretch over time the more you wear them. If you are patient enough and can deal with the discomfort for a while, you can let them break naturally.

But, of course, this would not be easy because they feel a bit stiff around your feet and may make them hurt. However, with the proper technique, it can be easier and less painful for you.

How and when should you wear them? Since wearing them for a hike may be uncomfortable, you can start with wearing them at home.

When you are home relaxing and watching TV, you can wear them while you get comfortable on the couch. At first, it may feel weird and uncomfortable, but you will be distracted by the entertainment in no time.

Also, you can wear them for short walks around the block or area. When you need to go to the store, you can wear them instead of your flip-flops or wear them for your morning or evening walks.

After that, you can wear them for a hike. But, first, start with shorter hikes, so your feet don’t hurt so much over a long period.

Afterward, you can wear them for longer hikes. At that point, your hiking boots should have relaxed a bit and feel more comfortable.

When wearing them, ensure you wear thick socks so the tight areas can stretch easily. Also, you should tape off hot spots on your feet, so you don’t get blisters.

However, know that using this method to break in your hiking boots will usually take a few days to a week. But, it all depends on how often you wear them and what you do with them when they are worn. So, this method is probably not the fastest one you are looking for.

Pros

  • This method is natural.
  • It is easy and requires no tools.
  • Wearing your hiking boots is less expensive than other breaking-in methods.

Cons

  • This method is uncomfortable.
  • While this may be a natural method, it takes time.
  • It is painful.

2. Bend hiking boots to flex them

You can also break in your hiking boots by bending them. This requires you to continuously bend and twist them so the material can relax and loosen a bit.

You can try this method if the soles are stiff, so much that they worry you. As a result, your hiking boots’ flexibility will improve significantly, and you get to wear them comfortably.

Also, it will give your feet enough room to move and wiggle freely in the boots. Therefore, flex your hiking boots from time to time, and you will get the result you want.

Pros

  • Flexing your hiking boots is natural and requires no tools.
  • This method is straightforward.
  • It is inexpensive.
  • Bending your hiking boots is effective.

Cons

  • It requires some amount of energy.
  • This method is not a quick fix.
  • You might damage your hiking boots in the process.

3. Use a boot stretcher

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You can effectively break in your hiking boots by using boot stretchers. This method works well for breaking in different hiking boots materials, including leather, nylon, synthetic, mesh, and more.

If you don’t want to hurt your feet in the name of breaking in your hiking boots, then you can try this method. You only have to get a boot stretcher and let it work its magic.

A boot stretcher will flex the creases and stiffness in your hiking boots and make them more comfortable around your feet. So, how does it work? After getting a boot stretcher, insert it inside your hiking boots and adjust the tool.

This method works quickly, and you can start enjoying your hike in no time. You should probably invest in a boot stretcher when buying your hiking boots if you can afford it.

It will save you the stress and time involved in breaking in hiking boots. Moreover, you can get a good boot stretcher on e-commerce websites.

Pros

  • Breaks in hiking boots quickly.
  • This method is effective.
  • It is a less time-consuming process.
  • There is no pain involved in using a boot stretcher.

Cons

  • Boot stretchers are expensive.
  • Without proper care, you may overstretch the material.

4. Spray with alcohol

spray alcohol on hiking boots to soften them

Another way to break in your hiking boots is by spraying them with alcohol. Since alcohol can soften fabrics, it would be an effective way to quickly break in your hiking boots.

This method works well in softening leather, so if your hiking boots have a variant of leather material, you can try this style. But first, you have to test the alcohol on some parts to see if it may affect the waterproofing of your hiking boots.

Also, you don’t need to spray the alcohol all over your hiking boots, but inside. You can spray the areas that feel stiff around your feet.

After applying the alcohol, you wear the hiking boots and flex your feet inside them, so they can stretch as much as you want. Plus, you should also walk in them for a while while the alcohol works the hiking boots materials.

Pros

  • Alcohol works well in softening fabric materials.
  • It is an effective way to break in your hiking boots quickly.
  • You don’t need to use a lot of alcohol.

Cons

  • Alcohol may smell in your boots, socks, and on your feet.
  • It may damage your hiking boot’s surface.

5. Wear extra pair of socks

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You can also stretch your hiking boots by wearing an extra pair of socks in your hiking boots. This method is similar to wearing your hiking boots, but the difference is that you wear an extra pair of socks.

Doing this will help break in your hiking boots over a period. First, you will wear soft and silky socks; then, you will wear a thicker pair over them.

While you wear your hiking boots, you flex your feet and stretch the boots as much as possible. You can walk in them while you do that if you feel comfortable.

Otherwise, you can sit while you flex your feet in your hiking boots. The best part is that you can distract yourself from the discomfort or pain by watching TV or browsing the internet. After a few trials, just like the wearing method, you will notice a difference.

Pros

  • It is a cheap way to break in your hiking boots.
  • This method does not require much effort.

Cons

  • Wearing an extra pair of socks can take a longer period to break in than other methods.
  • You may feel uncomfortable wearing an extra pair of socks.
  • Since your hiking boots will get tighter that way, you may feel pain in your toes or other parts of your feet.

6. Heat up with a hairdryer

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Breaking in your hiking boots by using a hairdryer is another effective method. Heat, usually, can help soften your hiking boots’ material.

And one way this can happen is by blowing hot air from the hairdryer on your boots. This method, however, requires that you are careful so that you don’t ruin your hiking boots in the process of breaking them in.

If you have a hairdryer in your home, then that is a big plus for you, or you could borrow from your neighbor or buy. But, first, you should know that you should not blow the heat directly on the hiking boots, or it may melt the glue in the boots.

You need to wear your hiking boots and blow the hot air on them. Then, flex your feet in your boots and stretch as much as you can.

You can start from a low heat temperature. However, if you don’t feel any difference, you can increase the temperature or move the hair dryer closer to the boots.

Pros

  • The hair dryer method works well in breaking in hiking boots.
  • This method is quick and shows results faster than some other methods.

Cons

  • Too much heat can melt the glue holding your hiking boots together.
  • Heat can make leather boots dry out.

7. Condition your hiking boots

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You can also break in your hiking boots by conditioning the material. This method is most effective with leather hiking boots.

You can condition your hiking boots using a conditioner or wax. This helps soften the hiking boots’ material, making your feet comfortable in your hiking boots.

Before applying the conditioner or wax, you have to ensure your hiking boots are clean for them to absorb the moisture. Next, you need to massage the wax or lotion into the hiking boots material and wipe off excess when you are done.

A side note for you is that you should probably purchase a conditioner for your hiking boots when buying them. They will not only help break in your hiking boots but also make them shine and last longer. Moreover, you can get leather wax or conditioner from e-commerce stores for a token.

Pros

  • It is a sure and easy way to break in your hiking boots.
  • Conditioning your hiking boots help them to retain their color.
  • Beyond breaking in your hiking boots, conditioning your hiking boots makes them last longer.

Cons

  • Buying wax or conditioner costs some money.
  • It may not work well for all hiking boots’ fabric types.

8. Ask a professional for help

a old man cobbler

Another method to break in your hiking boots is to ask a professional to help you stretch your boots. A shoemaker has the right equipment and technical know-how to break in your hiking boots safely.

If you would rather not stress yourself or do a lot of work to break in your hiking boots, you can leave all the work to a professional, but at a cost. However, this may take a while as they probably have other jobs on their table to take care of.

Pros

  • The method is simple and easy.
  • It doesn’t require any breaking-in effort from your side.
  • Asking a professional for help is effective and quick.

Cons

  • A professional will charge a fee.
  • If they have a lot of work to do, it may take longer than you expect.

9. Insert boot trees

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You could also break in your hiking boots by using boot trees. This method works well for all fabric types, including leather, synthetic, and others.

This is an alternative to wearing them, especially if you feel too uncomfortable having them on. The boot trees can wear them on your behalf instead.

Also, this method can help break in your hiking boots toe box without stress. But first, you have to buy the boot trees or borrow from someone who has.

Then you can insert the boot trees. They can stretch the hiking boots overnight while you relax, then you get to wear them hiking in the morning. Moreover, you can shop for good boot trees on e-commerce websites.

Pros

  • Boot trees will help break in your hiking boots quickly and easily.
  • It saves the stress and time of wearing your hiking boots.
  • More than breaking in your hiking boots, they help keep your boots dry and in shape.
  • Boot trees can help ensure your hiking boots last longer.

Cons

  • Boot trees cost some money.
  • You may overstretch your hiking boots if you overdo it.

10. Apply boot stretch spray

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Another method for breaking in hiking boots is by applying boot stretch spray on them. This method is very effective in softening leather materials.

With your boot stretch spray, you can wear your hiking boots comfortably after a few trials. If you don’t have a boot stretch spray, you would have to buy some in an offline or e-commerce store.

After that, you apply the spray on the areas you want to relax in your hiking boots. You could hasten things up by inserting a boot stretcher or boots tree in them. After a few occasions, you should notice the difference.

However, know that boot stretch spray may darken your hiking boots.

Pros

  • It works well, just like other methods.
  • Spraying does not require much effort or strength.
  • This method is quick.

Cons

  • Boot stretch spray may darken your hiking boots.
  • It requires that you spend some money.

11. Soften with warm water

Softening your hiking boots with warm water can help them break in quickly. However, this doesn’t mean you have to immerse your hiking boots inside warm or hot water.

What this requires is for you to spray your hiking boots with warm water. First, you need to fill a spray bottle with warm water and apply it to your boots.

This process also requires that you walk in your hiking boots after doing that. So, wear them and flex your feet in them till they are dry. Try this method a couple of times till your hiking boots eventually mold around your feet.

Pros

  • Softening with water is effective.
  • It is inexpensive.

Con

  • It requires that you wear them afterward.

12. Steam them

steam hiking boots with boiling kettle

You can also break in your hiking boots by steaming them. Generally, steam helps to soften materials so that they will work effectively.

You can try this method by using steam from a boiling kettle or by using a steam iron. Either way, let the steam enter the boots directly so it can work well that way. Afterward, you can wear your hiking boots and stretch your feet in them till they mold around your feet.

Before you wear the hiking boots, ensure they are not so hot, as steaming can damage them. Also, don’t forget to wear some socks before wearing them. Once you ensure that, you should wear them till they are dry.

Pros

  • This method softens your hiking boots better than spraying with warm water.
  • It doesn’t require much other than steam from a boiling kettle.

Cons

  • Direct heat can ruin the glue in your hiking boots.
  • You still have to wear your hiking boots for more effective and quicker results.

13. Freeze them

put hiking boots in freezer to break in them

Freezing your hiking boots can help break them in and make you feel comfortable wearing them. This method is one of the fastest solutions to adopt.

However, this doesn’t mean you go right ahead and place your hiking boots in your freezer just like that. But you make bags of ice from them.

But first, you have to ensure your hiking boots are clean since your refrigerator houses your edibles. After that, pour water into a plastic zipper bag and place them tightly in your hiking boots.

Then leave your hiking boots in the freezer compartment overnight. When the water freezes, it will stretch your hiking boots.

You should use this method when you need a quick fix. However, the first attempt may not work, so that you can try a couple more times. However, you should not overdo it as it can break or crack your hiking boots.

Pros

  • It is a good option if you need quick results.
  • This method does not require much effort, time, or money.

Con

  • Freezing your hiking boots can tear your hiking boots.

14. Heat with a warm damp cloth

This is another heating method to break in hiking boots. All that’s needed to do is heat a damp cloth or towel, wring out the water and insert it in your hiking boots.

The heat will soften the leather in the process. But, you will have to try this method a couple of times for the best results. And at every interval you remove the warm damp cloth, you should wear your hiking boots and move your feet in them so that they can stretch.

We’d advise that after inserting a warm damp cloth into your hiking boots for a few minutes, you should walk around with them until they feel loose. If they don’t yet feel less tight on your feet, you can repeat the process again, till your hiking boots break into your size.

Pros

  • This method doesn’t require equipment.
  • It is easy to do.

Cons

  • Since it requires that you insert cloth at intervals, it can be stressful.
  • You still have to wear them to hasten the process and make it more effective.

15. Keep them in a warm place

a pair of light colored hiking boots

You can also break in stiff hiking boots by keeping them in a warm place. However, the temperature should not be overly hot for your boots as it can melt the glue in your boots, like with hair dryers.

Then, leave them in the room for about an hour or so. After that, wear them around your house, flex your feet and let your hiking boots mold around them.

Pros

  • The method is simple and easy.
  • It doesn’t cost money.

Con

  • If the heat is too much, it can melt glue in hiking boots or dry out the oil in the leather.

Conclusion

Wearing stiff hiking boots on the trail can lessen the amount of fun you should have during a hike. Either your toes begin to hurt, or your feet can’t just wiggle as much as they should in the boots.

So, you probably end up with some sort of pain in your toes or other parts of your feet. But you can remedy that by breaking in your hiking boots.

Breaking in your hiking boots equals the materials relaxing and you enjoying your hiking boots. There are many ways you can relax your hiking boots that can be quick, inexpensive, stressful, cheap, and more.

This article discussed the different methods to break in your hiking boots, also stating their pros and cons. Nevertheless, you can pick a method that you feel most comfortable with and that fits within your budget.

However, you have to be patient with the results. Therefore, don’t go all out trying all the methods for a five minutes result. You may end up ruining your hiking boots. Good luck!


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