The key to a great hiking experience is a good pair of hiking boots. Chances are, as soon as you get a new pair of boots the first thing you want to do is take them for a spin.
Unfortunately, before you can start wearing your boots on hikes you first need to break them in properly. Even worse, breaking boots in can be a long and uncomfortable process, and can even be painful.
Luckily, there are several simple methods you can use to break in your new pair of hiking boots in no time at all. Not only that, but these methods are easy and pain-free!
So say goodbye to days of sore feet and blisters, and let’s get started!
Why Do You Need To Break In Hiking Boots?
Before we take a look at how to break in your hiking boots, it’s important to know why you need to break in new boots in the first place.
Breaking in a pair of boots is a process that helps shape the boot to your ankle, making it fit more snugly and making walking in them more comfortable.
Several different parts of a hiking boot need breaking in before you can wear your boots for extended periods of time, and walking in your boots without breaking them in first can hurt and injure your feet.
The natural way to break in a pair of hiking boots is to wear them for short amounts of time to let them adjust to your feet. New hiking boots are stiff and unyielding, with thick and flat soles.
Over time, the stiff material will loosen up, becoming flexible and shaping itself around your ankle. This gives your ankle more stability and cushioning, which in turn gives you better footing and makes walking more comfortable.
Breaking in the sole is also important. As you walk, the rubber sole will wear down in areas based on how you walk. When you break in the soles of a pair of hiking boots, walking is easier and feels more natural.
Typically, breaking in a new pair of hiking boots takes a fair amount of time and effort. While your boots are still stiff and unworn, they can be uncomfortable and even painful to walk in.
If the sole isn’t shaped to your foot, you’ll feel the impact of each step more and won’t be able to walk at the right pace for you. Additionally, before the material of your boot becomes flexible and molds to your ankle, it can rub and cause blisters.
Here’s how to avoid the pains of breaking in hiking boots.
The Best Ways To Break In Hiking Boots
Use A Boot Stretcher
As the name suggests, boot stretchers are used to stretch and flex the material of your boots. Boot stretchers typically consist of a foot-shaped block attached to the end of a pole or handle.
These are inserted into the toe box of the boots, stretching the material and increasing the room inside the toe box. This makes the material more flexible and comfortable to wear, and greatly reduces the break-in period of your boots.
You can also use boot stretchers to loosen up the upper parts of your hiking boots. In a similar way to how you stretch the toe box, use the boot stretcher to flex and widen the material around your ankle.
By doing this, you prevent the risk of rubbing and blisters on your heels and ankles.
Use Bags Of Frozen Water
If you don’t have a boot stretcher to hand, here’s an easy DIY method to do at home.
Begin by filling an airtight, sealable bag with water. Make sure to leave some space in the bag for the water to expand as it freezes.
Next, put the bags of water inside your hiking boots. The upper part of the boot will be easier to get the bag into, and you may want to use a smaller bag for the toe box and stretch it separately.
Now, put your boots into the freezer and leave them overnight.
When you take your boots out of the freezer the next day, the bags of water will have frozen and expanded. This will stretch out the inside of your boots overnight, and you’ll be able to feel the difference instantly.
Scuff The Soles
As mentioned before, you also need to wear down the soles of your hiking boots to break them in. Normally, this would happen over time as you walk in your boots, but scuffing your boots will speed up the process considerably.
File The Soles Down
If you want to take scuffing your hiking boots to the extreme, you can go one step further and file the rubber down yourself. This will damage the sole of your boots, but will get them into the right shape for your feet almost straight away.
If you’re going to file down the soles of your hiking boots, you should use an older pair of boots for reference. Look at where the rubber has worn down the most previously, and take note of these spots – this is where your feet apply the most pressure.
File down your soles to the same approximate shape as your old boots, but make sure to leave it a bit thicker to account for the rest of the untouched sole.
So now you know some quick and simple ways to break in a new pair of hiking boots without having to go through the hassle of breaking them in the old-fashioned way. With these methods, you’ll never have to worry about another ache or blister from new boots ever again.
All that’s left for you to do now is get out there and start hiking! Whether you’re hiking along a country trail or up a mountain, your freshly broken-in hiking boots are sure to treat you right.