How to Break-In Leather Hiking Boots

How to Break-In Leather Hiking BootsThe stiffer and more burly the hiking boot the harder it can be to break in, but the good thing about leather is that it does break in and you can make it do so in the shape of your foot. If you have a high arch for example, leather hiking boots will stretch out over time to accommodate your high arch. These simple steps can help you break in leather hiking boots with less pain.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • thick socks
  • boot stretcher
Step 1
Wear your boots around the house, to the store or for a walk around the block a few times before you get them on a trail. Boots can be a beast to break in when you are trying to do so for the first time on a rigorous hike. Giving them a little bit of everyday wear-time can begin to crease, bend and soften the leather and other material to conform to your feet.
Step 2
Wear your leather hiking boots with a pair of socks slightly thicker than you might normally wear the first few times you hike in them. This gives your feet a little more cushion as your boots begin to loosen up. Hiking in stiff boots in thin socks may work to break in your boots, but it will bring nothing but pain to your feet.
Step 3
Take note of any spots in your new leather boots where they need some adjusting. For example, after you have walked around in them for a day or even half day you will feel if there are any spots rubbing on parts of your feet where the boot may need to be wider. Perhaps the back heel pocket is a bit too narrow for your knobby heel or your pinky toe needs just a smidge more room.
Step 4
Use a boot stretcher (shoe-shaped pieces of wood) to widen any tight areas. Using a small scrap block of wood or round river stone that happens to be the right size can work too, though these may be harder to find. Use one of these by placing it in the section of your boots where you noted that they should be broken in a bit more. That heel pocket, for example. Stretching out the leather this way saves you the time and sore feet of doing it when hiking. If you don't wish to purchase your own boot stretcher, most outdoor gear shops have these and will gladly stretch your boots overnight for you.
Step 5
Store your new leather boots in a place that is slightly warmer than room temperature. This way they will always be their least stiff when you take them out for a spin.


Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.