I was so eager to hit the hiking trails in my area that I never thought I needed to break in my hiking boots. It cost me dearly. I had blisters on both feet at the end of a long hike, and my feet were so painful I barely made it home.
I took it easy for about a week so the blisters could heal and read up about quick and easy ways to break in my hiking boots. There was a cool hiking event the next weekend, and I didn’t want to wait.
So I followed a few quick hacks I found on Google. I soaked my boots … and pretty much ruined them because they didn’t stretch and it took forever to get them to dry.
I learned that I should rather put in the time and properly break in my hiking boots. This is best for my expensive boots and my feet. So how do you break in your hiking boots?
What Is the Best Way to Break in Your Hiking Boots?
If you are incredibly lucky, you will find the perfect hiking shoes for your feet that won’t need any breaking in. However, this happening is rare or just dumb-luck. Most hikers need to break in their brand-new pair of hiking boots before they can hit the trails. To properly break in your hiking boots, you need to firstly ensure you buy the right hiking boots for you and for the kind of hiking you want to do. Then, while wearing your hiking socks with your new hiking boots, wear the boots around your home and walk around in them. Look for any discomfort and address this before taking your new boots for a walk around your neighborhood. Once your shoes feel really comfortable and you don’t experience sore feet, blisters, or anything else, hike for a short distance, and then hike further.
5 Steps to Break In Your New Hiking Boots
These are the steps I follow to break in my hiking boots every time I buy a new pair.
Step 1: Finding the Right Hiking Boots
The first step to breaking in my hiking boots doesn’t start with walking around in the new boots. Instead, it is knowing my feet and their requirements, as well as buying the right hiking boots for me.
We all have unique feet, and the hiking boots I hike best in may not work for you. In general, when I buy hiking boots, I check that:
- There is enough toe room.
- The boot isn’t too tight or wide around my feet.
- I fit the boot with my hiking socks on.
- I buy hiking boots that are appropriate for the type of hiking I want to do.
Step 2: Put on the Hiking Boots & Wear Them Around the House
Once I’ve bought the hiking boots that fit and feel best on my feet, I start breaking in my boots.
So when I get home, I put on my hiking socks and my new hiking boots and I generally don’t do much with the boots on for the first few hours and days. I wear them while I sit at my desk and work and walk around the house.
I start out with putting on the hiking boots for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then as the boots feel more comfortable, I wear them for longer and I try to walk a bit more around the house too.
My house is a double-story, so I like testing out the boots by climbing the stairs up and down.
Step 3: Deal With Discomfort
I remember I had one new pair of hiking boots where I never experienced any discomfort. They simply fit and felt like the best glove in the world.
I can’t say the same for my other hiking boots, and while you may think identifying discomfort is a bad thing, it isn’t.
A common discomfort I experienced is that there’s too much pressure on the top of my feet.
This is an easy fix as I have a bad habit of always tying my shoelaces too tightly. When my laces aren’t so tight, the pressure is relieved and my boots feel like a dream.
Other discomforts you may experience and what they mean are:
- Your toes feel cramped and hit the front of your boot when you walk downhill or down stairs > There isn’t enough toe room in your hiking boots and you need to buy a bigger size boot.
- You feel hot spots at the bottom of your feet > You may need special insoles for your hiking boots.
Step 4: Walk Some More
After I’ve done my time in my house with my boots, identified and addressed discomforts, I know it’s time to venture out. I start by walking up and down my driveway, and if my feet don’t hurt, I walk around the block.
As my feet feel more comfortable in the new boots, I walk further for about a week or so.
Step 5: Go for a Hike
When I can comfortably walk around a few blocks and up and down the stairs in my home, I know I’m ready for a hike. However, I don’t do a full-day hike or something strenuous.
Sore feet and blisters are no friend of mine, and I try to avoid these like the plague! So I prefer to start out easier and then ramp it up gradually.
I generally go for a 2.5-mile hike over smooth terrain, and if this is a success, I go for a hike over tougher terrain.
How to Break in Hiking Boots Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to break in hiking boots?
In general, it takes between one week to a month to break in new hiking boots. How quickly you break in your hiking boots depends on what the boots are made from, how they fit your feet, and how often you wear the boots to break them in.
What is the best way to break in hiking boots?
To break in your hiking boots, start wearing them around the house where the terrain is easy and you can just get used to the feel of the boots. Wear the hiking boots with the socks you are planning to go hiking in. As the boots feel more comfortable to wear around the house, extend the distance and time you wear the boots. For example, go for walks around the block each day. Once your boots feel comfortable over this distance, then go for a walk around two blocks and continue upping how long you wear the boots and the distance you walk in them. Also, climb stairs, walk up and down ramps, and walk over rough terrain. If your boots continue to feel comfortable and you don’t have any pain or blisters, then go out for a 3-4 mile day hike before trying longer distances and more strenuous hikes.
The Final Word
Breaking in new hiking boots is a step that should never be missed. Don’t think you can get some new boots and hit the trails. And don’t try some of the quick breaking in hacks you can find on Google.
Rather take the time and properly break in your hiking boots, otherwise, you’ll have to waste time on sore feet and possibly have damaged boots.
Enjoy breaking in your hiking boots and see you on the hiking trails!