How To Break In Hiking Boots: All You Need To Know

When your feet feel great, your hike will feel even better. Breaking in your brand new hiking boots is beneficial to your hips, legs, and feet.

The majority of hiking footwear takes some time to get adjusted to being used outdoors. If your brand new boots aren’t broken in before your hike, they will do more harm to your body than good.

Let’s take a look at how to break in hiking boots properly. How long does this take, and aren’t there any quick ways of breaking in hiking boots faster?

How Long Does it Take to Break in Hiking Boots?

To break in new hiking boots takes approximately one to four weeks depending on the kind of boot you bought.

Some newer lightweight models of hiking books require less time to break in compared to leather boots that take a bit longer.

For shorter and easier day hikes, it should take approximately one to two weeks to break in your new boots.

If you are going on a quest such as the Grand Canyon, give yourself some more time to break them in.

How to Fit the Boots Properly: 4 Important Steps

The first hurdle of breaking in new hiking boots is to make sure you buy boots that fit properly to your feet. But there is still more to consider:

  1. Make sure the boots fit correctly. Preventing blisters, chafing, and sores begins at the store. If your hiking boots do not fit your feet properly, such as too big or too small, breaking them in will not do anything to help the situation.
  2. Find the right socks. Socks make a difference when it comes to blister prevention. Explore various types of hiking socks. Check out the lengths and thicknesses to determine which type of sock works with your new boots and feet.
  3. Keep your feet healthy. Plain and simple. Make sure you trim your toenails and stretch your feet properly before and after hiking. Apply cream to your feet to prevent calluses and dry spots. Maintaining healthy skin on your feet can help prevent blisters and chafing.
  4. Remove debris from your boots during the hike. While hiking, the likelihood of stones, twigs, pine cones, and other debris getting stuck in your hiking boots is high. When you notice debris stuck in your boots, stop your hike and remove the debris before it irritates your feet.

How to Break in Hiking Boots: 3 Basic Tips

After making sure that your hiking boots fit properly to your feet, it’s time to break them in. Here are 3 basic tips you should stick to:

1. Wear Your Hiking Boots at Home

Wear your new hiking boots inside your home. That’s an effective first step to break in new boots. Wear the socks and insoles that you would be wearing with the boots while hiking. Ensure the gussets and tongue are straight as an arrow. At first, new hiking boots are always stiff.

2. Start to Increase Your Distance Gradually

Make sure your boots feel good before you increase to this level. Wear your hiking boots to walk around the block or go shopping. Once they feel great, hit the trail. Gradually increase your distance and weight. You will want to perform this section in steps. Hiking boots break in best off the pavement.

3. Pay Attention to How Your Feet Feel

Small problems will become bigger problems with time. If the hiking boots pinch or have a hot spot, readjusting your laces can bring comfort. There are three ways you can lace your hiking boots to bring comfort.

Surgeon’s Knot – prevents heel slip

Remove slack in the laces, creating a snug fit with the boot over the top of your foot. Find the pair of lace hooks closest to where your foot would begin to flex forward. Wrap the laces around each other twice. Pull them tight. Run the lace up to the next hook to secure the knot’s tension.

Repeat that process at the next highest set of lace hooks. Continue to lace the rest of the boot in your usual way.

Window Lacing – relives top of foot pressure

Unlace your boots down to the hooks right below the pressure point on your foot. Lace the boots going straight up to the next hook and then cross the laces over each other. Resume lacing your boots in the usual way.

Toe Relief Lacing – relives toe box pressure

Unlace your boots entirely. Re-lace the boot while skipping the first set of hooks. What this does is open up the toe box and remove pressure from your toes.

If your laces are worn out, make sure they get replaced. You will want to replace your old laces with ones that match both the shape and length of the previous pair of laces.

Important: There Are No Quick Fixes to Breaking in Hiking Boots

In the internet, you will read about the weirdest quick fixes that will, in the worst case, irreparably damage your boots. Below is a list of what not to do when it comes to breaking in new hiking boots:

  • Do not soak your boots overnight.
  • Do not walk long and heavy distances in your new hiking boots right away. It would be hard on the boots and your body.
  • Do not use a boot stretcher. You want them to conform to your feet.
  • Do not place ice bags in them.
  • Do not put the boots in the fridge over night.

Simply put, hiking boots need to be broken in!

Some hiking boots are made from flexible materials and require minimal effort to be broken in. However, most hiking boots will perform best and be easier on your body if they are broken in properly.

Last Update: 31. March 2022
About the Author

My name is Thomas, and I love the outdoors. I'm currently living in Germany and I would like to encourage my readers to go outside with this blog. Here you can read more about me.