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How to Break In a New Pair of Work Boots

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Lucky is the person who gets a great-fitting pair of  work boots off the shelf. More often, the right fit requires a bit of a breaking-in period. You can don a pair and tough it out for a while. They'll eventually break in that way. You'll probably get a few blisters for your efforts, too. Or you can speed up the process with one of a few tried-and-true methods for getting a comfortable pair of boots that you can wear all day.

Here are a few tricks to try:

Try the Ice Method

This trick forces the leather to stretch, but without pinching your own feet in the process. You'll need two heavy-duty kitchen freezer bags and a two heavy duty trash bags. Before you begin, check with the boot manufacturer to be sure that you won't lose any warranty.

First, line the inside of each boot with a trash bag. Leave the open end of the bag outside the boot and fold the edges over toward the outside. Next, fill a kitchen freezer bag with water, seal the bag and drop it into another freezer bag. Seal the second bag with duct tape and push it into the boot as far into the toe as you can. Repeat for the other boot. Finally, pop the boots into the freezer overnight. Water expands as it freezes, which will force the boots to stretch a bit.

Use Leather Conditioner to Soften the Hide

A brand new pair of leather work boots might be rigid, which makes every step a fight against unforgiving materials. The sturdier the boot, the more likely you'll have stiff leather to contend with at first. Leather naturally softens up through repeated wearings, but that takes time. Leather conditioner can speed up that process, and it also protects the boots from premature cracking.

You can coat all of the leather with leather conditioner that's made especially for shoes. Or apply it to the areas that need a little extra give. Use a generous amount and leave it on overnight. In the morning, wipe off what remains and you should enjoy a bit more flexibility than the boots had when you bought them.

Or Try the Military Method

Probably the oldest way to quickly break in a pair of boots, short of suffering through it naturally, is by using warm water. Work Boot Critic says military service members have done this for generations. As with the ice method, contact the boot manufacturer to be sure that you won't ruin the boot and that you won't lose any warranty.

Fill two large buckets with warm water. Dunk each boot in a bucket and let it sit and soak for about half an hour. Pull out the boots once they're saturated, put on a pair of thick socks and wear them for approximately another half hour. Water softens leather, and softened leather can conform to your feet. But there's a caveat. Some boots can't withstand immersion. That's why it's so important to check with the manufacturer first.

Breaking in a pair of boots is nobody's idea of a good time. The whole reason for a break-in period is because they don't fit properly. And if you do it the natural way, through repeated wearings and time, you'll certainly feel the pinch. But you can speed it up using a little ingenuity, as long as the boots won't be permanently compromised in the process.

The best start to great-fitting boots is getting the perfect size and design for your feet. With such a wide range of work boot styles, materials and size ranges (including narrow and wide), you can spend less time breaking them in and more time wearing them comfortably.


When you're in the market for a new pair of work boots shop at Bridgeport Boots.

Great deals on a variety brands.


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