How to Break In Hiking Boots
There is nothing quite like getting a new pair of hiking boots. It fills you with a new excitement and vigor to get out on the trail and test out your new gear. Many wonder though, what is the best way to break in hiking boots? Even the finest fitting boots need time to conform to your feet. Is there a good strategy? Are there any quick fixes or “life hacks” that can get you out there sooner? Here is a list of best practices for breaking in new hiking boots.
Identify What Kind Of Boots You Have
What NOT To Do
Do not immediately go out on long hikes
Do not soak your boots in water overnight
What TO Do
Wear boots around the house
Wear boots around town
Take a short hike
After you have worn your boots around the house and around town for a few days, it is finally time to hit the trail. Start slow, a shorter day hike, to ensure that you do not run into any unforeseen pains or pinches in the boot. Beginning with a much longer hike with no boot preparation may leave you stuck in a painful situation. If you are not sure where to go, use the AllTrails app to help you plan the ideal route near you. If you are planning on going on very long hikes in the future, try to bring a weighted pack with you to get your boots used to the feeling. Slowly add more weight until you get to how your pack will feel on your longest trek. It may take 2-3 short hikes to get your most rugged boots fully broken in.
Assuming all of these steps go well (no pun intended), you have officially broken in your new boots! Feel free to take them out on any of your hiking adventures.
My Feet Still Hurt
If your feet hurt in any or all of the above steps, it is important to address those issues. Small problems become big ones on the trail and the last thing you want is to be stranded in a painful situation.
Change the lacing technique
There are a few different ways to lace your boot that will help relieve strain on your foot. If you are feeling pain, whatever one you are using may not be the right one for you. Certain styles of lacing can relieve heel pain, toe pinches, and top of foot pressure.
Stretch the boots
Sometimes, the boots can be stretched slightly to help alleviate any points of pressure. They are just stretched ever so slightly so as to not damage it, but to give your feet a little more room where you need it most. Look for a local outfitter to do the stretching for you on a special machine.
Buy new boots
If you have tried changing the lacing technique and you have taken the boots to a stretcher, it may be time to put yourself back on the market. While it will be annoying to try and look again for boots, it will be better for you in the long run. The last thing you want is to hike for years in boots that are not comfortable for your feet. With the right care and love, boots can last several years. Make sure you have the right one for your foot so you can enjoy hiking as often as possible.
Keep In Mind
There is no amount of breaking in, lacing techniques, or stretching that will fix a boot that is poorly fitted. Make sure to put in the research and time shopping for the right one for you. There are A LOT of options out there. It is up to you to decide what kind of hiking boot or shoe is best for you.
Go to outfitters and try them on, a lot of places will even give you a money back guarantee. Take advantage of all of these opportunities and get the best fitting boot for you. It may seem like a lot of work just for some boots, but it can make your hiking experience a lot better in the long run. Nothing beats a high quality, comfortable, and long lasting hiking boot.