By Jayden Mark
If you work in a profession that requires work boots, then you know first-hand that it can take a long time to work them in. As you slowly break them in over the course of days or weeks, your feet can take a beating, resulting in painful blisters and scabs.
Fortunately, for those of you who work in industries that require work boots – such as factory workers, lineman, loggers, and construction workers – you don’t have to wait that long to break in your work boots.
In this article, we’ll discuss several different techniques to quickly break in your work boots before you even wear them for the first time to increase your comfort on the job and cut down on the pain.
How to Break in Your Work Boots Fast
If you work in a profession that requires work boots to keep your feet and ankles safe and protected from falling objects and slip-and-fall dangers, you probably spend a lot of time on your feet. It’s difficult to perform your job properly if your feet are constantly aching due to a pair of stiff boots that haven’t been properly broken in.
Here are several different techniques to break in your work boots.
A 2-way shoe stretcher is a device that you can insert into a steel-toe work boot to help it slightly expand in length and width to give the shoe a more comfortable fit. Shoe stretchers have long been used to stretch areas of shoes that have led to uncomfortable pinching or blisters. They can also prevent creases and preserve the shape of the shoe – leading to a longer lifespan – when used regularly.
If you’re using a shot stretcher to stretch your work boots, first apply a leather conditioner to the boot to make it easier to stretch. Then, turn the wheel on the 2-way shoe stretcher counterclockwise to make the shoe stretcher smaller so you can insert it into the work boot. Make sure you’re using a 2-way stretcher so you can stretch the boots both lengthwise and width-wise.
Once the stretcher is securely in the boots, turn both lengthening wheels until they are snug against the boot. Then give each wheel three more turns to ensure a good stretch. The longer the shoe stretcher is inside the boots, the more worked in the boots will become. We recommend leaving the shoe stretcher inside the boots for at least 24 hours.
We briefly touched on using a leather conditioner during the shoe stretcher technique. However, a high-quality leather conditioner can often break in a work boot all by itself. To do so, use a wet rag or cloth and apply the conditioner generously to the boot’s leather surface. After letting the conditioner soak for about an hour, wear the boots around your home for a couple of hours to work them in. Repeat the process, if necessary.
The Sock Method
The extra-sock method of breaking in work boots is one of the most popular because you need nothing but one or two pairs of socks. Wear an extra-thick pair of socks – or even two regular pairs of socks – and wear your work boots around the house for a few hours. You can repeat this process a few times until your work boots are more loose and comfortable. This method isn’t very comfortable, but over time, it will increase the pressure on the leather, causing the boots to expand slightly.
Freezing your boots is another effective way to expand the leather to make your work boots more comfortable to wear, and it is also incredibly easy to do. For this process, fill two plastic, quart-sized bags at least halfway with water and place a bag in the toe section of each boot. Ensure the bags are sealed properly and aren’t leaking.
Next, place the boots in the freezer. Use a piece of wood or even a frozen dinner to prop up the heels to ensure the bags of water stay in the toe area of the boot. You can also place your boots outside overnight during the winter if the temperature remains below 32 degrees all night. Keep the boots in the freezer overnight, or for at least eight hours.
In the morning, take the boots out of the freezer and place them on a towel in a warm area of your home to let them thaw. You do not need to wait for the bags of ice to completely thaw. After about 20 minutes, you should be able to remove the bags from the boots.
This process should cause the leather to expand and provide you with a better, more comfortable, fitting pair of boots.
Like using a leather conditioner, rubbing alcohol has also proven to be an effective method for breaking in work boots. Simply use a dry cloth or rag and apply the rubbing alcohol evenly across the leather fibers for about 20 minutes. Wear the work boots around your house for a few hours or go on a walk to see if they’re more broken in. When finished, remove any of the remaining rubbing alcohol, and you’re good to go.
Use Your Hands
Another easy method of breaking in work boots is to use your hands. Yes, that may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it works. Just be sure not to break the boots in too much, as they will expand over time, and you don’t want them to become too loose.
Wear Plasters on Blister-Prone Areas
You can also break in work boots simply by wearing them to work. This may be the most uncomfortable option, as it will take some days for your feet to break the leather into a comfortable fit. Be sure to put blister plasters on areas of your feet that are prone to blisters. This will help protect your feet from blisters as you work the boots in.
Changing how you lace up your work boots is also an effective technique. For example, avoiding using the top eyelet, skipping certain hooks, or even using bar lacing over the crisscross method will provide your feet with an additional range of motion, especially if you’re kneeling or squatting frequently.
Buy Work Boots Later in the Day
After a hard day’s work, you may want to retreat to the comforts of your home and relax for a bit. However, this is the best time to work in your new boots. After spending a considerable amount of time on your feet during the day, your feet expand slightly. This may be the perfect time to work the boots in more.
Let a Professional Handle It
If you don’t have any time to spare, consider taking your boots to a shoe repair shop to have a shoe cobbler work them in properly. They can quickly and effectively break in boots, saving you the time and hassle of doing it yourself. Since work boots are expensive, it’s a good idea to know a shoe repair specialist in your town. They can repair your boots when they become too worn or uncomfortable, saving you more from having to buy a new pair of boots prematurely.
How to Make Your Work Boots More Comfortable
For those of you who spend most of the day on your feet, you understand just how uncomfortable your feet and ankles can get, especially if your work boots aren’t properly broken in yet. Although we recommend trying one or more of the techniques we mentioned above, here are a few simple tips to instantly make your work boots more comfortable.
Replace with Comfortable Insoles
Most work boots don’t come with extra arch support, so consider adding insoles to the inside of your work boots for additional support. The extra padding the insoles provide can keep your feet more comfortable during the work day. You can also consider adding a toe or heel pad instead of an insole if you find that option to be more comfortable.
Buy Wider Boots
No two feet are alike, so it doesn’t make any sense to buy standard work boots if you have wide feet. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re shopping around for new work boots, find a wider pair that will fit your feet more comfortably. Work boots typically come in six different widths, including B (extra narrow), C (narrow), D (regular), E (wide), EE (extra wide), and EEE (triple-wide).
The goal of work boots is to keep your feet safe and comfortable during the workday. But there are hundreds of different types of boots to choose from. Work boots can weigh as much as 4.5 pounds, but if there isn’t a particular reason you need heavier work boots for your particular job, consider buying a pair that is 2 to 3 pounds.
It’s also important not to buy the cheapest option available, as you’ll get what you pay for. A quality pair of work boots will last much longer, and you’ll probably save money in the long run from having to replace cheap work boots more frequently. Finally, if you work outside, look for work boots with moisture-wicking properties to help keep your feet dry.