Everyone loves cracking open a box of brand new tall boots. There they are — shiny, spotless, and smelling of high-end leather.
But then you put them on and the love affair ends. They barely zip, your feet feel like they’re about to lose circulation, and you’re wincing just thinking about the prospect of ankle and back-of-knee blisters.
Never fear! We’re here to help with some of our favorite boot break-in hacks. Some of them are weird, but go with it:
- Morning Magic: Are you having a hard time getting your new boots to zip up and over your upper calves? Our bodies are less swollen first thing in the morning after we wake up. Try on your boots first thing in the A.M. and putz around the house for as long as you can stand it to get the break-in process going.
- Hot Foot: This next trick is not the best for cold climates, but it’s effective! Leather softens with moisture, so we’ve got two water-intensive options to help move the break-in process along. Option one involves soaking your riding socks and putting them on before your next ride. Option two involves unzipping your boots, laying them on the floor, placing damp towels across the inside shaft (especially near the ankles), and letting them sit overnight. Put the damp boots on the next morning before you ride, and they should have some extra give. (*Note: Don’t attempt this unless you’re certain you’re keeping your boots!)
- Pro Support: Is that calf still feeling tight? Consider taking your boots to a cobbler and having them stretched.
- Ankle Biter: Your ankles are often what suffer the most when breaking in new boots. Try wrapping your ankles with vet wrap to give some extra padding to the area during your first few rides. Another alternative is to put on a pair of ankle socks over your riding socks for a bit of extra cushion.
Hydro Seal Hack: If Band-Aid Hydro Seal bandages aren’t already a part of your first aid kit, they need to be! They’re similar to a regular Band-Aid in that they’re an adhesive, but the extra gel layer makes them excellent at preventing existing blisters from getting worse. They have saved the day on many walking-intensive vacations and are a definite must have for breaking in any shoes.