Camping & Hiking

How To Break in Hiking Boots?

Do you enjoy hiking, but hate the pain that comes with wearing new hiking boots?

Aches and pains are bound to occur if you decide to wear freshly-bought hiking boots on a mountain trail for the first time.

Ideally, you should break in your boots to the contour of your feet before attempting a 10-mile hiking route. If not, discomfort and blisters will ruin your hiking experience.

Let’s show you some simple ways on how to break in new hiking boots so you can have a pleasant pain-free hiking experience.

choosing hiking boots

Choosing Appropriate Hiking Boots

Before anything, you should select hiking boots that best suit your hiking activities. Hiking shoes are a great option if you’re planning to hike small routes or run along a mountain trail.

Day hiking boots on the other hand are better when you attempt short backpacking trips or day hikes with lightweight loads. Finally, backpacking boots are intended to provide proper footing whenever you are going hiking for multiple days or in harsh terrains.

Apart from this, you should assess other features that might improve your footings, such as breathability, weather resistance, and impact absorption.

If you also want to hike on icy mountains or partake in mountaineering, compatibility with crampons should also be taken into consideration.

How to Break In Hiking Boots

Now that you bought the proper hiking boots, you must adjust them to the shape of your feet. It’s not recommended to use new hiking boots on a long trail from the get-go because the materials and fabrics are still very stiff. They have not molded to your feet yet, and will cause blisters and bruises.

First, you should wear them in your house. Put on some socks and use them for a couple of days. Try to wear them when you go for a walk or a small trip to the grocery store. The weight of your body will cause the leather of your boots to gradually take the shape of your feet.

Some people even take them on a small run around the block when they do exercise. Apart from breaking them in, you can check to see if there is discomfort on certain parts and might require another size.

Secondly, you can attempt longer distances to add more weight and mileage to your boots. Elevation and weight are important to break in your boots.

You should try to hike up a hill or walk around a campsite. It will only take a few of these mini-hiking trips to break in your new hiking boots. After that, they should be good for many years of hiking.

How to Stretch Hiking Boots

Most hiking boots are made of high-quality leather and fabrics, which means that stretching them might take a longer time period.

It’s advised to stretch your boots between four to five weeks before a long-distance hike. You should also try to wear your boots about half the distance of your future hike to prepare yourself.

For example, if you plan to do a 10-mile hike to a mountain peak or lake, try to wear them at your house for at least five miles. This way, you can evaluate the comfort if you were to reach half of the trail.

How Should Hiking Boots Fit

One important aspect when purchasing hiking boots is choosing the correct size.

If you wear boots that are too tight, they can lead to blisters and constant pain during the hike. On the other hand, loose boots can cause you to slip or lose your foot grip, which can lead to accidents. Thus, you should always search for appropriate boots that match your shoe size.

Your hiking boots must wrap tightly around your feet to provide a secure grip, but still be comfortable and provide enough toe room for mobility. There are certain things you can do to buy adequate boots with enough toe room.

For example, you can wear trail socks the day you want to buy hiking boots. Trail socks are thinner and more lightweight than normal socks, which can help you decide on comfort.

The toe-tapping test can also help you determine if you have enough space for your toes.

While wearing your boots, you unlace them and then stand up. You use one of your feet to kick the other behind the heel. This will cause your toes to reach the front portion of the boots. Afterward, you try to fit two fingers side by side behind in the heel of said boot. If you are unable to place both fingers, search for a bigger number. If there is too much space, look for a smaller size.


How to Avoid Ankle Discomfort

The presence of ankle pain is associated with inappropriate shoe size and lacing. Most people choose tighter shoes to improve their footing, but this can cause too much pressure on your ankles and lead to pain and blisters. Additionally, inappropriate lacing interferes with appropriate ankle support.

If the tongue is not placed or sealed correctly, it can move from its location and slip to the sides or inside. Therefore, it will cause pressure on your boots and compress your feet.

You should also lace them with enough tension that they secure your foot, but don’t squeeze behind the heel.

Other options to reduce ankle discomfort and stretch your boots are:

  • Applying heat to expand the leather. You can use a hairdryer.
  • Use alcohol on areas that feel tight to reduce stiffness. You can drench a cotton ball with alcohol, press for a couple of minutes before using them.
  • Purchase a boot stretcher to expand your boots overnight, or when you are not wearing them.

Hiking boots provide extra support when walking on a rocky trail or uneven ground. However, knowing how to break them in will ensure a pain free hike. Use the above tips and your hiking trip will be the first of many great experiences to come!

Nathan Barker

My wife and I are huge adventure seekers! We've traveled and explored over 40 countries and want to share what we have learned on our journey. We'll be talking about everything from hiking and camping, to guides, reviews and tips that we're sure will help any avid adventurer no matter what walk of life. So relax, grab a cup of coffee and we hope you enjoy the read!