How to Break In Hiking Boots the Right Way

How to Break In Hiking Boots the Right Way

New boots are always a bit of a mixed bag. Having new shoes is a great feeling, but the way they actually feel on your feet might not be! In other words, sometimes boots need a break-in period before they are comfortable.

This is especially true for hiking boots, which are often built with strong, rigid materials. These materials make the boots highly functional for hiking, but it can also make breaking them in a chore. In this article, we’re examining the best ways to break in new boots. We’ll tell you how long it will take, and how to do it properly.

Breaking in Hiking Boots Properly

Breaking in boots is not always so easy. A traditional hiking boot, or hiking shoe, is often made from rigid leather or synthetic materials, which makes the footwear a real hassle to break in. Let’s look at some top tips for breaking hiking boots in the right way:

Buy Boots That Fit

There’s a difference between the discomfort caused by new, rigid boots and the pain caused by boots that don’t fit properly. Simply put, you need to be properly fitted for your boots before you buy. Your boots should fit you snugly without being overly tight.

If you’re unsure about your size, it’s a good idea to visit a footwear store that can properly size your feet for boots. You’ll be happy you did.

And once you have those well-fitting boots, it’s time to break them in:

Take It Slow

how many miles to break in hiking boots

There is one lesson that you need to keep in mind throughout your break-in process – listen to your feet! If you start to feel too much pain at any point in the process, then you shouldn’t continue. It’s not about hurting your feet, it’s about breaking in your boots. The process will often take a few days, so there’s no use pushing it if it’s causing you aches, pains, blisters, cuts, or anything related to that.

Here’s a great method for breaking in boots without causing unnecessary discomfort:

Step 1: An Easy Stroll

Since the theme of this section is “take it slow,” it comes as no surprise that you should start the process with a gentle stroll. Take your new boots, lace them up good and proper, and head out for a light walk. Keep to straight paths and roads and take it easy. You’re getting a feel for your new boots.

Some even wear their boots around the house, use them to walk the dog, or any other light excursion that can start the break-in process.

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Step 2: Small Hike

Once you’re comfortable in your boots with light exercise, it’s time to take them off-road. Starting with some shorter hikes is a good idea.

This gives your boots a chance to adjust to different elevations and terrain, which is crucial to break them in properly. Your boots need to be broken in from all angles, and they need the chance to twist and flex through different elevations and types of terrain. The only true way to break them in is through use, and that’s what you are doing here.

Step 3: Ramp it Up

Once you’re happy with your boots’ performance on gentle hikes, it’s time for a real test. Take them on a full-fledged hike, or a real camping trip. Start treating them just as you’d like them to perform. If you’ve worked your way up to this point, you will not be disappointed!

But Wait, Isn’t This Super Time-consuming?

So,you’ve read the above steps and you just have one thing in mind – that’s a lot. What if you don’t have time to do all this before your big hike?Don’t worry! It’s truly not a big deal.

The above method was an example of the best way to break in new boots. But we understand that not everyone has time to do things perfectly. Any mix of the above factors is better than nothing, and there are plenty of people who don’t break in boots at all before long hikes.

Sure, you might get some blisters, and you might get some sore feet, but you’ll get through it. Pack some band-aids and some thick socks and you’ll be fine!

How Many Miles to Break in Hiking Boots?


So, what’s the bottom line – how many miles does it take to break in new hiking boots? Unfortunately, we can’t provide you an exact answer to this question. The answer depends on many variables.

The Boots: The first variable is (of course) the boots themselves. Boots that are made of more flexible materials won’t take as long to break in. However, these boots might also sacrifice some durability in achieving this flexibility. Generally speaking, boots or shoes that feel more flexible and lightweight will generally be easier to break in, such as a trailrunner or a hybrid boot, while rigid hiking boots will take longer. Leather boots are also slightly easier to breakin than boots which are made from synthetic materials.

The Terrain: Breaking in a boot isn’t just about distance, it’s also about terrain. Breaking in a boot means that you are breaking it in to be flexible across a varied range of terrain. To do this, you actually need to take it on this terrain. This allows the boot to bend and flex in response to different environmental obstacles, which allows you to break in the boots across less distance. But, as you’ve seen from the above guide, it might not be so easy to take brand new boots on advanced terrain.

Remember – It Shouldn’t Cause You So Much Pain

Before we wrap up our article, there’s on important point we need to make – this process shouldn’t be painful! There’s a tendency to think that new boots are bound to cause you pain, but this is not true. In fact, it’s much more important to listen to your feet and stop when you feel too much pain. Also, this pain will be minimized if you buy boots that fit you properly. 

This is the reason we took you through our gradual method of breaking in boots. This allows you to fully break in your boots without causing unnecessary pain. Yes, blisters may still happen. Yes, you still may experience foot soreness. But it doesn’t have to be excessive, and it certainly doesn’t have to be intolerable.

Buy properly fitting boots and follow our method above to make the process as pain-free as possible!

Going Forward

Thanks for checking out our guide to breaking in your new hiking boots. New hiking boots are exciting, and there’s a tendency to get out and hit the trails right away. And while you certainly are free to do that, there are methods you can take to minimize any pain or discomfort involved in the break-in process. We hope you’ve learned something from this article, and we wish you nothing but comfortable hikes in your new boots.

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