How to break in boots

July 8, 2017

Q: Why is it important to learn the right way to break in a boot?

A: All high quality boots without a single exception require breaking in periods. There is no way to construct a serious boot without having to go thru the pain. While pain or shall I say discomfort will be experienced to a higher or lesser degree. With the correct technique of breaking in boot suffering is optional.

Q: Do old leather boots require breaking in?

A: Yes. Leather is basically like skin. So when a boot is stored away for a long period such as the one shown in the above picture for twenty or so years. It will tend to fossilize and become hard and unwieldy.

Q: It has been said the best way to break in a boot is to nourish the leather with a step by step treatment before wearing. How true is that?

A: I think many of the commercial methods tend to be too convoluted. I suspect that may have something to do with the marketing manifesto to sell the unassuming boot user more bottles of expensive gunk.

The best way is first clean the whole shoe with soap, water and with a stiff brush. Get down to the nooks and crannies with an old tooth brush, especially the welts. The goal is to get rid of the lacquer that is usually applied by the boot manufacturer as this layer will stop all your moisturising products from permeating deep into the leather. Be gentle and take your time. And don’t over do it.

Let it dry with the assistance of a fan. Stuff old newspaper to further draw out the moisture. Usually it takes a week.

You will find when the boot is dry, it will be stiff like a plank. Apply mink oil in circular motions. Again don’t over do it. As you don’t want to get cancer of the wallet.

Wear the boot.

Q: How should the boot be worn?

A: Never overdo it. The rule of thumb is if it hurts. Take it off and wear the ones that you much prefer to walk around with without killing your feet. Forcing your boot to break in is stupid. As it will destroy both your boot and feet. Be very patient.

The general rule of thumb is as follows – the higher the quality of leather. The longer it takes to break in.

Limmer & Sons construct excellent work and hiking boots. It’s a three year waiting list. Their boots take an extraordinary long time to break in. What is important is to know which specific part of the boot to nourish to accelerate the break in period. One good rule is to moisturise the crunch area of the boot. These are sections on the boot that usually have to flex, bend and regularly give way to make walking possible. They can be identified by looking at where the wrinkles and creases form on a boot. Usually what I do is ONLY nourish those areas with mink oil before and after wearing the boot.

Q: What other tips to relieve discomfort during the break in period?

A: Learning to tie off your boot is an invaluable skill to speed up the process of breaking in. As it can significantly eliminate discomfort and foot injury. Unfortunately with the advent of modern boots that seem comfortable the moment one walks out from the shop – this art has become very much a lost skill – in the photo you will see that I have crossed the laces twice around my ankles. The first is lower the other is angled. This is to prevent my heel from slipping. It also prevents my toes from crunching the toe box whenever I have to walk downhill and relieves pressure from the tendons on the top arch of the foot. It’s a mountaineering lacing technique.

Try to experiment with different lacing techniques whenever you experience discomfort while breaking in your boots. Never just buy into the stupid maxim – no pain, no gain. If it hurts. Take the boot off. Lace it differently to take off the pressure from that sore point so that you can keep at it.

Once the boot is broken in. It will be the most comfortable pair of boots that you will ever want to wear.

Q: What advise do you have for people who wear boots?

A: A good boot is always going to be expensive proposition no matter how you decide to cut it. That is the way I have always seen it. So learn to take care of your investment. If you can do just that. There is no reason why it should not last a lifetime. Get away from the people and planet destroying habit of buying a new pair of boots every year! There is no excuse for that sort of wasteful lifestyle. With the knowledge in the art of manliness to care for your boot. I see absolutely no reason why it should not be able to last you a lifetime.

Only losers have to live with the buy and throw philosophy. Real men always care for the things that serve them well. It’s an attitude that is jugular if you want to aspire to be a frontier man.

Q: Can a boot be fashionable?

A: I think a man’s wardrobe has to be both functional and socially correct. For me first and foremost form has to follow function – I spend a lot of time in the field. But I also need to engage a wider audience in the form of formal meetings in a corporate setting. So I need to pay respect to people and instutions. Foot wear is an issue with me. As one doesn’t want to change in and out of shoes all the time just for the sake of social etiquette.

Black boots I think may not go so well with a tie or even a bush jacket in a formal setting. As they don’t hide mud very well. But brown boots. Even the variety sporting D rings can add rather than subtract from the image. It’s aggressive yet cultured in a gruff wabi sabi sort of way that can often impart a certain hardness and truthfulness that complements a man.

Usually I cut the hardness of the field wear by just wearing a silk cravat.

One shouldn’t be afraid to experiment in the name of practical living.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: