In walking we have some parts we should avoid, like mosquitoes and breaking in new hiking mountaineering boots. Sometimes we don’t have time to break them in properly, or we forget to break them in just before a long hike.

Take a Break in Hiking Boots

How To Break In Hiking Boots by hikingrange.com

It is possible to break in new hiking boots in a few days. However, you might develop blisters and your new hiking boots may have a shorter lifespan as a result. An effective and blister-free breaking in of new hiking boots usually takes 1-4 weeks.

The time that it takes to break in a brand new pair hiking boots depends on how well the new boots fit your feet, what materials they’re made from, and whether your feet are broken in.

Yes, you read that right – you also need to break in your feet! If you’re hiking regularly, your skin will become thicker around the areas where you usually get blisters, for instance, on the outside of your pinkies. Someone who already has their feet broken in will have a much more comfortable experience with brand new hiking boots and will rarely get any blisters.

Right Hiking Boots Need Little to No Breaking In

However, before we talk about how to break in hiking boots, we should point out that the right hiking boots do not need to be broken in. The shoes should already be in good shape, and you shouldn’t get blisters right away.

But finding the “right” hiking boots is really hard, especially if you’re shopping online. When buying boots online, try looking at the customer reviews and find out if the majority of the people who purchased them say that they’re comfortable.

A much better option would be to purchase boots in real life outdoors in a reputable hiking store with good customer service. Ask the store employee to help you find the right hiking boots and make sure to try on many different pairs to find out which ones feel most comfortable.

When you find a pair that feels comfortable, walk around the store for a few minutes and see how they feel – is the toebox wide enough, are they loose enough around the ankles, do your feet stay in the same place, instead of sliding forward, e.t.c.

Break-in Hiking Boots

Depending on how much time you have before your next hike, you can break in your hiking boots quickly or in the correct, preferred way. We’ll cover both techniques as follows:

Break-in Hiking Boots Correctly (1 – 4 Weeks)

To break in your hiking boots correctly, you have to take things nice and slow. When you first get your hiking boots, wear them around the house, on quick short walks to the store, or when walking your dog. Do this for about 1-2 weeks, so that the insole and the fabric cushioning all around the boot start to take the shape of your feet. Make sure to wear your hiking socks instead of your regular ones. You most likely won’t get any blisters from this.

When you’ve walked around with your new boots for a few days, now it’s time to hit the trail. Start with a few shorter hikes (3 – 8 km / 2 – 5 miles) and gradually improve. Make sure to simulate the right hiking conditions – wear a heavy pack which you’d normally wear on multi-day hikes, wear your hiking socks, and choose a rugged trail with plenty of hills, rocks, and roots.

Break-in Hiking Boots Quickly (1-3 Days)

If you have the time, you should definitely break in your hiking boots in the correct way, as it will result in a better fit and improve the lifespan of your hiking boots. But if not, then the second, much quicker technique is also a sure way to get your hiking boots ready in time for your next hiking trip.

A very old and proven technique for breaking in hiking boots quickly is to get them soaking wet and go hiking until they’re dry. When hiking boots get wet, they change their shape more easily, and they’ll break in much quicker. For this technique to work best, soak your brand-new hiking boots in warm water for about 15 minutes before hiking with them. Doing this one or two times will achieve a very similar result to breaking in your hiking boots correctly with the technique mentioned above.

But there are a few negative aspects that come with this technique. Firstly, your boots may get damaged from getting completely soaked. Although good quality hiking boots shouldn’t get damaged when wet, it usually reduces the water-proofing and sometimes may even damage the spot where the boot is attached to the outsole.

Start Hiking Without Breaking Them In

Obviously, if you have absolutely no free time on your hands to break in your new hiking boot, you can start hiking without breaking them in. This is very common for long-distance hikers because when you’re walking for one month or more without stopping, you need to switch to new shoes at some point when the old ones become too worn down.

How to Get No Blisters

  • Pay a lot of attention to how your feet are feeling. As soon as something starts hurting, try re-tying the laces and taping down the hot spots with moleskin and leuko tape.
  • Wear thicker, moisture-wicking socks, preferably, merino wool socks. Make sure that your socks aren’t too tight around certain areas.
  • Whenever you stop, take down your shoes, let your feet breathe for a few minutes, and inspect if there are any blisters forming.

Get Blisters From New Hiking Boots

Friction from your feet rubbing against socks or boots causes blisters. Wearing moisture-wicking, antimicrobial socks will definitely help prevent blisters from forming in wet conditions and in the presence of bacteria.

You will probably not find a pair of new hiking boots that are perfectly shaped for your feet unless you’re lucky. Inner padding that is too tight around the toebox, ankles, or anywhere else would be a problem. The inner padding in new hiking boots forms to the shape of your feet as the shoes break-in, so there is less friction where the shoe might be too tight, and blisters are less likely to occur.

Blisters can also form from wearing too tight thick socks or if your feet aren’t used to hiking and carrying loads heavier than your body weight, such as your backpack.

FAQs

Is it necessary to break in hiking shoes?

New hiking boots will require 1-4 weeks to break in properly and blister-free. It can take a while to break in a new pair of hiking boots, depending on how well the boots fit your feet, what materials the boots are made from, and whether your feet have been broken in.

What causes my hiking boots to hurt my feet?

It is responsible for supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing shock when you walk. Overuse of the fascia by hiking can cause inflammation and irritation. You may experience increased foot pain if your hiking footwear does not have proper insoles to support the heel and arch.

What is the best way to stretch new hiking boots?

Using alcohol on your boots is another way of stretching them. Cotton balls can be soaked in them, then moistened on the spots on your boots where they feel tight. Make sure you wear the boots for a few minutes so the alcohol has a chance to expand the material. If you need help breaking in your boots, you can use a hairdryer.

How do hiking boots fare if they aren't broken in?

It is better to break in hiking boots properly than not to. Boots are made using a ‘last’ – a generic foot mould – around which they are shaped and stitched. There will be friction points and loose points which will cause blisters and soreness because it doesn’t flex and move as your foot does.