How to Break in New Cowboy Boots
There’s always a bit of excitement when you get a new pair of boots. The smell of the leather, the sheen, knowing exactly what you are going to wear with them. But, with all of that good also comes a bit of dread: New cowboy boots need to be broken in before you get that perfect made-for-you fit.
The main complaint that many people have about their cowboy boots is that they are tight at first. Luckily, leather stretches—but, the breaking-in period can be rough. Your feet may hurt or be uncomfortable for a couple of days while the leather stretches. There are a number of ways to break in cowboy boots or Western-style work boots, and while not every option works for everyone, hopefully you’ll find a solution that reduces foot pain.
1. Wear your boots.
The more you wear your cowboy boots, the better they will adapt to your feet. You can use a clothes steamer (or even the steam from a boiling kettle) to steam the interior of the boots, which helps make the leather more flexible. Then, slip the boots on and walk around at home. Just be aware that steaming your boots may fade or dry the leather, so don’t use too much steam (don’t saturate the leather!) and always properly condition your boots afterward.
2. Double up your socks.
When you’re breaking in your boots, wear two pairs of socks. This is not a painless option, we can definitely say that. But, it will help stretch out your boots after several sessions. The extra pressure from your “larger” foot will force the leather to stretch, but it won’t work if you’re just wearing the boots: You’ll need to walk around in them as well. We suggest later in the day when the weather is warm as that will help make the boot leather a bit more pliable.
3. Put a bag of frozen water in your boots.
This is similar to wearing two pairs of socks, except it is completely painless as your feet aren’t involved. Fill up a resealable plastic bag with water, and ensure it is very tightly sealed with little to no air. Put the bag into your boot, and try to fit it in as close to the end of the boot’s toe as possible. Put some tissue paper or newspaper behind the bag to keep it in place, then put your boots—water and all—in the freezer for several hours. The water will expand as it freezes, stretching the leather and helping to gain a little toe space.
4. Use a boot stretcher.
Boot stretchers were made to get your boots ready for walkin’ again. Just put it into your boot and turn the handle to stretch it out a bit. Boot stretchers can be left inside your boots all day while you go about your life. Because this solution works without needing to be repeated, you can begin wearing your boots the next day without hassle.
5. Pick up some boot stretch spray.
No matter which method you choose to stretch your boots, boot stretch spray aids in the stretching process. The leather-softening spray makes the leather more pliant, so when you use a stretcher, doubled-up socks, or wear your boots for a stroll, the boots loosen and relax for a better fit.
How to Prevent Blisters From Cowboy Boots
While those are great tips to loosen up snug cowboy boots, there are other issues that can cause blisters and pain while breaking in your cowboy boots. Follow these tips and tricks to prevent blisters, sore feet, and other issues that may come with Western boots.
- Condition the leather. That’s right, even if your boots are brand new, it’s time to get some leather conditioner. Leather conditioner helps loosen stiff leather for more comfortable wear, but it also makes your boots look great.
- Flex it. We don’t mean your muscles, but the boot. Take your new boots, and flex the sole repeatedly to loosen it up a bit. The same goes for the heel: you’ll want to manipulate it to loosen it up, which helps prevent slipping and soreness. Finally, flex the ankles out so they are more movable immediately when you start wearing them, rather than causing pain all day while you’re trying to get stuff done.
- Choose socks made specifically for boots. Cowboy boot socks are designed for cushioning where you need it most, and the moisture-wicking materials keep your feet dry and comfortable.
- Many bootmakers have come a long way when it comes to cushioning, but if you need a little extra support, add cowboy boot insoles inside your boots. There are options for everything from reducing slippage to compensating for low or high arches. Insoles can make wearing Western-style boots more comfortable, so you can stay on your feet even longer.
We never said that breaking in boots was an easy process, but while you may be uncomfortable for a few days, the result is worth it. After you’ve flexed, stretched, and conditioned your boots, they’ll provide a made-for-you fit that’s like a second skin. For more Western wear advice and tips, explore our blog.