How to Break in Western Boots
Get that perfect just-for-you fit with your preferred method to break in your new cowboy boots.
Wearing cowboy boots reflects your style and appreciation for the living history of footwear. But while the boots fit your style and respect for the past, getting new boots to fit your feet comfortably takes a little work. Fortunately, leather stretches. You can work with that.
Wear the Boots
The more you wear new boots, the more they will conform to your feet. So, it’s up to you whether you want to endure the initial discomfort. Wearing boots straight out of the box can be painful. But, assuming you don’t surrender first to one of the below methods, the boots will eventually begin to take the shape of your feet.
Heat the Outside of the Boots
Heating the outside of boots with a steamer or hair dryer is the easiest first step other than simply wearing them. Avoid burning the boots by holding the steamer or dryer about 8 inches from the boot until the leather is warm. The warmth will expand the leather. Then, slip the boots on and wear them until they cool down. Repeat as necessary.
Steam the Inside of Your Boots
With a garment steamer, direct the steam toward the inside of the boot. If you have a problem area like the heal, focus the steam there. When the boot is soft and warm, slip the boots on and wear them for as long as possible, preferably until they’re dry. Even when the heat dissipates, the moisture is still working to mold the boot.
Double Up Your Socks
Put on two pairs of socks and wear your boots, walking around in them as much as possible. Of course, it’ll be uncomfortable, and you’ll need to repeat the process several times. However, the additional pressure around your foot will eventually stretch the boot to where you like the fit.
Freeze Water in Your Boots
Fill up two durable, resealable plastic bags with water. Ensure the bags are sealed tightly with no air inside. Next, slip one of the bags into a boot and work it as far into the toe box as possible and into the heel. Repeat with the other boot. Then, place the boots into a freezer for several hours until the boots and water are frozen. The water expands when it freezes, stretching the leather and helping to provide space in the boot where it is needed.
Submerge the Boots
This method is easy, effective, and safe but risks fading or drying out the leather. Simply submerge your boots in lukewarm water until they’re wet. Not soaked. Take the boots out of the water and drain. Then, put on socks and wear the boots until they’re dry. If wet socks bother you, put a plastic bag over the socks before slipping on the boots. Wet boots expand. As they dry, they mold around your feet.
Stretch Your Boots
A boot stretcher gives you direct control of the manual expansion of the width of a toe box. The benefit of a boot stretcher is that it does away with the messy or painful methods mentioned above, at least at the toe. Instead, you just set the stretcher and let it do its business while you go about your business.
Use Boot Stretch Spray
For all the methods mentioned, except for submersion, a boot stretch spray will help the process. The spray softens the leather, making it more pliant. With softer, supple leather, the boots more easily mold to your feet while wearing them.
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