How To Break In Leather Boots Without Ruining Them

A good pair of leather boots is essential in every wardrobe. These sleek and stylish boots give you a sense of confidence with every stride, and you’re sure to lace them up whenever you get the opportunity. However, you might find that they are a little stiff, hard to put on and pinch, or hurt your feet as you walk around.

break in leather

This could happen if you got a size or half a size too small or the leather is hard and tough. If the size is right but it still hurts, you’ll need to break in your leather boots so that they can become comfortable for regular and prolonged use. If you’d like to know how to break in leather boots without ruining them, then this article is for you

How To Break In New Leather Boots

breaking in boots

We’ll look at some of the dos and don’ts when breaking in leather boots. One wrong turn can damage your brand-new leather boots, and since you’ve paid quite a few bucks, you definitely don’t want to damage them.

Here are the things you can do to help with the breaking-in process:


Wear Them Around The House

You can wear your leather boots around the house if you can handle the pain. Try wearing them for short periods. They are going to hurt for the first couple of wears, so space out the wear time over a longer period. Make sure they don’t hurt too much – if they do, you may have the wrong size boots.

Wear Thick And Comfortable Socks

When trying to break in a pair of leather boots, it isn’t just about softening the leather. It is also about getting the midsole to conform to the arch of your feet. In the early stages, your foot is targeted from above and below, so some thick and comfortable socks will protect your foot to an extent.

The thicker the socks the better because it can help to stretch the leather more and speed up the break-in process.

Condition Them

If you’re wondering how to soften stiff leather boots, then you can try conditioning them. Leather is like our skin and needs to be moisturized every so often. Conditioning your leather boots not only softens the leather but can extend their lifespan.

soften hard leather boots

Look for a conditioner that is made to be used on your boot’s material. Oftentimes manufacturers will make their own conditioners in the form of an oil or cream to be used on their boots. You will need to condition your leather boots from time to time during their lifespan to keep the leather soft.

Use a Boot/Shoe Stretcher

If all else fails, then you’ll need to use a boot or shoe stretcher to break in your boots. You can either buy one of these off Amazon or take the boots to a professional cobbler who will have one. If you decide to purchase your own, the process is easy. Simply insert the stretcher into the boot, twist the knob to widen all sections until you feel some resistance, and leave it to do its job. Try not to stretch them too much all at once. You can condition the boots while doing this so the leather will be softened for stretching and protect against any cracking.


Here are the things you don’t want to do to your leather boots when breaking them in:

Don’t Heat Them Up

Many people think that putting leather boots in the oven, steaming them, or even blow drying them can help you break them in faster. While this does soften leather, it also dries it out – the one big no-no for leather.

The long-term effects of heating up your leather boots are far worse. Not only should you condition your leather boots to soften the leather but you should also ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Applying heat will just defeat the purpose and can damage your boots beyond repair.

Do Not Soak Your Boots in Water

A quick search for how to break in cowboy boots at home may bring up few different methods. These include submerging your boots in water, partially soaking them, or wearing them around with wet socks. The problem here is that even though leather can withstand some amount of moisture, it is not good for your boots in the long run.

Water, like heat, can dry out your leather boots, which leads to cracking and tearing. Some may argue this is not bad because the leather is soaked during the manufacturing process. The thing is, during the manufacturing process the leather is soaked in a contained environment by professionals who know what they’re doing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Break In Boots?

The time it takes to break in leather boots varies from pair to pair and person to person. On average, it takes about 100 to 200 hours before they are really broken in and comfortable. This could be in a month or a year depending on how long and how often you wear the leather boots.

Is It Possible To Stretch Frye Boots?

Frye boots leather is thick and sturdy, which makes stretching seem impossible. You can stretch Frye boots by taking them to a cobbler who will use a boot stretcher and expand the shaft circumference of the boots. If you can’t find a cobbler, you can purchase a boot stretcher and try to do it yourself.

How To Distress Leather Boots?

One of the easiest ways is to spray the shoe with some rubbing alcohol to soften the hard leather. Take a hard-bristle brush and scrub the boots. There are other methods, but we do not recommend trying these since they can damage your boots.


Remember to get the perfect fit when shopping for leather boots. Leave nothing to chance and definitely don’t tell yourself that they’ll stretch and fit over time. While this may happen with some leather boots, it does not with others. This is because different manufacturers use different types of leather.

There are no hacks or shortcuts when it comes to breaking in leather boots. You’ll have to deal with the initial discomfort to enjoy the long-term comfort and style that these boots offer. Employing the methods mentioned in this article will make things easier when breaking in your leather boots. Read here on how to clean leather boots and shoes to extend their lifespan.

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