How to Break In New Work Boots

Getting a new pair of boots is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, sometimes, it can also be a very painful one. By definition, work boots need to be tough. And this can lead to a pretty uncomfortable when you first start wearing them.

While some boots are good to go the day you get them, most, can feel like your walking in bricks for the first few days. If you’re dealing with the latter, you have two choices; deal with the pain, or get creative.

Over the last few years, I’ve tried a number of different break in methods but so far, I’ve only found two that really work. The first involves a freezer and the second involves the careful application of rubbing alcohol.

Keep in mind that the use of either technique is likely to lead to boots that cannot be returned. If that’s not a problem for you, here’s how to break in just about any pair of work boots without the pain.

The Freezer Method

This is my personal favorite.

  • Get two zip lock freezer bags, any bag that can lock will do.
  • Put one bag into each boot with the zip facing up.
  • Pour water into the bag while taking care not to spill any in the boot. Continue adding water until the bag is bulging.
  • Close the bags carefully.
  • Tie the laces on the boots like you would if you were wearing them.
  • Put both boots into the freezer. Keep the boots facing upwards to avoid any possibility of leaking.
  • Leave the boots overnight. As the water turns to ice, it will expand, causing your boots to stretch and loosen.
  • In the morning, remove the boots and leave at room temperature until the ice melts.
  • Remove the bags and enjoy your newly broken in boots. For particularly tough boots, you might need to do this a second time.

The Alcohol Method

Put your new boots on and walk around your house until your feet begin to hurt. The purpose of this step is to identify exactly where your boots need to be loosened.

Once you know where the tightness is, sit down, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and cover that part of the boots. Keep your boots on while doing this and within a couple of minutes, you should notice the leather begin to loosen up.

Now stand up and walk around again. Keep walking until the alcohol has completely evaporated. If you still feel tightness, you might need to do this two or three times. Eventually your boots will be completely broken in.

Note: Don’t mistake boots that need to be broken in for boots that don’t fit. If you are experiencing significant foot pain or any kind of pinching, chances are, you’ve purchased boots are too small.

No amount of alcohol or ice can solve this problem so do your feet a favor and return them. If you plan on getting your money back, do this before attempting either of the above techniques.