Hiking is a wonderful activity that can offer you the benefits of exercise and allow you to see nature in a while new light. However, hiking can also become the bane of your existence if your hiking boots aren’t properly broken in. Unlike tennis shoes that are made of softer material and conform quickly to your feet, your hiking boots will require time to soften up, form to your feet, and have their identifiable hot spots known to you.
The Break In Period: Assuming you’ve purchased your boots and have ensured a proper fit, you will want to take several steps to getting them ready before you take them out for your first prolonged hike.
1. Wear your boots: around the house. You don’t want to be on the trail first thing with new boots. Instead, take some time to see how they feel over a prolonged period. You don’t need to have them on all day, but a couple of hours while doing normal daily chores should be enough.
2. Bend the soles: You’ve probably noticed that your boots don’t like to bend, and that’s a good thing, you’ll want them to bend where your foot bends and to do so you will need to soften them up. The best means is to bend the boot between your hands as many times as your forearms can stand. You aren’t ruining the hiking boot, but you’re helping it learn to flex and eliminate stiffness. Think of each bend as a means to save your foot a few thousand repetitions in your stiff boots.
3. Wear an extra pair of socks: While breaking your boots in, take some preventative maintenance by taping up your heels or using band aids. The break in period is also a good time for you to reassess where the hot spots on your feet are and where problem areas will occur.
Wetting Down Your Hiking Boots
Note: Many swear by wetting their boots to help soften the leather and the material and speed up the break in process. They it will be easier to breaking this way, but hiking boots aren’t meant to be exposed to hot steam or submerged in water, and most manufactures warn against such practices, however, if you decide to do so, remember 2 things:
1. Try not to saturate the entire boot. You may find that much of the stitching will become week by doing so and you could damage your boot before you even get to lace them up.
2. Let your boots air dry. The materials that your boot is made of, are not meant to be steamed, tumbled or blow dried. So if you must wet your boots, place paper towels or news paper on the inside and allow them to air dry.
The key to good hiking boots is a proper fit the day that you buy them. Yet, you will still need to help loosen them up and break them in, but do so by wearing them a little at a time until you are comfortable in them and they are comfortable on you.