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How to Break in Full-Grain Leather Boots

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May 23, 2011
How to Break in Full-Grain Leather Boots - 12

Growing up in a small logging town in Oregon, one of my first pairs of shoes was full-grain leather boots.  All my Dad’s friends were loggers. They had breaking-in a tough pair of boots down to a science. 

http://ak.c.ooyala.com/ZsMXcwYzomdLV6FIiyujVQ_RuZHQZUi8/3Gduepif0T1UGY8H4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

The first thing they taught me was to wear my boots around the house with damp socks. Not dripping wet, just a little damp, and to wear them every morning for at least a week or two. The moisture helps soften the leather from the inside out.

I've been doing it for almost 19 years and it works every time.  

In the video you can see I just finished breaking in a pair of Hanwag Alaskan's. They fit great out of the box, but like any full-grain upper leather boot they needed some softening up. So after I wore them around the house in wet socks for a week I took them to the trail. Hiking in damp socks, I find it takes 25 or 30 miles to break a set of new boots in – about half the time it’d take with dry socks. 

I tested this method last season with two sets of identical boots. Damp socks took about 20 miles to feel good. With dry socks it took closer to 50 until I felt comfortable. With a schedule like mine, a short cut like this is worth its weight in gold. When you log over 1,000 miles a year, you don’t have time for blisters. 

 

Comments (12)

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from Dan777 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I like your technique. Personally I've found mink oil work well. I like to apply it to the specific areas of the boot that I want to break in or stretch while leaving other sections such as the back of the heal and upper shaft firm and tight.
Sincerely:
Dan

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Aron Snyder wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I'm usually logging in between 1,200 and 1,500 miles per year, but it can vary greatly. I have been going easy this season in hopes to give my knee a break, but I have cranked things up in the last 5 weeks and have been doing 2-5 miles each night with my backpack on.
As far as boots, I usually go through 2 or 3 sets a year, but I am a heel striker and walk on the outsides of my feet. That is hell on boots and I tend to rip out the outsides of every set.

I have a narrow heel and wide forefoot, so very few boots actually fit me correctly. The best I have found are Kayland and Hanwag, both are very durable, but I went through Lathrop and Sons for my Hanwags and the guys at L&S were a huge help in dissecting my foot issues and getting me on the road to recovery!
I have baby heels growing off my heels as well as walking on the outsides of my feet. I knew I had these problems before, but I never knew what exactly to do about them. The guys at Lathrop and Sons are podiatrists, so they will actually be able to tell you about your feet and not just sell you boots.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doj4Whlr wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Simple, practical, and proven advice. When you're finished with Aron's break-in technique, follow up with rubbing in a good dose of your favorite boot dressing to the uppers. Treat them like a new baseball mitt...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from goatbill wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Nothing worse than a Tenderfoot in the Rockies. I never tried it this way, but will now. Like the Blog before, I used to get them wet from the outside and then wear till dry. No Matter, I've since learned that all boots never fit me that good on the first outing, so I'll coat my whole Sole of foot, especially the blister likely areas, heavily in Vaseline. Wear a cotton sock followed by wool, and go at it. I don't get the miles on mine per year, so I am a Tenderfoot.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from land_cruiser_73 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I have had luck getting the boots soaking wet, and then wearing them until dry, changing to fresh socks frequently.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoordan wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

That is some good information! I just did it the old fashioned way. Wear them, get blisters, get pissed off, wear them some more, be happy. Perfect timing as i got some new (second pair) Asolo's.

I like the video as well, especially at the 40 second mark. Thought maybe you made a good puddle of cope and then soaked your socks in it. Thought "man Aron really is hardcore".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ruckweiler wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

During my Army Infantry days back in the '70s, I saw guys take a new pair of boots and wear them in the shower a couple of times until the boots fit like a glove. Seemed to work.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RosinBag wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Nice shortcut Aron, I am also in the market for some new boots. I rarely wear full-grain leather because of the break in time, but I may try them out now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from High Mountain Archer wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Great info Aron!
How many miles do you put on a set of boots each year? I have been told by a few guys that you will burn through 2 or 3 sets of boots a year...is that true? What boots do you suggest to guys coming out west (synthetic and leather), that you know you can count on?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RLA wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I will give this a try. Thanks for the info. By the way how long does a good pair of leather boots last you? Do you switch them out from hunt to hunt or stay with one til there dead?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zaudke wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

This is a concept that I have heard of but never attempted. I am due for an upgrade after the 5 years of rugged abuse my Lowa's have endured and I will apply this technique to see if it is legit. Thanks for the tip Aron and keep the videos coming.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dcaraway wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

More great information from somebody that has a million miles in boots. Thanks for the info. Keep it coming Aron.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Ruckweiler wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

During my Army Infantry days back in the '70s, I saw guys take a new pair of boots and wear them in the shower a couple of times until the boots fit like a glove. Seemed to work.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from land_cruiser_73 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I have had luck getting the boots soaking wet, and then wearing them until dry, changing to fresh socks frequently.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from goatbill wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Nothing worse than a Tenderfoot in the Rockies. I never tried it this way, but will now. Like the Blog before, I used to get them wet from the outside and then wear till dry. No Matter, I've since learned that all boots never fit me that good on the first outing, so I'll coat my whole Sole of foot, especially the blister likely areas, heavily in Vaseline. Wear a cotton sock followed by wool, and go at it. I don't get the miles on mine per year, so I am a Tenderfoot.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Aron Snyder wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I'm usually logging in between 1,200 and 1,500 miles per year, but it can vary greatly. I have been going easy this season in hopes to give my knee a break, but I have cranked things up in the last 5 weeks and have been doing 2-5 miles each night with my backpack on.
As far as boots, I usually go through 2 or 3 sets a year, but I am a heel striker and walk on the outsides of my feet. That is hell on boots and I tend to rip out the outsides of every set.

I have a narrow heel and wide forefoot, so very few boots actually fit me correctly. The best I have found are Kayland and Hanwag, both are very durable, but I went through Lathrop and Sons for my Hanwags and the guys at L&S were a huge help in dissecting my foot issues and getting me on the road to recovery!
I have baby heels growing off my heels as well as walking on the outsides of my feet. I knew I had these problems before, but I never knew what exactly to do about them. The guys at Lathrop and Sons are podiatrists, so they will actually be able to tell you about your feet and not just sell you boots.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from dcaraway wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

More great information from somebody that has a million miles in boots. Thanks for the info. Keep it coming Aron.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zaudke wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

This is a concept that I have heard of but never attempted. I am due for an upgrade after the 5 years of rugged abuse my Lowa's have endured and I will apply this technique to see if it is legit. Thanks for the tip Aron and keep the videos coming.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RLA wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I will give this a try. Thanks for the info. By the way how long does a good pair of leather boots last you? Do you switch them out from hunt to hunt or stay with one til there dead?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from High Mountain Archer wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Great info Aron!
How many miles do you put on a set of boots each year? I have been told by a few guys that you will burn through 2 or 3 sets of boots a year...is that true? What boots do you suggest to guys coming out west (synthetic and leather), that you know you can count on?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoordan wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

That is some good information! I just did it the old fashioned way. Wear them, get blisters, get pissed off, wear them some more, be happy. Perfect timing as i got some new (second pair) Asolo's.

I like the video as well, especially at the 40 second mark. Thought maybe you made a good puddle of cope and then soaked your socks in it. Thought "man Aron really is hardcore".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Doj4Whlr wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Simple, practical, and proven advice. When you're finished with Aron's break-in technique, follow up with rubbing in a good dose of your favorite boot dressing to the uppers. Treat them like a new baseball mitt...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RosinBag wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Nice shortcut Aron, I am also in the market for some new boots. I rarely wear full-grain leather because of the break in time, but I may try them out now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dan777 wrote 2 years 7 weeks ago

I like your technique. Personally I've found mink oil work well. I like to apply it to the specific areas of the boot that I want to break in or stretch while leaving other sections such as the back of the heal and upper shaft firm and tight.
Sincerely:
Dan

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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