Breaking in Your Tactical Boots: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many people consider the money they spend on boots an investment in their career and health. Therefore, they are willing to spend a lot of money on reliable and durable tactical boots. For hunters, those in the military, law enforcement, construction, and other careers, a good boot is essential for support and stability on all types of terrain. While new boots are incredible, it’s no fun to break them in. Here are some tips to make breaking in your boots easier and less irritating.

Universal Tips for Breaking in Boots

There are two primary ways to break in hiking boots; the quick wet method or the dry method. However, before discussing those methods, there a few general tips to help you break in your new boots.

Try On Boots Before You Buy Them

The most critical part of the process to break in your boots is to try them on before you buy them. Today, we can buy more things online than ever before. Because of convenience, it’s becoming more common to order clothing and shoes online than to try them on in a store.

However, once you order a pair of boots online, it’s more difficult to return them once you get them and find they don’t fit. Many times, people end up keeping ill-fitting shoes rather than dealing with the hassle of mailing them back. Then, you end up keeping tactical boots that are uncomfortable and fit wrong, causing all kinds of foot problems.

Also, when people do try boots on in the store, they just take a few steps on the carpeted floor and decide they fit right. For someone who carries heavy rucksacks on varying terrain or stands on asphalt directing traffic for hours, this won’t do. When trying on tactical boots, wear the boot or crew socks that you’ll wear every day in the boots, not the dress socks you happen to be in at the store. It’s critical to see and feel how the boot grips the foot. You’ll be able to feel if your feet slide inside the shoe.

Wear the tactical boots while you walk around the store and perform the motions that you do at work. Stand on your toes, do lunges—or any other motions—to see where the friction points are in the boots that you won’t feel while just standing. Once you identify those spots, see if that’s a common problem or a defect with that particular shoe. Trying your boots on reduces the need to wear them in, but it’s still normal to break in new tactical boots.

The Quickest Way to Break in Your Boots – The Wet Method

The wet method makes the break-in process quicker because the leather shrinks when the boots dry out. This process only works on boots that have leather uppers and not on those that need a high-gloss shine. Here’s how to break in your boots using the wet method:

  • Place your boots in a waterproof container or bathtub.
  • Fill the boots with water until they are completely wet. If you see any dry spots on them, let them soak longer.
  • Drain the water from the boots.
  • Then wear two pairs of socks because, as the leather dries out, it shrinks to fit your foot. Wearing two pairs of socks is critical because it gives you a little extra space inside the tactical boot once the leather dries.
  • Make sure to wear your boots one full day.
  • After walking around in your boots, take the soles out and let them dry separately. We use Lathrop and Sons custom footbeds.
  • Let your boots dry outside or in front of a fan to completely dry.

Note that lighter-weight tactical boots with vents dry quicker than heavier winter boots. Also, you could get trench foot because of wearing your wet boots for one day. However, to combat that, take the wet boots off for a couple of hours so your feet can dry out. Then put the boots back on again. Just make sure you continue to wear two pairs of socks every time you put the wet boots back on to break them in.

Hiking boots

How to Break Boots in Using the Dry Method

Some people don’t like the wet method, so they prefer to break them in using the dry method that many people use. This method takes a little longer but works to break in your tactical boots before wearing them in extreme work conditions, where you may get blisters if they aren’t broken in.

Remember, this is a slow process, so take your time.

  • When you put your boots on for the first time, don’t wear them longer than an hour. You can gradually increase the time you wear them every day until they feel comfortable to wear.
  • Wearing nylon socks under the socks you work in prevents blisters.
  • Keep moleskin on hand to put on areas susceptible to blistering or irritation.
  • Once you finish the first break-in period, walk or run whenever you can to speed up the break-in process.
  • You can also use leather oil several times a week to soften the leather and allow it to stretch. You shouldn’t oil the quarters of the boot. Rubbing oil on the ankles helps them not stretch and remain firm. If you feel a spot that rubs your foot, put a small amount of leather oil on that area for a little stretch and flexibility.

Take care of your feet

Foot Care

As you break in your shoes, foot care becomes more important than when you wear your comfortable hiking boots. Sand down calluses, treat your blisters, and focus on general hygiene for your feet. Rest is important after breaking in a pair of boots, and keep your feet dry to avoid trench foot or other health problems with your feet.

One thing excellent for footcare is a pedicure. Many men are embarrassed to get them or think they’re for sissies, but they help clean your feet, keep your nails trimmed, and sand down calluses. Once they take the chance of being seen in public at a nail salon, they like how pedicures make your feet feel better after the abuse we put them through.

Whichever method you choose, remember breaking in boots takes time and that for the best tactical or hunting boot for your feet, try them on before you buy them. Make sure they fit and are comfortable for the activity you wear them for, and they’ll last a long time.