Breaking in has been a phrase used for years to describe the action of getting used to something new. When it comes to shoes, breaking in generally refers to softening the material and getting the shoes to properly conform to the shape of your feet, and the shoes to flex with your feet. If you are a mountaineer, you may have wondered how to break in mountaineering boots, and how long the process takes.

Breaking in mountaineering boots may take a bit longer than breaking in traditional shoes because these shoes are actually made of stiffer and more durable materials. It is important that you break in your shoes before you go on a long journey because failure to do so can surely result in having painful feet and blisters.

The idea is to ensure that they fit properly. That way, you are unlikely to encounter any surprises when you are using them. If you break in your boots, your feet will become accustomed to them, and you will anticipate many exciting treks.

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How to Break In Mountaineering Boots

Initial Step

Breaking in your mountaineering boots can be a slow process. It is usually recommended that you first wear your boots together with insoles and socks indoors. This way, you would create the same conditions when you would be in the mountains.

If your boots are stiff, that is quite normal. If you want, you can wear them around the neighborhood and take a short walk like you would with any other pair of shoes. These simple but short activities will help improve the form of the soles to match your feet.

Testing Them Out

Once you get over the initial breaking in of your shoes, it is safe for you to be a bit riskier and take long walks out of the house or neighborhood. However, before taking a two-mile walk, you should ensure that the boots are comfortable on both feet.

If you feel any pinching or rubbing, you may need to get another pair of boots that are bigger since if you insist on wearing those that give your feet an uncomfortable feeling, you may get some blisters, which are caused by friction, moisture, and pressure. Of course, there are easy ways to prevent blisters, but the best thing that you can do for your feet is to buy boots that fit well.

Final Testing

On the last part of testing, you should use the boots on an off-road trail or rough surfaces for a few hours. This is where break-ins really happen. Don’t overdo yet, because some boots may take longer to break in than others.

You should always pay attention to your feet as there are pain points that you need to be vigilant about. If you feel your issue is related to the fit of the shoes, a footwear specialist will be able to tell you if a boot stretching device can help with your issue or you need to replace the boots entirely.

What are Some Things Need to Remember?

Now that you know how to break in mountaineering boots properly, here are some of the things you need to keep in mind.

Avoid Quick Fixes

When it comes to breaking in shoes, there are several shortcut activities that we like to try, but we must avoid these activities at all costs. These include soaking or stretching them, as well as walking long distances. These methods can damage your boots and injure your feet.

You should also not use any types of spray since they can damage rubber materials. Instead, use a Nikwax treatment to protect your boots or make them waterproof. Breaking in your boots will take time and ultimately requires a lot of patience.

Some Blisters and Pain are Normal

When you break in your boots and the very first time you wear a pair of boots, it is but normal that you may have some blisters and lingering pain to deal with because they are still stiff and hard. Nonetheless, you would want to sort these issues out as early as possible especially before you take your boots on a day-long hike.

Some veterans will use high-quality socks and insoles to help minimize friction and stabilize their feet. To prevent your heel from getting blistered, you can put a strip of tape from your heel to your ankle and above your boot collar.

Proper shoe care can also help alleviate blisters and pain. For instance, you should change your socks often especially when they are damp or when you take a break, and you should also allow the insoles of your shoes to dry as well.

You should also regularly examine your feet. If you have pain after repeatedly using the boots, then you should consider taking it to your local boot fitters. Sometimes, certain designs like hard seams may be difficult for you to soften.


The perfect boots may actually be something that is not mass produced. Therefore, getting your perfect boots may require a bit of customization on your part. This can be in the form of heading to a shoemaker, buying insoles, stretching your shoes, adding padding or even adjusting components of the shoes to relieve pressure.

Going to a shoemaker will be a bit pricey, but its results would be worth it. A cheaper alternative is to supplement the materials to make the shoes more comfortable for you. Remember though that you should only attempt customization if the off-the-shelf boots do not fit well.

Each pair of boots is different and will have different break-in times. There is no guarantee that what worked for one hiking boots will work for another. Some boots, especially those that are made of leather will require time to soften.

Just to be clear, a poorly fitting shoes, is just an ill-fitting shoe. Therefore, if your boots fit poorly, it is unlikely that the break-in process will make much of a difference or won’t turn the fit into a good one. If your shoes are ill-fitting, you should return them immediately before the return period expires.