Getting out into the great outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature is a wonderful pastime, but the fun can quickly turn to pain if your new hiking boots start causing blisters. Few things in life are as unpleasant as a ten-mile trek on aching feet, so it just makes sense to learn how to break in hiking boots before heading off into the backcountry.
How to Break in Hiking Boots: Proper Fit
That break in period should begin the moment you bring those new boots home from the store. As soon as you get those boots out of the box put them on and make sure they fit properly. If the fit is wrong now is the time to return them to the store and choose a pair that fits your feet perfectly.
How to Break in Hiking Boots: Test Walks
Assuming the boots do fit well it is important to wear them around the house as much as possible. With new hiking boots it is a good idea to keep those test walks short at first and then slowly increase the amount of time you wear them. As you wear your new hiking boots around the house and outside be sure you wear the same socks you plan to wear out on the trail – this will give you a true feel for how the boots will perform and help you determine when it is time to take them on a test hike.
It is also important to make sure the tongue is properly placed before you start these test walks around the house and elsewhere. Keep in mind that the break in period is critical, and the shape the boot molds itself into during this period will likely last the life of your footwear.
During this break in period it is normal for the hiking boots to feel stiff, but if they feel painful there could be a problem with the fit. If the boots feel uncomfortable or cause your feet to become painful it may be time to return to the store for a better fitting boot. If the boots are stiff but still fit well they will eventually mold to your foot and the stiffness will go away in time.
How to Break in Hiking Boots: Outside Walks
After the boots have been worn around the house for while and you have increased the amount of time you wear them it is time to take them for a walk outside. As with wearing them around the house, it is important to slowly increase the amount of time you wear the boots outside. You may want to start with a short walk around the block and expand to a longer walk around the neighborhood or on your favorite trail. Just be sure the boots are completely broken in before you head out for a long multi-hour hike.
Taking a few short hikes on a favorite short trail is one of the best ways to do a true test run before hitting the trail in earnest. Be sure to bring your daypack on these test hikes – the weight of the pack will impact the feel of the boots and help you determine if they are truly broken in. Only after you can comfortably wear those new hiking boots while wearing your full pack are you ready to hit the trail for a long mult-hour or multi-day hike.