Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to break in your brand new hiking boots

Always break in hiking boots before wearing them on the trail.
Rarely does a pair of hiking boots fit your feet perfectly straight out of the box. Instead, they need to be broken in, meaning they need to be used so that they better conform to the shape of your foot. If you wear a pair of brand new hiking boots right on the trail, the boot’s form likely will fight your foot’s shape, leading to blisters and sore feet.

Breaking in a boot takes time, so you’ll need to be patient. Hiking boots, because of their heavier construction, will need more time than athletic shoes or work boots to be broken in. Submerging your new footwear in water or exposing them to extreme heat to speed up the process usually only leads to a damaged boot.

Begin by purchasing your boots, which fit fairly well at the store, several weeks in advance of when you plan to hike in them. Should a boot fit poorly at the store, you’re very unlikely to ever get it to conform to your foot’s shape. And giving yourself a few weeks in advance of the hike allows you the time needed to break them in.

Once you have the boot home, lace it up and wear it for about 10 minutes. A combination of walking and sitting work well. Each day, increase the amount of time you wear you boots by about five minutes.

Leather conditioner also can be applied to the boot to help it bend and move easier. It works like moisturizer on your skin, by hydrating the hard surface.

After a couple of weeks, begin taking very short hikes in the boots, maybe of just a few blocks. Gradually increase this distance each day. Once you get back from the walk, don’t take off the boot, however. Leave it on for a few minutes, perhaps while you sit and rest.

Ideally, your boots are broken in when you’ve incrementally reached the amount of time and in one outing the distance of your target hike. If the target hike will be take 4 hours and is 8 miles long, then you would want to be able to wear the boots for a four-hour stretch and a walk of about 8 miles. So long as you’re close to the time and distance without suffering any blisters or rubbing that leads to hot spots, though, your boots will be good to go.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.