How To Break In Hiking Boots (3 Things You Should Know)

Are you planning your next epic Washington backpacking trip or Pacific Northwest trail? If you’re like us, you want everything to be in order; you’ve planned out your food, mapped your route, and reserved all your camping spots along the way.

But there’s one thing people often forget to plan for, and that’s breaking in your hiking boots. How many miles to break in hiking boots? Can you break in hiking boots fast? What can I do to make them fit as comfortably as possible?

Breaking in your boots is an essential part of the planning process, and can make the difference between a great trip and a terrible one. Here’s how we go about taming a brand new pair of boots.

In this post, we’re sharing the best way to break in hiking boots. It takes time to get them fitting just right, so we’re sharing step by step everything you can do to keep your feet comfy and blister-free (hopefully!) on the trail. Let’s go!

But first…

Looking to optimize your hiking boot experience? Don’t forget to read these posts too!


How To Break In Hiking Boots The Right Way

How Should Hiking Boots Fit?

Hiking boots should fit snug, but not tight. There should be wiggle room for your toes and the laces should be secure all over.

A good trick to test your fit is to try them on at the end of the day when your feet have swollen. Wear them with the socks you will hike in, to see how they would more accurately fit when out on the trail.

Wear Them Everywhere

It’s quite simple – wear them everywhere. Ideally, the best place to break in new hiking boots would be in areas that replicate your desired trail type. Berty and I like to wear our hiking boots around our local park for our morning walk. We also take our new hiking boots on easy trails near our house.

However, you can still break in hiking boots if you live in a city too! Make sure to vary your terrain so you can experience how they feel during different feet movements. This can look like walking on stairs, taking ramps, going through the grass in the park, or walking across gravel.

Need some trail inspiration? Check out these 30 beautiful hikes in Washington state!

Lace Your Boots Correctly

Your boots will come with a default lacing pattern, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with it!

Some lacing techniques can alleviate ongoing problems like heel slip, top foot pressure, or toe box pressure. Here’s a link to REI’s lacing guide to try some of these techniques for yourself. Don’t be afraid to take out your laces and strap them up in different ways!


Pay Attention To Reoccuring Problems

Wearing them around the house, park, or local trails – are you consistently having the same problems? Some problems can be fixed with repeated wearings, but some problems require a little more help. If you can’t seem to fix the problem after several wears, it might be time to bring them back into your retailer.

Returning to your retailer, they can try and help you sort out your foot issues, or make an exchange to try a new boot. (Remember to ask for their return or try-on policy when you buy!)

While this may seem like a setback in the time you’ve invested in breaking in your new hiking boots, you’ll thank yourself in the long run! It’s better to take time and choose the perfect boots for your feet than to force one to work that ultimately won’t.

Read More: The Best Hiking Boots According To Our Readers


Now you know how to break in hiking boots! Do you have any other tips for proper break-in? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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