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Breaking In New Boots: A Boot Cobbler's Expert DIY

Breaking In New Boots: A Boot Cobbler's Expert DIY

So you've searched the net and found over 50 ways on how to break in boots. Breaking in new boots is doing one thing, making them feel good on your feet here's the low down on making your boots comfortable

So you've searched the internet and found over 50 ways on how to break in new boots. You read that some guy's friend, had a cousin, who once broke in her boots by, (gasp) filling them full of water and freezing them. Now you're considering doing the same to your new $900 Alligator cowboy boots. Wait! Please! Let's put our heads together and think about this, OK? Take a deep breath and lets examine how to break in new boots in a better way.

Breaking in new boots is doing one thing, making them feel good on your feet. That's it. So the next step is to determine where they hurt your feet and fix that problem. It may be a simple solution or several more complex answers. Let's look at some boot problem areas and discuss some possible solutions.


Oh, and while we are at it, let me mention why I hate the frozen boot stretch answer. No Control! You can't make the boot stretch where you want it to stretch. It will give in the area of least resistance. Which isn't the spot your foots hurts, Martha. Put the bag of water down and walk away. Take a deep breath, and let's begin with some real answers. I've written most of these so you can DIY break-in your boots.


Problem: Boots are New

-Answer: First thing I do, with any boot I sell, is a flex-break-in. I recommend the following steps for every new pair of boots.Grab the boot and flex the sole repeatedly simulating the bending motion of your foot. I go one step further and flex the sole in a reverse action, too.


-Next, take your thumb and push in at the top of the heel counter in the back of the boot. This help soften and flexing the boot in this area also helps prevent heel slipping.


-Next, flex the shaft of the boot at the ankles. Do this a number of times just like you did with the sole.


-Push on the side seams from the inside of the boot and get them to flex outward. The boot has been laying in the box, and the seams have been growing teeth that will bite your ankles. Take the bite out your new boots by flexing the ankles out and away from your ankles.

Flex Break In


Problem: Boots are tight

-Answer: Stretch the area that are tight. Boots can be stretched in any area that is tight, that includes width, length, boot tops, raise toes, bump out for a bunion, really anywhere on the boot. See my blog post on Stretching boots for more information on stretching. >>CLICK HERE TO READ STRETCHING POST<<


-Stretching fluid is also an option, it can be found here >> CLICK HERE

Ariat Premium Boot Stretch


Problem: Boots are Stiff 

-Answer: Condition and work the leather. Use a good leather conditioner to make the leather more pliable and soft. We recommend Chamberlain's Leather Milk. It is safe for the majority of shoes. It soaks deeply into the leather which loosens and softens the leather fibers.


-The next step is to work the leather. By that I mean to flex and bend it repeatedly. Do the Flex breakin- shown above.


-If you don't mind darkening the leather a shade, then another great product is Bee Natural Rain and Snow. 

Condition the leather


Problem: Side Seams rub your Ankles

-Answer: Breaking in your boots with a Ball Bat (see video below) 


-So this is a technique I made up so that you can DIY fix it yourself. In my store, we have a machine that was made to do this. But, people keep asking how they can do it themselves. So, I thought about it, and this is what you can do.


-Whoa, Hang on, Breaking in your boots with a Ball Bat does not mean beating up your boots with a Ball Bat. I'm sure if your boots hurt you, you may want to hurt them back. But your boots just need some lovin'. Here is a little video on how to soften those side seams. The video also shows how to soften a heel. 

Painful Seams


Problem: Tight to get on

-Answer: Your boots are hard to get on because the instep or throat of a boot is too narrow. You have a couple of choices to help this problem. Stretching is the best answer. We have professional equipment that can open your boots up and make them easy to get on. Sometimes we add zippers to boots to make them easier to get on. But I have a DIY solution you can try. Stretching your boots with a ball bat. Watch the video to see how you can DIY stretch the  instep of your boots. 


Problem: Boot Tops are too tight

-Answer: Ok, this is one I haven't got a DIY fix for, or not yet. I'm working on it. So for now use a pro, we can stretch boot tops for you or even add some elastic in some extreme cases  - >>see this post <<


Of course sometimes its better to leave it to the professionals here at Boyer's bootnshoe. So remember, when looking for your next pair of new boots- if you buy from you can get your boots professionally broken in for free by our expert cobblers. 


>> Shop Boyers BootNShoe NOW! <<


Slim, The Boot Guy Slim The Boot Guy 


  1. James James

    If a pair of boots are "entirely" crocodile belly skin all around, including on the shafts of the boots, is it normal for the shafts to bend very easily instead of being tough and erect? Is crocodile belly leather very soft, and therefore bends easily? Is that normal? Thank you.

  2. Brenna Brenna

    Hi there, I bought a pair of boots a few years ago and overall they fit great, but it feels like the arch of the shoe is too high (and/or it pushes on my own arch too much) and after a while they start to hurt the arch of my foot. Is there any way to solve that problem? Thanks!

  3. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Brad,
    This is a common problem, not something I'd worry too much about as I rarely see this wear holes into the boot. However adding an arch cookie into the boot might help support your foot and get that material up off the welt/stitching.

  4. Samantha Kitover Samantha Kitover

    What about for a footbed lining that was a “wave” in it that I feel with both my foot and hand. It’s really there….

  5. Tami Tami

    Hi! I have Morton's toe so not only do I have a bunion (not painful, just annoying for fitting) but my big toe is longer. As in, the bend in most shoes for the ball of the foot is too far forward and the top of the toe box bites into the top of my big toe. Eventually me at shoes wear so it's not so bad, but I have a gorgeous (expensive) pair of leather biker boots that just kill me. Is there a way to break it in? It's only my left foot. Thank you!

  6. Brad Brad

    The arch in my left foot is flat. I messed it up as a kid and it is what it is. I wear cowboy boots everyday and every single left boot I have has the leather laying over the stitching of the sole. Is there a way to fix this? Or is it a common problem? I’m worried the stitching will wear holes in the leather. If someone could email me with some advice I would love the piece of mind.

  7. Brandon Byrnes Brandon Byrnes

    I have a pair of Rocky Arctic Bearclaw boots. I've had them for 3 yrs now, and going on my 4th winter with them. They are STILL very stiff and the gusseted tongue digs into my ankle and shin. Also it feels like a seam is diggin into my anklebone. The boots are made up of leather at the heel, toebox and lace strips while most of the ankle is made up of a ballistic nylon and the whole tongue is ballistic nylon. The boots contain 1400g of thinsulate and a gore-tex membrane. Can you suggest a way to break these things in (especially the tongue) Here's a link to the actual boots if it helps

  8. Jordan Jordan

    I have been wearing my new pair of Cody James boots for almost 2 months now everyday for work. Every step I take they squeak from the soles, what should I do to help break them in quietly?

  9. Bell Bell

    Hi I’ve just bought some beautiful new long boots. But they dig into the front of my shins, just above the ankle. This often happens with boots I find. I have very thin calves- is this happening because the boot is too wide do you think? Help!

  10. Ingrid Rehe Ingrid Rehe

    Hi. I recently bought a pair of Chelsea boots but they are impossible to get on due to me having high arches. Any idea how to get them even half on without damaging the heels trying to force them on?

  11. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Reina,
    Unfortunately there isn't a way to stiffen leather back up. However, you might check out the video on this blog post. it may help improve the problem somewhat.
    If it uncomfortable, we might be able to add a piece of stiffer leather on the inside, what we would call a "tall leather back."

  12. reina ott reina ott

    the used boot that the shafts of the boot is floppy. They don't stand up on their own anymore how do i repair them ?

  13. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Andy,
    If both boots feel good in the length and one is just tight across the ball of the foot I would try getting a wider width in the same size if you are still able to exchange. If the wider width feels sloppy when you try it on I would attempt the stretching route instead.

  14. Andy Andy

    Hi, I recently bought a pair of engineer boots in mu normal size and the right boot feels god but the left feels tight across the ball of my foot. I am considering exchanging for the next size up and putting insole in if needed but would it be better to have the left boot stretched slightly to widen across the ball of the foot?
    The leather is quite soft.

  15. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Thanks for the kind words! It means the world to us. Glad you found the advice useful.
    Wishing you the best.

  16. Paul Paul

    Great info. I bought a pair of boots on line and they have been sitting in the closet since the day I received them, 3 years ago. I was thinking of buying a new pair of boots till I found your website. Why I found it now after looking for boots for years, I have no idea. I’m going to try your tips to fix my problem. But I can guarantee you, when I buy a new pair of boots it will be from, that you can take to the bank! Thank you for the tips and help. I’ll be telling all my NASCAR bros & gals about your store or website. Congrats, loyal customer for life! paulr

  17. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Glad to hear it Susan it's always good to hear we can help someone enjoy their boots!

  18. Susan Susan

    Excellent! I now understand the concept of leather softening and flexing. My conditioned boots are already improving based on your information and I plan on using some of the products you recommend. I look forward to a long, comfortable relationship with my new boots. Your many articles are very informative; thanks for your time.

  19. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Susan,
    I'm glad to hear you like our advice! Ariat Heritage are some nice boots.
    There is actually a very good example of flexing the boot at the ankle in the video at the end of this blogpost. Around 2:07 minute mark. The "Secret Fix #2" from the same video may help with the tightness making them hard to get off. But you can also check out another of our Youtube videos here: around the 0:35 mark is another example of that flexing motion. You're really working that leather between your hands to soften it, leather conditioner will also help during this softening process.
    Heel counters are located at the very back of the boot, the stiffer part of the boot that cups the back of your heel. If you have any more questions let me know.

  20. Susan Susan

    Terrific information! Just bought my first riding boots in 20 years (Ariat Heritage). I plan on wearing them every day for the standard break-in. My current problem is getting the darn things off (tight at top of the foot) but I'll figure it out eventually. I am extremely interested in your flex-break-in but honestly some of the terminology you use is unknown to me--heel counter, flexing the shaft at the ankles. Any chance of a short video on your "Boots Are New" instructions (how you're flexing/bending the boot)? I really like your common sense approach and having a Boot Cobbler's advice is priceless! Thanks.

  21. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Carina,
    I'm going to be honest with you, there isn't a good way to restore the finish to the way it looked brand new. There can be some success layering white polish or even a spray polish but it's a difficult look to achieve/do.

  22. Carina Carina

    Hi! I purchased a pair of leather boots that came with a waxy white coating on them that has since worn off considerably. Do you know what I can use to reapply and achieve that same distressed look? Thanks so much!

  23. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Tina,
    Wearing taller socks during the break in process can help pad your leg so the boot isn't rubbing you raw. But I would also try the "ankle biting" tip from the video up above. Using Ariat boot stretch or a gentle conditioner if they are leather. You can even work them in your hands to try and soften the the area that is hurting you.

  24. Tina Tina

    I bought a pair of boots the ones that go below the knee and they hurt on the inside of my leg what can I do for that I have 2 pairs of them and I can't wear them

  25. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    We are located in the beautiful town of Quincy, IL, 0n the banks of the Mississippi River. Address is 420 N. 36th St. Quincy IL 62301

  26. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Amanda,
    Like Michael says wearing thinner socks is a great starting point. The boots will stretch out more as you break them in. Circle G are known to be a bit tight in the throat/instep area and can also be stretched if needed. A boot jack may help you get them off a bit easier at the end of the day as you break them in as well.

    I would recommend thinner socks and maybe stretching the boots a bit as needed while you wear them and go through the break-in process (see breaking boots in with a ball bat video above or this blogpost on stretching )

  27. Amanda Jones Amanda Jones

    I just purchased a pair of circle g. I love them but today I wore slightly thicker socks, and for about 3hrs longer than I did the previous day. It took me about 15min, of panic, to get them off. They’re very comfortable but it felt like they shrank around my foot too much and now I’m afraid to put them back on.

  28. John Carlson John Carlson

    I had bought my first pair of Ariat boots. When I pulled them out to try them on (because of my high arches) I couldn’t even get my heels to the top of the heel cup. BASEBALL BAT TRICK totally worked! My feet slipped right down. Now it’s just a matter of wearing them to break them in more. THANKS!!!

  29. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Jon see the above video "How To DIY Break In Your Boots." The tip about stretching the instep should be of help to you for a DIY fix.

  30. Jon Anderson Jon Anderson

    I have a pair of muk boots that are to tight on the ties how do I stretch this out to give some room the size of the boot is right but it’s just too tight

  31. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    So happy our blog was helpful to you, Judy! Chamberlain's is a great product. Thanks for the kind comment.

  32. Judy Schiavone Judy Schiavone

    I read your intro and laughed....I did see 50 different ways, but the simplest seemed to work best. I bent the heck out of my Ariats per your instructions, used the Chamberlains (I've been addicted to that since my black boot Army days), and my feet are a lot happier in my new kicks. Thanks!

  33. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Janet, glad to hear you are enjoying our site. I never think it's a good idea for the toes to be too tight. I would go with the size 39 and replace the insole with a thicker one, perhaps one with some arch support to help take up some room in the instep area. The slip in the heel will get a bit better as the sole get broken in and more flexible. Hope this help. Thanks

  34. Janet Teehan Janet Teehan

    Hi I just bought a pair of womens chelsea ankle boots online with elastic goring. I bought 2 sizes to compare fit. I am a 38.5 in It/EU sizing but most companies don't offer half sizes so I purchased a size 38 and a size 39. The 38s are easy to get on and fit snugly around my instep and but my toes touch the end of the shoes. There is no heel slippage with the 38s. The 39s feel more comfortable in the toe area but the instep is loose and there is a lot of heel slippage. I am reading boots should fit snugly however most sites recommend going with the bigger fit if you have to choose between too big and too small. Do I just send them both back or do I try to stretch the 38s? Would love to hear your opinion. Great site!

  35. The Boot Guy The Boot Guy

    Hello Sharon we recommend the Chamberlain's Boot and Shoe Cream, which can be found here:


    Very useful info; so glad I found this site! I do have one question, though: which Chamberlain's formula number do you recommend for new boots?

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