How to Break In Your Cowboy Boots – A Complete Guide

Are your cowboy boots hurting your feet, knees, or back? They shouldn’t. Unless you have a pre-existing foot condition like bunions and hammertoes, your new or old cowboy boots should conform to the contours of your feet. Indeed, unlike the initial cowboy boots that featured high heels, narrow toes, and leather shafts meant only for saddling, the modern cowboy boots aim for optimal comfort. They have lower heels, wider toe boxes, and flexible leather for a snug fit. Still, attaining a foot-hugging fit depends on how you break in your cowboy boots. 

Well, if you love your Western-style, knowing how to break in cowboy boots is a must. That’s why this quick guide presents you with straightforward steps you can use to get a snug fit from your cowboy boots overnight. Breaking in cowboy boots is a skill that takes into account lots of factors. Like, if the kicks are old or new, current size, and how soon you want to wear them to the dancing floor or all night out. Whatever your circumstances, these steps got you covered.

How Long Does It Take To Break In Cowboy Boots? 

First, understand that cowboy boots have a stiff and rigid structure and stitch pattern to withstand a beating. In turn, they will break in overnight, after a few days, or a few weeks, depending on how often you wear them. After all, these boots break in like any other leather footwear. Still, if you are proactive, you can quicken the break-in process to avoid getting numb feet or an uncomfortable fit. The steps to hurry the break-in of cowboy boots focus on everyday activities that fit into any lifestyle. In turn, the method you go for will ultimately determine the break-in duration. Then, how long does it take to break in cowboy boots using your current approach? Compare it with the following steps.

Steps to Breaking in Your Cowboy Boots

There are at least nine ways on how to break in your cowboy boots. These are as follows.

Wearing Them

It’s a no-brainer; leather footwear breaks in with use. Likewise, the more you wear your cowboy boots; they will begin to conform to the shape of your feet. Hence, here are some tips to using your own feet to break in the shoes:

  • Wear the boots in the morning when your feet are yet to expand. The footwear will be much tolerable when you go about with your morning errands.
  • Wear the boots while they are still damp. It could be after steaming, conditioning, or submerging them in water. The moisture makes it easier for the inner sections of your boots to mould to the shape of your feet. And, the warmth from the steam will warm the toe section for a faster break-in process. 
  • Walk for 30 minutes to one hour in your cowboy boots, giving them sufficient time to stretch.

Doubling Up On Socks 

Put on at least two pairs of thick socks when wearing your cowboy boots. The extra socks layers will push against the shoes to stretch them. Do this several times until you feel some relief. Then, scale down to the usual pair of your favourite socks. Layer your socks early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid excessive sweating that can trigger foot problems. Also, choose breathable and moisture-wicking socks that keep your feet dry and odourless throughout. 

Steam the Inside of the Boots

Cowboy boots can shrink or contract if you wear them less often. Steaming is a fast way to break in cowboy boots. Here, you direct steam into the inner sections of the shoes to relax the leather shaft. Use the following steps: 

  • Heat sufficient water until it boils. You can use a bucket or any other wide-mouthed pot or container.
  • Once the water begins to steam, suspend your cowboy boots directly above the steaming water for about 2 minutes. 
  • Remove the shoes from the steam and let them cool a bit
  • Use your fist to stretch the toe area
  • Let your boots cool before sliding your feet into them to check the fit
  • Return the shoes to the steam for another two minutes before stretching them out by hand again
  • Repeat this process as many times as you need to until you achieve the fit you want

Ideally, steaming your cowboy boots should stretch them to a comfortable fit in less than ten minutes. This method works best if your cowboy boots shrunk or contracted due to not wearing them more often. Or, if you prefer wearing your cowboy boots at the end of the day when your feet feel swollen, steam the shoes to avoid getting nasty blisters. You can use a garment steamer for a fast break-in process.

Submerge Them in Water 

Are your cowboy boots too large? You can shrink them by submerging them in warm water. Here, you want to shrink and also mould the shoes to a comfortable fit. 

  • Fill a bucket with warm water. The bucket should be tall enough to allow you to submerge the boots fully. 
  • Submerge the shoes into the water. 
  • Let them soak for about an hour.
  • Soak a pair of socks into the water. 
  • Now, put on the wet socks and the wet cowboy boots.
  • Wear wet shoes and socks all day until they dry.

As the cowboy boots dry, they shrink and conform to the shape of your feet. Likewise, the wet socks protect you from getting nasty blisters from the shrinking boots. Still, this method is not suitable for tight-fitting boots, for they will get even tighter. And, leaving your leather cowboy boots in water for too long may cause permanent damage to their structure. Here are some additional tips to protect the leather when you submerge the shoes in water:

  • Apply leather oil or conditioning cream before and after submerging the shoes in water
  • Relax under a shade to let the shoes dry slowly. This approach may take several days, depending on the thickness of the leather uppers.
  • Apply an antibacterial cream or lotion inside the boots to keep them from smelling as they dry slowly.

Freeze a Bag of Water inside the Boots 

  • Get two sealable plastic bags that can fit into your cowboy boots toe area when fully inflated. We recommend bags with sliding zip locks as they seal tighter than most regular plastic bags. 
  • Fill the bags with water, leaving some space for air. 
  • Stuff the filled bags into the shoes, ensuring they occupy the toe area. Be careful not to pop the bags.
  • Fill the remaining inner section of the boots with pieces of cloth, socks, or paper. This additional stuffing holds the filled plastic bags in place. 
  • Place the boots inside a shoebox or container.
  • Store the container in the freezer for at least 8 hours. 
  • Remove the container from the freezer.
  • Place the cowboy boots in a cool and dry place for the ice to thaw.
  • Remove the plastic bag with the melted water from the toe section.
  • Repeat the steps until you achieve the break-in feel you want. 

The water inside the bag at the toe section will freeze and expand to stretch the leather at the toe area. Likewise, your cowboy boots are water-resistant, not waterproof. In turn, they can withstand the freezing temperatures in the freezer. Still, we recommend treating the leather with a reliable conditioner or leather oil to prevent the boots from drying up or cracking due to the low temperatures. 

Use Boot Stretchers

Boot stretchers and shapers help in expanding your cowboy boots for a comfortable fit. It works best for old cowboy boots that are too stiff after staying idle for a while. Likewise, do you have such foot conditions as bunions, hammertoes, and corns? Boot stretchers will expand the areas around your pressure points for a cozy fit. Then, to use boot stretchers:

  • Insert the boot stretchers or shapers in your boots
  • Leave the boots overnight
  • Remove the boot stretchers
  • Wear your boots

Use Boot Stretch Spray

Boot stretch sprays work by breaking down the leather to a supple texture. That way, you can stretch the boots to any direction you want to fit better. It is an instant remedy when your cowboy boots no longer fit yet you are not ready to buy a new pair. 

  • Spray the inner and outer sections of the cowboy boots
  • You can add stuff the shoes and leave them overnight 
  • Still, you can wear the shoes immediately after spraying them

Using a Board and Hammer

If you are a baseball player, you have the idea of breaking in leather baseball gloves using a hammer. The same technique applies when breaking in your favourite cowboy boots. 

  • Start by spraying or applying a leather conditioner to soften and protect the delicate leather. 
  • Use a boot stretch spray to further soften the leather for easy stretching. 
  • Insert the board into the cowboy boots
  • Now, tap along the cowboy outer curves using a hammer. Continue tapping at the pressure points to achieve the stretch you want.
  • Repeat the process as many times as possible until you are happy with the final fit and appearance

Applying Boots Leather Conditioner

Finally, applying a leather conditioner to your cowboy boots will help them break in faster. Apply the conditioner before or after wearing the shoes to:

  • Waterproof the supple leather 
  • Soften and preserve the leather fibres
  • Discourage staining from water, sweat, or products you use during the break-in process
  • Replenish lost oils, hence preventing your boots from drying out and cracking after the break-in process
  • Extend the life of your leather cowboy boots

Note that you can use two or more of the above steps simultaneously to quicken the break-in process for your new cowboy boots. For example, you double up on socks before wearing the shoes for your morning errand. And walk while wearing wet boots to soften its leather. Pick any of the steps that fit your lifestyle. 

How to Prevent Blisters When Wearing Cowboy Boots 

Buy proper-fitting cowboy boots!

Prevent getting nasty blisters by getting the right size cowboy boots for your feet. Indeed, proper-fitting boots break in fast. Yet, the shoe sizing varies from brand to brand depending on their target customers. And, your last boots may be too small for your growing feet.

  • Measure your feet every time you go shopping for new cowboy boots. If purchasing your shoes online, drop into your local boots store to confirm your feet measurements first. 
  • Countercheck these measurements against the sizing charts for different cowboy boots brands
  • Select several pairs of boots from different brands and try them on your feet. Use the pull straps to slide your feet into the bs. Note that if your feet fit into the boots without using the pull straps, they may be too big for you. They will get even wider when you break them in later. 
  • Does your instep have a snug fit? Ideally, your feet should slip into the boots with minimal resistance. And, your heel should lift by ¼ “ to ½. “ Still, take note of any friction at your pressure points. These are the areas you will need to focus on when breaking in the cowboy boots later on. 
  • Try walking around in the boots. Can you wiggle your toes or move your heel in the cowboy boots? If so, you now have proper-fitting cowboy boots.

Stretch Your Boots

Even after getting proper fitting cowboy boots, they may feel tight when you wear them for the first time. Loosen them by stretching them using any of the break-in methods discussed above. Aim to widen the width, shaft, and instep sections of the boots. 

Wear Protective Socks 

Choose socks specific for cowboy boots. 

Use Shoe Paddings 

Cowboy boots insoles prevent your feet from slipping, absorb excessive sweat and moisture, and neutralize low and high arches for a comfortable fit. 

You Might Also Like These Articles…