break-in boots

8:47 p.m. on January 8, 2013 (EST)
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I have backpacked over 1200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Mostly in the late 80s early 90s and some since then but not so much as I moved to Jim thorpe pa in 95 and have all kinds of hiking trails in my back yard now. so I know good gear!, and Italian boots are the best! I have had scarpa sl. dunham mountain masters and one sport moraine.  I just bought a new pair of Alico "New Guide" boots and want to break them in CORRECTLY! Back before I had to think much about my feet I just put boots on and took off.

now my feet have grown flat and wide! Plus I get Gout! Beer is bad for Gout...So "GOUT SUCKS!!!"

Can anyone tell me if the "wet way" is any good? I have read that soaking them in water then dumping it out and wearing til dry is a great way to go. However..I would think that may cause problems with the inner sole possibly de-laminating or somehow getting water damage. Should I just wear em until they are Trail ready? or is there some other method? Thanks. 

  

9:03 a.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
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Good question, I wanted this to be bumped back to the top. I wanna hear some ideas from some of the really experienced guys.

11:38 a.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
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Paul,

You have described the trad way to break in boots.  The other way is to wear them around the house a few days, then walk in the neighborhood a few times, then short day hikes until they feel right.

The issue is getting the boots warm from your body heat and then having the foot bed mold to the shape of your foot somewhat.

 

12:57 p.m. on January 9, 2013 (EST)
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When I used to wear the traditional heavy leather boots I would always do the Wet Method to soften and make them shape to my feet to quicken their break-in time. I would use hot water, set for a couple minutes then empty and wear them for a while. It always worked for me.

11:43 a.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace Paul!

I've seen folks wet the boots from the outside and wear them about for a day or so.  I've also applied healthy doses of leather conditioner (mostly beeswax-based, never "neet's foot oil"), and worn the boots around for a week.  That seems to work well too. My opinion: Time in the boots is the most important factor in breaking them in.

I wouldn't say that full-grain leather boots are "the best" though. They are certainly well-suited for some conditions and some people, but you might do well to experiment with a more flexible, light-weight fabric book. I own both varieties myself.  For rockier terrain in colder weather, the big boots come out.  For warmer weather and less rocks, the lighter footwear comes out.  I find my appreciation for lighter footwear grows as I age and my feet show the signs of a few thousand trail miles.

I'd love to see some pics of your new boots.  They sound awesome!

3:09 p.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
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Hi Paul, the wet inside method works to a point. Wetting the outside won't get the foot bed wet enough to do any good. Time in the boot will do the rest. Boot comfort and performance are full of compromises. A full grain, well made, leather boot will almost always outlast a lighter fabric based boot. I do like a lighter boot for easy walks, but as I age, though my leather boots are heavier, they protect my feet more. They do take longer to break in. Many factors have contributed to the demise of the heavy leather boot. Cost is one, but perceived value is another. Would you pay $600 for a pair of Galibiers, when you could buy a boot for a third or less? Probably. But what if I said that the Galibiers would last twenty years of hard use and the other boots, only five or six? As our planet struggles with the pollution of our consumerism, I'm an advocate of buying gear that lasts, over gear that may shave a gram or two. As well, with the slow economy, buying gear that lasts, makes good economic sense. And if shaving a gram or two means you can go a mile or two farther, think twice about that donut you had for breakfast! :-)

4:51 p.m. on January 10, 2013 (EST)
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Can anyone tell me if the "wet way" is any good? I have read that soaking them in water then dumping it out and wearing til dry is a great way to go. However..I would think that may cause problems with the inner sole possibly de-laminating or somehow getting water damage. Should I just wear em until they are Trail ready? or is there some other method? Thanks. 

A good boot should be able to withstand being full of water and worn until dry, many times, without any problems.

As stated above, FGL, the thicker the better (though more expensive initially). Consider using some kind of footbed, especially if your feet have changed. The mid-priced ones should be fine.

My FGL boots, made in Italy, have outlasted four pairs of fabric & ****tex boots. They are made of one-piece leather, so the tongue does not let any water in, ever.  I noticed last week that I have worn two holes in the heels as well, which would have ruined any membrane, had there been one inside. Reasons for this longevity include: fit, durability of materials, and construction. A related possibility is that with a stiffer, heavier boot, there is a tendency to wear a thicker sock when trying on new boots, and this aspect, counter-intuitive perhaps, has worked out for me.

Wear them until they are trail-ready, then wear them some more, and carry the old footbeds and a different sized sock, as well as foot repair kit, the first time you backpack in them.

Edit: sorry, some of what I wrote is redundant, as you have your boots already. These boot threads are beginning to merge into a cloud inside my head. Not that I am complaining, boots are like...something that one could talk about all day...gear...

August 27, 2014
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