How Long Does it Take to Break in Hiking Boots?

Breaking in a new pair of hiking boots is necessary to have a safe and comfortable hiking experience. The amount of time that it takes to break in a new pair of hiking boots depends on the type of boot, the construction of the boot, and how well they fit your feet. A typical pair of hiking boots will take 1 to 4 hours to break in, depending on the intensity of the break in.

How to Size Hiking Boots

Before you even get to the point where you need to break a pair of boots in, you will need to find a pair of boots that fit well. Proper boot selection is the most important part of finding a pair of hiking boots that fit well. 

When you are at the store trying on hiking boots, take note of all the pressure points on your feet. Don’t get too invested in a particular pair of boots – they make look nice, but they might not be the best fit for your feet.

It can be difficult to judge the fit of a pair of boots while at the store. If you use hiking socks, be sure to wear them when trying on hiking boots. Hiking socks are usually thicker than normal socks, so they will affect the fit of your hiking boots.

Keep in mind that your feet swell when walking, so it is wise to get a pair of boots that are slightly big for your feet. If they feel snug when trying them on, they are most likely too small for your feet.

How to Break in Hiking Boots

There are no quick fixes or tricks to breaking in hiking boots. Some of the old-school methods such as soaking your boots in water or hitting the trail immediately might work sometimes. But you risk damaging your new hiking boots or worse, damaging your feet.

Walking on the grass with hiking boots
The best way to break in hiking boots is gradually. Start on easy terrain first.

The best way to break in a new pair of hiking boots is gradually. Although this is the slow and boring way, it is the most effective method. This method allows you to feel out the fit and form of your new boots. You will also be able to identify any pressure points, areas of rubbing, and any problem areas before they become a big issue.

Here is the two-step process to break in a new pair of hiking boots:

  • Wear your hiking boots around town. This is to do an initial break in before you commit to taking them on the trail. Be sure to take notice of any problem areas such as pressure or rubbing on your feet. If there are any areas where your feet hurt, see if you can change the lacing method of your boots to relieve pressure.
  • Wear your hiking boots on a short hike. Here, you’ll be able to give them a real-world test on some of the types of terrain that you’ll be using them on in the long term. This is also a good chance to see how your hiking boots perform on various types of ground such as dirt, rocks, and tree roots.

The Right Pair of Hiking Boots

A pair of hiking boots in the grass

It is important to note that a good-fitting pair of hiking boots will have nearly no break-in period at all. If you size your boots to your feet properly, then it won’t be long until you can be off on the trail with no problems. 

If your hiking boots are the wrong fit for your feet, then no amount of breaking in will help. That’s why it is important to find the right pair of hiking boots early on – when you are at the store trying the hiking boots on.



Trey is an avid outdoorsman and curator of Code:Outdoors. He enjoys discovering new places and learning new skills. He is an Eagle Scout and can be found both car camping and on rugged extended adventures.

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