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You Asked: How Do I Break in New Hiking Boots?


Dear FitSugar,

Your recent hiking post reminded me of a problem that I am having with my new hiking boots. I am trying to break in the shoes in preparation for the Half Dome hike in Yosemite next month. Unfortunately, I got terrible blisters on the back of my feet (under the Achille's tendon area) after hiking the first day. Desperately needing to break in the boots, I just bandaged the already punctured blister and went hiking again the next day with 2 pairs of socks, even though it was quite painful. After the second day, the blister got bigger and even more painful. Should I ignore the wound and keep hiking or wait until the blister heals before wearing the boots again? Is this common when breaking in new hiking boots or is there something wrong with my boots?

That's a great question since it is hiking season and lots of people are shopping for new boots. The key to breaking in new hiking boots is to take things slowly. Different kinds of boots will require different amounts of time to break in. Lightweight models might not need much breaking in time at all, while the heavier, stiffer, all-leather boots could take weeks to soften up and form to the shape of your feet.

Want to hear my advice? Then read more

The boots you buy should feel snug with 1 pair of socks (preferably ones that wick). It sounds like since you could wear 2 pairs of socks, that your hiking boots might be too loose. They will stretch out slightly as they break in, so you don't want to start off with a loose boot - if your foot can move around with each step, that friction will definitely cause blisters.

If your boots do feel good and snug, start breaking them in by wearing them inside for short periods of time. Be sure to wear the kind of socks you'll be wearing on the trail. If you feel pinching, rubbing, or pain right away, take those boots back. If they still feel good, wear them out and about like to the grocery store, or for a short walk.

Gradually increase the distance and time you wear your new boots, until eventually you can go for a long hike with a pack on your back. It does take a while to break in your boots, but it's worth it since they'll last you for years to come.

Fit's Tips: If you have a blister or a sore spot that is getting rubbed, Dr. Scholl's Moleskin Plus Padding is great. You can cut a piece to fit the area you need covered, and it's self-adhesive, so it'll stick to your skin and offer more padding than a regular band-aid.

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