How to Break in Steel Toe Boots [Leather & Work Boots]

Steel toe boots are a walking paradox: you’ve bought your new pair for extra protection, but you’ve ended up with a foot full of blisters. Breaking in new shoes can be difficult for all shoes, from sneakers to heels, but steel toe boots pose a particular problem due to their stiffness.

When you first slip on a new pair, it can seem like you’ll be sacrificing comfort for safety forever. Thankfully, relief is only a few steps away, and breaking in steel toe boots isn’t as difficult as it may seem. 

Steel toe boots, like all shoes, will gradually become more comfortable with time and wear. However, when you’re trying to break them in quickly, gradual adjustments may not be your best option. If this is the case, you can make your steel toe boots more comfortable in a pinch by wearing your boots around your home, using a shoe stretcher or similar stretching method, and by taking care of your shoes, especially if they’re leather. 

How to Break in Steel Toe Boots in a Pinch

The number one way to ensure you’re going to get the best fit possible from your steel toe boots? Start things off on the right foot by choosing the proper size for you. Doing this will make breaker in your new boots much easier, saving you time and effort. If you already own boots and are looking for quick ways to get that almost perfect fit in a pinch, here are some options:

Get Used To The Shoes Before You Wear Them Out

The absolute best way to break in steel toe boots? Get used to your shoes before you wear them out.

how to break in steel toe work boots

Few things can remedy aching and blister-ridden feet like getting used to your shoes before you’re forced to wear them for long periods of time. When you wear your steel toe boots around your home. This allows you not only to get used to the current fit of your steel toe boots to see which area needs extra adjustments but will also allow for you to slowly stretch out your boots to fit your feet.

While other options will help you wiggling in a little extra space, wearing your shoes in order to break them in allows them to form to your foot rather than a shoe stretcher or other material. This means that areas that need a little extra space can stretch out while other areas can remain tight for a perfect fit. 

After all, nobody has a perfectly square foot, and in order to get the absolute best feet out of your steel toe boots, you’ll want them to fit around the shape of your foot.

To get the most out of wearing your steel toe boots before you wear them, trying taking short hikes on a variety of terrains. While inside your own home is great, if you can wear your shoes around the yard or up and downstairs, you’ll be able to achieve a much better fit in a smaller amount of time. 

You can also wear thick socks while wearing your new steel toe boots. Not only will this help protect you from any damage and injuries while breaking in your new boots, but it will actually help stretch them out by adding another layer. 

Stuff It

You can’t wear your new steel toe boots all the time, though, especially if they’re still too uncomfortable for long periods of use. However, when you have work in a day or so, you don’t have the time to wait for a few dozen steps to turn into perfectly fitting shoes.

As a result, another option for breaking in your steel toe boots would be to stuff it. This allows you to continue stretching out and breaking in your new boots even when you’re unable to wear them – such as while you’re away from home or at night. 

This is a relatively easy step as well, especially since you can use many things from around your home. One popular option is to stuff your shoes with socks. While it can take a few pairs to fill up your boots, this is a great and inexpensive way to add a little extra stretch with no work.

You can also invest in a shoe stretcher to help break in your steel toe boots. 

how to break in new steel toe boots

Use a Shoe Stretcher

If you find yourself in the market for tips and tricks on breaking in shoes often, then you may find it best to invest in a shoe stretcher.

Shoe stretchers taking stuffing it to the next level by providing an even stretch throughout the shoe. This is because shoe stretchers, which can be metal or wood, are designed to fit the shape of your steel toe boots, making sure that each inch gets broken in at the same time. 

Certain areas of your steel toe boots, such as near the toes, have a naturally tighter fit than areas like the heel. Due to a shoe stretcher’s shape, you’ll be able to easily reach these areas to break them in.

Plus, shoe stretchers can be locked into place, allowing you to stretch your boots for extended periods of time with no extra hassle. Using a shoe stretcher overnight is a great way to make a little extra toe room without damaging your shoes. 

Get Handsy

Sometimes, the best way to break in your shoes is to use your hands.

One of the biggest problems with brand new steel toe boots is how stiff they are. While this is beneficial in providing extra protection and support, higher amounts of stiffness simply aren’t designed to properly fit your feet. 

In this case, bending the midsole of your new boots back and forth with your hands is a great way to add a little extra flexibility for a better fit. Depending on how stiff your new boots are, you may also find it beneficial to step on the heels and toes to stretch out and bend the leather for a better fit. 

New leather can also pose a slippery situation. When you’re purchasing shoes with the purpose of adding extra protection while you’re working, the last thing you want is an increased risk of slipping and falling. Thankfully, you can scruff up the bottom of your shoes to help break them in and reduce the chances of falling. 

Moisturize and Condition 

This step is for genuine leather steel toe boots. 

Have you ever had a bad sunburn that left your skin feeling tight? One of the biggest enemies of flexibility and limberness on a surface level is dry skin. 

And, at the end of the day, leather is just dried skin.

This means that another great way to help break in your new steel toe boots when you’re short on time is to moisturize and condition the leather. Using moisturizes specifically for steel toe boots will help soften and relax your shoe, allowing for more flexibility when you’re trying to break them in. 

how to break in leather steel toe boots

What to Avoid When Breaking in Steel Toe Boots

When you’re trying to make your steel toe boots more comfortable in time for work, it can be tempting to try any and every method online. While the Internet is a great place to find extra tips and tricks for achieving an extra bit of toe room, there are a few to avoid in order to keep your boots in good shape for longer. After all, replacing your boots means breaking in a brand new pair all over again, so you’ll want to make sure you get as long of a life as possible out of your steel toe boots. 

Avoid Long Exposure to Heat

Like your favorite shirt in the dryer, heat can be a great way to shrink your steel toe boots if they’re a little loose. However, it can be difficult to gauge the exact amount of heat needed and easy to overdo it, resulting in a new problem: steel toe boots that are way too small.

As a result, unless you’re purposely trying to shrink your boots, it’s better to avoid heat. And if you do use it, you should be careful with how much you use it. The last thing you want is to shrink your boots until you can’t wear them – or worse, you cause irreversible damage. 

Avoid Frustration

When you’re short on time and nothing seems to be going your way, it’s easy to grow impatient and even frustrated with your steel toe boots. There is no sure way to get a perfect fitting boot within only an hour – like all good things, it takes time.

As a result, don’t feel defeated if your steel toe boots don’t fit perfectly after trying one of the methods above. It can take time and even combining several different methods to get the right fit for you. 

Final Verdict 

The best boots are those that not only provide the right amount of protection to keep you safe in the workplace but those that fit perfectly. However, buying perfectly fitting boots right off the shelves is nearly impossible, and when you’re looking for the right fit fast, it can be daunting.

Thankfully, however, there are several ways to help break in your steel toe boots. While time will always prove to be the best way to get your boots to fit, quick hacks such as stretching out your boots and wearing them to break them in can also prove to be good options.

And, if all else fails, all it takes is a few bandages and a thick pair of socks to help protect your feet while achieving that perfect fit. 

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