How to Break In Cowboy Boots to Ensure All-Day Comfort

Cowboy boots tend to have a stiff leather construction and a high shaft that makes them uncomfortable to wear at first. Fortunately, this article will walk you through several effective ways on how to break in cowboy boots effectively.

I have tried a lot of pairs of cowboys boots over the years, and one thing that really bothers me is when they are rigid and uncomfortable to wear. Most of the time, the reason behind this is the leather material. The toe, shaft, heel, and sole of the boots are all new, so when you wear them, they may lead to discomfort and pain.

Fortunately, leather has great elasticity. The more you use it, the quicker it gets soft and firm. Below, I will talk about the most effective ways on how to break in cowboy boots. Hopefully, these techniques will help you get much-needed comfort when wearing your cowboy boots.

So, without further ado, let us get on with this article!

Why Is It Important to Break Cowboy Boots In?

Cowboy boots usually feature a hard leather upper material, a high shaft, and a big heel. These can cause discomfort and pain, especially during the first few times of use.

Walking around with these genuine leather cowboy boots can also lead to friction and blisters. They are painful and prone to infection, which can result in other complications.

So if you want to eliminate these risks, it is important to break in the cowboy boots fast. Do not wear and show off the boots right away. Instead, allow time for the leather to soften. Let the new boots adjust to the shape of your foot gradually. This way, you can ensure both comfort and safety.

How Are My Cowboy Boots Able to Stretch?

Considering that cowboy boots use hard leather material, you are probably wondering about how they are able to stretch. Fortunately, leather is a highly flexible material.

So whether your cowboy boots use alligator, snake, or even ostrich skin, the leather stretches up to a degree. They can even adjust to the contours of your feet, as long as you properly break them in.

However, remember to read the care instructions from the boot manufacturer if you want to avoid damaging the boots accidentally.

How to Break in Cowboy Boots?

Breaking in cowboy boots is essential to achieve a better and more comfortable fit. Doing so can also help avoid blisters or injuries.

Below, I have handpicked the quickest and easiest ways to break in your cowboy boots. Hopefully, these techniques ease the transition of your newly-bought shoes.

Wear Thick Socks

One of the easiest ways to break in cowboy boots is to wear socks whenever you are using the shoes. You can opt for thick hiking socks or for multiple layers of regular gym socks if your shoes have extra space.

Walk around the house for at least 30 minutes every day. Doing so can help stretch the leather cowboys boots for a more comfortable fit. You might also want to ascend and descend as many stairs as you can.

Lastly, try putting the middle section of the sole on the edge of the step then rock it back and forth. This way, the shaft and the sole of the cowboy boot can easily bend to offer a better fit.

Place the Cowboy Boots in the Freezer

You can also try freezing the cowboy boots to help stretch the stiff leather material. It is one of the safest and cheapest ways to break in your footwear.

This method involves filling up two sealable plastic bags with water. You can place these containers inside the toe box area of the leather boots. Fill the rest of the interior using thick socks, towels, or even crumpled pieces of paper to hold the plastic bag secure. 

Once you are sure the plastic bags are fixed in place, you can proceed to place the boots in the freezer. Leave them for at least eight hours or overnight. You might want to use a container if you do not want the shoes smelling like frozen meat the next day. 

By morning, you can safely remove the cowboy boots from the refrigerator and let the ice thaw. The frozen water can help expand and stretch the footwear to ensure comfort.

Besides breaking in your cowboy boots, the ice can also help in removing stubborn stains like gum or glue that are stuck on the leather. 

Introduce Heat to the Interior of the Boots

Introducing heat to the interior is another effective way to break in cowboy boots. You can use a blowdryer, a kettle, or a clothing streamer.

When using a streamer, you can directly steam the inside of the leather boots for a maximum of 20 seconds. The combined heat and moisture will soften the leather and eventually stretch the boots.

After heating, feel the interior of the cowboy boots using your finger. Make sure to do this very slowly and carefully because the boots will be hot from the steam. If you do not feel them getting softer, you can steam the shoes again for another 15 seconds.

Wait for a few seconds, so they can cool off. Then, you can put on the leather cowboys boots and wear them for about an hour or two. You can expect them to adjust to the contours of your feet as they dry. It is best to keep them on longer for better results.

As for the kettle method, you simply boil a full kettle until you see steam shooting from the sprout. Then, you place the boots over this steam to soften the leather material. 

However, I do not suggest using this break-in technique if you intend to use your boots the next day. That is because the shoes tend to get overly moist, meaning that they would not be able to dry in time.

Use a Boot Stretcher or a Boot Shaper

Boot Stretcher

If you want to break in cowboy boots quickly, you can invest in a boot stretcher or shaper.

As its name suggests, this device effectively stretches the width of the toe box. It can reduce the amount of time needed to break in the shoes. At the same time, it can make the leather cowboy boots at least a half size or full size bigger, depending on how often you use the device.

A cowboy boot stretcher can also expand the top part of the shoes. Hence, you can expect them to fit better, especially around your ankles and legs.

Finally, a cowboy boot stretcher can retain the original shape of the footwear. There is no need to worry about ruining the silhouette of the boots. This break-in method ultimately ensures that the cowboy boots will fit you well.

The only downside of a boot shaper is that they can cost you several bucks. In most cases, though, buying this device is cheaper than visiting your cobbler or replacing the boots with a new pair.

Condition and Moisturize Your Boots

Leather Oil Conditioner

You might also want to try applying an oil conditioner or moisturizer to your cowboy boots. Not only do they help boost the waterproofing of your boots, but they can also allow the easy break-in of the boots.

Leather conditioners work by expanding the leather fibers of the cowboy boots. They can also soften the material, which helps in stretching the shoes for a better fit. They are available at your local cobbler or shoe store. But they are also obtainable at e-commerce sites such as Amazon.

When conditioning the boots, make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer. Usually, you will only need a small amount of the solution. Rub it on the exterior of the leather cowboy boots. Then, wait for a minute or two to allow the conditioner to soak in. After that, you will find the boots softer and more flexible, which can ensure a better fit.

Spray a Boot Stretch Solution

Consider a Stretching Spray

Besides applying a leather conditioner, spritzing a boot stretch spray on your cowboy shoes can also help speed up their break-in process. This special solution can make the leather fibers more pliant. So when you use a boot stretcher or the doubled-up sock solution, the footwear will eventually loosen and soften for a more comfortable fit.

However, it is essential to read the instructions stated on the spray bottle before applying it to the cowboy boots. Depending on the type of spray you get, you may need to use it inside or outside the boots. Simply follow the instructions if you do not want to ruin the leather boots accidentally. 

Take off boots and bend creases by Hand

This method only works when you use it with the other break-in techniques.

For one, you can wear thick socks underneath the cowboy boots and walk around until you start to see initial creases around the toe and ankle. Once these ridges appear, you can take the shoes off and bend those areas using a gentle hand.

You can also bend the creases after doing the steaming method or the application of leather oil conditioners.

Wear the Cowboy Boots Everyday

This last technique might be the simplest of them all but it works effectively without costing you extra money.

You can wear your cowboy boots every day, even inside the house. Doing so can help the break-in process. Make sure to use the boots for at least two hours daily to achieve the best results.

Do note, though, that this method requires a lot of patience. You will not see immediate outcomes in just a few days.

How Long Does It Take To Break in New Cowboy Boots?

It will depend on a lot of factors. These include how long you use your cowboy boots and what type of leather skin is used, among other elements.

But if you use your new cowboy boots five or seven times within one week, you can expect the break-in process to shorten considerably. You can also successfully break in the boots when you try any of the techniques above. Together with regular wear, you can achieve softer and looser boots in as little as 80 to 100 hours.

Bottom line on breaking in leather cowboy boots

Cowboy boots can be uncomfortable to wear for a few days due to the stiff leather material. Fortunately, there are several ways to break in the cowboy boots. These include conditioning, freezing, heating, and even flexing them to achieve shoes that fit you like a second skin.