Quality western boots are typically made of high-quality, stiff, full-grain leather, with stacked leather heels.
While leather is a durable material that will conform to your contours like no other and in time will fit you like a glove, during the first days and weeks of use it can be stiff and uncomfortable.
Getting that custom-like fit for your western boots comes down to breaking them in.
Here are a few tips and tricks to making your cowboy boots more comfortable and wearable, from Jackson’s Western, a western apparel store that’s been serving this industry for over 50 years.
It might sound straightforward, but this is the most basic way to break in your western boots, a tried and true method, and a no-nonsense one.
If you have a new pair, you’ll need to put in the legwork (literally) to break them in so they’ll become more comfortable.
Simply wearing them throughout the course of a normal workday will go a long way to breaking them in – but here’s one more additional tip.
New boots are stiff and uncomfortable. During those first couple of days and weeks, if you start to get hot spots on your heel or toe, give yourself a break from breaking them in and wear something else for a day or two.
Wear Two Pairs of Socks
Another suggestion to accelerate the softening of your new boots is to wear two heavy pairs of socks while wearing them.
This adds pressure to the leather uppers and will help stretch and soften the fibers. It can be a little uncomfortable for the wearer, but at the same time, the extra cushioning of the socks can help.
Double up on the socks and make sure you do a lot of walking – by the way, this works best in the summer when leather is warmer and naturally more supple.
Keep Them Conditioned and Work the Creases
There are commercially-available leather-softening stretch sprays, neatsfoot oil blends, and leather conditions that will soften leather, make it more flexible and prepare it for breaking in. Some of them even nourish the leather fibers.
Using these products can make it easier to work the leather. Some find it helpful to work the natural stress points by hand after treating the leather to make it softer. Just be careful not to overdo it; you don’t want to make the leather too soft, and some conditioners will darken it.
From there, you can work on the natural crease areas of the toe and around the ankle, bending them manually to soften the leather at these stress points.
Try the Frozen Bag Method
One more method is to fill some plastic bags with water (not fully, there needs to be some room for the water to expand in the bag without breaking it). If it makes you feel more comfortable, double up the bags.
Insert one bag into each boot and press forward into the toe. Then stuff in some newspapers or socks behind the bag to keep it in place.
Place each boot in the freezer overnight. As the water freezes, it will gradually expand, pushing out the leather and stretching the fibers.
The next day, remove the boots and bags and get on walking!
Visit a Western Apparel Store: Let Them Do the Heavy Lifting
One more bit of advice: if you’re new at this, let the western wear professionals handle this process.
Jackson’s Western, a western apparel store in Wayland, Michigan, has no small matter of experience in this affair.
For over 50 years, they’ve been serving their industry and community faithfully, and they offer a lot of value-added services along with a huge selection of western clothing.
For instance, boot fitting, stretching, and break-in services with purchase.
If you’re planning on getting a new pair of western boots, get them there, and their helpful staff will stretch, fit, and pre-break them in for you.
If you have any questions, visit Jackson’s Western at JacksonsWestern.com or give them a call at 269-792-2550.