When you first get leather boots, they're going to be a bit stiff. Some people dread the first month or two of owning a pair of leather boots, even to the point of desperately searching for any way to make them softer. 

As it happens, there are some proven ways to make leather boots softer. 

However, you should know there is, as with anything, a slight catch. 

Quality Leather Boots Don't Soften Quickly

Unfortunately, there aren't any shortcuts for making high quality leather boots softer when they're well made, or at least no shortcuts worth actually taking. When leather boots or shoes are made correctly, they're stiff at first. 


There's just nothing you're going to be able to do about. It's only with time that they will soften to your liking. If you want slippers or a light pair of athletic shoes, those are plenty soft when you get them out of the packaging. 

But there's something you get for that initial awkward period. 

You get a longer service life. In fact, with the right leather boots or shoes, you may get a lifetime of use from them. If you care for them and have them resoled or rebuilt when needed, quality shoes and boots last decades. 

You're also getting a better quality product. Stiff leather when you first get a pair of leather boots is a sign of quality materials and workmanship, meaning they've been made to hold up to years of wear. 

A better boot will mean better support for your feet, more comfort, and ultimately you'll feel better when wearing them compared to cheaper alternatives. 

But how to get them to soften up? Here are three proven methods. 

Break In Your Leather Boots

The reason leather boots and other quality leather goods are stiff at first is because you haven't broken your boots in yet. 

"Break in" means that the material has to stretch around your foot. Everything in the boot will stretch to a degree. The actual stretch itself is minute; it's measurable in millimeters, if even that, but it does occur. 

The stitching stretches and the leather stretches as well. 

That process may take longer depending on the construction method. Quality work boots are if anything overbuilt; this will mean a longer break-in period is needed compared to boots made at a high output factory that can't devote the time or labor to proper construction or quality leather.

However, after the initial stretching of the material has occurred - meaning the break-in period - you'll notice your leather boots are much more forgiving. 

Wear Your Leather Boots As Much As Possible

Related to the idea of break-in is actually wearing your leather boots as much as you possibly can. The more they get used, the more the leather will bend and flex with movement. 

While heavy leather never loses tensile strength in terms of how much stress it can take, it will lose rigidity with enough use.

Athletes have to stretch in order to be limber enough to perform in their sports, even in sports that might otherwise seem low-impact. (Baseball, for instance, is much less stressful than football.) But it still has to happen. 

Point being? The longer you wear them, the softer they'll become, but without losing structural integrity. 

Care For Your Leather Boots By Hydrating The Leather

The other proven method for softening leather boots is to care for them as they should be cared for. 

Leather is skin, and to keep it pliable and in good condition, it must be hydrated. 

This is why leather boots should only be cleaned with nourishing leather cleaners such as saddle soap. This is why you should apply natural products like leather oil and boot grease, as they hydrate and protect the leather.

Just as with applying lotion to skin, leather oil and grease makes the material softer and more pliable, more supple but still strong enough to handle day after day doing some of the hardest work known to man. 

Caring for your leather boots properly will likewise have a softening effect on the leather, as well as keeping your boots in good working order for years to come.