How Do I Break In Fire Boots? What You Should Know About Break-In
Breaking in firefighter boots is much like breaking in any pair of work boots, outdoor boots, or even casual boots. There's a right way...and there's definitely a wrong way, which you do not want to do.
We'll talk about the break-in process for your firefighter boots so they're ready for fire season BEFORE the call comes in to leave for the fire ground.
You wouldn't set off on a hunt, a hike or hit the jobsite in brand-new boots, if they're made right. Proper break-in is crucial for comfort and best function of your boots when you're on the job.
So let's talk about what you need to know about breaking in fire boots.
But first...let's talk about what you DON'T want to do.
How NOT To Break In Fire Boots
There are a number of supposed old methods for breaking in boots quicker, whether for fire boots or work boots...and you don't want to do any of them.
For instance, DO NOT fill them with water and start wearing them around. Not only will this damage the leather, it can also introduce mold, mildew and rot in the insole and into the midsole.
If you think boots smell after a long day...just wait until they have a petri dish growing inside them. Or even MORE of a petri dish, we should say!
What you also don't want to do is "break them in on the job." That's going to give you blisters, sore feet, sore ankles and knees, and make you miserable in general. And there is plenty more to make fire season hard on you; you don't need to add more discomfort into it.
There is no miracle product, there is no miracle process that will make the break-in process faster.
What Is Actually Happening When You Break In Fire Boots
Break-in is a process where your new pair of firefighter or work boots are adjusting to your feet. There are three aspects to it.
First, the heel and the upper are going to bend and wear in certain spots due to the leather being stretched in key areas where it has not previously stretched. This is because there is not a foot in the boot!
Where you'll notice this happening is at the corners of the vamp, right where the upper meets the toe of the boot, typically either on the big toe side or the small toe side. It'll pinch like heck for a few weeks, and then stop.
You'll also notice the heel is stiff at first, which is the other area where your boots will take a little time to wear in. A whole lot of moleskin has been used while this is happening, so be prepared for a little rawness.
The other aspect of break-in is that the stitching will stretch, to a degree. Not much, and if you could measure it...the "stretch" would barely be a millimeter or two. However, you will notice some tightness at first that quickly resolves, but it will be minor.
However, the other major part of break-in is that you are forming the insole and the footbed to your feet. The shape of your foot is being pounded into the boot, pressure-molding it to you.
If it doesn't take long to do that...your boots have a soft footbed, that isn't going to be very supportive for long. If it takes a while for that to happen...you have a pair of boots with a good footbed, that will give you the comfort and support you need.
How Should I Break In Fire Boots?
To break in fire boots, just like work boots, is slowly. Like anything else, you want to ramp up to full-time use rather than throwing your boots - and your feet - into the deep end.
Make sure you order your boots so you have them BEFORE fire season. You want to have a month or two to get them broken in ahead of getting to the fire ground.
The first thing you want to do is give your boots a good coat of either oil or leather grease to hydrate and coat the leather. That will soften it a little bit, darken it a little bit, and set the stage for easier break-in. Let them dry overnight.
Wear your boots for an hour or two per day, every day, for a few days. Start in and around the house. Take them for a walk around the block. If you notice your feet starting to hurt, sit down or take them off and start over again the next day.
After a few days of light wear, start wearing them for longer. Take them for longer walks for a week or two. You'll probably notice the top and the heel pinching a bit. It sucks, but you have to keep wearing them until that stops.
Every few days, give them another light coat of oil or grease. Let them dry overnight.
And keep adding more time and longer distance walked in your boots until you start feeling a shape being indented in the footbed. If you start to notice that your boots feel more like your favorite pair of slippers...you've gotten them broken in.