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#1
Old 10-25-2015, 03:19 AM
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Soaking boots in water to break them in

I read online that to break in new boots you should soak them in water then wear them until they are dry. I called a company that makes boots and they said not to do it, that it would take weeks for them to dry. Do you think it would work, it seems like a good idea in theory. Even if it would work I worry about the chemicals used to tan the leather seeping into my skin, how much of risk is that.
#2
Old 10-25-2015, 03:31 AM
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First of all, walking around in wet footwear is not fun, and according to my grandmother, will give you a cold (although I have my doubts regarding her medial credentials).

Second of all, I'm pretty sure it will damage the boots. It certainly won't be good for the stitching.

You want to break in boots? Polish them. Rub a lot of shoe shine in them, and the oils will soften the leather.
#3
Old 10-25-2015, 04:19 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
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Water is used in shaping leather during manufacture, and I've heard people suggest wetting boots and wearing them to shape them to your feet. I am deeply skeptical of this. The only time I ever wore wet footwear for about 24 hours was the same time that the skin degloved on two of my toes.

It's a recipe for trench foot and probably ruined footwear too.
#4
Old 10-25-2015, 09:53 AM
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Modern boots which use chrome tanned leather and (often) various glues to hold the footbed and sole together and have multi layer insoles are not (IMO) going to respond well to this.

But... some people swear by it
http://myhorseforum.com/threads/brea...method.402929/
#5
Old 10-25-2015, 10:00 AM
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Water and untreated (weather-proofed) leather is not a good idea.

Clean them with saddle soap. Then (after they are dry) give them a good coat of mink oil. Let them rest awhile then rub the mink oil in. They will be soft as a baby's butt.
#6
Old 10-26-2015, 11:10 PM
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I suppose it depends on the boot. I went through a good many pairs of world famous White's boots, custom made in nearby Spokane, WA.

I remember trying to break in my first pair and it was a brutal experience. Even after many miles of work each day, they were killing my feet for about two weeks. That's when I discovered moleskin.

By the time I had to have them rebuilt and order a second pair, I'd heard enough people tell me about the soaking trick. Put the fresh boots on, laced 'em tight and stood in a creek until they were completely soaked. Probably took a good half of the day to walk them dry, but after that, the boots were comfortable as could be.

In the surveying and timber cruising biz, your boots are often completely soaked anyway, this only sped up the break in process.

My next best purchase was a Peet's shoe dryer. Never fails to dry completely soaked boots overnight using convection with no added heat. Magical process as far as I'm concerned.
#7
Old 10-27-2015, 12:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bare View Post
I suppose it depends on the boot. I went through a good many pairs of world famous White's boots, custom made in nearby Spokane, WA.

I remember trying to break in my first pair and it was a brutal experience. Even after many miles of work each day, they were killing my feet for about two weeks. That's when I discovered moleskin.

By the time I had to have them rebuilt and order a second pair, I'd heard enough people tell me about the soaking trick. Put the fresh boots on, laced 'em tight and stood in a creek until they were completely soaked. Probably took a good half of the day to walk them dry, but after that, the boots were comfortable as could be.

In the surveying and timber cruising biz, your boots are often completely soaked anyway, this only sped up the break in process.

My next best purchase was a Peet's shoe dryer. Never fails to dry completely soaked boots overnight using convection with no added heat. Magical process as far as I'm concerned.
The high arch in White's and the like is made from layers of leather. You can't soften that leather up unless you put in a lot of sweat or some water. Once the arch molds to your foot they're great but until that time they are a pain. After they dry cover them in boot oil and they'll last years with a few rebuilds. I wouldn't do it with dress boots or boots with fabric or other materials, but for heavy all leather work boots it works great.

bare if you're still in the forestry business send me a PM, I'd like to pick your brain.
#8
Old 10-27-2015, 12:39 AM
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Sounds like a real bad idea.

Get better boots. I have a pair of Marine issue Bates boots that fit perfect and feel great right out of the box. No messing around needed. Wear 'em all day, can hike for miles, ride motorcycles with them. Just can't drive my small cars. Too big to fit in the pedal area.
#9
Old 10-27-2015, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
Get better boots.
That was my thought too.

I'm fussy about boots and shoes fitting well from the start. If there's any doubt about the fit and comfort, I've learned to pass on them. I've been able to find good-fitting boots in various brands (Iron Age, Red Wing, Propet) that felt great from day one and lasted years.
#10
Old 10-27-2015, 10:24 AM
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I use the "wet and wear dry" technique on my re-enactment footwear BUT that is for something made by hand using 18th century techniques and practices. For more modern "from the store" boots I tried it once and it failed big-time -- had to write off the boots and start again. There could be some off-the-shelf boots out there where it could be of benefit but with all the choices on those shelves, why bother?
#11
Old 10-27-2015, 10:26 AM
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Back when I worked in shoe repair we did not recommend that.

You could spray them with a purpose-made, brand name shoe stretch solution, then either use a shoe stretcher (if the problem is that they pinch in the place the stretcher stretches) or spray them thoroughly with 91% isopropyl alcohol, then walk around in them until they are dry. Repeat as needed. They dry a lot faster that way, while still stretching/learning to conform to your feet.
#12
Old 10-27-2015, 10:45 AM
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There was an episode of Malcolm in the Middle wherein Francis tried this. The image of his waterlogged, blistered feet at the end of the episode was truly horrifying.
#13
Old 10-27-2015, 11:44 AM
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I used to use Limmer Boots, and old school heavy leather boot for hiking and trailwork. Some people did use the soak and wear dry approach to breaking them in but Limmer didn't recommend it and they generally ended up worse for wear. It was much better to break them in over time and the boots lasted much longer if you did so. My boots just turned 30 this year.
#14
Old 10-27-2015, 12:49 PM
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: revillagigedo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
Sounds like a real bad idea.

Get better boots. I have a pair of Marine issue Bates boots that fit perfect and feel great right out of the box. No messing around needed. Wear 'em all day, can hike for miles, ride motorcycles with them. Just can't drive my small cars. Too big to fit in the pedal area.
Bates boots are like ultra high top tennis shoes. We were talking about real boots for people who work outside all day in harsh conditions. The two aren't really comparable.
#15
Old 10-27-2015, 03:24 PM
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Location: Northern Idaho
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I couldn't begin to guess how many pairs of White's I burned though. Got my first pair in the late 70's when they seemed about the price of a paycheck or around $250 bucks a pair. I got a good year out of them until I managed to sidehill enough that I blew out the sides on a planting contract. Went back to the rig and took enough screws out of the truck to screw the boots back together to finish the job. Took them back to White's to have them rebuilt and buy a second pair. Heh, they looked at those poor boots and told me they weren't rebuildable. I pulled one of their brochures off the desk which feature a before and after picture of a pair of their boots that were truly trashed and asked if they could rebuild those, why not mine?

They made a lifetime customer out of me by sending a brand new pair of boots in exchange for my screwdriver.

I don't have any use for such a fine boot anymore, so two of my kids inherited my boot collection and they continue to see use in wildland fire fighting.

Ever after, I kept at least two pairs of boots and swapped out every day. By giving them a chance to dry out, we'd get three times the use out of them before needing to be rebuilt.

The difference between handcrafted boots is why I still have good feet today. Every time they rebuilt a pair or built new ones, they'd assess the boot itself and see how it was worn, altering them so that didn't happen again. I used to walk off the outside heels of all my boots until it felt like you were walking bowlegged. The shoe builder took one look and said he could prevent that and just mounted the new heels over to the outside. I walked straight ever after.
#16
Old 10-27-2015, 04:33 PM
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Location: Chicago-ish
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nm

Last edited by bobot; 10-27-2015 at 04:33 PM. Reason: thought op said boats
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