Sometimes the most fundamental boot-related things are such a part of my daily life that I forget that others are still learning. A loyal reader of this blog wrote to me to suggest that I explain what a boot jack is, and how it is used by guys who regularly wear “pull-on” boots.
I am sure you have seen “boot pulls” which are simple loops of leather found on many pull-on boots. Simply point your foot into the boot and grab the boot pulls and pull on your boots.
But how do you take them off as easily?
… use a boot jack.
A boot jack is an old-fashioned but simple thing: it is usually a flat piece of wood cut into a rectangular shape. The short end of the rectangle has a u-shape cut out from it. The U is big enough to accommodate the heel of a boot. The boot jack also is elevated at an angle so the u-shaped end is about an inch (2.5cm) off the floor.
For protection of the boot, the u-shaped area is usually lined with leather or some other soft material.
To use a boot jack:
- Sit in a chair (don’t stand).
- Place the boot jack on the floor in front of you.
- Put one foot on top of the flat panel of the boot jack to hold it down.
- Place the heel of the boot in the u-shaped area.
- Lift your leg and pull it out of the boot.
- Repeat the process with the other foot.
While this process sounds simple, here are some little-known things to know–
* If the boot is tight on your foot and you can’t get your foot out easily (or on the first attempt), relieve minor swelling and sweating which may be making the boots so tight. Put several pillows (about 3 – 4) on a bed and lay on it with your feet/boots up on the pillows well above your head. Rest quietly in that position for about 5 – 10 minutes. Then sit on the edge of the bed with the boot jack on the floor. Extend your knee. When you extend your knee, the boot jack will be further away from you. Pull gently and slowly and the boot will (eventually) come off. Avoid twisting your ankle from side to side. It is possible to break your ankle if you twist it when it is inside a boot inserted into a boot jack. It’s amazing how just a little relief from swelling makes it easier to remove a boot, especially after a long, hot, hard-workin’ day.
* Be careful when using a boot jack on boots with scales, like snakeskin (python, rattlesnake, lizard, etc.) The back of the foot at the heel of these boots may get damaged when inserted into the U-shaped area of the boot jack and pulling your foot out. The best way to use a boot jack with snakeskin boots is to plant only the heel — not the foot — into the U-shaped area. If you must place the back of the foot into the boot jack, then do like I do: undo your belt and lower your pants. Make sure the pants leg is down behind the back of the boot. Use the pants leg between the U-shaped area of the boot jack and the back of the boot to provide protection for the back of the boot from damage.
More related information–
* Wear socks. Boots are much easier to remove when you wear socks, not to mention that socks are more healthy for your feet.
* The recommendation to “rotate” your boots, meaning to wear a different pair of boots on different days, is made for a reason. Your boots need to air out and let sweat evaporate before you wear them again. Hot and damp-with-sweat boots are hard to wear and harder to remove.
* While folding boot jacks are available (and handy for boot-wearing travelers), the standard wooden flat boot jack is a bootman’s best friend. Tried and true, in use for over 100 years.
* You can find a boot jack on on-line western wear websites and in most western wear stores where cowboy boots are sold.
* It is possible — and appropriate — to use a boot jack on motorcycle and work boots in addition to regular cowboy boots.
Life is short: make it easier by using a boot jack.