For a guy who owns hundreds of pairs of boots, one would think that I would only have boots that are comfortable. Well, mostly that is true, but not for all of them.
Especially now that two things have changed with time: boots age and insoles do not get any softer, and feet age and are not as flexible and tolerant of discomfort as they are when they were young. This is especially true for guys who go from a slim/trim/athletic 120 pounds in their early 20s to … well, middle-age spread. The more weight you carry, the more uncomfortable boots will become.
So here is how this more-than-middle-aged boot wearer deals with boot comfort issues…
1. Quality boots matter. When you have boots made on the cheap, the footbed of the boots suffers a lot by being made with thinner, less flexible, synthetic (not leather) materials. So I am careful about the boots I choose to purchase, and avoid cheap junk from China, Pakistan, and Thailand.
2. Wear good socks. I choose socks that are of better quality and cost more than your usual cheapo-cotton ankle sock. I make it a point to find crew-length socks made from a combination of wool (for moisture control), cotton (for comfort), and polyester (to keep in shape). More info about socks to choose is here. (Note, I do not wear boot socks. Crew length socks are fine.)
3. Change boots frequently. One advantage of a large boot collection is that I do not wear the same boots all day every day. Each boot has a different fit on the foot, so when I change boots frequently, any discomfort in one part of my foot that I may be feeling goes away. Also, any footwear absorbs sweat from the feet during wear. Giving boots a chance to “breathe” between wearings lets them dry out naturally. Dry footbeds are more comfortable.
4. Use good quality gel insoles. Look at the padded insoles of boots that come with them. Usually these padded insoles are thin cotton or synthetic cushions. They flatten out with just a few hours of wear. However — extra insoles beyond what comes on the footbed of a boot is a great idea! I buy Dr. Scholl’s “Massaging Gel” insoles and use them in most all of my boots. These insoles add a great deal of comfort to my boots and gives me many more years of wear on my favorite pairs. These insoles aren’t cheap, but I wait for sales and use coupons for them that I can find on the internet.
5. Don’t let nostalgia get the best of me (you.) That is, I used to love wearing Frye boots, but not any more. My feet can’t take it. Those boots when new(er) were okay to wear, but never really that comfortable. Frye boots became an enormous part of the style fad that us guys (and gals) of the ’60s and ’70s went through. I will eventually part with my vintage Fryes (when I have time to sell them.) Meanwhile, I do not wear what hurts and won’t get any better. This is also why I have sold or disposed of older boots that I cannot wear any more, like some of my tall Wesco boots.
6. Wear boots every day, even at home around the house. Yes, even as odd as this sounds, the more you wear boots, the more your feet will adjust and have boots feel comfortable to you. If you alternate wearing boots “on occasion” with wearing dress shoes, sneakers, or worse — flip-flops — your feet may not adjust at all to boot-wearing and almost any boots you wear may feel uncomfortable. While I wear boots when I am at work and out & about in my community, I also keep a pair of boots on while at home, preparing dinner, and relaxing in the evening. The only time I am bootless is when I am sleeping or bathing. (Though, I admit, running around in socks has been happening more often…)
7. Wear the right boot for the right application. That is: choose boots based on your activities. Work boots for physical labor, especially outdoors; motorcycle boots for riding a motorcycle; cowboy boots for business and casual wear; hiking boots for walking/hiking, and so forth. You see — there is no sense in having shoes or sneakers when there are boots for every occasion!
These are my seven methods of managing methods to make my boots comfortable to me, and continue to remain serviceable for many years to come. I hope one or more of these methods will help you wear boots more often, too.
Life is short: wear boots!