A reader wrote to me recently to ask for a link to a video that I produced a long time ago, but remains “evergreen” in its instructions. The video was titled, “Training the Ankles of New Dehner Patrol Boots,” and is applicable to breaking in any pair of boots that have a stiff backstay (a strip of leather that runs up and down the back of the inside of the boot lining to stiffen and support the boot and hold up the top).
The blog post about how to break in tall boots and “train the ankles” was last written in July, 2009. I appreciate my reader’s request for that information again and I will repeat it here, with a few updates.
So, just how should you break in a new pair of tall boots?
The most important thing to do when you get a new pair of tall boots — especially the combo synthetic/leather stock Dehner patrol boots — is to break them in at the ankle correctly. When you do that, you are “training” the boots. You want them to bend at the ankle in such a way that the boots do NOT form folds, or dimples, that go inward on a diagonal (not straight) slant. If you get diagonal bends (breaks) at the ankle, it can cause the inside of the boot to rub against the soft, tender flesh of the ankle and generate blisters or bleeding sores.
Believe me, I know from experience how this can happen. In the early ’90s, I bought a pair of all-leather custom Dehner patrol boots. I was thrilled with them when I got them. I put them on and hopped on my Harley for a ride. I walked in them a lot, thinking I was breaking them in.
Problem was, I did not take time to train the ankles of the boots before I put them on. I didn’t know that you had to do that! Unfortunately, those boots developed a bad break at the ankle. The leather at the fold where the boot shaft meets the foot folded diagonally. The result: agony. I started to experience bleeding sores on the back of my ankle.
I tried to “re-train” or “re-bend” the offending area and folds of the leather. I learned, though, that once the folds get set in place which happens by walking in them, the leather will not be “retrained.” I even soaked the offending area in water and stuffed the boots with kraft paper while they dried. I waited a week, then tried to “train” the fold at the foot. But it was a “no-go.” The boots creased at the same bad places. In order to make those boots wearable, I had to put in a protective piece of plastic between my sock and the back of the inside of the boot to prevent rubbing. It is odd to have to do that, and wastes time. But it is the only way I can wear those boots without causing pain.
If you already have boots with a “bad break,” I am sorry — you can not “retrain” boots. Learn from my experience! When you get new boots, train them right. This is why I created this video, titled Training the Ankles of New Dehner Patrol Boots. I hope you find it helpful and learn from it.
Note: This is applicable to any kind of tall boot from motorcycle police boots to Buckaroo cowboy boots to fashion boots worn by women. Get the crease at the ankle broken in correctly — straight across — and wear your boots more comfortably for years to come.