Someone searched on the internet and was directed to my “How to Wear Cowboy Boots page on my website. The question was, “what to do when you buy a new pair of cowboy boots?”
This is a good question. Here is what this long-term boot-wearing guy recommends:
1. Unpack the boots from the box that they came in carefully. Look them over for any blemishes or damage. Check the insides, too. Look for the size markings in both boots and make sure that is what you ordered. (It is rare, but sometimes boots of different sizes are shipped, or the boots were seconds or damaged in transit.)
2. Reach down inside the boot and remove any wadded up tissue or cardboard spacer that may have been crammed inside the toe of each boot. (Nothing like discovering that the hard way! Ouch!)
3. Keep all of the packing materials inside the box, just in case you have to pack the boots up again to return them.
4. Clean the boot with a lintless soft cloth. Sometimes boots stored for months or years arrive dirty.
5. If necessary or if you want to, polish or shine the boots using materials recommended by the manufacturer. Paste wax works okay on cow leather, but is not the right choice for exotic skins such as snake, alligator, or ostrich. For those, you should apply exotic leather conditioner instead (search the term to find it and where to buy it either locally or on-line.) Furniture polish works for boots with a plastic top coat — like All American Patrol Boots, Dehner patrol boot shafts, or Chippewa “Hi-Shine” engineer boots. Use the right product for the right application. (If you are not sure what to use, write to me to ask.)
6. I recommend to break in all boots by hand at first. Some of you have seen my video on “training the ankle of Dehner Boots” (available here). I suggest doing this with all boots, including cowboy boots. Just insert one hand into one boot and use the other hand to bend the back of the boot shaft backwards, so it forms a straight bend where the shaft meets the foot at the ankle. Bend the boot forward and do the same thing. Then bend the boot back and forth until you see gentle creases along the back and the front of the boot. As you walk in the boots, this will be where the boots will crease naturally.
7. Pull on a quality pair of socks made of a blend of cotton, wool, and acrylic fibers.
8. Pull on your boots. Like most guys, pull your jeans up, pull on the boot, and then pull the jeans leg down over the boot. Optionally, you can tuck your jeans into your boots (explained on the how-to guide).
9. Most new cowboy boots have a smooth leather sole. Be careful walking on carpet or on rain-slick sidewalks — it is very easy to slip and fall until the soles develop enough wear to provide traction.
10. Walk around wearing your new boots. Walk on a sidewalk or pavement to help break in the soles. Walk up and down stairs to help break in the foot and the shafts. Just walk in your boots — about four hours and the boots should be fully broken in (give-or-take, depending on the thickness of the boot, whether it is lined with leather or not, and a few other factors.) Generally, the more stiff a boot feels in step #6, the longer it will take to break in.
Life is short: enjoy new boots broken in well!