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Breaking in a New Pair of Hiking Boots

I started breaking in a new pair of boots today. My current pair of Asolo TPS 520’s (left) is in need of resoling and some repair work by a qualified cobbler. I’ve hiked at least 1000 miles in them over the past 2 years and they’ve served me well.  That’s why my new pair is the same Asolo model (right) with green Superfeet insoles.

Old and New Hiking Boots
Old and New Hiking Boots

It only took me about 50 miles of hiking to break in my last pair of Asolos. I remember that time very clearly: my old Vasque Sundowners were shot and giving  me plantar fasciitis and I had about 2 weeks to break in a new pair of boots before a 10 day hiking trip to the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. To get ready, I hiked 2 hours every morning before work and the boots were nice and soft by the time my trip rolled around.

When you break in a pair of boots, your focus has to be on acclimating your feet to the boot as much as on the boot itself. For example, on my 6 mile hike today, I really paid attention to the sensations in my feet as I hiked.

  • How much were my feet sweating?
  • Were there any hot spots where my boot was rubbing against my foot?
  • Was my heel properly locked into the heel box of the boot?
  • How did the tongue feel?
  • Was my foot pronating more or less than normal?
  • How hard were the Superfeet inserts?
  • Could I feel my arch on the insert?
  • Was the traction better with a less worn sole?

When we hike, we block out a lot of these sensations because they’ve faded into the background, so it was refreshing to be forced to attend to them again.

It was warm out today and my feet were sweating. I stopped a few times and took my boots off to inspect my feet and let my socks dry out a bit. That’s a good thing in new boot because the leather and the insole will mold around your foot faster when they are warmer. The boots felt stiff but not uncomfortable. I also pronated a lot less than in my current boots due to the new insoles and stiff heel box.

Now it’s just a matter of time, miles and letting the breaking in process occur naturally. I can live with that.

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11 comments

  1. I m breaking a new pair of North Face multi sport winter boots. I have put in the usual green insert. In order to break it in I walk early mornings when the temp is sufficiently cold to use these boots,around a lake ( cement paved pathway). I m noticing that my back hurts slightly, is this because of the cement path or is it something else.

    i love your blogs ..keep up the knowledge sharing

  2. No idea. I assume you are using a green superfeet insole. Have you used one before? Can you try to walk on earth instead of cement? you'll actually break the boot in better….

  3. called up northface and spoke to rei as well. Both of them told me it could be a manufacturing defect with the heel cup and asked me to return it.

    i think i m just going to go with a moutaineering boot. last month i tried out a couple of nepals, seems my feet are high volume so la sportiva is out for me

  4. Hi

    I just buy the same pair of boots in #9 (UK) or #9.5 (US), what size of insoles (superfeet greens)I must get for my boot. My left foot tend to supinate and my ankle suffer the consequences.

    Thank´s

  5. Joe (aka at least fo

    I'm prepared for the backlash, but I couldn't find where to ask a new question, and this one pertains to boots, so that's a plus for me, right?

    Anyway, I'm starting to get back into hiking after many years of being away. My problem is I have big, wide feet, 12 EEE or EEEE depending on the shoe. I'm having problems finding hiking boots that fit me. Any suggestions, I hate the thought of hiking in tennis shoes.

    Joe

  6. @Joe: I know here in Europe Meindl has some extra wide models such as the Bernina. Wouldn't know what US brands are suitable.

    However, insoles that slightly raise the bow of your foor can make your feet a little bit more narrow.

  7. Is it normal to develop blisters when breaking in boots?

  8. Hi, There is a British brand of walking boots called Altberg who do 7 different width fittings and also offer a customer service. There main products are full grain leather and are the only UK made boots on the market.

    I hope this helps

    Neil

  9. I bought a pair of Asolo boots & like the feel on the soles of my feet. However my little toes get squeezed, bruised & blistered. Can you effectively stretch the toe box area of the boot. I went on a 9 mile hike, maybe I rushed the break in process?

  10. I’m breaking in my Scarpa Manta boots.

    I will admit, they are ever so slightly too big for me (UK 3). However I am a UK 2,so finding a winter boot in my size is quite literally impossible.

    I’ve probably had about 20 miles in them. The first 10 my feet were aching- probably because I did it in one lot on Goatfell and North Goatfell on Arran.

    The 2nd 10 was up Ben Nevis,not so bad.

    Do you think something like a memory foam insole will help?

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