How do you break in new walking shoes? Essential advice

William Adams
 min read

How do you break in new walking shoes? There’s nothing quite like the feel of new walking shoes, and it’s easy to succumb to the sensation of walking to the hills right away.

How do you break in new walking shoes? Essential adviceWith new shoes, this is not the best idea though. If you go for a long walk as soon as you bought them, you are more likely to get injuries and blisters.

As a general rule, it is never a good idea to to go on a long walk with brand-new walking shoes. Instead, slowly break in the walking shoes by wearing them indoors and on short walks to mold them to your feet, allowing your feet and ankles to be comfortable in the new shoes.

The following tips will help you break in new walking shoes wisely so they can adapt to your feet and you will feel more comfortable in them.

How do you break in new walking shoes?

These tips assume you have already bought a new pair of walking shoes. If you haven’t, make sure to first read our other article on How to buy the right walking shoes: Pro tips & guidelines

Start inside for an initial inspection

Put on your new walking shoes indoors first. Wear them during your daily activities and feel how they fit.

Do they pinch or do you get sore? At several (online) sports and retail outlets you can still exchange the shoes and even return them for free.

Wearing them inside first will prevent them from getting dirty. You can still return the shoes, but check the store policy before buying.

Always check whether the store offers a possibility to exchange the shoes and at what cost before buying any hiking shoes.

Also, find out if the shoes are suitable for your body weight, check here to compare walking shoes for obese walkers.

RelatedWalking to lose weight: Best tips to burn fat

Go outside for a short first walk

Once the shoes have been worn enough indoors, it’s time to go outside. After all, that’s what you bought them for.

Don’t go for a long-distance walk right away but start with a short walk.

Bring your old walking shoes if necessary. If you get really sore or blistered you can still put on your old walking shoes along the way.

Build up distances gradually

Did the shoes not give you any trouble on the first short walk? Then slowly build up your distance further.

While walking, feel carefully how the shoes fit.

Did they chafe? Do they provide adequate support? Do they also not give you any trouble in your legs or knees?

For any problems, consider insoles if you don’t already have them. A visit to a podiatrist is advised in such cases.

Stretch the shoes if needed

Are you experiencing pain in your toes? If so, stretching new shoes may offer a solution.

A cobbler can stretch leather shoes. However, it is important that this is done in the right way because otherwise the shoe may be damaged beyond repair.

With non-leather shoes, there is always a risk of the material tearing during stretching regardless of how careful you are.

Wear good hiking socks

You may have bought excellent hiking boots, but you can still develop symptoms such as blisters without the right hiking socks.

Therefore, always wear good socks, even in new hiking boots. Pay attention to the size and material of the hiking socks.

Take care of your new hiking boots

After your hiking boots have passed the first few miles with flying colors, you naturally want them to look good for as long as possible, both outside and inside.

Maintaining your shoes properly will make them last longer and also keep them water and dirt-resistant.

Clean your hiking boots after they get dirty and allow them to dry thoroughly after each hike.

Maintenance tips for hiking boots

Below we provide a few tips for maintaining and preserving your hiking boots:

Cleaning the exterior

First, clean the outside of the hiking boots with a brush and lukewarm (not hot) water.

This will remove dirt, such as sand and salt, from your soles and from the side and top of the shoe.

Polishing the inside of hiking boots

If your shoes are very dirty, it is helpful to clean the inside as well.

This will prevent a zoo of microorganisms from forming in your shoe and making your shoes smell unpleasant.

Clean the inside with lukewarm water and a little soap.

Never put your hiking boots in the washing machine as this can damage them.

Drying your hiking boots

Never let your shoes dry via a heat source such as a stove or hot air hairdryer, nor put them in the sun.

The high temperatures can damage the leather and cause the adhesive to come off.

Before drying:

  1. Open your shoes completely.
  2. Pull out the tongue of the shoe.
  3. Stuff your shoes with newspapers and put them in a warm but well-ventilated place.

The moisture from your shoes soaks into the newsprint. If you have shoes with a Gore-Tex interior, it is better to use kitchen paper instead of newspapers.

This is because the ink can clog the Gore-Tex layer and then your shoes cannot breathe.

You can speed up the drying process by regularly replacing the moisture-saturated newspaper with dry paper.

Don’t forget to take the wet paper out of your shoes again because otherwise your shoes will quickly start to smell.

Washing laces and insoles

Before you begin cleaning, always remove laces and loose insoles from your shoes.

Laces and insoles can be cleaned with a little soap. Especially rinse the insoles well with water. Allow laces and insoles to dry thoroughly before putting them back into your shoes.

Tending to hiking boots: Tips and Advice


Keep your hiking boots in a dry and well-ventilated place.

In this way, you keep the chances of mold developing in your shoes as low as possible.

And importantly, remember to put the insoles back in your shoe before you hit the road.


If you often hike in a wet environment, it is advisable to treat your shoes with a wax cream from time to time.

Never use oil or grease as this closes the pores of your shoe’s leather. The shoe can then no longer breathe.

Apply wax only to clean and dry hiking boots.

Impregnating hiking boots

Once your hiking boots have dried, you can care for the outside of your (leather) hiking boots with a care product (impregnation).

A variety of products are available at shoe stores. Impregnating the leather of your shoes reduces the amount of moisture and dirt that penetrates.

How do you break in new walking shoes? Conclusion

As tempting as it is to go the whole hog, you need to break in your shoes. Wear them with the right sort of hiking sock, and for the first few times, just wear them inside.

If you don’t have any issues, then start wearing them for short walks and increase the distance gradually.

About William Adams

I’m an engineer and a happy plus-size individual myself. I love to blog online if I can have a positive impact on the lives of others. I help other plus-size people with in-depth product guides to make shopping for products and services less stressful in their busy lives. Read More