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Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Break In My Work Boots?

work boots
timberland pro

Buying a well-made pair of work boots can be a serious investment. After spending time researching and finding the best fit for you, taking good care of your boots is essential to protect yourself and your investment.

There are a few common approaches to breaking in work boots, but also some controversial methods that may actually do more harm than good. Which ways are safest? Which are risky? Because ShoeBuy love boots and wants the best for our customers, we're joining the debate to help set the record straight.



Moisturizing using a cream, oil, or liquid may be the safest, most effective way to break-in your work boots. When leather is moistened, it bends and is more malleable. Rather than totally saturating the upper, a conditioner will encourage the leather to gradually shape to your foot. Be sure to purchase new pairs in advance of when you'll actually need to use them. For best results, apply the conditioner, let them air-dry, and wear your boots around the house a bit before taking them to work – your job's hard enough, so this'll make your first few shifts more comfortable.

Risky Shortcut:

direct heat

While some people suggest applying direct heat by using a hairdryer or even an oven (please don't!) to speed along the break-in process, simply air-drying is your best bet. Aside from the obvious blunders that could take place, intense heat dries out and even risks cracking and ruining new leather – that's no fun!

Chilling Results?

cold water

The cold-water treatment aims to stretch the leather. This risky method calls for filling plastic bags with cold water and inserting them into your boots. If you're brave enough to try this despite our advice, make sure the water bags are positioned where the boots pinch, then stick the boots in a freezer overnight. As the water turns to ice and expands, it stretches the boots. In the morning, remove your boots from the freezer and allow the ice to melt completely before removing. However, freezing temperatures can be detrimental to leather, so proceed with caution if attempting this method. Of course, if your boots aren't waterproof, this is even riskier.

Don't Get Burned:

hot water

Hot-water treatment, the military's advanced maneuver of choice, involves immersing new, waterproof boots into a bucket of warm water and allowing them to sit for about 30 minutes (or longer if the boots are made of finished leather). Our advice? Unless you're military-trained, avoid this method. But, if you insist: Once saturated, empty any excess water from the boots and then put them on (with socks, naturally!) for another 30 minutes to an hour. Just be careful, as leather can only handle a certain amount of moisture – if that level is exceeded, it may begin to warp, potentially making your new purchase un-wearable!

Key Takeaways:

key takeaways

We think the easiest and best way will always really be whatever's safest. So, simply moisturize your work boots with a leather conditioner, let them air-dry, and start breaking them in at home before wearing them on the clock. But the right boot care really depends on the material type and construction – please always be sure to read the manufacturer's warranty and care instructions before treating your boots.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

  Q. What's an upper?

A. The upper is the part of a boot or shoe above the sole...

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  Q. What's an insole?

A. The insole is the fixed inner sole of a shoe or boot where your foot bottom rests...

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  Q. What's an outsole?

A. It's the outermost layer of the sole (i.e., the exterior bottom)...

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  Q. What's a welt?

A. The welt is a strip of material, often leather, which is sewn around the edge of the outsole to attach the upper to the outsole of a pair of boots...

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  Q. What's a steel toe?

A. A steel-toe boot contains protective reinforcement made of steel...

Read more here

  Q. What are the criteria for safety shoes?

A. Most safety shoes have symbols on the outside to indicate the protection the shoe provides...

Read more here

  Q. What's a composite toe?

A. A composite toe is crafted out of materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, and rubber...

Read more here

  Q. What makes a shoe or boot slip-resistant?

A. Slip resistance is determined by a shoe's outsole design, material, and tread pattern...

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  Q. What's a rubber outsole?

A. A rubber outsole is when the bottom of a boot or shoe is made of rubber...

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  Q. What's a TPU outsole?

A. A TPU outsole is when the bottom of a shoe or boot is made from thermoplastic polyurethane...

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  Q. What's an EVA Midsole?

A. Suffer from back pain? Your footwear may be partially to blame. An EVA midsole helps to disperse weight and provide stability, learn more.

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  Q. What's a Steel Shank in Boots?

A. A shank is crucial to the functionality of your boots; find out why.

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  Q. Which Boots are OSHA-Approved?

A. Falling objects and other hazards are some of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Find out which boots will keep you safe.

Read more here

  Q. What's a Metatarsal Guard?

A. Depending on your line of work, you may want to invest in a metatarsal guard for added foot protection. Learn more.

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  Q. Why Would I Need Rubber Work Boots with a Steel Toe?

A. Working in wet conditions puts your safety at risk, find out why your standard rubber boot might not provide the protection you need.

Read more here

  Q. What's Thinsulate?

A. Did you know the same material used in sleeping bags could help keep your feet warm?

Read more here

  Q. Why is Chemical-Resistance Important?

A. Learn more about the different types of chemical-resistant boots to choose the right pair for your job.

Read more here

  Q. Why are PVC Materials Used for Boots?

A. Learn more about plastic polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that provides a broad range of chemical protection, to choose the right pair of boots.

Read more here

  Q. Why Should My Boot Be Waterproof?

A. You prefer to stay dry and warm, right? It makes your day (or night) at work seem shorter, and its healthier. Learn more.

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  Q. What is the Direct-Attach or Cementing Method?

A. This method creates lightweight, comfortable boots that mold to your feet. You'll feel the difference and thank us later! Find out more.

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  Q. What's Welting?

A. This method creates a durable, long-lasting boot. You might not even have to replace your pair once it starts to wear. Find out more.

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  Q. What's a Blake Welt?

A. Blake welting enhances flexibility given fewer layers of material used. Find out how it works.

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  Q. What's a Goodyear Welt?

A. Goodyear welting allows for more support and water-resistance due to extra layers. Find out how it works.

Read more here