We build boots for the long haul with quality leather hides that are meant to endure. When treated well, our styles are designed to last generations and every break-in period is unique to the wearer. How they break in depends on a wide range of factors, from individual foot shape, to last profile, leather type, and climate. We're committed to delivering a convenient and exceptional experience with every product we make, so we wanted to give a rundown of some tried-and-true tricks for making your HELM break-in as comfortable as possible.
DON’T: Lace new boots all the way to the top
While we always recommend lacing new boots all the way up to the top eyelet while trying them on (this ensures your ankle is in the proper position to determine best fit), doing this during your initial break-in period can result in unnecessary chafing. During the first two weeks of wear, leave the top eyelet or speed hooks of higher profile boots (6-7 eyelets) unlaced. This adds some mobility and helps the leather to flex and contour. You can also apply leather conditioner to the top portion of the boot along the interior of the top eyelet if you need some additional softening.
DO: Take it slow
Quality hides take approximately two months for a full break-in, with leather starting to feel supple and soft after about two weeks of staggered wear. Our motto for break-ins here at HELM is slow is fast and fast is slow. Yes, you can wear your new boots all-day long straight out of the box and walk for miles and miles, but this won't lead you to foot nirvana. Oftentimes, a couple days of high intensity use in a brand new pair (provided you’re also in the correct size) will produce extra friction. Take it slow. Full grain leather contours naturally to the shape of your foot as the hide takes on oil and sweat over time. Your custom fit will arrive with patience and fortitude.
DON’T: Be afraid to oil the interior
All HELM leathers are hot-stuffed with waxes and oils as a part of our tanning process. Unless you live in an area with inclement weather, we recommend not treating the exterior of the boot with leather care products for the first two months. The best practice is to allow the waxes and oils from tanning to bloom out of the hide naturally. On the inside though, oil away! Treating your new HELM with a product like Huberd’s Shoe Grease or Oil can take approximately two weeks off your break-in time.
Always read the label and directions on your leather care products beforehand so you know how it will affect certain shades of leather, how long the product should be left on, and if you should wear gloves to protect your skin. Blackrock Leather N’ Rich is a family owned and American made product with an all-natural ingredient list. It's gentle for the leather it's applied to and is a great option for anyone with sensitive skin.
DO: Wear a technical sock
If you experience excess moisture in a new boot, our best suggestion is a technical sock. Wool is a great option because it's thermoregulating, and the yarns help your feet maintain an even body temperature. You can also look for additional Lycra content which wicks sweat and distributes moisture. You might be thinking that a wool sock sounds counterintuitive in springtime, but trust us - it’s a perennial favorite. A taller, technical sock will also keep your feet more protected, and try to avoid socks that are loose or cause extra slip. The more grip, the less friction. HELM socks are also a great option as they feature extra heel padding which is also preferred during break-in.
DON’T Mind the creasing
You may notice during the first few months of wear, one boot is creasing more than the other. Depending on your individual gait and lifestyle, this effect could be pronounced or it could be a non-issue. Members of our team often report more pronounced creasing on their driving foot (the foot you lead with during tasks tends to break-in faster). Creasing between both shoes will even out over the course of several months of wear.
DO: Protect your Heels
The heel cup of boots and shoes is often the toughest area to break in. Adding a heel grip to the interior during break-in can create a bit of extra cushion and added comfort. Place the grip just over the top of the heel cup seam before wear. The result should feel hugged and will minimize friction.
Another preventative measure guests at our brick and mortar swear by is preemptive use of Second Skin Bandages. Second Skin adhesives are designed to be worn until they fall off. If you’re prone to blisters or chafing, place a Second Skin bandage over the back of your heel before your first wear.
We hope all this information helps! For more information or to chat with us one-on-one send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org