How to Break In Red Wing Boots: The Only Tutorial You Need  

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Red Wing has been around since 1905. And since then, many different opinions about it have been roaming around. 

Some say you should walk out wearing the tightest Red Wing you can get. While many folks agree with this statement. Is it really true? 

The short answer is no. Just because you buy moc toe shoes that fit a bit snuggly doesn’t mean you should buy every other pair of boots like that. 

A general rule of thumb is your leave enough room inside so that you can move your toes quite comfortably. I mean, the fit should be snug but it shouldn’t stop all the blood from circulating to your feet. 

Either way, even if you buy the right size, it’s not over yet. You need to know how to break in Red Wing boots. 

Don’t worry about that. Leave it all to me- 

How to Break In Red Wing Boots? 

Breaking in Red Wing boots is nothing to be afraid of. All things considered, it shouldn’t take more than 4-5 weeks. And no, I’m not saying you have to wear them every single day of these 4-5 weeks to break in. 

Anyhow, here’s the scoop about it- 

  1. First Make Sure You Have the Correct Size 

I know this is not a method of breaking in boots. But it’s important because if the boots are still new, you can still return them to the store. 

This is one of the most important tips. Because no matter what kind of shoes you are buying getting the right size is a must. 

Even if you manage to manage to break in a wrong-sized pair of boots, the fit will never be perfect.  Either it will be very tight or very loose. 

A wrong pair of shoes will let the money, time, and effort to break go in vain. Most importantly, the painful blisters will always stick around. 

  1. Wear Thick Socks 

While this method does require you to have a good fit. If it’s already tight, the thick socks are going to suffocate your feet. You will break in the boots faster but the painful blisters that come with it aren’t worth it. 

There are thick wool socks available online. Or you can simply buy them at the local store. Either way, this is a method you should follow right from the beginning. 

  1. Condition Your Red Wing Boots 

Remember, this is no quick solution. You can’t expect to see the results immediately. Conditioning leather boots are only a part of the basic maintenance process. 

However, it’s also true that it helps to loosen the fibers of the leather which essentially plays a part in the break-in process. 

The rules are simple. Apply the conditioner and leave them like that for a few hours. Whatever you do, don’t overdo it. You don’t want your Red Wing boots to drench in leather conditioner. 

  1. Use Boot Stretchers 

The safest and the most efficient method there is. The only problem is boot stretchers are a bit expensive. But the good things in life will always cost you something. 

Although there are affordable boot stretchers too that you can get only for a few bucks. 

Please don’t damage your Red Wing boots by inserting the boot stretcher in the wrong way. That said, here’s how to use boot stretchers on your Red Wing boots-

  • Put in the boot stretcher when it’s not expanded. The same goes for calf stretchers
  • Make sure the end of the stretcher reaches the toe area of your Red Wing boots. For calf stretchers, DO NOT go all the way down to the sole. Just stay in the calf section. 
  • Continue expanding the boot stretcher until the leather shows enough resistance. Don’t be afraid, your Red Wing boots won’t tear or split. Otherwise, it won’t stretch. 
  • Leave your boots for a minimum of 8 hours. It’s better to leave them like that overnight. However, 8 hours is a minimum. 
  • You can stretch more but give your boots some breathing time. Give them 8 hours of break and continue again if you’re not satisfied with the stretch. 

Related: Red Wing Blacksmith vs Beckman: Unraveling the Best Boot for You

Tips for Buying Boot Stretchers

  • While it costs more money, you should still buy boot stretchers in pairs. If not, the other one’s just going to sit there doing nothing. But then again, if you can afford the time, go ahead. 
  • Shoe stretchers and boot stretchers are DIFFERENT. Shoe stretchers don’t have a long handle. Although you can use both for breaking in these boots. 

If you want quick results, then you will be fond of this hack. Your boots will be instantly soft and loose when you will use a shoe stretcher on them.  

  1. Wear the Boots at Home(NOT for a Prolonged Period)

Leather boots take time to break in properly. Personally, I’ve never had a pair of boots broken in before 1-1.5 months. And that’s for the boots I plan on wearing on a regular basis. 

If you only want to wear the boots on special occasions, it will take more time. If you want a natural breaking-in process, there’s no way to rush it. 

A lot of people wear their new boots on a constant basis. And by constant, I mean they don’t take off the boots until they go to bed. 

Don’t do that. 

In fact, you shouldn’t even wear new boots for two days straight. While you might not see it, there’s a lot going on behind the curtains. 

The boots need some time to breathe. Long story short, it’s a repetitive process that you have to do with a sufficient amount of breaks. 

One thing you can do is, wear the boots for some time and walk around your house. This way, your shoes will be stretched and lose stiffness.

  1. Stuff Newspaper or Paper Towels Inside 

The newspaper method is as easy or inexpensive as it gets. Although you can combine this method with a boot stretching spray/leather conditioner and increase its efficiency. 

  • Apply a leather conditioner on the inside of the boots. If possible, try to use a boot stretching spray. 
  • Don’t leave the boots to dry. You’d want to proceed with the next step as soon as possible.  
  • Now start shoving newspapers or a towel inside the boots. 
  • Some people suggest using damp newspapers. But that can leave torn-up pieces inside the boots. And I’m not sure if anyone would like to clean that up. 
  • But you’re clear to use a wet towel as that probably won’t leave excessive lint. 
  • After 4-5 hours, the boots should be stretched out a little bit. While they might not be properly broken in yet, you can always repeat the process overnight. 

What NOT to Do When Breaking In Red Wing Boots? 

There are a few things you should avoid when working leather boots. These ‘quick’ solutions have been around the internet poisoning the community. Whatever you do, make sure to avoid these methods- 

Use Hairdryers or Any Sort of Heat 

You know heat from a hairdryer does stretch Red Wing boots pretty fast. But it also dries out all the moisture from the leather. 

And this is where most people suffer. They go overboard eventually ruining their Red Wing boots with cracks. 

So, when you’re using the hairdryer method, do take some breaks in between. And for the best results, combine it with a leather stretching spray. 

However, the best approach would be to completely disregard this approach. It’s your boots that will suffer in the long run. Avoid this and your boots will thank you. 

Dunk the Boots in Water and Keep Them There 

This is probably the most dangerous thing you can do to your Red Wing boots. It’s not even acceptable if they are age-old boots and you just want to wash them. 

But you want to stretch or break them in so that you can still keep wearing them, right? 

Well, if that’s the case. Don’t submerge your Red Wing boots in water. Just keep it away from water. That’s it. 

Apply Rubbing Alcohol 

I know what you’re going to say. Shoe stretching sprays are basically rubbing alcohol. So, why am I against it? 

Well, it’s just my personal opinion. I don’t like to put something on my leather boots that dry them out from the very core. 

If you want to use those sprays or even rubbing alcohol, it’s your choice. I’m not saying your boots will be obliterated the very moment it touches alcohol. But there are consequences you’ll be facing in the long term. 

The Bottom Line 

Anyway, that’s been it. Hope now you know all there is to know about how to break in Red Wing boots. The internet’s filled with wrong information. Don’t believe everything you see. 

The bottom line is you can always trust Bootpedia to provide you with the truth. Until then, adios!

Richard Nelson

Richard is the Head of Content here at Bootpedia. From an early age, leather boots have been a passion for him. So, he thought why not share his knowledge with the rest of the world? 

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