How to Break in Clarks Desert Boots: Here Are 9 Effective Tips

Hey there! is supported by its readers. Please assume all links are affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of our links we make a small commission from Amazon. Thank You!

I don’t have to convince anyone on how great a pair of Clark’s Desert boots look. From comfort to versatility, they managed to check almost all of the boxes(I mean, you really shouldn’t wear them for industrial work purposes). 

But no matter what you’ll be using them for, the boots need to be formed into the shape of your feet. In other words, you need to know how to break in Clark’s Desert Boots.  

While most people don’t have a hard time breaking in these boots, it’s not uncommon. 

It happens to the best of us. Sometimes a pair of boots just don’t want to be broken in. This is where I come in. I’ll show a few tips and tricks that’ll help you to break in these boots faster than you can imagine. 

So, get ready to say goodbye to painful blisters. Sit down in your chair with a cup of coffee and start reading. Because you’ll want to know this- 

How to Break in Clark’s Desert Boots: 1 and 3 Are My Favorite 

The same old method of wearing enough time until your boots break in hasn’t worked out that well for you. So, it’s time to try something new. Some of the methods I’ll be explaining might sound outrageous. 

But trust me on this, all these methods are tried and true. Although you do have to pick out ones that are suitable for you. My advice would be to try out the DIY ones first and see how they work out. 

Otherwise, the professional(nothing professional, it only means you need to spend some dough). That said, here are the methods- 

  1. Use Boot Stretching Sprays 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If your boots are made out of leather, using a leather stretching spray(FootFitter really makes the best leather stretching spray) is the best thing you can get. Well, the main component is alcohol. 

However, there are added components to make it safer for leather. I hope you didn’t forget that alcohol and leather don’t mix. But the best part about it is that boot stretching sprays are dirt cheap. 

They work miraculously fast and the process is as easy as it gets. Whether they’re waxed or not, they will get the job done. 

  • Start spraying on the insides of the boots. 
  • You don’t have to drown the leather in the spray. Just get them damp enough and that’ll do the job. 
  • After spraying, leave the boots to dry for a couple of hours. This is when the spray will start doing its magic. 
  • Finally, try the boots to see if they are broken in yet. 
  • The process might take a whole week. So, do it at least 2-3 times. And give enough breaks in between. You need to let the boots breathe. 
  1. Get the Sizing Right 

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. Boot Stretcher 

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 Desert boots by inserting the boot stretcher in the wrong way. That said, here’s how to use boot stretchers on your Clark’s Desert 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 Desert 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 Desert 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. 

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. Go Slow 

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. 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. Try Rubbing Alcohol 

This is not something I advise doing on a regular basis. If you didn’t know, alcohol tends to dry out leather, which eventually leads to awful cracks. 

One crack and the boots can go out of commission. So, you got to be real careful not to damage the boots. And here’s how you can do it- 

  • Apply alcohol on the areas where the boots feel tight. Or you can apply it all over the boots. 
  • After leaving them to dry for a couple of minutes, wipe them even though there won’t be any alcohol left on there.  
  • And if the boots seem a bit dried out, there’s always the option to recondition them. 
  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. 
  1. Hairdryer

A hairdryer can help you a lot in stretching your new pair of boots. You can soften the part of your shoes that is causing discomfort such as tightness or pinching.  

What you do is simple- 

  • Wear two thick wool socks. Stick to one, if two’s a bit too much for you
  • Start blow drying with a hairdryer with heat and continue for 3-5 minutes for each session. 
  • Always keep a distance of 6-8 inches to avoid any heat damage  
  • The heat will soften the leather and allow it to reshape for the extra width or length. 
  • It might not work too well the first time. So, keep trying for at least a week. If you’re still not satisfied with the results, you can follow other methods. 

The best part is it is not going to cause any damage to the leather of your boots. But beware, excess heat is never good leather material. Needless to say, you need to take breaks in between the heating process. 

And the ideal thing would be to apply leather conditioner after you’re done. No matter what I or you say, the moisture will be reduced. And it’s your duty to replenish it if you want to increase the longevity of the boots. 

  1. Blister Plasters

Yes, the quickest and easiest solution to breaking in your desert boots is to get blister plasters. Blister plaster can be a game-changer as it will help you break into your new tough boots without causing you any kind of agony. Trust me, once you start using it is going to be your best friend.

So, What’s the Best Method to Break in Clark’s Desert Boots? 

If you ask for my opinion, I’d always stick with the boot stretcher. It’s the safest and most efficient method out there. And a man should own a pair of these. Especially if you wear high-ankle boots a lot. 

On the other hand, the leather stretching spray method is quite reliable too. But then again, the stretching spray unleashes its full potential only when you team it up with a boot stretcher. 

What Not to Do When Breaking in Clark Desert’s Boots? 

Leather boots need a bit of extra care. That’s not news. But what important is to know what you shouldn’t do. There are plenty of myths on the internet on how to break in leather boots. 

But a lot of them sound awful like crap. That said, here are the things you should avoid when breaking in a pair of Clark’s Desert boots- 

Keep Your Laces Loose

If you keep your laces loose, your feet will have more room to move and will break in faster. A lot of people tend to think this way and they couldn’t be any more wrong.

The truth is, that extra space is no good at all. In that sense, bigger-sized boots should break in a lot faster. 

But in reality, the opposite happens. When you keep your laces, the boots won’t be able to figure out the size of your feet. In other words, the boots won’t conform to the shape of your feet. 

Submerge in Water 

This is probably the most dangerous thing you can do to your Desert 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 Desert boots in water. Just keep it away from water. That’s it. 

Apply Heat for Too Long 

You know heat from a hairdryer does stretch Clark’s Desert 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 Desert 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. 


Do Clark’s Desert boots feel tight at first?

These boots stay pretty much true to size. However, they will keep somewhat tight when you first wear them. That’s just how leather boots work. There’s no reason to get worked up on that. 

How long does it take for Clark’s Desert boots to stretch?

It takes around 4 weeks for a new pair of Clark’s Desert boots to complete the break-in period. However, it can come down to 2 weeks if you wear them every single day. On the other hand, with manual stretching, the time depends on what method you’re following. 

Do Clark’s Desert boots fit wide feet?

Clark’s Desert boots are found in a variety of sizes including half sizes. While there isn’t any additional sizing for wide feet. The usual boots should fit you perfectly fine. With enough time and wear, the boots will conform to the shape of your feet. 


The breaking-in journey is never fun. You just want to get it over with. But at times, the boots just don’t want to listen. I hope this guide has helped you to know about all the methods. 

The next time, you wonder how to break in Clark’s Desert boots, I do hope this guide will come to your mind. Anyways, if there’s anything you feel like adding, the comment box is always open for you. 

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? 

Leave a Reply