Dr Martens are made from quality leather and constructed with expert techniques to produce long-lasting and sturdy footwear. This means that they can be a little stiff when you first take them out of the box. Leathers that are particularly hard-wearing such as Dr Marten’s smooth or crazy horse ranges can take a little more time to feel comfortable. The general break-in time for a pair of DM boots is roughly 3-6 weeks. This can vary depending on your break-in techniques, how often you wear them and the type of leather boot you choose. See our Dr Martens guide for more information on the types of leather you can find in the Doc Martens range.
Use a Leather Balm
One of the best ways to soften your new Dr Martens shoes is by using a leather balm or oil. Work them into the leather on both the outside and inner sides of your new boots to help them become more supple. These wax balms are also great for protecting the leather too.
Thick Socks or Padding
This one may be obvious but it is one of the best options when it comes to breaking in your boots. Wearing thick socks that don’t slip or choosing some kind of padding will be very helpful to protect your feet when you start wearing your boots. For extra protection, if you want to wear your shoes right away, use blister plasters in the areas where the shoes may rub such as the ankle or toes.
Some have even suggested wrapping a plastic bag around your foot before placing it into the shoe for extra protection, however, we think a pair of thick socks or heel pads will be perfectly efficient.
Heat with Hairdryer
Using heat seems to be a popular method with breaking in Doc Martens. For this method, we recommend using a hair dryer or placing them near a heater in order to warm up the leather. Some say that this method helps the fibres to relax, giving the leather more movement and making it supple. Be careful not to heat the boots up with too high a heat and avoid directly applying the heat to the leather so that it does not damage it. Using a hair dryer on a medium setting may be enough to warm the leather so that it better shapes to the contours of your feet without damaging it.
Some people have even attempted putting their new Docs in the oven for a short period of time in order to wear in their Doc Martens. Whilst using heat may be an effective method, we do not recommend putting your boots or shoes in the oven due to the fire risks as well as the potential of damaging your footwear.
Walking in Your Dr Martens
This may be another obvious option but it is one that is the most efficient. When you get a brand new pair of DMs, it is best to start off slow when wearing them in. Wear them inside your house and walk around in them for short periods of time, slowly increasing the amount of time you spend in them. When they feel comfortable enough, start wearing them for short periods of time outside or go for short walks. The leather will stretch over time and will naturally adapt to your feet the more you wear them but we understand that this is a process that can be slow going to start with.
Stuff Your Boots
You can soften your Dr Martens by using the stuffing method. Take some newspaper and stuff it tightly into the shoe so that the leather will be stretched and leave it overnight. Alternatively, you can use shoe trees to maintain the shape when you’re not wearing them.
We’ve also heard that you can fill your new boots with bags of water and then freeze them to create a stretch. However, we do not recommend using this method as it could lead to damage or water getting inside the construction.
Alternatively, you could try removing the insole to provide more room for your feet to breathe. Please note that not all Dr Martens insoles are removable so this is not always an option. It can also make them tougher on the soles of your feet as there is less padding.
Bend or Manipulate the Leather
One sure-fire way to create some movement in your boots is to bend them. Bending your boots or working the leather may help remove some of the tension in the material. Whilst this method can create creases in the leather, this is likely to happen over time anyway the more you wear them.
Soften with a hammer
If no other method seems to be helping to break in your DMs, there are some more extreme options available. Taking a hammer to the heel or back of your boot could help to make the material less stiff. It is recommended to cover your boot in a towel and then hammer the back of the shoe where it is stiff. This may only take a few blows so be careful not to damage the shoe. We also recommend that you avoid hammering the toe area if you choose this method.
As we know, temperature can play a factor in breaking in Doc Martens so why not try this hot water method? Whilst wearing your Dr Martens, submerge them halfway in hot water to relax the leather. Be sure to tie the laces tight so no water gets into the boot or shoe. Water can be damaging to certain leather so be careful when using water to break in your boots.
Choose the Right Leather
Choosing the right shoe from the get-go is one of the best ways to ensure your DMs journey is a good one. If you don’t want the wait of breaking in your DMs, it may be worth choosing footwear with softer and more pliable leathers. Look out for Dr Marten's soft leathers Virginia or Nappa for a less stiff material.
As vegan leather is a synthetic material, it may not be as hard to break in as its animal leather counterparts so this could be a more suitable option for you.
We get just how exciting it can be to get new shoes, particularly Dr Martens, and whilst you may be desperate to start wearing them right away, patience is the key to success with Doc Martens footwear. Be sure to give your feet plenty of rest if you’re determined to wear them frequently. If after some time the boots still don’t feel comfortable and you’ve tried breaking them in, it may be worth considering getting the next size up to give your feet more room.
Do you have a tried and tested method of breaking in your Dr Martens boots; let us know over on our socials!
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