How do I make my boots fit? They hurt my feet

Discussion in 'The Haberdashery' started by verdict, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. I bought a pair of Red Wing boots a few months ago, and while I like the way they look, every time I wear them my feet hurt a lot.

    I feel like it's too tight in some places, and the boot is just too "hard" and my feet take some damage. How do I make the boot looser? I should probably look into thick socks as well?

    Also, the bottom white part of the boot gets dirty easy, and it doesn't come off with the shoe cleaner you can buy in stores. What can I use to clean it? How can I keep the boot shiny and clean?

    Please keep in mind I'm in a college dorm, and I don't have a lot of stuff laying around like that, but I will buy if necessary, because I did spend quite a lot of money on these boots. More than I usually would, anyway.
  2. Sounds like they are too small/tight.

    Thick socks are the norm for boot break in, but won't help much if they are too small. Usually a liner sock with a pair of wool hiking type is good for break in.

    You might take them to a shoe repair and have them stretched out a bit so you can fit in them with some thicker socks.

    You can also buy a liquid that helps stretch.

    Forget about cleaning the bottom of those soles.
  3. +1
  4. It sounds like they may be too small. Otherwise wear them for a couple of weeks and suck it up. That is what one pair of my redwings took. The white soles are just screwed. They will turn black and there is really nothing long term you can do that I have found. It is the style of sole.
  5. dpm802

    dpm802 Contributor

    If you bought those from a RedWing corporate store, they will keep them "tuned up" for free. That involves cleaning, polishing, conditioning, water-proofing, and new laces as often as you want to bring them in, and leave them at least 24 hours for the chems to dry.

    If you didn't get them from a corporate store, then you can take these to a commercial cobbler, and pay through the nose for those same services. Or buy the stuff you need and do it yourself.

    As for the fit ... did you get your feet measured before you bought them? And did you remember to buy them late in the day, after you've been on your feet for several hours?

    You might be able to stretch them out, but if you've been wearing them for several months and they're not comfortable yet, they probably never will be.

    An alternative solution is to take a loss on these shoes, and go buy a new pair. You might be able to sell them to a friend or maybe put up a sign on a dorm bulletin board, or put them on Craigslist. Either way, you'll get back a fraction of what you spent on them.

    But a pair of shoes that hurt when you wear them is costing you more than just money. Good shoes are important, and spending a little more on quality footwear (that FITS PROPERLY) will pay you big dividends in the long run.
  6. My Loake Braemers took 2 years to break in. I didn't wear them very much at all as every time I did I got bleeding feet. Now they are fine, fit like gloves and look wonderful. Some shoes (the original DMs for instance) are a rite of passage to get moulded to your feet. I suggest you wait until the mid-morning and spend 15 mins or so with a reasonably thin pair of socks, just finding out whether they do fit you. Do your toes have 1/4 inch or more free space at the ends? Is the whole width of your foot within the bounds of the footbed? Is the bone at the very top of your feet (forget the name) being actively pressed down upon? If the answer is no to all of these, your boots fit and you just need to make it a longterm project.
  7. My feet are halfway between an E width & EE width. The local cobbler ner me sells a small spray bottle with a substance that you spray inside the shoes/boots & for me it stretches them just enough in the right places. What you do is spray it inside the footwear & walk around in then until dry.
  8. I have those boots. They took 2 weeks of 12 hours work days to break in, but now they are as comfortable as my Asics. If they feel too small across the toes, mine actually stretched some. I wear a 10 E in Allen Edmonds and a 10 EE in New Balance. With these, I got a steep discount on some 10 D's so I tried them. Hot sweaty feet are one of the best ways to break them in. However, if they feel too short there's nothing you can do but buy a largers size. As for cleaning the bottoms, I use 409 about once per year just to get them back in good shape. I also use saddle soap followed by Obenauf's to keep the leather clean and water resistant (Obenauf's will soften the leather up a little too).

    You can research the break in procedure for military boots if you want to expedite the process. It involves soaking them in hot water followed by wearing them around until they are completely dry. I've never done this, but I bet my feet would have appreciated on these. That's the drawback to heavy leather boots that are made to last a decade or more; the leather wears like iron for the first week or two.

    You did the right thing by investing in good boots. Don't let this discourage you. Worst case scenario, if you find that these just won't work I'm sure there's some folks who would take these off your hands on the BST so you can try a new size.

    I've never tried the spray mentioned here but it sounds like a possible solution too(?).

    Also, scottish steve gave some pretty good guidelines to determine if these are ever going to work.
  9. With outdoor boots an old trick is to get them wet, e.g. by walking in wet grass, and keep them on until they dry. Doing this repeatedly moulds the boots to your feet. Not sure if that's a good idea with smart boots, but maybe spraying a light mist of water over the surface would be OK. Distilled water should prevent staining.

    Maybe spraying water inside the boots would also work.
  10. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Did you try the boot on before buying? (Or is this an internet thing?)

    If I understand you correctly, the boots are generally the right size (it's not a 'these boots are too small' problem) but there are a couple spots where the boot and your foot don't see eye to eye. Sounds like this is a 'break-in period' problem, especially combined with the "just too hard" comment.

    So, if that's the case you need to spend some time breaking them in. Wear them for a bit every day, going a bit longer and longer each time. If you can find a time when you will not be walking much for a long period of time (say, studying in your dorm or at the library, &c) then wear them then ... the sweat & oils from your feet will help soften the boots, without the pain of a lot of walking.

    Of course, if the boots are actually too small, you have a different problem. :sad:
  11. I agree that you shouldn't worry about keeping the soles clean. However, if you insist on cleaning them up, an old toothbrush and some toothpaste works better than the shoe cleaners at the store for my sneakers...might as well try it.
  12. You don't need to even soak the boots, we took ours into the showers with us. Stick them in the corner of the shower while you shower 2-3 days in a row, the humidity/steam will stretch the leather just a bit each time and it'll form-fit to your foot.

    I've broken in around 10 pairs of leather combat boots before we changed styles, and it always worked. A thicker boot sock would be good, but you don't have to get the super-thick type.

  13. ^This is what I do. Get them Soaked and wear them till they dry. Works every time. :)
  14. put on a liner sock and then a fairly heavy wool sock. stand in a bucket of water (don't just hose them) until they are totally saturated. Then take a long walk until they are dry. if you take them off before they are dry they will just shrink. you may need to change your socks out a few times. absolutely nothing sucks as bad a tight shoes.
  15. You could oil them up with some mink oil and go for a long hike the mink oil will really soften the leather and it should stretch a bit, in fact most boot makers say it over softens them and they can stretch too much but in your case it could be just what the doctor ordered, note that they will be much darker after treatment and will stay that way.
  16. Yeah the foam soles are very comfy but they sure don't last long, I find my heels wearing quickly, I had mine resoled with Vibram hard rubber soles. you can use a variety of chemicals to clean the soles, I would stay away from solvents though they can break down the foam, scrubbing bubbles might do the trick.
  17. I bought these in person, but I just tried them on with no socks, and honestly, they're a little small. They're comfortable when I put them on, but after the pressure from walking it starts to hurt.

    Wow, that's really cool. So are you saying you broke in every pair using this method? Because I'm going to try it. That's really cool though, I was not aware the military issued leather boots like that. Do they still issue leather ones now?

    Nobody has said shoe trees yet. My Dad uses them for his leather dress shoes. Will they not work for boots?

    I need to loosen them up now, because when winter comes, all I'm going to be wearing are my boots.

    No, my toes do not have the free space, and no my foot sort of bulges out from the boot. I guess they fit then. :001_tt2:
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
  18. DSB


    If the boots are too small, you should take them to a cobbler to be stretched. Shoe trees will not stretch a boot -- they only help to maintain the current size. If they're truly the wrong size, then even a cobbler can only do so much -- you may need to sell them and buy a larger boot that fits. Good luck -- painful shoes can ruin your day.
  19. I think ScottishSteve has a typo in his post.
    You should have room for your toes and your foot shouldn't bulge out or they are too small.

    For the future young man, always try on shoes or boots with socks you will wear them with. No respectable shoe sales person should have let you do otherwise.
  20. dpm802

    dpm802 Contributor

    I've got a new pair of Elevator shoes that fit great when I'm standing or sitting, but when I walk, they rub me raw, mostly where the tongue meets my instep, and where the top of the shoe meets my ankle.

    Has anyone ever used moleskin for shoes that rub in certain places?

    I know it has an adhesive side and fuzzy side, but do you put the adhesive on your feet, or does it fit against the inside of the shoe, so that the fuzzy side is next to your feet?

    If not moleskin, is there some other product I should be shopping for?

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