It is imperative every warrior selects the best fitting equipment possible. This means the right helmet size, the correct armor, proper fitting trousers, etc., but among the most important and often overlooked (especially among boots), is the humble boot.
The most important thing about breaking in boots is finding ones that fit properly before you walk a hundred yards in them. They should fit well, with zero pinching or discomfort when laced up tight. If you don’t know your actual boot size, go to the store and get fitted. Do it in a couple different places. Finding out your true, no-shit boot size goes a long way here, especially when mail ordering or buying online.
As much as you want to sport your new Cadillacs around base, in the field or on the trail the second you tear the box open—do not. First check the fit. Wear the socks you plan on spending 16 hours or the next three days in. Lace the boots up tight. Walk around the room. Squat like that dead-eyed chick you watched at the donkey show. Do some pushups or mountain climbers. If you feel discomfort or sliding, mail them back immediately or return them. Do this even if it means paying the postage, or driving back to the store.
If you just make do with a pair of boots and falsely believe you “just need to stretch them out” or “fully break them to fit you,” you’re wrong. You will surely, sorely have pus-filled, infected blisters and you can bet doc will be out of moleskin. You will regret it. If they fit well, then good for you! You have the uncommon virtue of common sense, or just some very good luck.
All boots will need to truly be broken in. Think of all the other things you’ve “broken in” in your life. Good mental picture from memories past? Maybe spring break, post deployment leave, a weekend at Myrtle or Pacific beach? Wonderful. This is going to be the exact opposite. The only way for the leather to stretch and conform to your foot is by wearing them. When I was a kid, one mean ole’ steely eyed bastard used to make me break his boots in for him. Yes, he was my beloved war-vet grandfather.
His technique of breaking in clodhoppers is the one I still use today. Go for a fucking walk.
Not just any little old stroll though. No, this walk is going to be a fairly shitty one that lasts all day. First, lace your boots up tight and go find a body of water. A stream, a creek, a river, the ocean, a pond, the wishing fountain at the mall, and of those will do. Just go find one and stand in it. If you have waterproof Gore-Tex types, make sure the water is deep enough to flood the boots from the top down. Stand there like a moron for twenty minutes, or walk around in the water. Either way, your journey doesn’t begin until your boots are wetter than your sister at a homecoming game.
Now with that shame still in mind, walk. Walk damn you! Walk until those five pound bitches are dry. At the very least, hump a few miles. Walk however far you want, on whatever terrain you choose—but those soaky kicks are staying on. They stay on until they are dryer than Gersh Kuntman’s vagina.
Now, a lot of kinder, gentler civvie types might object to this sort of foot hazing, but I swear by it. It works a new pair in far more efficiently than by just slowly breaking them in over several weeks or months of weekend and off-duty use. Generally, the kinds of people who object to this method are those that don’t wear boots very often. If you only wear your cool-guy cruisers to the range, classes or Civil Air Patrol meetings, you’re going to get blisters on that epic one-day excursion.
Rest assured, if you fall into this category, your mom will have some hot cocoa waiting for you when your sorry ass slithers back home. For the rest of us who actually carry heavy rucks, walk a beat or hike more than just from the car to the office, it’s not going to be a big deal. Do it and get it over with. Just make sure you do it on your own time, and not right before or during something important like a raid, patrol, mission, deployment or war.
Once you’re done, stuff them full of newspapers and they’ll be dry in a day.
Oh, and if I catch you wearing side zip boots, I’ll choke-slam you.