6 ways to Make your Steel-Toe Boots More Comfortable

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No matter how you see it, stainless steel is a sturdy but heavy material. And as it’s ‘stainless’, it’s been a number one choice of material for making safe boots such as stainless-steel toe boots.

Needless to say, you need a proper fit to blend in with the weight. But the first few days of breaking in can be painful. So, How To Make Steel Toe Boots More Comfortable?

First of all, ensure you get the right size with a quality wool sock. Then use leather oil or a shoe extender to fast-forward the breaking-in period. If it’s not comfortable enough, try out insoles and tongue pads.

How To Make Steel Toe Boots More Comfortable? (6 methods)

It’s time to reveal what I have in store for you. Let’s get into it-

method #1 – Choose the Right Size of Boots

For a comfortable fit, there’s no alternative to having the right-sized boot. A larger-sized boot will enable your feet to move around a bit too freely. That’s when you get irritating blisters due to friction.

On the other hand, a tighter fit won’t allow your feet to move at all. The reduced blood circulation will make you feel cramped. Chances are, you’ll have to ditch or change the boots.

method #2 – Break in the Steel Toe Boots

A newly bought pair of boots isn’t shaped for your feet yet. You need to give it some time to do that.

Here’s what you can do to get it done faster-

  • Take It Slow

The irony, huh? Well, a leather work boot does take around 80 to 100 hours for a full break-in. And as your feet don’t expand in the morning, you can wear them all day long. But it’s not the same when the sun’s gone down.

  • Keep a Second Pair for the Afternoon

You might want to wear your new boots all the time. But similar to a new relationship, you have to give it some time before jumping in. Confused? Well, Don’t worry.

The thing is your feet swell up in the afternoon. Without properly broken-in boots, you’re going to have a hard time keeping them on. That’s why you should keep another pair just for the first few days. 

  • Use Leather Oil

It’s products like Obenauf’s Leather Oil that save you from the pain of breaking in boots. Just give it a try and thank me later. Although be careful about white/light-colored leather as it may darken them.

  • Get Yourself a Cedar Shoe Tree

A cedar shoe tree might look simple but it’s one of the most effective ways to break in steel-toe work boots. Don’t worry about any damage, the leather can handle the pressure like it’s nothing.

method #3 – Get Some Steel Toe Socks or Wool Socks

A thick pair of socks will do too. But why settle for regular ones when you can get something that’s made specifically for this purpose? The added cushioning will give your feet the comfort it needs.

However, you should avoid cotton socks. Sure, they are comfortable but there’s not much cushioning. Instead, stick to wool socks or a blend of wool, anything wool works.

method #3 – Invest in Some Quality Insoles

In most cases, manufacturers won’t ship boots with top-notch insoles. What they give is just standard. It’s hardly going to cover the feet, eventually, leading to toe pain.

That said, invest in a good pair of insoles. As you can use them with different shoes too, they won’t be left unused.

method #4 – Tongue Pads Help Out a Lot

Tongue pads are an inexpensive solution to this problem. Simply cut out some tongue pads and add them inside. While it is a bit unorthodox, there’s no denying it works.

method #6 – Laced Boots Can Improve the Grip

If you already have a bad history with steel-toe boots, I’d suggest you opt for laced boots. It’s not really a solution but laced models can give you a much better fit, saving you from blisters. 

How Should Work Boots Fit?

As you can guess, the right size is the first priority for a comfortable experience. You can’t even expect the shoe to properly break without a good fit. Apart from finding out your boot size, here’s what you can do-

1. Walk with Both Boots on

When trying out new boots, don’t be afraid to try out both boots. Tie the boots normally and walk how you walk. Although it doesn’t end there. Along with walking, try to do hopping, sprinting(but make sure to avoid knocking over the employees), and knee raises.

But when you do walk, check out for these things-

  • The two sides of your feet shouldn’t feel any kind of pain
  • Your toe should stay in its place. Sliding forward or hitting the front part of the boot are clear signs of a wrong-sized boot.
  • Make sure there’s a gap of about 1-inch in the toe area
  • Your heel shouldn’t move so much that it comes out of the boot.

2. Check If You’ve Got Any Red Spots

Your feet are going to thank you for a well-fitted pair of boots. But if the fit is not right, you’ll find red spots in certain places. That’s why you stay seated when trying out new boots. Walk around, and see if it gives you any trouble or not.

3. Exceptional Cases

Everyone’s different. So, don’t worry if your feet are shaped a bit differently. But there are two key factors you should remember-

  • Don’t Size Up for Wide Feet

People with wide feet are usually more comfortable if they size up. However, the extra size comes back to haunt as blisters, heel slippages, and chafing. Even if your feet are wide, try to stick to your ideal size. The comfort will get better after the break-in period.

  • Buy Different Sizes If One Foot is Bigger than the Other

Some people have differently-sized feet. While this might be a problem for getting the right size, a lot of shops see this as a serious issue. So, explain the situation to them. I’m sure they’ll give you two different sizes.

Are your boots OVER FIT, or UNDER FIT? >> Check out the video below:

How Do I Stop My Boots from Hurting My Toes?

Until now, I’ve explained the most effective methods out there. However, there are a few unorthodox but useful methods-

Use Blister Patches

You could also opt for regular band-aids. But we all know these won’t hold in friction-heavy areas like your feet. You’re better off using blister patches. If the boots haven’t been broken yet, you can use these for a couple of days.

Although don’t make it into a habit. Your feet’ skin is supposed to stay free from any kind of glue.

Cut the Top Part of the Insole

If you’ve got a smaller size and can’t return them anyhow, you can try cutting off the top part of the insole. Trim it a little and insert it back. Needless to say, there will be more space in the front, giving your toes the space it needs.

Although you should go to a cobbler in case you worry about destroying the boots.

Apply Vaseline to the Area

Surprised? Well, as weird as it might seem, Vaseline actually works for this purpose. The petroleum in Vaseline softens the layer of leather, giving it a softer finish.

Even though it somewhat works. I’d say you better buy yourself a leather oil. I mean, they’re fairly cheap.

Replace the Steel Toe

Perhaps, the boots have a good, long life and it’s time to say goodbye. Worn-out steel-toe boots can make it really hard to wear them. But like most quality boots, these can also be repaired.

You just have to replace the steel toe. While you can try to do it yourself, a cobbler is going to do a much better job. If it costs less than half of the original price of the boots, always go for repairs.

Change the Boots If-

Sometimes, there’s no alternative to changing the pair. Whether it’s the wrong size or there’s another trouble, getting another pair might be the only solution for you-

  • The Toe Shape is Too Pointy

No matter how well you break in, you can’t change the toe shape of the boots. In such cases, the only thing you can do is return the shoes and ask if they can be replaced with a different model.

  • The Fit Isn’t Right for You 

You can’t magically change the size of the boots. But you can replace them if the boots aren’t worn off yet.

How to never get blisters again | Top 5 blister hacks >> Check out the video below:

How Should I Maintain My Steel Toe Boots?

Steel-toe work boots are made to last. And as they don’t come in cheap, you naturally have a responsibility to maintain them for longevity. Here are a few tips to follow-

Apply a Waterproof Spray/Wax

Your boots are going to face all sorts of weather conditions. And we all know how water damages leather over time. Unless you don’t want to reduce the life expectancy of your new boots, apply a waterproof spray or wax. The barrier created by these products will keep out anything from rain to snow.

Brush Off the Dirt After Each Wear

Keeping your work boots spotless is a close to impossible task. But you can clean the dirt. You don’t have to do much. Simply make a routine of brushing off the boots after the end of the day when you take them off.

Continue this and you’ll see how your boots thank you over the years with comfortable wearing experience and durability. Although don’t forget to clean the inside from time to time. You have no idea how much dirt can stay there.

Use Leather Conditioners from Time to Time

If you have leather boots, you need leather conditioners; it’s a given. Otherwise, the leather is going to lose its moisture over time. And eventually, the leather is going to get torn apart.

Never Depend on Only One Pair

You shouldn’t put all the stress into only one pair of work boots. Buy a second pair as soon as you can save up some money. Otherwise, your work boots are going to get damaged much faster.

Handy Hints: If you interested to know more guides about shoes, visit our other article about How To prevent toe holes in shoes?.

frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can steel-toe boots cause foot problems?

While some people blame steel-toe boots for problems such as bunions and blisters, the real culprit behind them is poor fitting. A well-fitted boot is going to have gaps in all the right places, keeping your feet comfortable at all times. But you will face problems if you can’t get the size right.

How do you stretch out steel-toe boots?

You can use proven methods like leather oil to DIY methods such as hairdryer heat to stretch out steel-toe boots. There are also stretching sprays that can do the job. But for the ideal results, your best choice is to get a cedar shoe tree.

Will steel-toe boots break in?

Steel toe boots can take up to 80 to 100 hours to break in. The fact that they have steel toes doesn’t affect the break-in period. However, you shouldn’t wear new steel-toe boots for more than 2-3 hours to avoid getting any blisters or chafing.

Final Verdict

You should never rush while breaking in your new pair of steel-toe boots. While it’s true that the longer you wear the boots, the faster it’s going to be shaped to your feet. But then your feet are going to have a hard time dealing with the blister pain.

Did you discover a new method how to make steel-toe boots more comfortable? Don’t forget to comment down below.

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