This article will discuss how to break in a pair of notoriously hard-to-break-in boots, specifically the Made in England Doc Martens. If you’ve ever tried to break in a pair of boots, you may have come across strange methods like wearing them in the bath or beating them with a hammer. But the technique we’ll be sharing with you today is one that has been tried and tested by a former firefighter and seasoned hiker, Weston Kay of Rose Anvil.
This technique works better than any other technique seen on YouTube, and we’ll also be putting it to the test by comparing the results to a control boot. So if you’re tired of suffering through the painful process of breaking into new boots, read on to discover a tried and true method.
The Made in England Docs are made with Quilon, a leather made to the specifications of Dr. Martens’ original, thick, hardy, not-super-comfy boots. That’s why the MiE Docs are hardest to break in but rest assured, if you bought the regular 1460 Dr. Martens, these tips will help as well. Their leather is a tad thinner, so it’ll only be an easier process.
Breaking in Dr. Martens: What You’ll Need
Here’s a quick list to tick off before you get started.
A Heater or Hairdryer
You’ll be warming up your leather to soften it. A small heater or hair dryer will suffice.
Liquid Mink Oil
We like Fiebing’s Liquid Mink Oil for this project because of its low viscosity, making it easy to penetrate the pores of the leather. If you have a colorful pair of boots and you want to preserve that color as much as possible, you can try Bickmore’s Bick 4. Because it’s designed to not alter the color, it doesn’t penetrate quite as deeply into the leather so it won’t be quite as effective, but your results will be fairly similar.
Use these to rub the conditioner into the leather without getting your hands all oily.
How to Break in Dr. Martens Boots Fast
And you’re ready! Here’s how to make your Dr. Martens’ leather nice and soft in an afternoon instead of years of blistery wear.
Heat Up The Boot
- Use a hair dryer or small heater to gently heat the leather
In order to properly break in your boots, heating them up can be a helpful step. You can use a small heater or even a hairdryer to warm up the boot without damaging the glue or seams. By doing so, you’ll be opening up the pores of the leather and allowing the oil to penetrate more easily.
Simply turn on your heat source, open up the boot, and let the inside start to warm up for five to six minutes. Don’t use extreme heat or blast a hair dryer point blank, that can compromise the glue or the seams. Be gentle.
After heating up the boots, you’ll notice that the leather will be more pliable and easier to work with.
Condition the Leather
Drench the boots in liquid mink oil
Conditioning your boots is an important way to extend their longevity once they’ve been worn for a season, as it helps to moisturize the leather, keep it supple, and prevent cracking — just like moisturizing your skin. What a lot of people don’t know is that it can also be a great way to soften your boots out of the box if you want to minimize break in.
To start, you need to coat the entire boot with the oil using paper towels to work it in thoroughly. Ensure that the leather is completely saturated, don’t be shy.
Let the Boots Rest for 10 Minutes
This will allow the conditioner to sink into the boots’ pores.
Apply Another Coat
For faster results, you can even coat the inside of the boot, but be careful not to get the oil on the insole as it can get onto your socks.
While the mink oil paste is also effective, it may not work as well as the liquid oil. The process can get messy, and you may end up with oil on your hands and clothes, but the end result will be worth it.
Heat the Boot Again
After coating your boots with the liquid mink oil, the next step is to start heating them again. Just like the first time, be careful not to place the heat source too close to the boot.
The heat will help to re-open the pores of the leather while also allowing the excess oil to evaporate.
Wipe the Boots Off and Wear Them!
After a few minutes of the boots absorbing the heat, it’s time to wipe off any excess oil and start wearing them.
To keep your boots in good condition, you can apply more oil in the morning and night or whenever you notice that they start to get dry.
Comparison Of Two Boots: One Treated With Mink Oil Vs One That Hasn’t
After applying mink oil to the first boot and letting it soak in for several minutes, the leather appeared darker and more saturated. Weston then wore both boots daily for a week, and the results were remarkable. The boot treated with mink oil was comfortable within just a few hours of wear, while the untreated boot remained stiff and uncomfortable even after a week and a half.
The difference in comfort and wearability between the two boots was striking. Weston reported that even after a full day of walking, the treated boot felt comfortable and did not cause any discomfort, while the untreated boot caused pain and discomfort on the top of the foot.
While it may be messy and time-consuming, the results are well worth the effort. If you want your new boots to be as comfortable as possible, consider giving them a good coating of mink oil before wearing them for the first time.
Things To Consider Before Conditioning
If you’re planning on trying out the mink oil technique to break in your boots, there are a few things to consider before getting started.
First and foremost, be careful not to overheat your boots during the process. While Dr. Martens boots are Goodyear welted, there are glued parts inside that could be damaged if exposed to excessive heat. (Although Docs have an unusual heat-sewn construction, even standard Goodyear welted boots contain plenty of glue, so this advice applies to any good boot.)
Aim to warm the boots just enough to receive the oil, but not so much that you risk drying out or damaging the leather.
It’s also important to keep in mind that this process will darken the leather of your boots, so it may not be the best choice for lighter colored boots. Before beginning the process, do a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of your boots to see how they react to the mink oil.
Finally, it’s worth noting that while the mink oil technique can be effective in breaking in boots quickly, it’s not for everyone. If you prefer to maintain the original color of your boots or want a more gradual break-in process, this technique may not be the best fit. As with any leather care process, take the time to consider your goals and the potential risks before diving in.
How Boot Breaking-in Works
Have you ever wondered why it takes so much effort to break in a new pair of boots? The answer lies in the nature of leather and the way it’s constructed.
Leather is made up of tightly packed fibers that become more flexible and pliable when they are worked and moved around. When you wear a new pair of boots, the leather fibers start to separate and loosen up, which can cause discomfort and even pain. This is why some people resort to certain techniques to make the break-in process a little easier.
One of the most popular techniques for breaking in new boots is using mink oil. Mink oil is a natural oil that can penetrate deep into the leather fibers, lubricating them and making them less brittle. This, in turn, allows the fibers to move and flex more easily, which helps to speed up the break-in process. As the leather fibers become more pliable, the boots will start to conform to the shape of your feet, resulting in a comfortable fit.
Breaking in new Doc Martens boots may require some effort, but it’s worth it for the comfort and longevity of your footwear. Remember to treat your boots with care and use techniques that work best for your leather type.
With proper care and maintenance, your boots will last for years to come, and you’ll have a pair of trusted companions for all your adventures. So don’t rush the process and take the time to break in your boots properly to enjoy the full benefits of your investment. Happy boot breaking!
How do you break in a pair of Dr. Martens fast?
Condition them! Gently heat the boots and then saturate them with liquid mink oil. This softens the leather while also extending its lifespan.
How do you break in Doc Martens in 2 days?
If you want to accelerate your timeline for breaking in your Doc Marten boots, use liquid mink oil. Gently heat the boot with a hairdryer on a low setting, then drench it with mink oil and let them dry overnight. They'll be much softer and easier to wear come morning.
Do Doc Martens hurt to break in?
The normal 1460 Docs are made with fairly thin leather that isn't usually difficult to break in, but the Made in England Docs have thicker leather that will take a couple of weeks to feel comfortable. Don't try to wear your boots for a long period of time when they're new, swap them out for sneakers once they start hurting and try again tomorrow.