First, Merry Christmas brothers and sisters!  I have been a firefighter for ten years and have always worn the rubber boots. I recently purchased a pair of leather's and was wondering how you all break them in. Besides just wearing them of course.




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Thats the best way and also after you take them off put either 20 oz or 2 liter soda bottles in them to keep their form at first. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Stay safe and enjoy the new boots.
I have only worn leather duty boots, but I also had to have an additional pair of White's, which were for the wildland side of my career.

The rubber boots, or what we call our turnout boots are the traditional rubber, steel shank, high boot design that we are all familiar with were worn only with my yellow PPE turnout pants and jacket.

My duty boots (Chipewah) had an insulation in them, or a foam padding that enabled immediate comfort without the need of a break in period. I wore these for medical runs and daily activities.

When an alarm came in for a wildland fire, we have to put on our wildland boots, and the wildland PPE. My White Boots were a totally different game. No padding, no frills, just heavy duty wildland firefighter boots that DO require a break in period. And if this is the style of boot you have, then here's what I recommend...

You need Mink Oil as far as having to purchase anything.

And with the boots, you want to literally submerge the boots in hot water... TOTALLY submerge both boots and let them soak... Just think of it as tenderizing the meat, kind of...

After at least 10-minutes of soaking, and having socks on (assuming you wear two socks - one for wicking moisture against your skin and the other outer sock to slides against the boot to prevent friction / heat / blisters). Now the fun part, put the boots on and lace them tight, wearing them until they are dry, which translates into a day of hanging around the house making sure not to get them dirty. The goal here is to slowly conform the boot interior to your foot. The wet leather will stretch out where it needs to as long as you have the boot softened by the water and the heat of your foot. Your foot, and the weight of your body will indent the sole, making the boot a more comfortable fit.

Not getting them dirty? You bet. Here's where the mink oil comes in. As soon as the leather starts to dry, using your fingers, take a nice glob of the purchased Mink Oil, which actually looks like a yellow wax paste, it's not a liquid. You spread the Mink Oil all over the outside of the boots leather surface area evenly. Keep rubbing in the Mink Oil until is disappears. At the end of the day, reapply more mink oil, but this time, use a clean cotton cloth, doubled up and used to soak up the mink oil and actually press more into the leather surface area. What you are doing is building up a protective layer of oil, keeping the boots both soft and comfortable for wear.

Key point when applying the Mink Oil is to make a thick bead around the sole/boot stitching to create even more of a waterproof seal. This also protects the stitching, and keeps it somewhat pliable, which extends the life or your boot.

The bottom line for doing all this stuff is to both provide a comfortable boot but more importantly, preventing this...

Let me know how it goes... I know this is a lot of work and kind of a hassle, but trust me, it's really worth your effort.

Mine felt broke in right out of the box compared to the rubber boots. Started wearing them right off with out a break in period. Never had sore feet or blisters!
Some people win the lottery as well... you must have happy feet!
In addition to wearing them, walking around in them helps.

Are you secretly the coach of the New York Jets?

I'm just sayin'.
Walk around in them around the station, at home, before you put them to their rightful use, wearing two pairs of socks. That's the easy way. The hard way, do what Capt Schlags and Ralph described.
and if I am... so what? just sayin' :D
Hey Thanks for all the good advice guys! They are the Wellington leather structual firefighting boots by the way .
Assuming you are describing lace up wild-fire boots (which also double as station boots for people on my department):

I broke mine in the same way that I broke in my jump boots.

1) Lace them up (whether or not you use a lacing zipper isn't important) until when you flex forward foot flat on the ground you feel the hard leather / thermo-protective boot liner cut into your ankle. Depending on your height & foot size between 4-7 eyelets.

2) Drop back one eyelet and check again. Repeat until when you flex forward it no longer bites into your ankle.

3) Re-lace skipping the eyelet immediately above the one when it stopped biting your ankle.

4) Flex forward again. If it bites again (rare) skip two eyelets up from the place where it was last comfortable and lace up normally.

5) Never skip more than two eyelets as it will allow too much lateral instability in the ankle area potentially leading to a sprain on uneven ground or with an uneven impact.

6) If you skip two eyelets you will need to wear them around the house until the leather softens. If a week inside doesn't do it you may wish to insert an insole to slightly raise the heel allowing you to skip only one eyelet.

7) Once you are only skipping only one eyelet just wear them ... they will break in normally.

DO NOT use a petroleum based leather softener. It will break down the leather and may burn in extremely hot conditions.
Most of the new structural firefighting boots are pretty flexable, especially compared to rubber boots. The old rule of an ounce on your feet is a pound on your back rings true. You made a good choice in your purchase. Just grab them by the boot straps, pull them on and go do some training!
Good point Captain, The class I attended had a Instructor that had to sit to teach. He told us he had a blister just like this on both feet and being from the days of smoke eaters. He though it is just a blister I am not going to worry about it. He said it got infected on both feet and they had to remove part of the bone on both heels to save his feet. Now he can't stand for long periods or his feet hurt.
His podiatrist did a culture on his bunker boot and found them to be horrible with all kinds of nasty. He said all the stuff we go though has a way of working its way into are boots. The podiatrist told him to spray a disinfectant once a month in his boots.

Captain may I borrow your photo to start a discussion on this by itself? It may be something we should bring out and talk about. I have did this myself a few times but never got an infection.

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