In my post last week I was embarking on a very scary journey/plan to use the much talked about method of breaking in new boots…The Bathtub Method. This method has been much discussed on several online forums with most people having no problems and swearing that they will only break in boots this way from now on.
So basically, The Bathtub Method goes like this:
1. Put on boots
2. Soak boots in bathtub till wet through
3. Wear till dry
To me, this sounds like a great way to ruin boots, but there people who have done this with expensive ass custom boots with no issues whatsoever. So, I thought I’d give it a shot with a pair of new to me dressage boots that were just a bit too tall, about 1/2-1 inch, to see if they would drop some. I bought these boots on the craigslist for pretty cheap so I thought, “To Hell with it!”. Given the way dress boots are, the boots were hella stiff, and combined with the fact that they had been sitting for about 3 years without being conditioned, they felt like wood tubes around my legs.
I decided I would try this out on a day that I didn’t work so I could really commit to wearing the boots till dry and I read up on ways to make the process a bit less painful. For example, people recommended putting on plastic bags on your feet so you’re not stewing in wet socks all day, not to get the foot beds wet, and wear 2 pairs of socks. Both of these suggestions sounded good to me, so on Thursday morning at I was all prepped and ready to go
I took some shaky video of my actually doing the deed of wetting the boots in the bathtub so enjoy! Hopefully it doesn’t get you motion sick….
Now, I didn’t do the “real” bathtub method by sitting/standing in the shower and getting the whole boot wet. I just ran water over the outside of the boot, stuffed a towel in the foot bed, swished water on the inside of the boot, and took a wet sponge to really saturate the inside of the boot well especially around the ankle area. If I could have done this again, I would have filled up a big water bucket and submerged the shafts of the boots up to the ankles until wet through. But anyways…
After getting the boots nice and wet I put them on over my breeches, boot socks, and 2nd pair of socks
From here, I went to go ride Spot and do all sorts of barn chores to get as much wear time as possible and so they would dry faster. We went on a trail ride down to the property down the road to ride in their arena, I walked around setting up cones, cleaned tack, re-organized my tack area, and went to the feed store. Through out the day, I could feel the area around the ankles get softer and the calf area more molded to my leg. However, I would recommend not wearing 2 pairs of socks because I could feel the starting of some tender areas and almost blisters starting about 3-4 hours in.
It was pretty warm that day so by the time I got home from the barn and grocery shopping the boots were almost completely dry. They were also not digging into the back of my leg as much so that was promising. At that point, I applied some Passier Lederbalsam since I didn’t have any boot cream, and massaged it into the folds around the ankles and all over the rest of the boot. I then proceeded to sit out on the patio and enjoy a glass of sparkling water and juice to let the conditioner soak in.
After about another hour of wearing them (it was about 4pm at this time) I pulled them off and put conditioner on the whole inside of the boot, focusing again on the ankle area. I then stuffed them with rolled up newspaper so they would stand up and not collapse.
The result? When I put on the boots the next day, they were so much more comfortable! The inner lining was much more pliable after the conditioner but most importantly the ankle area was softer and they had dropped just enough to not completely dig into the back of my leg. Also, the boots didn’t look any worse for wear! The stitching looked good and I didn’t see any cracking of the leather which some people reported seeing after doing this method. I think I will condition the boots a few more times over the course of the next few weeks, but other than that they look and feel good. Things I would change for the next time I do this:
1. Use a big water bucket instead of the bathtub. It was a bit cumbersome getting the water inside of the boot, so next time I would fill up a big horse water bucket and submerge the boots upside up to the ankles until we through.
2. Only wear 1 pair of socks. Or wear 2 pairs of thin socks. The 2nd pair of socks I wore over my boot socks were a bit too thick I think and by the end of the day I thought I was getting some tender spots/blisters on foot.
All in all, this method worked great for what I needed without the days of painful break in time that I’ve had with past boots. I think if you have the time and patience to wear wet boots the whole day this is the way to go. Break in time for softer boots, like field boots would probably go even faster since my boots have pretty thick leather and are fully lined. So, if you’ve got a new pair of boots you want to break in fast I highly suggest giving this way a go!