How Do You Break In Keen Hiking Shoes? (Hiker Tips)

So, you’re finally ready to take on some serious hikes. Congratulations! You’ve made the right choice. But now you’re faced with a big question: How do I break in my new hiking shoes?

I’m here to help. I’ve already broken in a few pairs of Keen hiking boots myself, and I can tell you that the process isn’t as painful as you might think (unless it is?). 

We’ll cover everything from how long it takes to break in your new shoes to what tools or techniques can make the process easier all so that by the time we’re done here today, your boots will feel like they were made just for your feet and ankles!

How to Break in Hiking Boots || REI
Breaking in Keen hiking shoes requires a gradual approach
Wear your Keen hiking shoes around the house before hitting the trail
Start with shorter hikes to allow your feet to adjust to the shoes
Use proper hiking socks and consider wearing them with liner socks
Apply moleskin or blister prevention patches to areas prone to friction
Use a boot conditioner to soften the leather and enhance comfort
Allow enough time for your feet and boots to adapt and break in naturally
If discomfort persists, consider consulting with a professional boot fitter

Wear Them Around The House Or On Shorter Hikes

If you want to wear your keens on shorter hikes, you can. Just make sure that the terrain is relatively flat and free of sharp rocks. The key to breaking in Keen hiking shoes is to wear them as much as possible while they’re still stiff. 

This will allow your feet to break in the shoes over time and will make them more comfortable for longer hikes later on. 

If you have an upcoming camping trip planned, consider wearing your Keen hiking shoes around the house or at work (if permitted), but don’t wear them on an actual hike until they are broken in!

We recommend not taking these out on long hikes until they are well-broken in. The last thing anyone wants after a long day of hiking is blisters or sore feet! 

For men who like working out at their local gym or CrossFit box, we recommend waiting until after those sessions before putting these on for outdoor activities such as going for a run or helping friends with landscaping projects around town.”

When preparing for a hiking adventure, it’s crucial to have the right gear. Our comprehensive guide on the 6 hiking essentials will ensure you’re well-equipped for the trail, from sturdy hiking shoes to essential navigation tools.

Dry Them After Wear

After you’ve worn your Keens for the first time, it’s best to let them dry naturally. Don’t put them in a dryer and don’t leave them in the sun to dry. If you need to speed up the process, use a hair dryer on low heat instead of an iron or steam iron.

Air DryingAllow the hiking shoes to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area
Use of Shoe DryerUtilize specialized shoe dryers designed to safely and efficiently dry shoes
Stuffing with NewspaperInsert crumpled newspaper to absorb moisture and speed up the drying process
Silica Gel PacksPlace silica gel packs inside the shoes to help absorb excess moisture
Boot Trees or Shoe FormsUtilize boot trees or shoe forms to maintain shape while facilitating drying

Wear Thicker Socks

When you wear thick socks, the extra cushioning and protection not only keeps your feet dry, but also helps prevent blisters. 

The thicker socks can even help keep your feet cool in hot weather or warm when it’s chilly outside. 

Thick hiking socks are also essential for protecting against sharp rocks and other debris on trails, as well as protecting sensitive skin areas such as toes and heels.

Waterproof The Shoes.

One of the best ways to make your Keen hiking shoes more comfortable is to waterproof them. You can do this with a waterproof spray or wax, or by putting them in a shoe bag. If you don’t want to waterproof the shoes, you can use a shoe bag instead.

Properly lacing your hiking trail runners can enhance your comfort and stability on the trail. Learn valuable techniques and tips in our article on how to lace hiking trail runners to optimize your footwear performance and prevent discomfort during your hikes.

Change The Laces

The first thing you can do to break in your Keen hiking shoes is change the laces. The laces that come with Keen hiking shoes are usually pretty thin and may not provide enough support for your feet as you start walking around in them. 

You should replace the laces with ones that are a little bit thicker, like flat waxed cotton or polyester shoelaces, which will give your shoes more support and make it easier for them to mold to your feet over time.

You could also try replacing the regular shoe lacing system on your Keen hiking shoes with an elastic cord that stretches over the top of your foot so there’s no need for tying or pulling tight once it’s on – this will give off a similar effect without having any impact on durability since there aren’t any moving parts involved!

If neither of these options sound appealing but still want something different than black/white/brown (or whatever color scheme) then consider using fluorescent colors such as orange/yellow/red which may be more noticeable when worn outdoors during low-light conditions without compromising style.

Lace BrandDescription
MerrellDurable and high-quality laces for rugged hiking shoes
KEENReliable laces designed for outdoor adventures
Darn ToughTough and long-lasting laces for challenging terrains
SalomonPerformance-oriented laces for hiking and trail running
Outdoor ResearchVersatile laces suitable for various outdoor activities

Heat Them Up And Stretch Them Out

To break in your Keen shoes, you can heat them up. Heat is a good way to stretch out the leather and make it more pliable. 

You can use a hair dryer, or if your shoes are made of fabric or synthetic materials, a steam iron will work just as well for this purpose.

Heat up the shoe until it feels warm to the touch; then place it on top of an ironing board (or other flat surface) and gently press down on each part of your shoe with an iron for about 10 seconds at first.

It’s also possible to break in Keen Hiking Shoes by putting them in an oven or microwave—just be sure not to overheat them!

Use A Shoe Stretcher

After you’ve worn your Keen hiking shoes a few times, they should start to feel more like a second skin. If not, try using a shoe stretcher. 

While it might sound intimidating at first, all you have to do is slip your footwear into the stretcher for about 12 hours. 

Then take the shoes out and wear them for 30 minutes before repeating the process another three or four times over several days. This is an easy way of stretching leather boots so they are easier to put on and take off when breaking them in.

To use a shoe stretcher:

First, make sure that your boot has been completely dried out after washing (otherwise mold will grow). 

You may need to dry it overnight if it’s been sitting around wet for any amount of time since getting soaked by water or snowmelt during your hike! 

Next then wash out any dirt left behind but don’t use soap because this will strip away some of the oils needed for long lasting durability later down road so just rinse thoroughly with warm water instead! 

Finally polish with beeswax based shoe cream which contains petroleum jelly mixed together with beeswax particles which helps seal moisture away from leather surfaces making them less likely cracking over time due exposure from hot/cold weather conditions.

When it comes to waterproof hiking boots, quality matters. Discover expert recommendations and handpicked options in our guide on what hiking boots are actually waterproof, ensuring your feet stay dry and protected in wet and challenging conditions.

Stuff The Toes Or Wear Toe Socks Or Booties.

You can also stuff the toes of your Keen hiking shoes with paper, foam or any other soft material to help stretch them out. 

This is a great option if you want to go for a run or hike in your new boots right away. You won’t have to wait for days for the leathers to loosen up, but it will still take some time until they’re fully broken in.

Toe socks and booties are another way to break in new Keen hiking shoes without having them on your feet all day long. 

If you’re just testing out your new boots and don’t want them getting scuffed up, this is an ideal option since it allows you to use them immediately and put them back into storage when necessary (such as if conditions change).

If neither of these methods work for you then consider using shoe stretchers instead! They’re easy enough for anyone who wants their footwear looking good whenever possible – even those who need their feet protected from nature’s elements every single day.”

Toe CapsAttachable toe caps that provide additional protection to the toes
Injinji Toe SocksSpecially designed toe socks that prevent friction and blisters between the toes
Toe BootiesNeoprene or insulated toe booties that add extra warmth and cushioning to the toes
Toe SpacersSilicone or foam toe spacers that create space between the toes, reducing friction and pressure
Toe GuardsProtective toe guards made of durable materials that shield the toes from impact and abrasion

Remove The Footbeds Or Insoles And Replace With Custom Orthotics.

If you want to break in your Keen hiking shoes, one way to do it is by replacing the insoles with custom orthotics. 

Custom orthotics can be bought online or at a drug store. You can also have them made by a podiatrist who will take an impression of your feet and then send you home with a mold of your feet which they will use to make the orthotics for you.

Orthotics are used to correct imbalances in posture and gait that cause pain or discomfort in areas like shoulders, neck and back as well as knees and hips. 

Embark on an unforgettable adventure by hiking the Besseggen trail, but first, understand the time it takes to complete this stunning route. In our article on how long does it take to hike Besseggen, you’ll gain valuable insights and plan your hiking experience accordingly.

Use A Leather Conditioner To Soften The Leather

Your shoes will be much more comfortable if they’re not too stiff. A good leather conditioner will help with that, as it’ll soften the leather and make it feel more flexible.

To condition your Keen hiking shoes, apply a small amount of conditioner to the entire surface of both shoes using your hands. 

Work it into the leather by rubbing it all over with light circular motions for about 30 seconds before letting them dry overnight (or for at least an hour). Once they’re fully dry, use a soft cloth to wipe off any excess conditioner from the surface of each shoe so you don’t get too much on there!

Hiking boots aren’t just for hiking; they can also be excellent for walking and everyday use. Explore the experiences of hikers in our article on are hiking boots good for walking, and discover the comfort and durability they offer during various activities.


We hope this article was helpful in explaining how you can break in your Keen hiking shoes. We also want to remind you that it is not necessary to break them in before taking them on a hike, as they will feel comfortable right out of the box. 

However, if you are looking for an extra bit of cushioning or comfort, then consider some of these tips!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further reading on breaking in hiking boots:


Here are some frequently asked questions about breaking in hiking boots:

How long does it take to break in hiking boots?

The duration to break in hiking boots can vary depending on the boot’s material and your personal comfort preferences. It typically takes several hikes or extended wear over a few weeks to break them in properly.

Should I wear new hiking boots on long hikes?

It is generally not recommended to wear brand new hiking boots on long hikes. It’s best to gradually break them in with shorter hikes or wear them around the house to ensure they are comfortable and properly fitted before embarking on longer adventures.

How can I prevent blisters while breaking in hiking boots?

To prevent blisters while breaking in hiking boots, make sure to wear proper hiking socks that provide moisture-wicking and cushioning. Additionally, apply moleskin or blister prevention patches to areas prone to friction and wear your boots with thinner liner socks initially.

Can I speed up the process of breaking in hiking boots?

While it’s important to give your feet and boots time to adjust naturally, there are some techniques to help speed up the breaking-in process. These include wearing them around the house, using a boot stretcher, or applying a boot conditioner to soften the leather.

What if my hiking boots still cause discomfort after breaking them in?

If your hiking boots continue to cause discomfort even after proper breaking-in efforts, it’s possible that they are not the right fit for your feet. Consider consulting with a professional boot fitter or exploring different boot options to find the best fit and comfort for your hiking adventures.