How to Break in New Ski Boots

New ski boots can be both a blessing and a curse. A new set gives you excellent comfort and control while you ski, while modern designs are both warm and customizable.

However, while wearing them is easy, breaking them in is not. As with any other type of footwear, it can take some time to get used to how ski boots feel on your feet. They may be great when broken in, but that is not a short process.

Break In New Ski Boots

In this article, we will look at how to effectively break in your new ski boots. While it might take a day or two for your feet to get used to new footwear, there are some handy tips you can follow to speed up the process and make it much more bearable.

Initial Considerations

Ski boots have never been the most comfortable boots to wear. When I was a child, I remember my ski instructors telling me to just suck it up and deal with the discomfort because it was something everyone dealt with.

Luckily, new designs and liner technology make modern boots much more comfortable than they once were. Once properly fit and formed, boots are quite easy to wear.

Ski boots are intended to have a snug, and oftentimes tight fit. The tighter the fit, the better the performance. That is because tight shoes allow your foot to better control your boot’s movement which, in turn, controls your skis.

More advanced skiers will want a tighter fit and might sacrifice a bit of comfort to achieve that. New skiers should still use a boot with a snug fit. However, they can afford a bit more comfort.

What is Breaking In?

New ski boots have not yet formed to the shape and contours of your feet. Even though there are modern liners that can be fully heat molded around your foot, there is still a break-in period.

Breaking in your ski boots is the process of getting your foot acquainted and comfortable in your boot. It also involves the time it takes for your boot liner’s material to pack out and form around your foot.

The break-in process usually takes a few days of solid skiing. That is due to the fact that there’s no way to fully break in boots aside from skiing in them.

We will look at the steps involved in all aspects of breaking in your boots, but know that skiing is the best, and fastest, way to get it done.

Method 1: Wear Your Boots Around the House

An easy way to begin breaking in your boots is to wear them around the house. Put on your ski socks and step into your boots just as would before you before skiing.

Fully clamp down the buckles, go over any straps, and sink your shins into the boot’s tongues. Walk around the house or yard or simply sit and watch TV with your boots on. Breaking in boots can be painful. Little increments of time are a good way to start.

Wear your boots for maybe 20-30 minutes a night for the first few days and then start to increase the time until you can comfortably wear them for at least a couple of hours.

This process isn’t going to fully break in your boots, but it will start to get your feet comfortable with the pressure and feel. Wearing the shoes for smaller periods of time (as opposed to hours on end) is a good first step.

You can also wear the liners outside of the shells. This is a comfortable and fun way to go about this process. Simply pull out the liners and wear them like shoes.

This will not get your feet as accustomed to the pressure of fully strapped in and buckled boots, but it will start to pack out your liners and help them form the shape of your feet.

Method 2: On to the Mountain

Once you’ve started the break-in process at home, you can continue to do so on the mountain. I always like to make sure my ski boots are warm before putting them on, and that goes double for new boots.

Warmer boots are more flexible and easier to open up than cold ones. Keep them by your car’s heater, by a fire, or some other heat source before putting them on.

Now it’s time to go skiing. You might initially feel some discomfort or hot spots that feel like your boot isn’t fitting correctly.

For me, this feeling is usually worse on the chairlift and dissipates as I start skiing. Start skiing and see how you do. If the boots need a lot of breaking in, it might be difficult to ski more than a few runs without taking a break.

You can try to loosen your buckles a bit, or you might have to take them off in the lodge. I recently broke into a new pair of boots and the first day was really painful. I struggled to wear them longer than a few hours.

The next day I took some anti-inflammatory medication and it helped quite a bit. I was able to wear the boots for about twice as long on the second day. By the end of the third day, I barely knew they were on at all and they felt as comfortable as any other footwear I have.

Final Thoughts

Know that breaking in new ski boots takes time. It can be really uncomfortable and even painful at first, but after a while, they will start to break in and feel great.

If you don’t notice any improvement after a few days of skiing, you might consider taking your boots to the shop where you bought them to see if they can remold or adjust the fit. Trust me, the process might be painful, but the end result is worth it!

Have you ever broken in a new pair of ski boots? How did you do it? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • Eric T

    Hi Christine, I just bought my first pair of ski boots. I bought some Technica Mach Sport MV 90’s. I was going to wait until the new stuff came out, but at 40% off last year’s models I had to pull the trigger. I sat down with a good bootfitter, and 45 minutes later we found my first ever boots. Now I’m listening to your advice, and wearing them around the house occasionally leaning forward on the tongues. I heard horror stories about boots being uncomfortable, but these feel good on my feet. They are a little clunky, and you walk like Frankenstein in them, but they’re ski boots not sneakers. You’re not supposed to walk in them just go skiing in them. What a difference from rental equipment, and I have my own stuff. Can’t wait for winter with my own stuff., and skiing at Cannonsburg, and Caberfae in Michigan. I want to thank you for all the advice, and ski tips. It’s almost as good as personal instruction. Keep up the good work.

    • Christine

      Hey Eric,

      Thanks for the kind words, and I’m happy to hear that your boots seem to be breaking in just fine. The process isn’t that complicated, but it takes a little time and effort. You’ll be happy you went through it once you get on the slopes and start skiing. Thanks again for reaching out!

  • Kim


    I just bought my first gear – skis, boots, and bindings. My ski boots were so tight that all toes went to sleep. Is that how it’s supposed to feel? My big toes were slightly curled when I stood up, and just touched the end when I got into my bindings. Also it was painful. I tried wearing them around the house, a total of 2 hours. I returned them and a second person measured me and suggested one size bigger. They are snug not painful. But the other sales person says that I have sacrificed performance for comfort by getting a size bigger. What would be your recommendation? Thanks.

    • Christine

      Hi Kim,

      Getting the proper fit for ski boots can be challenging, especially if you’ve never dealt with breaking in a brand-new pair. Generally speaking, the tighter the fit, the better the performance you’ll get. This is because the faster your boots react to the movements of your feet and legs, the more control you’ll have over your skis. But a performance fit will not always be as comfortable as one that fits you more like a pair of boots or shoes you might be used to. What ability level are you with skiing? If you are just learning or even intermediate, you might not need a performance fit and can go more toward comfort. If you are an advanced or expert skier, that performance fit is going to be important. Your toes shouldn’t be curled up, but your boots shouldn’t have excess room either. Snug but not painful, as you mentioned, is a good place to start. But breaking in a new set of boots and liners will take longer than wearing them around the house for two hours. You might need to ski hard for a few days before your feet get used to your boots, and they break in a bit. I’ve dealt with some pretty painful ski days while breaking in brand-new boots. The good news is, once you break them in, they’ll be good to go for a few years at least. Hope that helps, and let me know if you have any more questions!