How to Break in Doc Martens – 5 Tested Methods + Video 2023


Breaking in a new pair of Doc Martens in less than a week can be challenging, and a pain-filled experience, they can leave you with nasty blisters and sore feet that take weeks to heal. But there are several tips that can help you expedite the process. In this post, I will show you how to break in Doc Martens quickly and as pain-free as possible.   

Key Takeaways

Choosing the right kind of Dr Marten shoe is important to your breaking-in journey and how much work you’re willing to put into the process. However, learning how to break in Doc Martens, no matter the type of shoe can be done. My top advice is to invest in the right kind of leather conditioner and to wear the shoes, even around the house, as much as possible, and stuff your boots when you’re not wearing them. 

Keep reading to find out the rest of my tried and true methods on breaking in Doc Martens. And if you don’t want to read, keep scrolling to watch the video version. 

Helpful Items

New Dr Martens 1460 in the box

Choose the Right Type of Leather

The first way, which is the quickest way, to learn how to break in of Dr Martens is ensuring you buy the right pair. Doc Martens offers different types of leather, but each of them takes different periods of time to break into. If you want to break into a pair of Doc Martens as quickly as possible, (in my experience within a week or less) I definitely recommend buying soft leather Doc Martens or some vegan docs. 

Soft Leather Doc Martens

Soft Leather 1460 Docs

The soft leather is softer than the traditional leather and makes it 10 times easier to break into. They fit like any other Docs, but the leather comes very soft, meaning it has less rigid structure. The soft leather Doc Martens to get are the Nappa Leather, the Virginia leather, or the Pisa leather. You can break into these in about two, maybe three days, and if you’re very ambitious, you can probably break it in your first try. 

Wear these boots around the house and with thick socks for the best results, avoid heat or leather softener as these types don’t need to be broken down more. Investing in a good shoe tree that can stretch the leather for you overnight is a game changer as well, especially if you have wider or larger feet. 

ground shot of a man wearing Dr Marten leather loafers

Vegan Doc Martens

Vegan 1460 docs

When it comes to the vegan docs, they’re made with synthetic material, so you don’t have to worry about breaking into anything because it’s not leather, they don’t have the same tough structure as real leather. The only thing to keep in mind, that I’ve noticed with vegan docs is they’re a little bit narrow. I would size up if you’re in between sizes and also get a shoe tree to quickly stretch the shoe. However, for the most part, as soon as you put them on, they’re very easy to break into.

Dr Marten 1460 

What if you don’t want any of the vegan or smooth leather options? If you still want a pair of smooth leather, original dr martens and want to learn how to break in doc martens into them as quickly as possible, follow my favorite tested tips.

close up of dr martens with leather balm on them

Dr Martens Wonder Balsam Leather balm

Once you get those coveted pair of Doc Martens, the first thing you need to do is use a trusted leather conditioner or softener to make the break-in period as easy as possible. 

My favorite is the Dr Martens Wonder Balsam, this is a great product to help soften the leather (which makes it more comfortable to wear) and keep your new boots looking brand new for decades to come. Not only is this the brand-associated softener but the setup is ideal as well. The jar comes with a sponge, separate from the balm, which makes storage and use, both easy and beginner friendly. 

All you have to do is apply a small amount of conditioner on your boots and rub it into the leather. If you don’t want to use the Wonder Balsam can also use leather oil or other balms to help protect the leather.

small space heater

The second thing to consider when learning how to break in doc martens is to apply heat. I don’t recommend using a hair dryer because it can give very confusing results and take a lot more effort

Instead, I recommend using a small space heater. For the best results, and the cheapest electricity bill, heat up a small room and then leave your Doc Martens in there for about 10 to 15 minutes then wear them around the house. This will soften the leather and make it more pliable, allowing your boots to mold into the shape of your feet more quickly, easily reducing sore feet and potential blisters. You can also take some time to massage the boots on key sensitive areas, like the back of the heels or around the toe box to soften the leather even more.

dickies boot socks

The next thing to consider is wearing thick socks. For the first couple of times wearing your docs, wear thick socks, or you can double socks or provide a cushion for your feet and protect them from rubbing or getting any blisters that may occur in the breaking-in period. 

Top Tip: Investing in a pair of Merino wool or cushioned hiking socks (extra padding around the ankle and bottom of the foot) can make the process easier as well. 

Man putting on a brown leather chelsea boot

Dr Marten 1460

Next is to wear your boots as much as possible. It seems like a no-brainer but it really helps to wear them constantly for about a week. The more you wear them, the more quickly they will break in. 

Start by wearing them for short periods of time and gradually increase the duration. You can wear them around the house, to run errands, or to work. Try to build up to a thousand steps a day in your docs, but also keep in mind, if your feet start to hurt, please take them off and rest for the day. You don’t want your feet to hurt or start to blister, which will hinder how quickly you can break them in.

shoe trees for boots

The last thing you can do when exploring how to break in dr martens is to stuff your boots. 

When you’re not wearing your docs, you’ll want to stuff them with newspapers, or if you have a shoe tree, that also works great. If using newspaper make sure to use a lot, the more overstuffed the better stretch you might be able to achieve overnight. I would recommend using this method for at least a week to get the intended results. 

Shoe trees are my personal favorite and go-to method, as you can adjust the amount of pressure you want to put on the leather. This will make the boots hold their shape when you’re not wearing them, so once you put them on, they fit perfectly. 

How To Break in Dr. Martens In Less Than A Week 

Final Verdict

Just remember, learning how to break in doc martens can take some time and patience, but it’s definitely possible to break into them in a week. Be gentle with your boots and take care of your feet to ensure a comfortable and successful breaking-in experience. Good luck!

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