There's a somewhat-alternative method to the Full Bathtub Dip, too... which is what I did. I wasn't really interested in soaking the footbed, so I filled up my (very deep!) bathtub with warm water and dunked them from the top down. I submerged to the top of the foot and thus the footbed did not get wet at all.
I wore mine for six or seven hours... voila, custom comfortable fit. I am very pleased with the bathtub method. Dipping my brand new $$$$$ boots into the tub was terrifying, but I'm quite glad I did! Break in was SO much easier.
Be careful if these are pull ons! I did the bathtub method on mine (Ariats) a few times, and the pull loops for the boot hooks almost ripped off. The inner lining also stretched out with the loops. I now have to be very gentle when I pull them on with the hooks (can't get them on without) so that I don't rip them off completely. I now have ones with zippers :)
I did the bathtub method with my Crowne Pros (although not thoroughly, just the ankles because I didn't have 8+ hours) and it worked like a charm.
I now have an awesome pair of Parlantis thanks to STA, which fit so well from the beginning I didn't have to.
Does the bathtub help SHRINK the calf circumference of boots? Or only stretch them? My new boots are about 1/4 inch too large in the top 1/2 of the calf (even though they are the slim size). If the bathtub method will help them fit better, I might try it.
What about causing the boots to drop? Again, my boots are about 1/2 inch too short (or will be once they drop, according to my trainer). Will the bathtub method cause them to drop more, or drop less? Or will it be the same?
People warn not to take the boots off before they are totally dry, because this could result in the leather shrinking to a size smaller than they were before being saturated.
It seems if you wanted to try the bathtub method in reverse, you would have to find a way to control the shrinkage to get them to shrink only as much as you want them too, and no more. There is also the possibility that they just won't shrink as much as you want them to.
I'm not sure how the bathtub methods affects how far they drop.
I don't see anyone specifically mentioning if this method is OK for boots with zippers - anyone have experience with this?
I didn't use the bathtub method on my Ariats (with zippers) but I did hose them thoroughly while I had them on, focusing on the ankle area. I wore them all day, until they'd dried, and it worked well.
I don't see any reason you couldn't use the bathtub method with zippers, but you'll get more water inside the boot than you would if you had no zippers.
Glad this thread got revived... I have a shiny new pair of Crowne pro zips sitting in the box. The few times I've put them on I have to walk like Frankenstein, they are so stiff.
(says she who has not had to break in boots for 10+ years)
I have the crown pros and the bathtub method has been their saving grace. Well I used a hose and hosed my legs until they were wet and then walked.
I don't care how popular the bathtub method is, no way I am walking around for 12 hours in wet boots, it just sounds too uncomfortable. I didn't have a particularly hard time breaking in my custom Dehners, nor any of my other riding boots.
It's not really uncomfortable if you don't wet the footbed. I broke mine in during summer, and it was infinitely more comfortable than wearing a dry pair of boots around acting like little ovens ;)
Aeternitee - I broke in a pair of zippered Rectilinges (see above post) and had absolutely no issues. They fit gorgeously now.
Aeternitee -- I used the bathtub method on my zip Crowne Pros a year and a half ago. Worked like a charm, and the boots have held up very well.
BAC - It was a little uncomfortable walking around in them for 12-14 hours the day I did it, but the end result was worth it for me. They fit like gloves and I love them. Not as much as I love the Sergio Grasso's I show/clinic in, but that's a whole different price point that I haven't been willing to venture into yet for schooling boots!
I have 3-4 year old Sergios that I used the bath tub method on when I first got them... it worked fabulously well! The boots have held up reasonably well even after being dunked. I just got the zipper replaced in one boot and now it is a little tighter than I would like it. Actually they are both pretty tight... so, does the bath tub method only work once, or can you do it multiple times? Based on the way skin works, I'd assume that multiple times would work, but does it become less effective? I am also interested in hearing what you guys think is best for boot conditioning, as I always feel like my boot leather is so dry.
Bumping this back up because I'm curious about doing this to a pair of pull-ons I have. They're the Ariat Heritages and are about 1/2" too small for my calves, but the ankles fit perfectly fine. I'm hesitant to dip them in water and then pull them on at the risk of pulling out the tabs (see Philibuster's post), but I can't see how I can just wet the calf part without getting water down into my feet.
And don't think that you need carefully crafted higher end boots to survive this. I did it with my first pair of tall boots, less than $100 from Dover. They ended up fitting like custom, comfortable as sneakers and I wore them day in and day out for about 8 years. Not bad for under $100.