The traditional leather boots or cowboy boots consists of a tall leather shaft which is the most recognizable feature of leather boots. The second most recognizable feature is that traditional leather boots do not come with laces. This was to avoid the laces getting stuck on the saddle and dragging a person off behind their horse.
The long shaft of a leather boot helps protect the foot, ankle and the lower part of the leg from rocks, thorns, and wildlife aka rattlesnakes. But, that’s only because leather boots were first made to be used by cowboys in the old west.
While the same functionality might not be required in the modern life that we live in, the distinctive, rugged features of a boot allure those who don’t mind swapping cocktails on the beach for a whiskey in the wilderness or just want to show off their rugged devil-may-care personality.
What to Do with Boots That Won’t Fit?
We’ve all been there; you forked out a pretty penny on a pair of leather boots online. They finally arrive a few weeks later, and when you’re about to slip them on you realize…they’re too tight (damn that size chart!). It happens to the best of us. But you don’t have to walk in shoes that pinch because there is an easy way out of this tight situation. All you’ve got to do is stretch the leather boots.
Boots are great to look at, whether up close or from a distance, so it’s no surprise that it appeals to the taste of both men and women. Boots are also perfect because they seem to suit just about every personality. But for the perfect footwear to fit perfectly as well, there are several factors that need to be considered.
First off, the toes of the wearer need to fit in the boots properly and without any hindrance. The same rules apply for the rest of your foot as well. Only then will you be able to enjoy your boots the way they’re meant to be.
The Art of Stretching Your Leather Boots
Stretching your leather boots so that they fit right and accommodate all your favorite wingtips is not only good for your feet, it can help prolong the lifespan of the leather boots as well. Boot stretching is the process of stretching boots that are a little tight with the help of a boot stretcher.
What Is a Boot Stretcher?
A boot stretcher is also known as a boot expander and it’s an instrument that is used to stretch out boots and even shoes that are tight. The beauty of using boot stretchers is that they give the user complete control over how much they want to stretch their boots so that they are a perfect fit. Boot stretchers are made from either wood or stainless steel. They also come in a variety of forms to address all areas of footwear from the heels and toes to the calves and the insole. The boot stretcher can help address problems with any of these areas.
Benefits of Using a Boot Stretcher
One of the main benefits you can expect from using a boot stretcher is that it helps you resize your boots so that they fit properly. This saves your feet from any unwanted injuries, blisters or discomfort while walking. With the help of a boot stretcher, you can stretch out the boots so that air can circulate within the boot and free up any trapped moisture that could lead to toe fungus.
Apart from these reasons, the boot stretcher allows you to wear a boot that you’ve just bought without having to buy another one, or, you can also use it to stretch a pair of leather boots that you haven’t worn in a while.
Types of Boot Stretchers
Boot stretches can either be purchased online or from any major department store. But, before you do invest in one, it’s best to know about the different types of stretchers that are available in the market today so that you can make a good choice. Since boot stretchers come in various types that offer different functions, here are some of the types of boot stretchers that are available in the market today.
1-Way Stretcher — This type of boot stretcher has been specially designed to stretch the entire width of the boot. This means that it can fit either the right or left side boot without any hassle while stretching. Another benefit of using the 1-way stretcher is that it can be used on both men’s and women’s boots.
2-Way Stretcher — While the 2-way stretcher has the same standard features that are present in the previously described stretcher, it does have a few more advantages. The 2-way stretcher has been designed to be adjustable so that they can stretch the width and elongate the length of the boots as well. This is one of the reasons why the 2-way stretcher is often considered as the best option for those who are looking for the best choice for stretching all-around rigid boots that are tight and stiff in more than one area.
Standard Boot Stretcher – The standard boot stretcher is the ideal choice for hikers or all those who wear boots to work every day. In other words, it is the best option for those who have to deal with regular foot pain that is caused by ill-fitting leather boots. These standard boot stretchers are also the best choice for stretching out heavy-duty work boots as well. They can do that by expanding the major pressure points within the shoe that normally receives the most wear and tear during the day.
Shoe Trees — Shoe trees are specially designed to stretch the entire width and length of heeled boots, which are normally worn by women. The shoe tree also helps create more toe space and reduces the chances of blisters and bunions, and maximizes comfort while wearing boots.
If you are looking to stretch your leather boots so that they are a comfortable fit and last longer than opting for one of the shoe stretchers that have been mentioned above should be your best option. But, it is important to note that the shoe stretcher is not your only option.
Stretching Your Leather Boots
Leather boots are notorious for causing heel pain, so the last thing you would want is to wear one that doesn’t fit well in the first place. Keeping that in mind, here are a few easy ways which you can use to stretch those leather boots.
Using a Boot Stretcher
Since there are quite a few options when it comes to boot stretchers, it’s best to do your research and pick the right options that are going to fit your needs. If your leather boot fits okay but is a bit narrow, then you should try the 1-way stretcher to make the soles of the boots wider.
If you need to both lengthen and widen your leather boots, then you should use the 2-way stretcher. A 2-way stretcher is also a great option if you feel your toes getting constantly pinched or blistered. More importantly, you need to purchase a boot stretcher and not a shoe stretcher, which is a common mistake that is made by many people.
1. Insert the Boot Stretcher into the Leather Boot
To stretch the boot according to your needs, you will first have to place the boot stretcher correctly into the boot and make some size adjustments if necessary. Now, slide the boot stretcher into the boot right till the tip of the boot, or as far as it can go. If you are using a calf stretcher then all you need to do is insert the stretcher into the calf section of the leather boot to get started.
2. Expand the Boot Stretcher
Now, that the boot stretcher is firmly in place, its time to stretch the boot according to your size. For that, you will need to turn on the handle of the boot stretcher clockwise and continue turning until you can see from the outside that the leather is stretching.
If done correctly, the boot stretcher is going to stretch both the length and the width of the leather boot if you’re using a 2-way stretcher, and only the width of the boot if you are using the 1-way stretcher.
For those who are concerned about over-stretching their leather boots, a quick tip is to apply a light amount of pressure before increasing the amount of stretch each night until your leather boots reach the perfect size.
3. Leave the Boot Stretcher in Place
Once you have stretched the boot stretcher by turning on the handle you will have to leave the boot stretcher in place for up to 6 to 8 hours. This is a crucial factor in stretching your leather boots since not leaving the stretcher in place for the prescribed time will make it difficult for you to get the desired results with the boot stretcher.
Depending on how tight your leather boot is and how much it needs to be loosened out, it may take anywhere between 3 to 6 nights before you can get your leather boots to the desired size and fit.
Other DIY Options
Leather Stretching Spray
Another DIY option that’s used by those who are looking to expand the width or length of their leather boots is by using a specially-formulated leather stretching spray. In this method, all you have got to do is spray the insides of the boot. It is important to not spray the outside of the boot since the chemicals within the spray could end up discoloring the leather. As soon as you’ve finishing spraying the inside of the boots, try to put them on so that the boots can stretch according to the size of your feet.
You can put your feet into the boots while they are still wet and it won’t damage your feet or lead to any irritation. These leather stretching sprays are easily available at any convenience store or shoe store. you can also find a variety of products online. Then again, you will have to do your homework and choose the right brand for the job.
Spray a Mixture of Alcohol and Water
Another method of stretching leather boots easily at home is by applying a mixture of alcohol and water to the leather. The mixture of the two is a 1:1 ratio, and contains water and rubbing alcohol that is to be put in a clean spray bottle and sprayed onto the leather boots. While this method can work on the entire boot, it works particularly well for loosening the calves of the boots if they are a bit tight. First, you are going to need to spray the mixture outside and inside the boot and then wear them until they are completely dry. This should give the alcohol and water mixture enough time to work its magic and stretch the leather boots according to size.
Pro Tip: An even more effective method of stretching your leather boots is by using a leather stretching spray or making your own with rubbing alcohol and water, and spraying the boots before using the 1-step or 2-step stretcher.
For many folks, the struggle is real; Not to slide into their leather boots, but to find that perfect pair of leather boots that’s comfortable enough to spend a full workday in, stylish enough to wear to a party and rugged enough to ride off into the sunset with. So, when you do find that perfect pair and it doesn’t fit, stretching the boots can help. The aforementioned tips should enable you to save yourself from crunched toes and blisters galore the next time you try to wear boots that just aren’t fitting right.