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How To Stretch Hiking Boots? | 7 Effective Methods

Undoubtedly, wearing a tight pair of shoes can be painful. But, do you know what could be more painful? Wearing a pair of tight hiking boots for a hike. Trust us, you wouldn’t want to deal with discomfort within your hiking boots with a heavy backpack on your back.

Some individuals get lucky enough to purchase the right pair of hiking boots. But, unfortunately, some others aren’t as lucky, as they only discover that their hiking boots are tight when on a hike.

But, here’s the deal, you don’t have to fret if you’re one of these unlucky people. Why? There’s a solution to your tight hiking boots problem. How? You can make your hiking boots fit just the way you want by stretching them.

Get ready to find in-depth answers on how to stretch hiking boots. In this article, we’ll answer the question “how to stretch hiking boots.” Then, we’ll highlight the methods (or ways) to do it and why you might want to consider stretching those boots.

Let’s dive in!

Cowboy Boots 1

Can You Stretch Hiking Boots?

brown suede hiking boots on mountain

Yes, you can stretch your hiking boots. Just as regular shoes expand over time through consistent wear, your hiking boots can stretch naturally too – after you have worn them on hikes for a while.

However, if you just got your hiking boots and you notice a little discomfort, you may not be patient enough to wait until they stretch. We know you would probably be thinking of a quick alternative. For example, can you stretch hiking boots?

First, the answer depends on the kind of material that they are. For instance, if you’ve been hiking for a while, you would know that there are different materials used in constructing the hiker’s boots out there.

There’s leather, mesh, synthetic, and other materials. So, the faster they stretch depends on their materials. Leather, for example, is stiffer than other hiking boots materials and may take longer to break in and stretch when compared to others.

At the same time, leather materials vary, and some stretch faster than others. As an example, split-grain tends to break in faster than full-grain and nubuck leather.

Next, it depends on what you are ready and willing to do. You can stretch your hiking boots in different ways, and they require various efforts. Some ways might require you to spend some money or put your energy to work.

But before you get scared, they’re no big deals. We have collated the easiest way for you to stretch your hiking boots.

How To Stretch Hiking Boots?

First off, you must know that if your hiking boots feel tight, you don’t have to give up just yet.

As earlier stated, you can make your hiking boots feel comfortable just as you want by stretching them. You can try the following methods to stretch your hiking boots:

Method 1: Use boot stretchers

The first one to stretch any boots including hiking boots, of course, is using boot stretchers.

With a boot stretcher, all you need to do is insert it into your hiking boot and expand it to fill the tight spots. Then, leave the stretcher in your boots for six to eight hours.

They should feel better afterward. However, if the hiking boots don’t, you can repeat the process till you’re satisfied. Although, you should bear in mind not to overstretch them so that they become too loose for your feet.

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Pros

  • It’s effective

This method is one of the most effective ways to stretch hiking boots. Whether your boots are new or they’ve walked a few trails, you can get the best results within a short period with stretchers.

  • It’s easy

Boot stretchers are pretty easy to use and don’t require you to be a professional to use them.

Cons

  • They may overstretch the boots

There’s a chance that you may overstretch your boots using a stretcher. In addition, you may even get tempted to keep stretching till they over expand and feel loose around your feet.

  • They’re not free

You have to buy a boot stretcher before using them unless you borrow from someone who has them.

Method 2: Soften them with boot stretch spray

Another way to expand hiking boots is using a boot softener or stretch spray. You use this spray by applying it on the tight spots and inside the hiking boots, then leave them for a while.

After that, you have to wear them and walk in them. As a result, the hiking boots should feel less stiff.

But, before you apply the stretch spray, you have to ensure you read the manufacturer’s instructions so you don’t miss anything.

Then you can use as much spray as your boot needs to stretch properly. However, it would help if you didn’t empty the whole bottle on your hiking boots because it might be too much.

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Pros

  • It’s fast

Using boot stretch spray is a faster and quicker way to stretch your hiking boots. Within some time, you will get the softer boots you want.

  • Easy

Applying stretch spray is extremely easy to do once you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The good news about it is that it doesn’t involve you lifting any equipment.

  • It works well

Using boot stretch spray is an effective way to expand your hiking boots. With only a few sprays, you can wear your hiking boots comfortably again.

And unlike what you might think, the spray doesn’t stain your hiking boots and dry off as soon as you use them.

Cons

  • Can affect your boots’ color

One disadvantage of boot stretch spray is that it could mess up your hiking boot’s color if you use it too often.

Method 3: Wear them 

When it comes to stretching hiking boots with the most natural way, the obvious method is wearing them. The truth is, if you abandon your hiking boots, they’ll remain that way unless you give them to someone to help you out.

So, we advise that you wear them, preferably with socks while hiking. Simply understand that the more you wear these hiking boots, the higher your chances of stretching them.

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It may not be enough to wear them hiking alone; you may have to put them on when going to most places. For instance, you may want to wear them around the house or for grocery shopping.

Also, you can wear them for a walk around the area instead of your walking shoes. The more time your feet spend in them, the better they mold around your feet. However, we don’t recommend that you wear your hiking boots to bed.

man wears khakis pants and hiking boots

Pros

  • It’s easy to do

Wearing your hiking boots is easier than trying out any other method because you’re basically only walking. However, the uneasy part would be wearing them around the house since you’re supposed to wear something more comfortable.

Also, you don’t need to lift any equipment to stretch them. All you’ll need to lift are your feet and, of course, your hiking boots which could be a little bit heavy.

  • A natural method to stretch 

Wearing your hiking boots to stretch them is more natural than trying other methods.

  • You spend more time hiking

If you want them to stretch faster, that means you would have to wear them a lot, and that may mean regular hiking. So hitting the trail more frequently isn’t a bad idea. Besides, your boots will break in quicker. So, win-win.

  • Affordable 

This method costs no money. You only need yourself, and of course, the boots to hit the hiking trails.

Cons

  • It requires energy

It isn’t so easy to pick up your boots, wear them uncomfortably and go hiking to stretch them. But, regardless of the distance, you would still feel it in your body.

Not only that, if you wear them in your home too, you can imagine how stressful that can be for you.

  • It takes time

This method takes a long time for you to achieve your goal. When you think of it, you could save yourself stress and time by trying other methods.

Method 4: Stuff them up

stuff towel in hiking boot

Another easy way to stretch your hiking boots is to stuff them up. For example, you can stuff them up with your socks and some old newspapers.

This method is suitable when you don’t want to spend money, time, and energy. So, you can sit in your living room and watch TV while your hiking boots sit in one corner stretching.

Before you stuff them up, ensure you make the newspapers or socks wet. This way, the boot will expand more easily and when getting dried, it will stick to the new size. You may need to repeat this process a few times before you get your desired results.

Pros

  • It’s cheap

This method is a cheap way to stretch your hiking boots without spending much. You don’t have to buy newspapers or socks; you’re only using the resources that you have.

It’s also better than having to wear them on several hiking trips. But, then, you only have to get your socks and some old newspapers out.

  • An easy method

This method is easier than other breaking-in methods. In fact, you don’t have to follow any manual to stretch your hiking boots.

The best part is that you don’t even have to wear them, which could cause discomfort and cramping to your feet.

  • It gives better results

The materials you stuff in them will do an excellent job of expanding your hiking boots. So you can be sure that this method would do a better job than some others.

Cons

  • It takes time

This method takes a lot of time, just like wearing them. The only difference is that you don’t have to wear them.

Also, stuffing them up once won’t give you the results you want; you’d have to do that a couple more times.

Method 5: Use a hair dryer

Another thing you can do is to heat them with a hairdryer. This is an easy way for you to get your hiking boots to break in faster. The hair dryer method is most effective if your hiking boots’ material is leather.

This is because a hair dryer emits heat, and it can help soften the leather. And you can try this in two ways; first, you can heat them till they soften and wear them with thick socks immediately for a walk.

Secondly, it might be best to wear them and let the hair dryer heat up the tight spots from outside. While doing that, stretch your feet inside your boots so the boot expands with the heat. Afterward, you can then walk around in them.

use hair dryer to stretch hiking boots

Pros

  • It doesn’t involve any technicalities

You can do this method by yourself as long as you have a hair dryer in your home. Hair dryers are pretty easy to use, so you shouldn’t have any issues executing this method.

  • Less expensive method

It’s cheaper than some other methods since you probably already have a hairdryer at home. However, if you don’t, you may consider using some other more inexpensive methods like walking in them or stuffing them up.

Cons

  • Heat can damage your boots

If you expose your hiking boots to too much heat, you may end up making a mess of it rather than getting it to break in. Plus, you shouldn’t expose the hiking boots to direct heat for too long as it could melt the glue that holds the boots together.

So, you may end up with broken hiking boots at the end of the day rather than less stiff ones. Ensure that you are a little extra careful when using a hairdryer.

Method 6: Condition them

You could also stretch your hiking boots by conditioning them. For example, if your hiking boots have a leather upper, you can use a leather conditioner to soften them.

This method is effective in getting your hiking boots to break in faster. When you get your conditioner, ensure you read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying them to your boots.

If there is none, apply them on your hiking boots’ outer parts and wait for a while for leather to absorb the lotion. Then, after a while, you can wear them, so it molds to your feet size.

Additionally, you could also condition them with lotion, but you’d have to wash them immediately when they’re dry.

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Pros

  • It’s easy to use

Applying conditioner is an easy way to stretch your hiking boots. You only need to apply the lotion on the leather, wear the boots, and you’re good to go.

  • Conditioner is good for the leather

Leather conditioner makes your hiking boots look even better and shinier.

  • It makes your boot last longer

Applying conditioner to your hiking boots enhances the material and makes it last for a long period.

Cons

  • It costs a fee

Conditioners aren’t free, so you should get ready to spend an amount to make your hiking boots more comfortable if you are using this method.

Method 7: Use water spray

Besides boot stretch spray, you can spray water on your hiking boots to soften and stretch them.

Spray water on your hiking boots until they get wet. Then put on them and walk around your house until they are dry. And done! You can repeat the process until you feel your boots are stretched.

Note that the process will be more effective if you use warm water to spray on your boots.

Pros

  • Quick and economical method

This method costs you nothing and just takes a few minutes to complete. You can do it at home with available items.

Cons

  • Water might harm the material

Water is no good for your boot materials, especially leather. It might damage leather if you overdo this method.

Method 8: Use steam

Steaming inside a boot is also a common way to stretch it. With your kettle, boil some water and wait for the steam to come out. Then turn your hiking boots upside down to catch that steam.

The warm steam softens the material of your boots and makes them stretch better. When your boots are still warm, put on socks and wear your hiking boots to go around the house. This will help the stretching process happen faster. You can repeat the process until reaching the desired result.

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Pros

  • Easy to do at home

This is a quick way to soften and stretch your hiking boots materials. You can find all the tools at home.

Cons

  • Not much effective

This method is not effective as using other dedicated products.

Method 7: Ask a professional

The other option you have is to ask a professional to help you stretch your hiking boots. You can try this method if you want an easy way out.

The professional does all the stretching, and you get to wear comfortable boots after. When opting for this option, ensure that you find a professional. It wouldn’t be nice if you have to give up your boots after an unprofessional cobbler messes them up for you.

Pros

  • It’s faster and requires little effort

A professional can get things like this done quicker, allowing you to start wearing your hiking boots in no time. All that’s needed to do is take your hiking boots to the professional and come get them after some time.

  • A more professional solution

A professional knows the right way to stretch your hiking boots without overstretching or under stretching them.

Cons

  • It’s expensive

Professional fees can be on the high side. So, if you’re not ready to spend some money, you may want to opt for other cheaper ways to stretch your hiking boots.

Why Do We Need To Stretch Hiking Boots

Just like you, many people have different reasons for stretching their hiking boots. Some of the reasons people need to stretch their hiking boots are:

1. It’s cheaper

Stretching tight hiking boots is way cheaper than getting a new pair.

Plus, it wouldn’t be nice for you to abandon the boots you have barely worn for a new pair. You’ll spend less money to stretch them than buying new ones if you follow any of the methods we listed.

2. They’re new

new hiking boots need stretching

New hiking boots tend to be stiff. And depending on their material, they may take a long time or more effort to break in.

You may not enjoy them as you should on your first few hiking trips. However, if you stretch them, they’ll feel more comfortable around your feet.

3. Stiff surroundings

When hiking boots are stiff, you need to break them for you to comfortably wear.

For this reason, you need to stretch these hiking boots so they are more breathable and they allow free flow of air in and out of your boots.

4. They make your feet hurt

hiking boots hurt your feet

You may need to stretch your hiking boots if they make your feet hurt. For example, tight hiking boots can rub against your ankle and make them throb – leading to blisters, or worse, wounds.

In addition, tight hiking boots could make your toes hurt when they don’t have enough room to wiggle.

Tight hiking boots could also inflict blisters on your feet. So, you would need to stretch your boots to give your feet enough room to be comfortable there.

If your hiking boots are too tight for you to get on, you may need to expand them to make it easy for your feet to enter without stressing.

Also, the boot tops could be too tight, and you may need to stretch them a little bit to make hiking more comfortable for you.

Conclusion

People stretch their hiking boots for different reasons, and of course you can stretch yours too. However, different materials require various break-in periods.

But not to worry, you can try out our list of different methods to stretch your hiking boots. This article listed seven different techniques you can easily try to expand your hiking boots to the right size.

At the same time, we listed different pros and cons of the various methods, so you can check them out before getting started.

If you would rather not go through any stress to stretch your hiking boots, you can get a professional to help you out.

So, follow any of the highlighted methods, and you’re good to go!


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