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Cowboy boots in general, give out a more snug fit than usual. So, it’s a no-brainer that some people don’t realize that when they’re buying a new boot. And even if you get the size right, you have to accept one thing. A lot of cowboy boots are hand-made. Needless to say, there are going to be a few tiny errors. The solution is to stretch it without damaging the leather.
There are 3 ways you can stretch a cowboy boot; heat and pressure, only pressure, or a combination of cold and pressure. Boot stretchers are the safest way to stretch out a boot but they’re somewhat expensive. But there are other ways like steaming or putting in the freezer.
As you can see, I can’t spit it all out in one paragraph. That said, stay with me and find out how you can stretch out those boots-
how to stretch leather cowboy boots? (2 part + method)
From using inexpensive DIY methods to taking help from professional tools, people have been stretching cowboy boots for quite some time. Here are 5 proven methods of how to stretch boot instep-
Part 1: The Quick Methods
Time Required: 10 minutes to 1 hour
Cost: Inexpensive DIY method
These methods might be quick and fast but you need to be extra careful while doing it. One little mistake can ruin the leather faster than you can imagine. But they’re great if you can’t wait for a few hours.
Method #1: Wear Two Pairs of Socks
Something as simple as wearing two pairs of socks can stretch your cowboy boots about half a size. You’re basically spending no money to stretch the boots as most people have a few pairs lying around.
However, keep in mind that you’re using your feet as a stretcher. If you add in another shoe or the socks are already thicker than usual, you might see blisters.
This method is super effective when you try it in the summer or when there’s extra heat. The heat makes the stretching process much more efficient and faster.
Method #2: Steam the Inside of Your Boots
In this technique, you use steam to heat up the boots and then walk around in them for a while. When the boots get back to normal temperature, they stretch out a little because of the walking.
Simple, right? No matter how easy the process is, remember it’s going to damage the leather to some extent. So, make sure you don’t go overboard.
- It’s best if you can get hold of a garment steamer. Otherwise, a boiling pot full of hot water will do the job too.
- Now point the garment steamer at your boots for 25 seconds. If you’re using a boiling pot, get a stick or something that can hold the boot over the pot.
- Chances are the boots have become soft and more elastic than normal. If not, you need to heat it for another 20 seconds.
- The boots are ready to be worn now. I know they’re steaming hot. But you have to wear them now if you want them to stretch.
- Use boot conditioning products when the boots are completely dried.
Method #3: Submerge Them in Water
The truth is I’m not a fan of this technique. It creates a mess and the boots take longer to dry. Be that as it may, there’s no denying this method works every single time-
- Fill a large bucket or tub with lukewarm water
- Submerge the boots into the water. Make sure the insides don’t get wet.
- After a few seconds of holding down, the insoles will get a little wet.
- Put on a pair of socks and wrap a plastic bag over them. You can skip the plastic part if you’re a fan of walking in wet boots.
- It’s better if you do it when there’s plenty of sunlight around. The boot will stretch and dry a lot faster than usual.
Part 2: The Lengthy Methods
Time Required: 6 to 8 hours
Cost: A mix of DIY and professional methods so there might be a little cost involved.
Sure, the lengthy methods take their time. But the result is long-lasting and there’s less risk of ruining your brand-new boots.
Method #1: Use a Boot Stretcher
A boot stretcher is a handy way to stretch cowboy boots. Simply insert the boot stretcher and wait for a few hours to get the job done.
The only bummer is you’d have to spend some money. Even though wood boot stretchers cost more money, they’re far better than plastic ones in terms of efficiency and durability.
Anyhow, here’s how to use a boot stretcher-
- Use a shoe stretch spray to soften out the leather. After that, wipe the insides with a rag soaked in the stretch spray(remember, this is optional).
- Make sure the toe block of the stretcher isn’t spread open. Otherwise, it won’t slide into the boots. If you want to stretch specific areas, you can add bunion plugs.
- Now slide the stretcher into the boots. Adjust the T handle in a clockwise direction as long as you don’t get a snug fit. But remember not to stretch too much as it can damage the leather.
- Leave the shoes like that for at least 8 hours. You could do a minimum of 6 hours but no less than that.
Method #2: Put in Frozen Water Bag Inside the Boots
You already saw how great water and steam are for stretching boots. So, why should ice or frozen water miss the show?
- Take a sealable bag and fill half the bag with water. After that, seal the bag with as little air as possible.
- Now put the bag inside your boots. Make sure the bag stays near the toe box.
- Naturally, water won’t hold its shape. So, add in some socks or newspaper to keep it in its place.
- Finally, put the boots in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours.
- When the water becomes ice, it’ll increase in size. As a result, this will make the shoes stretch at a steady rate.
- After 8 hours, thaw the ice and remove it from the boots.
4 steps to Fit Cowboy Boots at home
Finding a properly fitted cowboy boot can be one mammoth of a task considering the number of styles and shapes available. But you could do it in no time if you follow these 4 steps-
Step 1: Put on the Boots
Once the boot’s all in, you’ll notice a faint popping noise. That’s when you know the foot is in the resting place of the insole.
Step 2: Measure the Heel Lift
The heel lift is a small gap that’s between the heel and insole. For a comfortable fit, make sure it’s not bigger than 1/8th of an inch or 0.125 inches.
Step 3: Check Where the Ball of the Foot Is
The heel lift is done. Now, check out the location of the ball of the foot. Ideally, it should stay on the wide portion of the boot. You don’t X-ray vision so try to feel if the ball’s in the right place or not.
Step 4: Check the Toes and Walk Around
Every boot’s shape is different, and so is everyone’s toe shape. But there should be a minimal gap between your toes and the toe box. If it’s a little tight you can always stretch it, but avoid larger sizes. Finally, walk around in the shoes and see if they fit right.
Western Boot Fitting Guide >> Check out the video below:
How Do You Know If Your Boots Are Too Big?
There are a few classic tell-tale signs that determine whether your boots are too big or not-
- Your foot can move forward and side-to-side even when the shoes laced up
The boots are supposed to give a snug fit. If your feet can move around after lacing up, it’s too big for you.
- You’re seeing blisters
Breaking in new boots takes some time. But seeing blisters for weeks is not okay. It’s a clear sign that you need smaller shoes.
- You’re not getting enough ankle support
When the laces are tightly wrapped, you’re supposed to get the right amount of ankle support. But that’s not going to happen with a larger-sized boot.
Should Cowboy Boots Be Tight at First?
A properly fitted cowboy boot will give you a snug feeling. Breaking in the boots is a must especially if it’s made out of genuine leather. However, it should never feel tight regardless of how a lot of cowboy boots are hand-made.
Even though I’ve talked about 5 different methods of how to break in cowboy boots, you shouldn’t do it if it’s the wrong size.
What Are the Best Shoes for a High Instep?
Just because you have a pair of high arch feet doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t go all out with the boot trends.
Check out a couple of boxes and you’ll be good to go. Here are two-
01. Wolverine Men’s Rancher 10″ Square Toe Steel Toe Work Boot
This work boot from Wolverine could be a perfect companion. With a 100% leather body and a sturdy synthetic sole, the construction is rock-solid. And not to mention, the extra protectiveness that comes with the steel toe.
02. Old West Boots Men’s TBM3010
When it comes to value for money, this cowboy boot sure grabs a lot of attention. An affordable price tag and decent build quality makes this pair of cowboy boots worth your while.
Well, that’s a wrap. I hope you’re all cleared out on how to stretch cowboy boots instep. Personally, I’ll always go for a boot stretcher. But sometimes you need a quick solution.
That’s when I use a garment steamer. The boots don’t get damaged and I get to have a fix in no time.
Rafayel Bryen is a lead content creator for Workwear Adviser. He is an expert on workwear because he had been into odd jobs. This is why he knows the importance of hard-wearing clothes.