While many people believe that stretching their cowboy boots will provide them with greater freedom of movement, this is not the case. If your boots are too tight to allow you to freely wiggle your toes, they haven’t stretched enough. If you’re still within the break-in period, then give them more time to mold to the shape of your feet.
Table of Contents
- Do Cowboy Boots Stretch?
- 6 Ways to Stretch Your Cowboy Boots
- How Much do Cowboy Boots Stretch?
- 3 Ways Testing the Size of Your Cowboy Boots
Do Cowboy Boots Stretch?
Cowboy boots are made to stretch. Leather is quite pliable. However, they cannot be stretched too far without causing damage. If you find that your boots are still tight around the toe area, then it may be due to a break-in period that may result in stretching after some time. The amount of leather that stretches depends on what kind of materials are used and how much they stretch out when they get dry or hot. The more these two things occur, the more leather will be stretched out. These two things will also depend on many factors, including temperature, shoes, and the length of time that a pair has been worn. The more of these two things that occur, the more of the boot will be stretched.
Many people do not stretch cowboy boots because of their shape; they feel that it is too difficult. It is easy to tell if cowboy boots are stretched out because of shape or not because their toes will point out or stand up on their own accord, sometimes even with the heel still attached. This means they’ve had enough time to stretch, so you can judge whether they’re still tight or not. If they are too loose, then re-stretch them by stretching them over a block that is about as wide as the toe length and then some. They will be tight for about two days while they adjust to the new shape. Afterward, they should fit like a glove.
A little bit of stretching should be done once every week or every other week because cowboy boots are made out of materials that, over time, can get loose and even fall off. It is not easy to walk in them because you wouldn’t be able to feel your feet with the big space inside of your cowboy boots. It would be best to put a little bit of stretching in them every now and then so you can use your cowboy boots comfortably and be able to walk correctly.
Some people prefer to break in their boots the old-fashioned way by wearing them around and walking around for a while so they can become more comfortable and easy. This enables the leather to stretch out over time as it becomes more flexible and easier to fit on your foot. The key is not abusing it because if you do, the leather will tear easily. Every time you walk or move about in your boots, leather gets pulled. That’s why you need to break down leather with ease instead of pressure if this step is taken properly.
6 Ways to Stretch Your Cowboy Boots
1. Two Pairs of Socks
Set up your boots according to the following steps:
- Make sure that you are sitting on a clean, dry surface
- Remove the laces from each boot
- Clear out any dirt or dust from the area where you are going to set up your boots by brushing them off with a dry cloth
- Wipe down your boots with a damp cloth and let them air dry completely
- Fill your boots with 2 pairs of socks (one pair black, one pair white), so they are about 2/3 full. Now keep this in mind while you put them on. Make sure that neither sock crosses over the other since this will cause an unwanted crease in your leather.
- Put your boots on. Do not lace them up yet. Make sure that you are wearing TWO pairs of socks, one black one white. This will help prevent any creases in the leather by keeping your boots even and balanced. Now walk around in your boots for about 15 minutes, making sure that you do not cross the socks over each other inside the boots.
- Take off your boots and begin to lace them up according to whatever style you prefer (pattern, double diamond, etc., etc.)
- Now, put the two socks back inside the boots. Make sure everything is even. If you are not satisfied, repeat any of these steps until your boots are perfect.
- Repeat these steps about 3 times so that your boots are nice and clean and have no laces sticking out of them.
- Put on your favorite pair of jeans
2. Steam the Inside of Your Boots
- Placing them upside down on a paper towel or fabric surface. Make sure they are standing on an even surface so they can be more easily flipped after steaming.
- Now, using your hands, remove the wax from the outside of the boots (without removing them from the towel). Gently push out any excess air by pressing down with one hand while holding onto one of the laces with your other hand.
- Start at one of the front corners of your boot and gently roll it towards its center until it’s fully rolled up to its toe (don’t worry if some wax stays behind). You should now have a clean edge at each end of your boots.
- Once you’ve done one side, repeat this process with your other boot.
- Now, you can place the boots away for future use. If you’re interested in learning more about these products, Steam the inside of your boots by placing them upside down on a paper towel or fabric surface. Make sure they are standing on an even surface so they can be more easily flipped after steaming.
3. Submerge Them in Water
- Fill a bucket or tub halfway full of water, then submerge the shoes in the water to let them soak.
- The type of leather will determine how much time is needed for soaking, so you’ll need to test this out by ensuring that your leather is saturated with water and rub it gently to see if bubbles start to appear on the surface – once soapy bubbles are present, your boots are ready for stretching.
- After soaking, pull the boots out of the tub and dry them off using a towel (or let air dry).
- Gently roll the leather with the towel, working from the outside of the boot to the inside, then work inwards. The water will soften and relax your shoe and mold it to its intended shape.
- If you’re doing this for a work boot, you need to finish off by putting on your favorite pair of brogues or loafers and make sure no one sees you wearing them if at all possible!
4. Freeze a Bag of Water within the Boots
- Fill a water-filled bag with ice up to the plastic lining.
- Put the boots back on and close them tightly.
- The water in the boot should start to freeze within minutes–wait about 2 hours for it to fern completely. In order to achieve a waterproof seal of your boots, you’ll need two things; water and some amorphous material that can resist freezing temperatures, which is where ice comes into play. You’ll need enough space for amorphous material inside the boots so that when freezing forms around it, it will eventually expand beyond its original form and freeze close together again, which creates an impenetrable seal.
- Put the boots back on and seal them tightly; wait for about two hours.
- The ice and water should be frozen in and around the boots, making a waterproof seal. Now that you have your boots fully frozen, you can start cleaning them. First, remove the bags filled with ice and water from both sides of the boot. This allows air to circulate in between your boot’s leather and plastic lining. Then using a brush, get rid of any remaining ice from within your boot. Leave the bottoms of your boots pointing outwards for additional drying time before wearing them.
- Use a solvent to get rid of any residual ice and water inside your boots.
- After the solvent is done drying out the inside of your boot, it’s time for some clean-up. Use some warm water to get rid of any dirt on your boot’s interior; also, make sure to dry them completely before disassembling them. Also, don’t forget to switch out your leather laces with rubber ones since they are no longer waterproof
5. Use a Western Cowboy Boot Stretcher
- Put your cowboy boots onto the stretcher and put them under a weight, such as a box or other heavy item that goes on top of the stretcher. Leave it for a few days to allow it to stretch into shape optimally. You can also place some books on top of the object as part of an alternative set-up if you want to use something lighter as your weight, such as plastic bottles filled with water or sandbags made from cloth bags filled with sand which are available at many hardware stores and home improvement stores.
- After a while, you will see the boot starts to stretch more and more. Stop this process when you find a comfortable fit. You can also try to stretch some parts of your boots more than others by using different weights or objects underneath the boot that is on the stretcher. Such as, if your foot is too narrow for the boot, concentrate most of your stretching efforts on this area. If you use water bottles full of sand, they will cause the boots to stretch in different directions, such as up at the toe and across at the ankle.
- To stretch the whole shoe evenly, you can try to use a box to put on top of the stretcher, such as a shoebox. The idea is that the boots will stretch evenly when under pressure from all sides. The result is that your boots will stretch in many different directions and will be nice and comfy when walking in them. If you have any tight-fitting boots such as riding or climbing boots, this method is not recommended; these would remain uniform in their shape and very stiff and uncomfortable if done this way. It may also be risky to do so with steel-shanked footwear since they are fitted quite tightly by the manufacturer for safety reasons.
6. Use Heat from the Hairdryer
- Place the boots on your bare feet to warm them up through the soles.
- Using pliers, bend the end of each lace out so that it is no longer attached to anything.
- Warm up the boots again by placing them in a pot or kettle filled with water over low heat for 10 minutes, making sure not to scold yourself.
- Stretch your boot laces as much as possible by using both hands along one side of the boot and then move around, trying to reach all sides at once.
- Apply a little bit of stretch to the laces by bending them out again.
- Repeat this stretching process several times over several days.
How Much do Cowboy Boots Stretch?
There are at least four parts the vamp, instep, toe, and heel. Some stretch more than others. The given example is of a pair of western boots that are already stretched to size 9 ½, which means they can stretch up to that point. When stretching cowboy boots, their natural shape may be lost slightly, but the overall width stays the same because each of these four parts has stretched differently in relation to one another. It is easy for cowboy boots to stretch out when they’re not worn often because the leather will contract when it gets hot or dried out through neglect. Cowboy boots stretch more in the toe area because they’re shaped like a long rectangle or an oval. The heel area is stretched less because it is already rounded; hence the heel is a smaller width than the toe of the boot. The instep area does not have a natural shape, so it stretches the least because it is the widest part of the boot. The vamp is made from a long piece of leather, so it doesn’t stretch much.
3 Ways Testing the Size of Your Cowboy Boots
- 1. Take a look at the boots you are wearing. If they are too tight, it is impossible to walk without the resulting sore feet and pain in your leg.
- 2. Hold your boot at the top of the shaft with one hand and then pull down on that same side of the boot with your other hand; if it snaps into place easily, then that is an indication that your boots will be way too small for many activities you plan to do like riding horseback or driving a vehicle for any length of time. However, if you feel like you need to use force and stretch them out slightly, then you should be able to make your boots fit.
- 3. Take one of your boots and place it on a flat surface. Insert a Phillips head screwdriver at the top of the shaft on the inside. Push down toward the sole of the boot until you feel that it hits something hard like the support inside the boot; this is an indication that your calf will not be able to move past this point which will cause your foot to become sore and tight.
Are cowboy boots supposed to be tight at first?
No, the boots are designed to be snug but not uncomfortable. If your footwear is tight, then you probably need to buy a new size (or find another shoe that fits). Cowboy boots are supposed to grip your feet and feel like gloves because they’re made with leather. Leather stretches, so if the boot feels tight after you’ve worn it for a little bit, then it can stretch out.
Do cowboy boots stretch or shrink?
They both have the potential of stretching and shrinking, but typically they stay about the same size as long as they’re cared for properly. In this case, small changes in size will happen as long as your cowboy boots age, as well as if you wear them on hot/ cold days more often than on others.
How much can you stretch a cowboy boot?
As for how much a boot can be stretched, it depends on the type of shoe and the material used to make it. With some models, the only size difference you may notice is a little on the width of your feet. If your leather has been treated properly, then you shouldn’t have too many problems with odor and stretching.
What’s the best way to tell whether your cowboy boots are too small?
If they’re too snug, then probably they’re too small, and you’ll need to find a bigger pair of boots that fit your feet better. If the boots you want to buy are too big, then you have to find out if they have a thin/ thinned outsole or not.
How do you know if boots are too small?
If your boots don’t have a thinned-out sole, then they’re probably too large for you. In this case, you’ll want to look for a shoe that fits your feet better and has a thinned-out sole. This way, the shoes will tighten up when they get hotter and will loosen up when it gets cooler and stay in place.