How to stretch boots?

Discussion in 'The Haberdashery' started by breadstick, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. As you might have read from another post of mine, I just got some Red Wings Iron Ranger boots. One of my feet is wider than the other, which always causes fit problems with my shoes. I'm trying to break them in but it's pretty uncomfortable on that side. Is there an easier way to stretch the sides of one boot to other than wearing them and walking a bunch? I've read a lot online about putting a ziploc bag full of water in them and freezing them but I don't want to ruin my brand new boots and I'm not sure this will make them wider.

    Any thoughts?

    Edit: I found a video that I used that works WONDERS. I just got these boots yesterday and they already feel like they're almost broken after using this trick. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone. I'll be doing this with all my shoes from now on.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  2. Here is the US Army method. I know from direct experience that it will work. On a hot day, find the heaviest socks you can make fit inside the boots. Drench the socks sopping wet, put them on and lace on the boots. Walk (or run, if you like the infantry) them dry. Nothing ruined; all fixed forever.
  3. I use vaseline, take a big old blob smear it inside the boots, then put them on and walk around in them, they will mold to your feet, and also make them a tad water resistant inside, sounds really messy, but it works like a charm..
  4. Godan:
    + 1 because this method is exactly the one I was to instruct new recruits / trainees when I was a Basic Training Drill Sergeant (it also helps 'break-in' new boots too). The only negitive issue with this method is that it great for 'miniscule' stretching (mostly in width only). [​IMG]

    If the above method doesn't work and you need them strecthed like a ½ size, then you'll have to have them strecthed by a shoe/boot repair shop or by a cobbler.

    Christopher [​IMG] "It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe". Muhammad Ali

    PS Maybe member 'Mark the Shoeshine Boy' has a better / easier method. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  5. I did this tonight and walked about 4 miles (in 90 degree heat). I can definitely say the feel a lot looser and the hot spots seem to have mostly disappeared. Tomorrow will be the real test after they've dried out but I can feel a major difference. Sadly, the thickest socks I had were my military issue winter socks that were about a quarter inch thick, so my feet were so so so hot the whole time.
  6. Neatsfoot oil consistently applied to hot spots should do the trick. As I mentioned in the other thread, expect the IRs to take a little while to break in; the results are worth the pain. They can feel very snug at first and very stiff due to the double leather uppers. Soon, they'll be among the most comfortable shoes you've ever worn.
  7. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    Just have Joel try them on.
  8. I'm all in favor of applying whatever dressing is suitable to the type of leather in the boot, but I recommend that after the water method, which essentially molds or reforms the boot to your foot - much like forming leather around a pistol for a holster. It is a little tough on the feet perhaps, but only once. Afterwards, they fit as though they were molded to you, because they were.
  9. Shoe stretchers are what I have always used.. They work well but can be expensive. But I also have shoe trees in all of my boots/shoes. Thrift store prices are hard to beat.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  10. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    I tried the water/ziplock + freeze on a pair of Doc Martens once, no issues... It took ~24hrs

    Sideshow Bob?
  11. I did the water/socks trick last night and it is a night and day difference. The only problem for me now is the top of the boot. It doesn't bend like it should, but it will loosen up over time. I can't wait to wear them this weekend.
  12. Good that it worked for you. Now is the time to treat the boots with the wax/oil/silicone recommended by the manufacturer (or by REI or the equivalent, if there is one near to you). This will help loosen up the top and preserve and lubricate the leather (that now fits you). Treat the boots with dressing now, while they are clean, rather than later when the dressing will mix with ground crud and make a cutting compound.
  13. If you can find an experienced shoe repair shop, get them to help. I had a similar problem with really nice thin leather demi boots. A shoe repair guy popped the boot on a last and whaled away with a rawhide mallet for a few seconds. The beautiful finish on my boots was not damaged, and the tight spot was nicely loosened up. Why use sore feet to shape shoes when a technician can do it with tools?

    I do the wet walk method with trail running shoes, but that is not to fix real fit issues. It is to accelerate the break-in. Doing this with leather shoes is a pain in the feet.
  14. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

  15. Bump

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