I know what it is like to fall in love with a great pair of hiking shoes, get them at a great price, but later find out that they are a bit too tight for you. The toe box of hiking shoes can often cause problems for hikers, especially when you first get a pair of shoes. You might need to learn how to stretch it, or your toes will be doomed.
There are many ways to stretch hiking boots and their toe boxed. If you feel tightness around your toes, this guide can help you solve that problem. I will cover all the best stretching methods and give you a couple of steps that you can follow to stretch the toe box.
After trying these methods, you will find that your shoes fit better than you would have ever expected them to!
Step-By-Step Guide - How to Stretch Toe Box of Hiking Boots?
There are quite a lot of methods to stretch the toe box of your hiking boots. Some might even sound funny to you, but those funny methods can sometimes work quite well. From ice to heat, oils, as well as stretcher tools – read through these DIY techniques to find out which are the most effective stretching techniques you can use!
1. Stretching with socks
If your hiking boots feel a bit too tight in the front part, you can try stretching them with a pair or two of thick socks. This is the easiest and quickest method, so I recommend starting with it. All you need is some thick socks and a bit of your time.
You should know that you can cause your shoes to loosen up by wearing thick socks at times. I recommend that you put on two pairs of thick socks and wear the boots for 30 minutes. You do not even need to go outside – you can do this at home.
After those 30 minutes, let your feet rest and when you feel like it, do the process again. The more you wear thick socks with your shoes, the more they will stretch! So, repeat this process as many times as you need.
2. Stretching with heat
Another easy method that you can try is stretching hiking boots using a blow dryer. Keep in mind that this method works only on shoes made with genuine leather. It will not work as well on shoes made from other materials.
So, you need to get your hairdryer and turn it on high heat for this method. Then, point it in the direction of the part you want to stretch. Keep the warm air in that direction for a while because the heat will make it stretch.
After some time, try the leather boots on and see if they fit better. If not, you can use the blow dryer to loosen them up a bit more. After a few times, you should see a real difference.
3. Stretching with cold
You can also find this method under the name freezing water method. That is the name because you need some water and a bigger freezer to stretch your shoes. Keep an open mind about this – it might seem a bit strange, but it works!
I recommend doing this method on shoes made with synthetic materials. Even though you can use it on other types of shoes to get the right fit, the way will not be that effective.
So, you should get a ziplock bag and fill it with water. Then, place the bag in the shoe and take the shoe to your freezer. You should put the shoe in the freezer and let it sit there for a while. As the water freezes, the shoe will stretch and no longer be in the wrong size.
4. Stretching with oil conditioners
Think again if you thought that the freezing water method was the most shocking one! If you have a pair of tight leather boots, you should use a leather conditioner to stretch them up. I bet you did not see this one coming.
The leather conditioner is an oil-based conditioner that you should rub all over the part of the shoes you want to stretch. After applying leather conditioner, you should leave the shoe for a few hours before trying it out. If all is well, your leather shoes will be looser than before!
If the method does not work the first time, you can repeat it a few days later. After repeating the process a few times, your toes will have much more wiggle space than before.
5. Stretching with a boot stretcher
I cannot talk about stretching hiking boots without mentioning the famous boot stretches. These tools have been around for quite a while. Even though it is an investment to get a boot stretcher, you can use it whenever you want on all types of shoes.
To stretch your hiking boots, you should place the boot stretcher in the boot and leave it there for 8 hours or even longer. After the time is up, you should try the boots and see if they fit better than before.
Aside from the boot stretcher, you can also use a one-way shoe stretcher or shoe tree to try and loosen the toe box. These tools should all work great on all types of shoes, so do not hesitate to give them a try!
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Does Shoe Stretcher Spray Work?
Shoe stretcher sprays are not something that I have mentioned so far. Still, that does not mean that these sprays do not work well in stretching hiking boots. If you think about it, they can do a great job stretching all types of shoes made with all kinds of material, not only hiking boots!
Once you get the spray, you first need to give it a nice shake. Then, start spraying it on the areas that you want to stretch. You can spray both on the inside and the outside to get a better result.
Once you spray them, you should put on a thick pair of socks and the shoes right away. Try wearing them around for a while to see any change. If the shoe is still not stretched enough, you can respray it.
Since the shoe stretcher spray cannot damage the shoes, you can use it as much as you need and as often as you need. Trust me; you will not regret investing in the spray!
Why Do I Need to Break In My Boots?
After you buy a new pair of hiking boots, the first thing you need to do is break them in. This is very important! If you wear the boots without breaking them in, your feet and toes will suffer the consequences.
New shoes, when they are new, tend to be quite tight. The inside soles are not used to the shape of your foot, and the foot is not used to the shape of the shoes. So, you need to give them some time to get used to each other before you go on a long hike.
No one’s thousand miles begins with brand new shoes. Everyone breaks them in because their feet can swell, hurt, and blister up if they do not. The discomfort that new shoes give can sometimes lead to injury, which you would want to avoid.
So, trust me when I say you have to break in your new boots. Wear them around for a week or even longer before taking them on a hike. Your feet and toes will thank you for it!
How Do You Know If a Boot Is a Wrong Fit?
There are two ways in which a boot can be the wrong fit. It can be too big or too small. If you have the wrong size boot, you will be able to tell it is not a good fit right away.
For example, boots that are too big will not feel comfortable. Your feel will be sliding around, you will feel discomfort around the joints, and you will be more prone to bend your leg.
As opposed to this, too small boots will also not feel comfortable. Your toes will feel cramped, while the back of the foot will be more prone to blistering. It would be best if you never took long walks in shoes that are too small or tight.
If the boots are too small or too big, there is not much that you can do. But, if the problem is with the toe box only, you can use one of the methods I mentioned above to fix the problem. You will not be able to move up or down several sizes, but you will be able to make the boots at least a bit more comfortable.
Can You Stretch Boots a Half Size?
Yes, you can always stretch your boots a half size. You can stretch them up to the next full size, but you should not go beyond that. You may use the methods I mentioned above to stretch the shoes more than one size, but that can damage the shoes more than it can help them.
I recommend trying any of the methods I mentioned before a couple of times. If that does not stretch your boots enough, use only the less invasive methods. Like, for example, the method with the thick socks!
How Do You Stretch Out Boots That Are Too Small?
There is little that you can do to boots that are too small. If you have several pairs of hiking boots, I recommend using some other pair for serious, longer hikes instead of the smaller boots. You can use the latter only for shorter, simpler hikes.
But if you want to try and stretch them out, I have a couple of suggestions that you can follow. I would recommend trying to break the shoes in and then stretch them using thicker socks. This method cannot damage the shoes but can help you stretch them up to half a size.
You can also try some of the many shoes stretching sprays, or stretching tools. They need some investment, but they can also do a great job. As mentioned before, shoe stretchers do not need a lot of effort to work. You put them in the boot and leave them to do their thing.
Still, if none of these methods work, I have another suggestion for you. You can also seek professional help! Someone who works with shoes daily can help stretch them without causing any damage. So, it might be a good idea to give this a shot as well.
Look for a shoe cobbler in your neighborhood and take the tight boots to him. He will be able to tell you the best way that you can stretch them!
Different Methods for Stretching Hiking Boots
I have already mentioned quite a few different stretching methods. There are some other methods that I would mention, but they would not work as well. Sometimes, they even end up being a waste of time.
The basic types of stretching that you can do are mentioned above. You can try heat, cold, or stretching tools. These are the safest and easiest methods. If none of these things work, then you should seek professional help.
Well, I hope that this guide taught you a lot about how you can stretch the toe box on your hiking shoes. If you have some pairs of shoes that are too tight, try these methods and see if you can stretch them and make them feel comfortable.
Let me know in the comments if you tried out any of the methods I shared. I would love to know how it all went, so do not hesitate to share all about your experience!
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