do hiking boots stretch

Do Hiking Boots Stretch?Answered + Solutions to Stretch Them!

If you have just bought a new hiking boot and you’re wondering whether do hiking boots stretch? The simple answer is yes. Hiking boots do stretch a little, with wear or with some external help.

Whenever you are getting a new hiking boot, you need to ensure that they are comfortable and fit your feet nicely. 

Often, you may find that the toe box of your hiking boots is a little too tight, even though the size you bought is your usual shoe size. 

I have wide feet and often face the issue of cramped toes when buying hiking boots, boots!

But I discovered it can easily be solved by stretching the hiking boots.

This prevents the likelihood of blisters and cuts after a long hike. 

Aside from that, there are other ways on how to stretch the toe box of the hiking boots to ensure that your hiking boots fit snugly and make your hiking experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

At a glance, I will be taking you through:

  • Do Hiking Boots Stretch?
  • How To Stretch The Hiking Boots?
  • Choosing The Right Fit
  • Why Does The Right Fit Matter?

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Do Hiking Boots Stretch?

Well, firstly it depends on the material of the hiking boots, whether the hiking boots are made out of natural or synthetic materials. 

Natural materials are usually leather, wool, and cotton, whereas for synthetic materials, they are a blend of materials like PU leather, plastics, and nylon.

When it comes to hiking boots that are made of natural material, they are usually made out of leather material. 

Then it begs the question, will the hiking boots stretch? Yes, if its made out of leather. Normally leather material is more flexible compared to synthetic materials.

In most cases, leather hiking boots are made with one-piece leather as compared to synthetic hiking boots where smaller pieces are stitched together. 

A one-piece leather gives the hiking boots more flexibility to shape and allows them to stretch over time. This gives the hiking boots a much better fit and comfort in the long run.

However, for synthetic boots, the stitching will reduce the room to stretch because the stitching limits the flexibility for the hiking boots to stretch. However, it does not mean that it won’t stretch, just limited compared to leather boots.

In most cases, hiking boots can only stretch to make them fit snugly to your feet, it does not go up a size but merely half a size or about an inch. 

As such, it is important to get hiking boots that are the right fit and feel comfortable. We will discuss further how to choose the right fit.

How To Stretch The Hiking Boots

If your hiking boots feel tight on your feet even when you have bought the right size as per your usual shoe size, this means your hiking boots do not fit you properly. And now you are wondering how to stretch out hiking boots.

There are several ways to stretch hiking boots.

 One of the best ways to stretch the boots that hikers normally do is by wearing them out for short hikes, walks, or just around the house. 

This method does not require additional tools but it may take a longer time to stretch the hiking boots.

Stretching your hiking boots or breaking them in before your long hikes will help in stretching the boots to make them more comfortable and fit snugly. 

This in turn will help to reduce discomfort when you wear them for a long haul. Although this is a slow process, it is definitely something you must do!

There are other tools that can complement and help the stretching process. 

You may get a shoe stretcher, shoe stretcher spray, thick socks, or even a shoe tree to help with the process.

1. Shoe Stretcher

A shoe stretcher is a tool that is fitted inside the boots and can gradually stretch the boots to make the boots wider. 

This is how to stretch the boots wider, especially within the toe box area. These shoe stretchers come with plugs that you can target at specific tight spots in your boots.

The advantage of a shoe stretcher is that it can stretch in both ways, by the width or the length of the shoe.

 Getting a pine wood stretcher would be a better investment compared to a plastic one, as it would last longer.

A shoe stretcher is a great tool if you are wondering how to stretch synthetic hiking boots.

 It will reduce the risk of causing damage to the boots as the stretch is done gradually and make sure that you do not overstretch! Get a shoe stretcher here.

2. Shoe Stretcher Spray

Alternatively, you can try using a shoe stretcher spray which is suitable for a leather hiking boot stretcher. 

You can apply the spray directly to the tight problematic areas and it helps to soften the material and eventually stretches the boots. It is safe and effective, as it will not stain your leather boots.

You may also use this spray together with the shoe stretcher to get a better result. Get the shoe stretcher spray here.

3. Thick Socks

You can wear thicker socks, thicker socks than the usual socks that you wear for your usual hikes. 
Thicker socks will help to stretch the boots gradually. Do hiking shoes stretch with the help of thick socks? Yes, but it is very slow progress. Nevertheless, it will help to stretch the boots for your comfort.

4. Shoe tree

A shoe tree is an aid you can use to protect the boots from shrinking after the hiking boots have been stretched or broken into. 

Besides that, a cedar wood shoe tree is great to keep the hiking boots fresh, as it would absorb the moisture and sweat in the boots would prevent odours from developing. Get a cedar wood shoe tree here.

If all else fails, and you are worried about trying to stretch the hiking boots yourself, do get professional help. In this instance, get a cobbler. 

Cobblers are able to advise you on how to stretch hiking boots or whether do your hiking boots stretch.

Try to avoid the freezer method where you soak the boots in water and freeze it. This method is not recommended. 

The ice expands and stretches the boots, once it melts and goes back to room temperature it will cause damage and might crack the boots. Do not risk ruining your boots, as boots are not entirely cheap.

Alternatively, if your hiking boots are still within the return period, you may want to get them changed and get a professional opinion from the store to ensure you get the right size and fit.

Choosing The Right Fit

When you are getting a hiking boot, choose the right fit for your feet. Ensure that the length, width, and heel are right for you and feel the most comfortable for you.

A tip when shopping for a new hiking boot is to bring or wear a pair of socks that you normally wear for your hikes and test out the new hiking boots at the store with it to ensure that you get the right fit with the socks that you wear.

First of all, check the length. Whether there is enough room behind your heels to the back of the boots. 

With the boots unlaced, try pushing your feet forward touching the toe box, and measure whether there is enough room for one finger to be in between your heel and the back of the boots.

Next is to check the width of the boots. Lace-up both boots and feel them, wiggle your toes in the boots. 

Your feet should feel snug and comfortable enough. Most hiking boots have a little stretch that can make them fit more comfortably over time.

If your feet feel crunched up and painful, the boots are too narrow, this will in turn cause damage to your feet or strain your feet. 

In contrast, if your feet slide from side to side, then the boots are too wide, which can eventually cause blisters on your feet.

Lastly, make sure that your heel is positioned in the boot properly. It is locked in position and does not slide up or down as you walk. 

Ideally, the heel should not lift or slip from the boots. If this is not possible, you want to consider switching the insoles with better insoles that have a slightly better fit or extra cushioning.

It is important that the hiking boots fit comfortably for you and not for someone else. 

The hiking boots are for you, so it has to fit your feet. Here are some recommended hiking boots that you can consider.

Why Does The Right Fit Matter?

Getting the right fit for your hiking boots is very important to minimize discomfort and blisters. 

Stiff and tight-fitting boots can cause friction on your feet which can eventually cause blisters in the most inconvenient places. You definitely do not want this to happen on your long hikes.

Aside from that, properly fitted boots are good in the sense that they reduce the risk of injury to your feet, joints and ankles. 

The purpose of a hiking boot is to provide protection from different terrains and elements like roots, rocks, and sharp objects. 

Hiking boots also help in reducing stress and the impact on your ankles, joints, and feet when you hike on different terrains.

To further protect your ankles, joints, and feet, switch your original insoles to a better insole that will reduce impacts from here.

FAQs on Do Hiking Boots Stretch

Are Hiking Boots Supposed To Be Tight?

No, hiking boots should not be tight, they should have a snug fit and have enough room to wiggle your toes. It is ideal to try on the boots at the end of the day when our feet are slightly bigger with the socks that you wear for your hikes ensuring that the boots fit nicely and comfortably.

Can You Stretch Out Hiking Boots?

Yes, you can stretch out hiking boots but if you are afraid to do it yourself, most stores are able to help you stretch the hiking boots for you. However, the hiking boots do not stretch up a size. It would only make the hiking boots fit more comfortably. It also depends on the material of the hiking boots.

Do Hiking Boots Stretch Over Time?

Yes, hiking boots stretch over time. Hiking boots may stretch slightly with wear, but it is more of getting the hiking boots more comfortable and fits you snugly, rather than making the boots expand until they become too large. While the boots do stretch, they do not go up a shoe size, it would only make the boots fit better.

How Do You Know If Hiking Boots Are Too Tight?

You will know when your hiking boots are too tight when:

  • Your toes are pinched or crunched up and you feel pressure when walking on a downward incline or even in a natural position.
  • Even with the laces loosened, you still feel the pressure on the top and the sides of your foot.
  • Your toes are tucked under one another.

Should You Get Hiking Boots A Size Bigger?

If you are between sizes, get hiking boots that are half a size bigger or even a size bigger than your usual shoe size. Make sure that your longer foot is not cramped up in the boots. You can always wear thicker socks or a thicker insole to reduce the space, you can never make more space. You must not get a size too small that makes your feet crunch up in the boots as this will cause injuries.

How Long Do Hiking Boots Take To Break In?

New hiking boots take about one to four weeks to break in. It depends entirely on the material of the boots, and the method taken to stretch the hiking boots.

It is always best to get the right fit for your hiking boots no matter what the cost is. Prevention is always better than cure, better-fitted hiking boots are not a waste of money, it is an investment for your feet. 

A well-fitted hiking boot prevents and reduces injury to the ankles, joints, and feet during hiking.

You should enjoy your hike instead of worrying about injuries. Never buy something that does not quite fit just because it is on sale. Remember, happy feet = a happy day!

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