How To Stretch Hiking Boots: 12 Ways I’ve Tested (2024)  

Are you wondering how to stretch hiking boots? 

You guys know I love hiking and spending time outdoors. 

One of the WORST things I have experienced is breaking in new hiking boots. 

The sheer thought of it breaks ME into a sweat. Now, I love me a good sweat as you can see below. 

But we should be sweating for the RIGHT reasons! Like getting in my daily 5K! Wooohooo!

So, let’s not sweat the stretching and take a look at some of the best ways to stretch your brand-new hiking boots! 

If you are new here, Hi, I am Aisha Preece ! I am an avid solo female traveller and I LOVE hiking!  It’s free, good for your health and you get to see so many exciting parts of the world, through hiking 🙂

How to stretch hiking boots

Anyway, you did all your research and bought a fantastic pair of hiking boots. You try them on at home, and they’re a bit too tight!

So what do you do? Stretch them out, of course!

You know what’s the best advice I’ve ever been given: buy shoes in the evening or at the end of your long day! 

Feet tend to swell later on in the day. That’s why shoes feel tighter in the evenings. So you get a better feel of what your shoes would feel like after a long hike!

Stretching your hiking boots (and all your shoes, really) can be very helpful.

Hiking boots are meant to provide you with support while hiking different terrain. That is why they are made of more hardy material. 

This tends to make hiking boots stiff when you first wear them. Stretching them out or breaking them in is essential before heading out on your first hike. 

Sometimes, people can have one foot bigger than the other. If you do, there’s no need to be embarrassed. It is very common! 

How to stretch hiking boots

But if you do, you definitely need to stretch out one of them to fit well.

There can be many other reasons why people need to stretch out their hiking boots. Read on to find out 12 best ways on how to stretch hiking boots.

Short on time? Here’s a quick guide on how to stretch hiking boots! 

1. Wear Them Around

2. Use A Shoe Stretcher

3. Use A Shoe Tree

4. Use A Spot Stretcher

5. Shoe Stretching Spray

6. Leather Oil

7. Wear Thick Socks

8. The Blow Dryer

9. The Ice Method

10. Newspaper or Sock Balls

11. Use Rubbing Alcohol

12. Ask A Professional For Help

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Some of the links here are affiliate links, and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! Thanks!

How To Stretch Hiking Boots

1. Wear Your Hiking Boots Around

The best way to stretch hiking boots is to wear them! Wear them around the house, around town when you run errands, and for short walks. 

Constantly wearing your hiking boots will get them to stretch out and be much more comfortable before your first long hike. 

Start with short durations and gradually increase them so you don’t get blisters while stretching them out!

How to stretch hiking boots

2. Use A Shoe Stretcher 

Shoe stretchers have been around forever. They’re made of metal, wood or plastic. They can be one-way shoe stretchers or two-way shoe stretchers. 

One-way shoe stretchers stretch your shoe’s length or width, and the two-way shoe stretcher stretches both.

Simply insert the shoe stretcher into the hiking boot so that it sits snugly within. 

Then turn the knob till the boot is slightly stretched out and leave it like that for six to eight hours. 

Try it on after that; if it is still tight, you can repeat the process a few more times. 

Take note not to overdo it, or it’ll make the stitches on your hiking boots give way. Slow and steady is the way to go!

Some shoe stretchers also have extra knobs and bits called spot stretching plugs to help with bunions, corns, and other pressure points. 

If you’re wondering how to stretch the toe box of boots, a shoe stretcher with these extra bits would be a great buy!

The best hiking boot stretcher is this one by Houndsbay. I absolutely love this one.

It is made out of beech hardwood and polished metal, and it has lasted me forever!

The only con about this shoe stretcher is that it comes in a single piece, so you can’t stretch both your hiking boots at the same time. 

Another shoe stretcher that I’ve tried, which is slightly cheaper, is by FootFitter. 

This one also comes in only one piece, so you have to stretch your left and right boots separately. 

3. Use A Shoe Tree

Shoe trees are a simpler form of shoe stretchers. 

While their primary function is maintaining the shoe’s shape while not in use, you can use them to stretch out your hiking boots if you use a slightly bigger size. 

Shoe trees come in fixed sizes and cannot be adjusted like a shoe stretcher. Most shoe trees fit up to 2 shoe sizes. 

So if you buy a 6-7.5 size shoe tree, but you’re just a size 6, the shoe tree will stretch your hiking boots out a little bit. 

But there’s no risk of stretching them out too much, like if you misuse the shoe stretcher.

4. Use A Spot Stretcher 

Another specialized device just to stretch shoes out? Yep, it’s called a spot stretcher! 

These are used when there’s just one part of the shoe you want to stretch. It usually tends to be the width to help people with bunions. 

If you’re wondering how to stretch hiking boots toe box, this is the way to go. 

This one by Mastiff is pretty amazing! Made out of cast iron, this mighty tool is pretty darn mighty and durable. 

Check this solid baby out! 

Do note, however, that if your hiking boot is above the ankle, this spot stretcher can’t really reach your toe box. 

If your hiking boots are above your ankle, a boot stretcher with spot-stretching plugs would be your best tool. 

5. Shoe Stretching Spray 

Shoe stretching sprays work by making the leather of your boots softer and more supple so that they don’t pinch your feet. 

Simply spray them on the problem areas of your boot and then put the shoe stretcher in. 

If you don’t have a shoe stretcher, but you do have a shoe stretching spray, do not fret! Spray it on and wear your boots with a thick pair of socks. 

It’ll help to stretch your hiking boots.

Shoe stretching sprays are primarily made for leather but can also work for synthetic leather and other synthetic materials. 

This shoe stretching spray by FootMatters works amazingly. It comes in a small, easy-to-carry bottle to take with you on long hikes so it works wonders for whenever I get hit by the travel bug! O__O

It works on both leather and synthetic materials (and a couple of other materials also so that you can use them on other shoes as well). And it’s super affordable!

6. Leather Oil 

Have you ever searched for good boot recommendations and found people talking about how their dad has owned the same leather boots for 20 years? Well, I have. 

And I’ve always wondered, ‘How on earth do you keep a pair of shoes for that long??’. 

Well, I’ve found my answer. They look after their boots, and I mean really look after them. 

Regular oiling of leather boots can protect the leather from drying out and cracking. Good quality leather boots with proper care can really last for decades!

Leather oil protects the leather but can also be used to stretch hiking boots made of leather. They work just as the shoe stretching spray by making the leather more supple.

Apply a few drops of leather oil on your boot. Use a clean, dry rag and gently rub the oil into the leather. 

Wipe off any excess with the rag. It is best to apply it at night so the oil can really soak in overnight.

As the name suggests, leather oil is meant only for leather hiking boots and can’t really be used on synthetic hiking boots. 

The two most commonly used oils for leather are neatsfoot oil (from the shinbone and feet of cattle) and mink oil (from the pelt of minks). 

This neatsfoot oil is friendly on the wallet and works great on hiking boots.

Although technically not an oil, this Leather Honey leather conditioner is taking over the internet. 

Everyone (in the leather boot circles) is talking about this great product. You can use it on any leather products you own, and it works great to soften leather. 

All the above methods require you to purchase something specially to stretch your hiking boots. 

If you’re wondering how to stretch hiking boots at home without buying any additional tools, read on! 

The following few ways use things you can find at home and are, thereby, much more friendly on the wallet.

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7. Wear Thick Socks 

Wear a pair of socks that are thicker than your usual hiking socks. Do you have some fluffy socks to wear around the house in winter? Great, put them on! 

The thick socks mimic feet that are slightly bigger than your own and stretch out the hiking boots a little. 

When you eventually wear your hiking boots with your regular pair of socks and get going on that hike, you’ll have a much lesser chance of blisters since the hiking boots have already been stretched out!

8. The Blow Dryer

If you’re reading this article and wondering, do hiking boots stretch in the first place?? This is one really easy way for you to find out fast. 

Wear a thick pair of socks. Use the blow dryer and blow hot air into the boot for 20 to 30 seconds. 

Keep the blow dryer moving so you don’t get one part of the boot too hot. Slide your feet in and walk around for 15-20 minutes. 

If you don’t have a pair of thick socks, simply wear two pairs of regular socks.

You can repeat the process if it hasn’t stretched enough. 

Note: Don’t make the boot too hot, regardless of synthetic or leather boots. 

Synthetic materials can melt or burn, ruining your precious new hiking boot. Leather can overdry as well. Once again, slow and steady is the way to go. 

9. Ice Ice Baby! 

If you’re looking for ways how to stretch the toe box of hiking boots, this one is great! 

Fill a ziplock bag halfway with water and slip it into the toe box of your hiking boot. Now, put the entire boot into the freezer. 

As the water in the ziplock bag freezes, it expands and stretches out the toe box of your hiking boots. Keep it in the freezer for at least two days. 

The gentle 48-hour stretch works wonders in stretching your hiking boots. 

Make sure to put something else in the shoe’s body, like socks or rags, so the ziplock bag doesn’t roll out of the toe box. 

This is also great if you’re looking for ways how to stretch synthetic hiking boots.

Note: Make sure your ziplock bag has no teeny weeny holes and that you’ve really closed it. A new wet hiking boot is not what you want!

10. Newspaper or Sock Balls

Wads of newspaper or balls of socks stuffed inside shoes are great at keeping the shape of the shoes. That’s why you find crumpled paper inside shoes at shoe stores. 

But did you know it can also be a great way to stretch your hiking boots?

Stuff newspaper or sock balls inside your shoe, and I mean really stuff them in. The pressure from the tightly stuffed paper will stretch the boots. 

11. Use Rubbing Alcohol

Get a spray bottle and mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water. Spray this solution on the tight parts of the hiking boots. 

Wear a pair of thick socks and wear the boots around for 15-20 minutes. 

12. Ask A Professional For Help

If you’re just not a DIY kinda person, then find a professional for help. 

Cobblers, shoemakers, and shoe repair shops have more professional shoe stretching machines to help you stretch your hiking boots.

FAQs on How To Stretch Hiking Boots

How To Stretch The Toe Box Of Hiking Boots

Using the shoe stretching spray along with the spot stretcher is the best way to stretch the toe box of hiking boots.

Some of the other ways mentioned above can also be really helpful in targeting the toe box specifically. 

The spot stretcher, the ice method, rubbing alcohol or newspaper/sock balls can help to stretch the toe box of hiking boots. 

How Long Does It Take To Break In Hiking Boots

It takes about 8 hours to break in your hiking boots if you use the shoe stretcher + shoe stretching spray combo method. 

If you just want to loosen up your new hiking boots a little, the hair dryer method + shoe stretcher spray is great and takes only about 10 minutes (more if you repeat the process a few times). 

How Can I Stretch My Boots Fast

Using the shoe stretcher or spot stretcher is the best way to stretch your hiking boots fast. 

Use a shoe stretching spray or leather oil together with the shoe stretcher for optimal results. 

Are Hiking Boots Meant To Be Tight? 

Hiking boots are not supposed to be tight. They are meant to fit comfortably on your foot yet leave you space to wiggle your toes. 

You shouldn’t have any points on your foot that feel excessive pressure. 

How Much Can You Stretch A Hiking Boot?

Most shoemakers agree that you can at least stretch a shoe or hiking boot to be half a size larger. 

Half a size should definitely make your feet fit comfortably. If your hiking boots are too small, try stretching them by using the above methods. 

How to stretch hiking boots

The next time you’re wondering how to stretch hiking boots give one of the methods I mention in this article a try. 

If you own a pair of hiking shoes and are wondering how to stretch hiking shoes, the same methods will work great, too. 

Stretching your hiking boots before that first hike is a wonderful way to make your hike a much more joyful experience. 

Blisters, pinching boots, and tight boots can be a thing of the past. 

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