Expert Advice: How To Stretch Leather Boots

Leather is a fantastic material for hiking boots, but it does come with some drawbacks. I have a pair of older leather walking boots that I’ve had for twenty years. They’re comfortable, waterproof and very protective, but they weren’t always that way.

When you first buy a pair of leather boots, you’ll notice that leather is a material that will cling tightly to your feet at first, but with regular use, and some simple hacks, you can stretch your boots, make the leather more moveable and make those leather boots very comfortable.

Below are four ways that you can stretch your leather boots:

Boot Stretcher

A boot stretcher will stretch the leather boots: using a boot stretcher will help to expand the leather in a short amount of time. The idea is to put a boot stretcher inside your boots and leave it for a few hours. Make sure you push it properly towards the tip of the shoe. After doing so, rotate the handle in a clockwise direction until it fits in tightly.

You can leave the stretcher inside your hiking boots for at most eight hours. Any longer and you run the risk of cracking the leather or over-expanding it. Then take it out by turning the boot stretcher in an anti-clockwise direction. Check the fit of the shoes, and if it is of the desired size, then they are suitable for you to wear without any shoe-bites or pain.

Best Boot Stretcher - TSL Heavy Duty Boot Stretcher 

Boot Stretcher

The TSL heavy duty boot stretcher does exactly what it say it will do.  Unlike so many of its competitors, the fact that its made from metal, allows you get crank up the pressure and really stretch out those boots.  The problem with plastic varaiations is that they simply flex when you start cranking up the pressure.  Over the years, I've broken ten's of plastic boot stretchers, however I've never broken the TSL Heavy Duty.

Wear Them At Home

One of the easiest and hassle-free ways to expand or stretch the leather boots would be to wear them in your home for as long as you can. If it pains your feet, then take them off and wear them later on. Repeating the process will expand the leather boots to get the perfect fit of your feet, and you will get to wear them with great comfort. Also, you can try to wear them with thick hiking socks so that the interior area of the shoes can expand quickly.

Hot Hair Dyer

A hot hair dryer does help to stretch the leather boots. This is one of my favourite hacks to stretch leather boots and not one that you often see people doing. The idea here is to pack the interior of the hiking boot, tightly with socks or newspaper and blow hot air onto the boots. You need to make sure you’re blowing at a considerable distance and blow the hot air on the exterior of the shoes. Once it cools down, you will see that the boots have expanded a little. However, you can as well wear them and repeat the process so that you know what will be the perfect fit for your feet. You can move your feet during the process so that you have enough space to stretch your feet. Then let your boots cool down and later wear them comfortably.

Leather Oil

Using a leather oil solution will help to expand the size of the leather boots. At first, brush off all the excess dust and dirt from the surface of the boots. Then clean it thoroughly and apply the leather oil solution on the surface of the boots. Leave it like that so that it will expand on its own. Using the oil will also help to maintain the longevity of the leather and give it a natural shine.

Best Leather Stretcher - StretchAll Professional Grade Shoe Stretch Spray

Shoe Stretch

There is a few different types of leather stretch sprays, however one of my favourite, is the StretchAll Professional spray.  

I have used it a few times, and it work perfectly. Simply take your new leather boots and spray a light coat all over the boots before you start using then for the first time.


The above hacks are simply idea’s to help stretch your leather boots, but if you wear them regularly, they will usually stretch on their own. Remember, a good pair of leather boots are an investment that can last you a long time. My father has leather walking boots that he has had for forty years.

Experts agree while it is possible to stretch leather boots, some methods are better than others. One of the worst is spraying pure alcohol onto your boots to help soften the leather. While this method does work, it also discolours the leather and speeds up the ageing process. If you use one of the ways above, you should be able to comfortably stretch your boots, one full size without damaging the boot or the integrity of the boot.

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