My dad told me the best way to stretch a shoe was to shove half a potato into the toe and let it work its magic.
I’m not going to give you that kind of advice on how to stretch the calf of your leather boots.
Can you imagine how many potatoes that would take?
Instead, in this article, we’ll break down the two best methods to stretch your boots so you don’t have to take that annoying trip to the cobbler and get it done for you.
What You’ll Need for Stretching Calf Boots
Solution #1: The Best (but Most Expensive) Method
The first way to stretch your leather boots involves a device aptly known as a “boot stretcher.”
These are fairly expensive—possibly even more so than your boots themselves. They’re the most reliable way of stretching the leather on your boots without damaging it or applying any chemicals that could alter the color or texture of your boot.
When you take your boots to the cobbler, chances are they’ll be using one of these to do the job.
If your boot is tight around the ankle and instep (top of the foot), but the calf feels ok, you’ll want to try an instep stretcher.
Solution #2: The Cheap and Easy Way
The second way you can stretch your boots without taking them to a shoe repair shop is with a leather stretching spray.
These sprays cost under $20 and work fairly well.
Many cobblers do a one-two punch, using the stretching spray and then the stretcher, but a much easier way exists right in front of you—or below you, rather.
Spray down the inside of your boots with the leather stretching spray and pop your feet in. It’ll be uncomfortable, sure, but after a few hours, the leather will relax and form to the shape of your foot.
Stretching Calf Boots: A Step-By-Step Guide
Method #1: Use a Boot Stretcher
Step 1: Prepare Your Materials
If you’re investing in an aluminum cast boot stretcher—congratulations, you’re on your way to become a real cobbler.
This step is more about what you shouldn’t do.
Don’t wet your boots with water. Don’t shove a potato in them.
Instead, place the stretcher into the boot.
Step 2: Apply Pressure
Boot stretchers have a mechanism that makes it easy to ramp up the pressure on the inside of the boot.
You’ll be stretching the boot in stages to promote an even spread of the natural fibers of the leather. Turn the mechanism so you’re applying gentle pressure to the interior of the boot.
Once you’ve met some resistance, let the boot rest with the stretcher in for 12-24 hours.
Step 3: More Pressure?
If you need to stretch your boots more, turn the mechanism to apply more pressure. Let the boot rest for another 12-24 hours.
Continue to repeat this step until the boots feel comfortable.
If you’ve stretched them too far, they may look a little warped, but your boot leather will bounce back a little if you walk in the heat. The leather fibers will loosen back up and spring into their original shape more.
Method #2: Apply Leather Stretching Spray
Step 1: Spray the Interior of the Boot
If you’ve opted to go the cheap and easy route, now is the time to grab your leather stretching spray.
Saturate the leather with the spray. Don’t over-do it and soak the leather through, but try your best to cover every part of the interior of the boot. This may take between 15-20 sprays, depending on the size of your boot.
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Step 2: Put the Boot On
Put the boots on and wear them around the house. It might feel uncomfortable, but it’s also ~$100 cheaper than getting it done at a cobbler or buying your own shoe stretcher.
The leather should stretch a fair amount in two or three hours of wear.
If your boots become too uncomfortable during this process, take them off and repeat steps one and two the following day.
Leather stretching spray does a solid job, but just like the aluminum stretcher, it might take several days to reach your desired width.
Method #3: Go to a Cobbler
Professionals know exactly how to stretch leather boots without damaging them. If you’ve read through this guide and you’re not sure you want to risk damaging the leather of your footwear, going to a professional is a safe bet.
Just tell the shoe repair shop which areas are giving you the most trouble and they’ll return them to you stretched in the right places.
But if most of your shoes and boots fit too tight around the calf and instep, it worthwhile investing in an aluminum shoe stretcher. It’s an investment up front, but you’ll save a lot of cash by skipping the shoe repair shop after every new pair of kicks comes through your door.
It’s a Stretch
Are you thinking about investing in a heavy-duty shoe stretcher so you can stretch the family boots for generations?
Or does the quick, cheap, and easy method using the leather stretching spray sound better to you?
Hopefully this guide gives you the confidence to get the job done yourself, but if you’re not there, a cobbler has been polishing his boot stretcher just for this moment.
Let me know your plans in the comments below!
Can boots be altered to fit my calves?
Boots can be altered to fit your calves if they’re too tight. The simplest method is to use leather stretching spray on the interior of the boot and wear them until the calf of the boot relaxes and expands to a comfortable level.
How can I stretch the calf of my boots?
You can stretch the calf of your boots two ways: with an aluminum boot-calf stretcher, or with a leather-stretching spray. If you use the spray, you can either add shoe trees to your boots or just wear them until they’re at your desired level of comfort.
Can boots be stretched?
Boots are fairly easy to stretch. There are several tools you can find online called “boot stretchers,” though be careful to buy aluminum and not plastic. Often plastic devices are too flimsy to be effective.
Can I stretch suede boots?
Suede boots can be stretched just the same as regular leather boots. If you use leather stretching spray, be sure not to get any on the exterior of the suede.