Can Hiking Boots Be Stretched? How and Why? (Explained)

Can Hiking Boots Be Stretched? How and Why? (Explained)

Can Hiking Boots Be Stretched?

Yes, there are many several ways to stretch a hiking boot to ensure a perfect and individualistic fit. With the correct method, it´s possible to stretch a hiking boot up to half a foot size (approx 4mm) without causing any damage.

Stretchers are warned! If poorly executed, stretching any footwear can permanently damage or reduce its functionality. If you want to change the size or shape of your hiking boot, first read this article and if you still have questions, speak to a pro.

A blister-free hike is only a few paragraphs away, let’s dive in!





Why Stretch Hiking Boots?

Nobody’s feet are exactly the same and hikers dream of finding a hiking boot that fits them perfectly.

Shoe manufacturers provide an almost endless variety of sizes and shapes. It is common for hikers to make adaptations to a new pair of hiking boots to ensure a comfortable and stable fit.

Many experienced hikers may tell you that new boots must go through a process called “bedding-in” or “breaking in”. A painful process in which hikers walk many miles with a new pair of boots before comfort is achieved. After some miles, and a few blisters the boots will stretch and change shape to fit your feet. This process can also mold your feet into a boot as the rubbing parts will start to grow harder skin if worn often enough.

This process may be true for leather, or animal hide hiking boots that must be softened, but light, modern fabrics often have very little to no “bedding in” time at all.

Modern technology aside, There are many reasons a pair of hiking boots may fit incorrectly and need to be stretched. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Different Sized Feet

It is common and completely normal to have different-sized feet. In fact, 60% of adults have one foot slightly longer than the other and in some cases, the difference can be as much as 3 inches!

The issue is that manufacturers only sell pairs of boots in 1 size so hikers must choose between having one boot too big, or small. (unless they are lucky enough to have a friend with the same issue reversed)

Usually, the size difference between feet is small and hikers may not notice or suffer through the bedding-in period to stretch the boot up to size. Some may buy a pair of boots that fit the smallest foot and lengthen the other to suit.





Feet Get Bigger With Age

Studies have shown that your feet get slightly longer and wider as you age.

If your trusty old boots don´t fit like they used to, your age could very well be the reason.

Feet increasing in size and shape due to aging is often the reason that older adults suffer from foot conditions such as bunions, hammer toes, or callouses.

Weight Gain Makes Your Feet Bigger

As you put on weight, fat is stored all over your body, including your feet, increasing their width and all-around size. If you notice that your hiking boots are getting a little tighter recently, a few pounds could be the answer.




Pregnancy Increases Foot Size

Studies have shown that Pregnancy can permanently increase a woman’s foot size from anywhere between 2 and 10mm. That´s a full shoe size for those on the larger scale!

For hiker moms, slightly lengthening their hiking boots will bring tack the comfort they loved. It has also been proven that this increase in foot size is only from the first pregnancy, any other children after should not have any effects.

How To Stretch Hiking Boots

Usually, before going to the extremes of stretching a pair of boots, hikers make changes to such things as:

  • Insoles – Removable inserts that sit in the footbed of a shoe. Insoles can be changed to suit foot shape or to provide more/less cushioning. A thinner insole may give more space in the boot.
  • Socks – Some hikers with different-sized feet may choose a slightly thicker sock on the smaller foot or a thinner sock on the larger one.  A thick sock can make a difference of around half a size (4mm)
  • Laces – Hikers can change the pattern of their laces. These changes can move the pressure points of the boot to different places and can create or remove a little space inside the boot.

If none of the above changes work, or you still feel some foot discomfort when walking, then the following methods can slightly stretch out your boots to the correct fit.

Professionally Stretch Hiking Boots

Most shoe repair shops, cobblers, and hiking boot stores will provide a service in which they can stretch out your hiking boots.

Shops also give advice on how to find good-fitting boots, how to adapt boots for your specific foot type and sell products such as insoles or protective coatings to increase the lifespan of your boots.

We recommend first consulting specialists. They will be able to ensure that your boots are correctly fitted with no damage to the materials of the boots.





Stretch Hiking Boots By Wearing Them

One of the best ways to stretch a pair of hiking boots to the correct size and fit is to wear them often! Commonly known as “breaking them in“, this method is the tried and tested way to adapt your books specifically to your feet.

Going to the supermarket? – Hiking boots!

Doing some chores around the house? – Hiking boots!

Walking the dog? – Hiking boots

To find out other day-to-day activities that hiking boots are great for, click here

By wearing them often you will soon find out where they rub or need to be adapted for the best fit.  You will also find the best sock/boot combo and the best way to lace them.

This method prepares, not only the boots but your feet for many happy adventures ahead.

Stretch Hiking Boots With An Adjustable Shoe Tree

Adjustable shoe trees are designed to keep fine leather shoes in the correct shape during storage. They can also be used to slightly stretch your boots over time.

Please be warned that this can damage the stitching and waterproofing of hiking boots. Stretching must be executed carefully, ensuring there is no damage at each stage.


  1. Buy an adjustable shoe tree of high quality and the correct size.
  2. Place it into your hiking boot and turn the adjustment screw until it is tight against the heel and toe boot.
  3. Place your hiking boot in a warm, dry place for 8-12 hours.
  4. Try the boot on to see if the fit has improved.
  5. If the fit has not improved, tighten the Shoe tree a little more and repeat the waiting time.

Stretch Hiking Boots With your Feet And A Hair Dryer

This simple method can be applied to many different types of footwear.

If your boots are made from nylon or other types of plastic it is important not to overheat them, This can melt the fabric, permanently damaging your wonderful boots.


  1. Put on a thick pair of socks, or 2 pairs of normal socks
  2. Blow hot air from a hairdryer into your boots ensuring that they do not get too hot or start to burn.
  3. Put your feet into the boots and do them up nice and tight.
  4. Walk around your home for 15 mins
  5. Try out the boots with your normal hiking socks and check the fit by walking around again.
  6. If your boots need some more adjustment then repeat the process again.


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The Center For Foot Care

Cleveland Clinic

National Library Of Medicine