How to Stretch Cowboy Boot Instep – [4 quick solution ]

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Howdy mates! If you have never fallen off a horse, you have yet to learn to ride, and if you have never stretched your cowboy boots, you have yet to fall in love with boots. 

Ah! Enough of the riddles;

How to stretch cowboy boot instep? there are several methods you can follow, such as double socks methods, ice bag methods, steam method, dry, hot air method, stretcher methods, and many more. Here is a quick solution that you can follow.

  • Wear boots with a couple pairs of socks
  • steam the inside of your boots
  • Submerge the boots into the water
  • Stretch cowboy boots with a boot stretcher

In this article, I will provide step by step guideline to overcome this stretching the boot issue. 

4 method: How to stretch cowboy boots

Cowboy boots are a symbol of dignity and aristocracy, a predominant gesture of western culture. Manufacturers of this authority attire are also dominant in their fine craftsmanship. Mostly, they use cowhide leather to produce a master-piece cowboy boot.

As I have said, they have an extraordinary sense of craftsmanship, and often they use snake, alligator, and other reptile skins to craft exotic and popular boots. 

Regardless of the origin, the fact is, raw materials are sourced from organic materials. By instinct, these can get stretched over time up to a certain degree. But is this stretch enough for the break-in? Maybe not. Tough leather can give you a hard time to conquer over.

Let’s unleash some of the solutions to get the stretchy boot.

method 1: Wear boots with a couple pairs of socks

First, I will talk about the disadvantages. Surprised, right? We need to know the weaknesses first to get a positive impression on the advantages. The two pairs of socks can give you a real hard time. It is painful. You will need several practice sessions to attain desirable stretch.

You may wonder why only two pairs of socks? I need a bit more stretch; can’t I use one more pair to get a little bit extra stretch? No. It would be best if you do not try it for once. Some people can’t even handle the agony of two pairs. More than couple pairs may turn to blisters while roaming around, and also can cram the toes. It can be excruciating. 

It is highly recommendable to try this way when the environmental temperature is a bit warmer so that the leather of cowboy boot becomes a bit more flexible.

The couple pair of socks will provide a slight increase in the dimension of cowboy boots’ toe parts. Indeed, it’s a terrific method. The technique will give you stretch about a half size. The doubled socked feet with enforcing tension to the leather’s surface areas and ultimately lead a stretched opening.

Importantly, you need zero investment to apply this method (assuming you have useable pair of socks). 

method 2: Steam the inside of your boots

This is the most inexpensive solution to get a custom fit cowboy boot without providing too many efforts. Steam is involved in revealing stretch for you, but I will give you a statutory warning about this process.

In a few cases, vapor may adversely react with the leather of the boots. So, you need to be careful while performing this method. 

Steam The Inside Of Your Boots

Here is the workflow for the second solution

  • You will need a garment steamer or a kettle. Now, boil some water, and when steam generates direct toward the desired section of your boots, that requires stretching. Expose the mist onto the chosen area for 20-25 seconds.
  • After the short exposure, direct the steam away from the boots and inspect the treated area with your fingertips. Provide a gentle press onto the site. If the treated are structured and stable, you will need to perform the steam treatment for another 20 seconds.
  • After treatment, again inspect the treated area, and if it is soft, elastic, and warm than before, hop your feet into the boots and roam around a bit.
  • Typically, it is wise to keep the boots on until they dry and conforms with the feet. But sometimes it is too uncomfortable. If so, you can put off the boots and let it cool down naturally. Never use extensive heat or steam to speed up the process because this will hamper the leather quality.
  • After the boots dry entirely, you need to apply boot conditioning products, i.e., leather honey, leather care solution, or mink oil. The type of boot conditioner will depend on the quality and style of the leather of the boots.   

You will get your desired stretch by following this protocol, but you might lose some vibrancy of color and compromise leather integrity. The duration and severity of steam treatment depend on several factors, like leather, type of leather, style of dye treatment, and degree of saturation. 

method 3: Submerge the boots into the water:

“Submerge my brand-new Lucchese Forde in the water? Are you out of your mind?”

Yeah, it might sound crazy, but it is the most efficient method of clinching some western boots space. The submerging process is the most popular stretching method of western-style boots. Different relevant online forums, such as The Chronicle of the Horse and The Horse Forum, are the efficient & most comfortable stretching method.

Water reacts with the leather’s pores and loosens up fibers, thus gives the flexibility to fit on the fit perfectly.

Submerge The Boots Into The Water

Steps of solution three are as follows: 

  • Fill a bucket, tub, trough, or bathtub with hand-hot water.
  • Before starting the process, you have to remember that we should try our best to avoid entering the cowboy boot’s inner water portion. Now, submerge the cowboy boot as much as possible into the water, but be careful about water penetration. Press down the inner soles with hands to avoid boots from floating.
  • After a few minutes, the insoles will get a bit wet, and at this moment, you need to pull the cowboy boots out of the water.
  • Blunder some breeches, soft cloths, or socks and keep on the boots. You can cover up the socks with a plastic bag to reduce the uncomfortable feeling of wet boots.
  • You have to walk for a while with the wet boots until they loosen up and get along with your feet. It is highly recommendable to perform this method in the morning and warm seasons.
  • After drying, apply boot conditioner whichever is perfect for your boot’s leather type.

This method is very inexpensive. It can attain perfect quality custom fit. But this method is relatively messy and takes a long period to dry out. It is always scary to try out this method with a new pair of boots. 

Method 4: Stretch cowboy boots with boot stretcher

It is my favorite way of stretching cowboy boots. It is the most convenient, effective, and safe method of stretching boots. You don’t need to compromise leather quality or don’t need to worry about damaging the look.

The last two ways we have described can compromise the integrity, outlook, and smoothness of the boot, and if you fail to conduct the process thoroughly, there will be a greater chance of damaging.

Also, the previously explained methods need a subsequent amount of time to achieve a minute stretch. On the other hand, a boot stretcher can provide you ultra-fast stretching with desired precision. 

Stretch Cowboy Boots With Boot Stretcher

The only drawback of this process is that you need to buy a western boot expander. Look, if you have more than one pair of cowboy boots, the stretcher becomes an asset. Now, I will explain the detailed procedure of stretching a cowboy boot with boot extender. 

  • First, apply boot stretch spray in the inner side of the boot to relax fiber. The best way is to wipe the boot’s inner portion with a soft cloth after spraying with shoe stretch spray.
  • If required, you might need to insert the plugs. Make sure the plug insertion into the corresponding plug slot before stretching.
  • Now, insert the expander toe block into the toe box. Ensure the toe block’s wedging deep enough that it reaches the terminal end of the toe box.
  • To stretch the boot, you need to turn the stretching handle clockwise. That’s how the toe block will be expanded. Repeat the step for a couple more times to get the desired stretch.
  • When you attain the desired stretch settings, you need to rest the stretcher for six to eight hours to achieve perfect expansion for you.
  • To remove the stretcher, you need to turn the stretcher’s widening handle anti-clockwise to retract from the block completely. Lastly, pull out the expander slowly. 

Overall, it’s an excellent method for wester boot stretching, its robust, non-intrusive, easy to operate, and can achieve precise stretch. The issue is the upfront cost to but the stretcher, but it’s a value for the money product to buy. 

Note: This Cowboy Boots Stretcher is available on the Amazon website. You can see their current price by clicking this link.

How to fit cowboy boots?

Your boots must fit correctly. The first thing to decide is to your toe shape. This might be a personal choice and style preference, as well. Most importantly, how the boot feels when you have it on. 

The wider the toe, the less rubbing you will feel from the side of the boot. To try out a boot, you have to use pull tabs and holes and then insert your foot into the shoe. You will experience some resistance at this stage, and it will come from the arch area of the boot. This will generate a light popping as the foot reaches into its resting section. 

It ensures the shoe matches snug, and there will not be any excessive heel effect while walking or riding. 

Now, you may ask, what is a heel lift? The heel lift is a gap between the insole of the boot and the heel. Heel up is caused by a slight amount of room in the arch area and the throat part of the boot. This should not exceed more than an eighth of an inch. 

Remember, a little heel lift is necessary for proper fit. The proper fit can be ensured by placing the widest part of the foot on the outsole’s exact widest part. 

Now, you have to get a perfect fit in the toe area as well. So, you may use a sideways thumb to measure the distance between tiptoe and boot end to get a perfect fit.

Remember, everyone’s toe has a different length, so it is always a good thing to have that sideways thumb distance from the tip of the toe box’s end.

How to stretch cowboy boots at home?

I have explained most of the home-based DIY methods of stretching western boots in the section named “How my cowboy boots can stretch.” Now, I will describe two more home-based ways to stretch your cowboy boots.

Method 1: Immerse the boot into the water:

In the prior section, I have mentioned a method of boot stretching by submerging it into water. The fundamental difference is in this method; you need to immerse the boots into the water thoroughly.

Afraid, huh? Don’t be. If you perform this method correctly, you will be advising your friends to do it. Now, let’s break into the technique of how to stretch boot instep by water immersing technique.

  • Take a bucket or tub full of water.
  • Immerse the boot into the water and let them get into the water. Leave them into the water for a while. Because obviously, boots are quite large. When the chute is filled up with water and saturated, then pull off the water’s boots. It is recommended to place the boots into the water for a longer time. 
  • Drain out the water entirely from the boots and hop your feet in. Now, start walking around for a while. Be careful if you have a leg cramp issue, then use a plastic bag to cover up the feet and then wear them.
  • Let the boots dry out and then pull out your feet. After the shoes dry entirely, you need to apply boot conditioning products, i.e., leather honey, leather care solution, or mink oil. The type of boot conditioner will depend on the quality and type of leather of the boots.  

This is the best method for home-based boots stretching. Requires no investment, just patience. In the submerging method, there might be a risk of a watershed spot onto the shoes. But this method has no such issues. On the other hand, there might be a risk of lather fiber disintegration. 

Method 2: Freeze a bag of water within the boots: 

Already you have got my idea with the title, right! Science it is impressive. You can easily stretch the toe box area with freezing water. Let’s explore the detailed step by step procedure:

  • It would be best if you take a gallon-sized, sealable water bag. Now, fill the bag with water in half proportion. 
  • Seal the bag. It is better if there is little air inside the bag. Automatically, there will be some air inside the bag. You may turn the bag upside down for safety and cross-checking purposes to ensure zero leaks out the possibility.
  • Now, insert the sealed water bag into the western boot and place it as close as possible to the toe box.
  • Now, to place the water bag in the perfect position, fill the rest portion of the boot with cloths or newspaper.
  • Now, leave the boots into the freezer for 8-10 hours. The bag will expand and stretch up the shoes.
  • After the 8-10 hours cycle is completed, thaw the bag for releasing the temperature from ice and then remove it from the boot gently.

It is an excellent method to get rid of cowboy boot tight instep. It involves zero risks of damaging the quality of leather. It might take quite a time, but this time investment is more reliable then dunking your favorite pair of boots into water.

This process is inexpensive and non-intrusive and can be quickly done. Cons is, you need to perform several sessions to get a desirable stretch. You can watch this video for more guide.  

How to break into cowboy boots overnight?

Already I have mentioned several methods that need less than 10 hours. But most of them are messy and require water or other substances. Now, I will discuss a couple of dry methods of boots stretching. 

Dry heat method: 

  • Take a hairdryer. Don’t take it from your mom or sister; you might be beaten by girls’ gang. Jokes apart, take permission from the owner before taking the hairdryer. 
  • Now, wear socks to avoid the hotfoot.
  • Get your feet into the boots and supply the hot air from eight inches above the leather. Try to focus on the problematic areas like the heel or boot side. 
  • Lastly, when the leather eases, stop the hot air source and start walking.

The spoon method:

  • Take a spoon, a medium-sized spoon is the best fit for this job, and rub the convex part of a spoon rigorously over the toe box. 
  • Continue this process for 20 to 30 minutes, and this method will not hamper the leather’s quality. 
  • Increase the friction on the problematic areas to attain perfect stretch.

How to stretch boots for High-Arch feet?

There are several ways to stretch boots for high-arch feet. The methods are as follows:

  • Use boot stretch spray: The spray that stretches the boots is perfect for losing the leather’s fibers. This makes the material more pliable, and it is specifically made for leather shoes or boots. The cost of boot stretch spray is affordable, so it’s worth trying.
  • The critical part of using this boot spray is letting the fluid on the instep’s inner part. So, it would be best to avoid spray on the outside of the shoes or boots. Sprays do not cause any color disintegration, so its safe in that sense.
  • Hold the boot upside down, spritz the spray into the entire boot inner area, including the foot’s arch. Put on the boots just after spraying, and this will give good stretch.
  • Use a boot stretcher: Boot stretcher method has been described in the previous sections. To be short, it’s a stretching instrument that provides the desired amount of stretch after 8 to 10 hours. To try this method, you need to buy a boot stretcher.
  • Try Less conventional techniques:

There are several less conventional techniques to stretch out the boot’s instep. They are as follows:

  • Ice bag method
  • Submerged method
  • Immerse method
  • Double socks method
  • Dry heat method
  • Steam method

Earlier, I have described the earlier to answer your queries on how to stretch cowboy boots and how to put on cowboy boots tight instep in home-based and cost-free methods.

How do you know if your boots are too big?

  • First, put the on boots. If your feet are comfortable when you are walking around, you can tell the shoes are too big for you without feeling much of the boots’ inner part on the feet.
  • If your tallest finger of feet is quite distant from the shoe’s tip, then the boot is too big for you.
  • While walking around, if your toes frequently come out of the shoe or boot, then call it a day cause the boot is more extensive than your desired size.


I hope this article has given you a clear concept in every aspect on How to stretch cowboy boot instep in different ways. Try these ways to get a better stretch on your favorite western pair without losing any dashing features. 

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