How to Stretch Cowboy Boot Instep


Howdy there! Did you get yourself a pair of cowboy boots that aren’t fitting right? Unfortunately, unlike lace-up boots, unless you get a boot that is your size, cowboy boots can be a pain.

Chances are, you ended up getting a size smaller than your feet. Or maybe it is your size, but the boots are tight around the instep. That means you’ll have to know how to stretch cowboy boot instep. Well, we are here to help you out with that.

There are actually several methods of performing this task. While it is an inconvenience, it’s not impossible to stretch the instep of cowboy boots out. With only a few easy steps and using the right tools or equipment, you can expand these bad boys pretty easily.

In this article, we will provide you with a total of 8 solutions for the issue. Stay tuned till the very end to find out which method seems the most convenient to you.

Table of Contents

How Do I Stretch the Boots to Fit the Instep?

Stretch the Boots

Going over multiple hacks and quick fixes through the internet, we have compiled about 8 of the best, most functioning solutions for a tight instep.

Each of these methods is relatively easy, and the stuff you’ll need to perform them are also pretty easily available and affordable.

Without further ado, let’s start stretching these boots!

1. Boot Instep Stretching Tool

Before we get into the hacks and DIY methods, we are going to show you the tool made explicitly for stretching the instep of cowboy boots. A boot instep stretcher is a lifesaver if you end up getting tight boots.

It’s a little instrument that you put inside your boot and stretch the leather out. The best part of this tool is that you can get it almost anywhere.

Many different boot instep stretchers are available on Amazon at a very affordable price. So you know where to find one.

However, make sure to get the wooden or plastic ones, as the ones that cobblers professionally use would probably be too expensive for personal use.

The process of using a boot instep stretcher is super simple:

  • At first, you grab your boots and put the instep stretcher inside them
  • Before placing the stretcher inside, you need to adjust the amount of expansion you require. It is pretty simple and doesn’t take a lot of maneuvering
  • Then you leave the stretcher inside the boots for an entire night and observe any changes the following morning

That wasn’t too tough, was it? Now let’s move on to the next solution for tight insteps.

2. Boot Trees

Like the stretching tools, you can also use boot trees to expand the instep of your cowboy boots. They look eerily similar to boot stretchers but are just a little bit different.

In general, boot trees or shoe trees are used to have the shoes retain their proper structure and remove creases and prevent scuffing. But you can use these trees to stretch out the instep of your boots as well.

But for that purpose, you will need a boot tree that is larger than the size of the boot itself. The way you will use this tool is:

  • Take the larger size boot trees, and put them inside the cowboy boots. It might be slightly tough to put it all the way in, but once inside, it will take up ample space
  • It would be best if you kept the boots trees inside of the boots overnight
  • Due to being a larger size, the trees will expand the boots’ leather, providing a stretched-out result

Most boot trees are available in plastic or wood. Our recommendation would be to get the wooden ones, as those are of better quality. And you can get them on Amazon for only a few bucks.

3. Boot Stretch Spray

Did you know there are dedicated sprays for stretching out the instep of a boot? Well, boy, are you in for a surprise! You can get boot stretch sprays on Amazon at a pretty affordable price and use them to expand the instep of your cowboy boots.

And believe us when we say this, using this spray doesn’t get any easier than this. Still, here’s a step by step guide of how to properly use the stretching spray for your boots:

  • Grab your boots and aim the stretching spray on the inside of them
  • You need to aim correctly at the instep parts, or you might end up expanding some other portion of the boots
  • Spray an optimum amount (holding the spray there for 4 to 5 seconds)
  • Then adjust the instep with your hands by relaxing the leather and expanding it. Do not do this with bare hands; use rubber gloves when you touch the sprayed area
  • After stretching it out, wear it immediately to leave a lasting effect

We must warn you about the liquids in the spray, though. Don’t forget to wear gloves while stretching out the instep with your hands, and be sure to wear socks while putting the boots on.

Why so? Well, the liquid might be harmful to your skin and may leave a bad effect.

4. Leather Conditioner or Lotion

Leather Conditioner or Lotion

Apart from the stretching spray, you can use another type of liquid for the same purpose in a somewhat similar manner. Leather conditioner oils or lotions are usually used to keep the leather of boots healthy and crease-free.

These oils hydrate the leather and provide enough moisture to keep it looking lively and fresh for much longer. Most people who own boots, including cowboys and horse-riders, have a bottle of leather conditioner.

One could argue that a hydrating oil can’t possibly stretch out a boot’s insteps, but we beg to differ. When you apply the oils or lotions to the boots, the leather becomes softer and more expandable, making it easier to stretch it out.

Here is how you will be using this method properly:

  • Take a blob of leather conditioner oil or lotion and apply it to the instep of the boots, both on the inside and out
  • Use a brush to do so, or put on gloves and use your hands to rub the conditioner firmly but gently
  • You do not want to exfoliate, but rather apply it evenly so that it is absorbed properly
  • Once applied, the leather will be soft enough to stretch out
  • You can either use any stretching tool to do this or simply stretch the instep using your hands

If you use this step, not only will it expand the instep in order to fit your feet right, but it also extends the longevity of the boots.

5. Spraying Water and Steam

A lot of cobblers actually use this method to stretch out boots of different types. While using conditioners or stretching spray would be ideal and offer better results, water and steam can be a life hack.

When none of those sprays or liquids are available, you can opt for the most common thing- water. You can take advantage of the steam produced from kettles or anything else.

The method in which you will pull this off is:

  • At first, get some boiling hot water for the task. Boil some water in a kettle or any pot that can be used to extract the steam from
  • Then use that steam to expand the leather of the boots from the inside
  • Once the steam is in there, stretch out the instep using your hands. Be careful not to burn yourself while doing so
  • Be sure to let the boots cool down just enough to put your hands inside for stretching
  • Let the boots air dry at normal room temperature; maybe provide some external air to facilitate the drying process

After that, you should have yourself a well-stretched pair of cowboy boots.

6. Blow Dryer

A hairdryer or blow dryer is something most of us have at home. While it is not as common of a tool or method compared to water for stretching leather boots, it isn’t something rare either.

The theory of using steam and a blow dryer is the same. When you apply heat, the leather expands, and it can be stretched afterward. So instead of a kettle’s steam, you could also use the hot air from a blow dryer.

  • Grab the hairdryer and aim it inside the boots
  • Make sure to aim it correctly at the insteps and blow hot air into it
  • Apply some heat from the outside as well
  • Soon after, the leather should have loosened, and you can stretch it using your hands now
  • Stretch it up, and you’re good to go!

One important thing that you should note is that the heat shouldn’t be set too high. You don’t want to overheat the leather, as it could potentially damage it. So make sure to apply heat in turns and keep the temperature settings at medium.

7. Ice


We bet you didn’t see this coming. After applying all this heat, why on earth would ice do a better job at stretching the boots? Well, it can, and it’s a rather common way of doing the task.

Ice is essentially water; it is available everywhere, making it another one of the most convenient options for stretching the insteps of your cowboy boots.

The method is pretty simple and doesn’t involve any work. You will be using ice to expand the instep of your boots in the following ways:

  • First off, you have to grab a bag and shove all the ice you need inside it
  • Solid ice won’t be a good idea, so we suggest crushed ice or cold water that will freeze overnight
  • Don’t fill it up too much, just enough to expand your boots correctly
  • Then you have to put that bag of ice inside the boots so that it fills them up properly
  • Next, you take the boots and put them into the freezer
  • Leave it inside for the night and see the results in the morning

By the following morning, the ice will have expanded the leather just enough to make the boots fit right.

8. Wearing Thick Socks with the Boots

This one is a no-brainer, and we suggest you do this no matter what. While the other methods will ensure that the boots are adequately stretched out and fit you right, there is no alternative to wearing thick socks.

The truth is, shoes aren’t usually made tailored to their wearer, so it is kind of normal that the instep of your cowboy boots may not fit you right. As such, you have no option but to wear it and make it adjust to your feet.

However, wearing it without socks or using thinner socks will not do any good at all. You’ll end up with rashes, blisters, and cuts. This is where a thick sock comes in.

A thick sock will protect your feet from getting those blisters and rashes while also allowing the boot to adapt to your feet and expand on its own.

Leather is not rigid, and it expands upon proper stretching. So it makes sense that it would expand from multiple wears.

So we suggest that you wear thick socks every time you put on those cowboy boots to ensure it slowly adjusts to your feet with everyday wear without compromising the condition of your feet.

Final Words

We’re pretty sure you already know how to stretch cowboy boot instep by now and have probably figured out which method would suit you best. Overall, we would recommend that you pair that with the thick socks no matter which method you go for.

While expanding the leather of the boots in the instep area, wearing a thick sock will protect your feet from any kind of injury or forming blisters. We hope your boots fit you right after following our advice. For now, adios amigo!