How to Use a Boot Stretcher - Expert Instructions

How to Use a Boot Stretcher - Expert Instructions

Are your boots too tight? Do you need to stretch them?

If yes, you came to the right place! We are the boot stretching experts.

In fact, this is the home of the "Boxer" Boot Stretcher, the strongest, wood and metal, NO PLASTIC, Boot Stretcher in the world. Hands Down.

In this article, I am going to show you, step by step, how to loosen your too-tight boots. I am going to use my Boxer Boot Stretcher in my instructions below. Before we get started, there are a few things you should know:

  • The Boxer used in these instructions is for most kinds of boots, such as hiking boots, work boots, etc. However, if you need to stretch Western Cowboy Boots, please check out the "Bloodhound" Cowboy Boot Stretcher. If you need to stretch High Heel Boots, please check out the "Bernese" High Heel Boot Stretcher.
  • You can use Stretcher Spray, but it's not necessary. Boots can be stretched without it.
  • You can stretch your Right or Left Boot with a "Boxer" Boot Stretcher. If you need to stretch both boots, you can do it at the same time, or you can buy 2 stretchers. Many people buy 2.
  • This Boot Stretcher can stretch the width of the boot, and can "spot stretch" any specific tight areas in your boot that may be caused by bunions, corns, etc.
  • Steel-toed boots are difficult to stretch because the steel part is not going to move. But you might be able to stretch behind the steel toe area.

Alright. Time to get starting stretching those boots. Take a look at this diagram below so you understand the "anatomy" of a Boot Stretcher and how it works:

Boot Stretcher Diagram

Boot Stretcher - 5 Step Instructions

Let's do this together! I'm going to break down the boot stretching instructions into 5 easy steps. Like most things in life, it's not that difficult, but paying attention to the details will help you do it correctly.

After all, these are YOUR feet that we are trying to make comfortable, so do a good job! At the end of the article, you can download some even more detailed PDF instructions if you want.

Step One - Preparing the Boot Stretcher

Prepare the Boot Stretcher to Stretch Your Boots

Ready? We're gonna get the boot stretcher prepared by closing the Toe Block and inserting any Bunion Plugs you think necessary.

Start by turning the metal "T" Handle counterclockwise. This will close the toe block, so it is not spread open. We do this so the boot stretcher will easily slide into place when we put it inside the boot.

Then, if you have any tight areas in the boot that you need to "target stretch," this is the time to add Bunion Plugs into the holes that are drilled into the stretcher. These Bunion Plugs will push outward from inside of the boot to loosen that specific area.

Expert Tip: Here's how you figure out where to put them: Pretend the boot stretcher is your foot, and add the Bunion Plug where the problem area is (such as a bunion or corn). The Boxer comes with 6 Bunion Plugs, 3 different sizes, so you can match the size of your problem area.

Lastly, please stop laughing at us for saying "Bunion Plug" so many times - we didn't invent that name! It was imposed upon us... we swear!

Okay, let's have some fun now...

Step Two - Position the Stretcher into your Boot

Insert Boot Stretcher into Boot to Stretch Boots

Your boot stretcher is closed, and maybe you've inserted bunion plugs to spot stretch some targeted areas.

Go ahead and slide the Toe Block completely into the "toe box" of your boot. Push it all the way to the front. Hold your hand over the toe of the boot, and you should be able to feel the stretcher inside there, along with any bunion plugs.

You're in. Let's Stretch!

Step Three - The Fun Part - Stretch that Boot!

Using the Boot Stretcher to Stretch the Boot

Now you're going to hold the toe of the boot with one hand, and the "T" Handle with the other. If you're right-handled, hold the "T" Handle with your right hand.

Unbend the arm of the "T" Handle as much as possible (try to make the knuckle more straight than bent), and start turning it Clockwise. This will open the Toe Block of the boot stretcher which will stretch the width of the boot.

By touching the outside of the boot's toe box, you should be able to feel the stretcher pushing on the outside of the boot. Once you've turned it to the point where it is "snug," give it one or tow more cranks to achieve the optimum stretch.

Be careful not to over-stretch your boots. Overstitching can damage certain kinds of boots. Start with a "light" stretch, then work your way up if necessary.

IMPORTANT: Why am I saying to "unbend the arm" as much as possible when stretching? If the knuckle is bent all the way when you are turning the "T" Handle, this puts a lot of stress on the knuckle. And with too much force in this bent position, it could break. FYI If that happens to you and you're using the HOUNDSBAY Boxer, don't worry! We offer free lifetime replacement.

Step Four - Give it Some Time, then Take it out

Stretch Boots for 8 Hours with Boot Stretcher

Once you've got the boot stretcher inside the boot with the desired "settings," leave it in there for at least 8 hours. This is because it takes time for the fibers in the leather (or other material) to "relax". It will not hurt to leave it in longer than 8 hours.

Now, here's how to remove the boot stretcher: Turn the metal "T" Handle counterclockwise to completely close the Toe Block of the boot stretcher. Then gently and slowly pull the stretcher out of the boot.

Step Five - Put on Your Newly Sized Boot

Try on Boots Stretched with Boot Stretcher

The fun part - Try it on! How does it fit? Is it more comfortable? Or does it need to be stretched more? Do you need to target another problem area with bunion plugs? You can stretch the boot as many times as necessary until you get that perfect fit.

If you only stretched one side (for example the left boot), now you can stretch the other boot. Remember, if you are using the HOUNDSBAY Boxer, it can be used on both the right-side boot and the left-side boot. So you really only need to purchase 1 Boxer Boot Stretcher, although many people do buy 2 of them because they like to stretch both boots at the same time.

If you'd like to watch a video of how to use a Boot Stretcher, check out the clip below created by Sam at HOUNDSBAY:


Question 1: I'm in between the sizes of the boot stretcher options. Should I size up or down?
Answer: You should "size down" if you're between sizes, because if the boot stretcher is too big, you may have trouble inserting it into the boot.

Question 2: Can a boot stretcher be used for all kinds of boots, like Cowboy Boots and High Heel Boots?
Answer: Your typical boot stretcher, like the HOUNDSBAY Boxer depicted in this article, can be used for most kinds of boots. However, Cowboy Boots and High Heel boots have their own unique shape, so those kinds of boots go better with boot stretchers that are more specific for them. If you need to stretch Cowboy Boots, check out the HOUNDBAY Bloodhound. If you need to stretch high heel boots, check out the HOUNDSBAY Bernese.

Question 3: Should I use a Stretching Spray?
Answer: Stretching spray is usually just a mixture of alcohol and water. It can help relax the leather fibers before stretching. It is optional, but not necessary. We have found that our stretchers work just fine without stretching spray.

Question 4: Do Boot Stretchers Really Work?
Answer: Absolutely Yes. Especially boots that are made of leather and fabric. But if the boot is made of all plastic, it may not stretch well.

Question 5: What is the Best Boot Stretcher?
Answer: The best boot stretchers are ones made from steel and hardwood, because they don't break under pressure when using them. For example our Boxer Boot Stretcher is made with Stainless Steel and German Beech Hardwood.

Question 6: How do you Stretch Boot Width?
Answer: Boot width is stretched when the boot stretcher is inserted into the boot, and then the toe block of the boot is opened by turning the handle on the boot stretcher. This puts lateral pressure on the inside of the boot (across the toe ares), stretching the width.

Question 7: How long does it take to stretch leather boots?
Answer: It takes 8 hours minimum to stretch leather boots. So insert the boot stretcher when you go to bed, and try on the boots in the morning!

Question 8: How does boot stretching work?
Answer: It's mechanical. You insert the boot stretcher device, crank it open, and it pushes tight against the inside of the boot. This loosens and relaxes the fibers in the boot leather (or other fibrous material), thus stretching and loosening the fit of the boot.

Question 9: How much does it cost to have my boots stretched?
Answer: If you take your boots to a cobbler, he or she may charge you around $50 to stretch them. But then you have to try them on, and maybe they will have to do it again and again. These days, it's simply easier to buy your own boot stretcher and stretch your boots from the comfort of your own home.

Question 10: How much can boots be stretched? A whole size?
Answer: Yes, boots can be stretched a whole size. However it's advisable to stretch a quarter inch to a half inch at a time, so you don't damage the boots. Go slow.

Question 11: How can I stretch my walking boots?
Answer: You can always "break in" boots by walking around in them. But if they are definitely tight, it's worth it to use a boot stretcher to loosen them up. Especially if they are tight in a certain area, you can use bunion plugs that come with the boot stretcher to target that specific area.

Question 12: How can I make my boots more comfortable?
Answer: First, figure out why they are not comfortable. If they are tight, use a boot stretcher to loosen them up. If they are hurting in a specific place (maybe you have a bunion or corn), use bunion plugs on the boot stretcher to loosen that area


Guess what? Boot stretchers are not really for boots. They are for your feet. They make your feet more comfortable and happy. And that is important for your health and well-being. I hope this article helps you get your boots to the point where they are super comfortable and you enjoy wearing them on walks, hikes, etc.

Want more details? If you want some really in-depth instructions on how to use the Boxer Boot Stretcher, click the link below to download the Boxer Boot Stretcher Instruction Pamphlet.


Please contact us with any questions about getting your boots to fit more comfortably using a boot stretcher. We are here to help you!

Fair Winds,


Boxer Boot Stretcher being used on Hiking Boots

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