View Full Version : Best way to stretch calf of tall boot?
Oct. 9, 2009, 02:17 PM
I need to stretch the calf of one of my Ariat Crown Pro Field boots. I think it needs to expand 1/4" Can I get them to stretch this much and what would be the best method (spray rubbing alcohol on the inside calf part)? The rest of the boot fits fine and does not need to stretch.
More info for the interested reader...
These are new boots that I purchased on ebay. The first time I wore them I just had a thin sock under them and some capri pants (it was a trail ride). They felt fine. Needed help to pull them off but I was comfortable on the ride. The first time I tried them on with breeches and the same thin socks, the calf of the left boot was so tight that my leg was pounding and I was in agony until we got to our destination only 15 minutes away and the boot could be pulled off (with great effort) by my trusty friend.
Thanks in advance for any advice!!!!
Oct. 9, 2009, 02:24 PM
Take them to a cobbler and have them stretch them. They have tools specifically for this. 1/4 inch might be a bit of a stretch (pun intended) but you can try. There is also stuff called spray stretch that will help stretch them a tad more if needed.
Oct. 9, 2009, 02:34 PM
I had an old pair I took to a cobbler and they did a terrible job! There was a big dent "out" where they stretched - yuck! So choose cobblers wisely if you go that route.
When I got my Crowne Pros in, they were barely zippable and I could feel my pulse in both legs. Not cool. So I did "the bathtub method" twice so I could get them wearable and within a dozen or so rides after that they fit me amazingly. It takes some faith to dunk your expensive boots in water... then some patience and annoyance as they dry... but totally worth it. :yes:
Oct. 9, 2009, 03:24 PM
I think you just need to suck it up and wear them. The pulse is annoying, but the boots that I've had that feeling with usually end up being the best fitting.
Oct. 9, 2009, 03:32 PM
I don't know if boots with zippers can be stretched by a cobbler. Both of the ones that I talked to said no, because the zippers break rather than the boot stretching.
Ditto the tough it out and just let them stretch over time. If you get them stretched so they are comfortable now, likely they'll seem too big later on. I have that problem with a pair that fit great out of the box, but now is sloppy big.
Oct. 9, 2009, 03:45 PM
My friend just took her pair into a shoe repair shop, they have a special stretcher that they put them on, and the shoe repair guy left them on the stretcher for about a week. They got a good amount wider (not sure how much, but it was significant) and looked just fine. I think the key is to have them do it slowly over time.
I remember that it was also very inexpensive to get done. Maybe $20 for both boots?
Oct. 9, 2009, 04:09 PM
If you can get them on but they make your calves fall asleep? Unfortunately, the best thing to do is to put them on and wear them while watching TV or doing anything else you can do in a seated position with your feet up. They will stretch on their own, but it's uncomfortable until they do. When I first got a pair of Ariat Heritage boots years ago, I could get them on with difficulty but just walking fifty feet made my calves pound and ache, with the left being far more painful. At the time I couldn't afford new ones and I didn't know they could be stretched, so I just kept wearing them (although not to ride) until they were comfortable. Took maybe two weeks to get them to the point where I could ride in them, and then maybe a month to get them fully comfortable for me.
FYI - boots that you can get all the way on, even with great difficulty, will likely be over-stretched by the cobbler's stretching tool - and if your boots have zippers, I wouldn't even TRY going this route. The zippers may not break then, but I'd be afraid of weakening them only to have them fail at a critical moment like the right before a show or something...
Good luck! I hate breaking in tall boots so I feel your pain... :yes:
Oct. 9, 2009, 04:15 PM
Thanks for the advice so far. These boots do not have zippers.
I was thinking it would be better to spray the inside with alcohol and/or do the bathtub method just on the calf part of the boot (or would this make the calf part look different from the rest of the boot?). As I would think by wearing them to stretch them they would stretch just the right amount. I can't wear them around the house since I live alone and need someone to pull them off- I can wear them around the ranch though.
I don't think I can "tough it out" as my foot was becoming numb in only 15-20 minutes and I don't want to deal with a BKA (below knee amputation) anytime soon :eek:
Oct. 9, 2009, 06:19 PM
I think the best method is the bathtub method or a modified version....put the boots on and stick a hose in the top edge of the boot while it's on your leg and fill it with water that way. Then walk around until you can't stand it any longer. If you're worried about getting your leg stuck in the boot you can step into a plastic bag (like one of those flimsy but slippery grocery bags) and put the boot on over the plastic bag.
You can also try it with a naked or breech-free leg (socks only). If they fit okay with less material on then start breaking them in that way. Walk around as much as you can in just your socks and your boots. I have to admit that I was caught by the UPS man feeding the horses one night in my underwear, a new pair of boots, and a tank top :eek: He came late (after 6pm) and I was smack dab in the middle of the driveway walking a horse in from her pasture to the barn. He needed a signature for something so I calmly tried to pretend that I always dress in such a manner :lol:
Oct. 9, 2009, 08:37 PM
Does the bathtub method work for used boots that one has grown out of slightly? Mine fit almost perfectly, except a smidge too tight. When I ride I can barely tell when I'm squeezing because of the constant pressure. :lol:
Oct. 9, 2009, 09:42 PM
Sounds VERY familiar. The only difference is that I was lame enough to try to wear them at a show. I could barely finish my classes. What I did: Get a boat load of mink oil and soak the heck outa the boots in this stuff. The mink oil seemed to soften the leather enough that I was able to wear them comfortably and break them in. They are now/were my daily boots, so I needed them to be comfy.
Now fast forward to a couple of weeks ago - sadly I had a zipper blow out. I went to my local tack shop and Ariat is sending me a new pair of boots. Yep - brand new pair. I'm happy to have the new boots, but now I have to start the process all over again.
I have the Grand Prix's as show boots now and they were broken in the first day I wore them.
Oct. 9, 2009, 10:03 PM
I agree with the cobbler option. If you are worried they will strech them too much ask them to do just a little. It's not too expensive to have done and you can always strech them some more at a later date.
If there's nobody good in your area, second best choice is to just wear them. If they are too tight with breeches on, try wearing them during the day on the weekend or so just for running errands with just the sock and maybe jeans or sweatpants outside. They will strech quite a bit just from being ridden in ten times so if they are too uncomfortable to lesson in try wearing them for hacks and volunteer to ride extras if possible.
Oct. 9, 2009, 10:58 PM
Does the bathtub method work for used boots that one has grown out of slightly?
Oct. 9, 2009, 11:07 PM
If they don't have zippers, definitely try the cobbler option. It's inexpensive and quick. Beware, though: both pairs of mine stretched nearly an inch in 24 hours.
Since yours need only 1/4", maybe you could drop them off with the understanding that you'll come back in 3 hours to try them on. If you come back and they haven't stretched enough, have them put the stretchers back in and plan to come back again (how long depends on how close to perfect they are).
Another thing to remember is that after stretching they will still be brand-new, un-broken-in boots; because of that, I would NOT stretch them until they are easy to get on, especially if you have slim or straight calves. As long as you leave the cobbler's with tight-but-wearable boots I think you'll be fine. Otherwise you may end up with boots that look too short or too full in the calf or both - trust me, I made this mistake once and ultimately ruined a *nice* pair of boots (now they're so big and short on me that I'm embarrassed to even muck stalls in them!).
Good luck! I hate boot-fitting problems so I feel your pain...
Oct. 10, 2009, 12:50 AM
I'm going to be the voice of dissention and suggest that you find a new pair of tall boots.
I went through the wringer with my Crowne Pro's and finally found two pairs of boots that fit my perfectly -without- pain.
There are other boots out there that won't cause your heart to throb deep down in your calf, honest.
Oct. 10, 2009, 03:14 AM
i do it the old fashioned way a tip from my mum
get yer boots and fill with newspapers then peel and cut a potato into 4 and place the potatoe where it needs stretching pack tight with the newspaper again and leave over night
if it needs a more adjusting you tweak it with a broom handle -
never failed with shoes boots long or short
Oct. 10, 2009, 06:46 AM
the place we bought ours stretched them...turned out fine, and they have zippers
Oct. 10, 2009, 10:06 AM
Find a regular tack shop that does boot stretching. It takes a week and they can usually get just about the amount you need. Its inexpensive.
A few months ago my vogels fell apart (again) and I needed to squeeze into the Dehner's I had made for me literally 10 years ago. One boot went on fine, the other was impossible. I measured and figured I too needed about a 1/4". I only had 2 days so I couldn't go the stretching route as it really does take a week. I got a can of "boot stretch" from a shoe repair kiosk in the mall and went to town. I followed the directions on the can and it didn't seem to help much, so I re-sprayed and broke out the hair dryer. After blow drying each boot for like 10 minutes I was able to get them on. I had to wear them again a few months later and they went right on. I don't think my calves got any smaller, the stretch spray + wearing them for 12 hours got me the 1/4" that I needed, permanently I guess. I'm taller now though and the wrinkle in the ankle was not in the right place anymore...they were excruciating! I could barely walk :(
Oct. 10, 2009, 10:08 AM
I want to know more about the potato method !
Oct. 10, 2009, 10:40 AM
I have a pair with zippers that were to tight I just soaked, and I mean soaked, the inside of the boot in the calf area with boot stretch. Put them on and wore them all day. Now they are great.
Oct. 10, 2009, 05:35 PM
Wow... what a lot of great responses. Thanks so much everyone!!!
Today I am going to spray the tight calf on the inside with half alcohol half water and wear it for as long as I can stand it. I will have a boot lackey on standby. Will go from there. These boots were such a great deal that I am going to try to make it work. I'll keep ya'll posted. By the way... if I have to resort to the bathtub method does the water temp matter? If I do this I think I would just dunk the upper part of the boot into a bucket.
Oct. 10, 2009, 07:06 PM
Many cobblers sell shoe stretch spray, and sometimes the bigger pharmacies do, too. The one I've used is:
Basically, I've used it repetitively on paddock boots that were too tight in the toe and zip dress boots that were too tight in the calf. Best if you can put it on and then go through the agony of wearing the offending boot with a pair of really thick socks.
Oct. 10, 2009, 10:38 PM
Best Possible Outcome!!!
I sprayed the inside of the tight calf with half water/half rubbing alcohol. Got it saturated. Put the boot on hoping I would be able to stand it for 15 minutes.... well the stuff must have worked as I ended up going on an hour plus trail ride! Amazing. I was totally comfortable and the boots look great. And I was able to remove the boots on my own with a boot jack (took some effort but I did it!)
Oct. 11, 2009, 05:12 AM
We all know it is a common practice to soak boots in the shower/bathtub to make the "breaking in" process easier, but please do know that water is not always a friend to leather. You may very well shorten the lifespan of you boots if you subject them to unnecesary soakings.
Alcohol is definately a "no no".
If you do a google search you'll find plenty of articles that explain that the application of alcohol will damage leather.
Mink oil, Lexol, etc. and lots of elbow grease are far better choices.
Oct. 11, 2009, 11:52 AM
It does seem that alcohol and/or water are probably not the best thing for leather. However, the 1/2 alcohol 1/2 water spray did work for me and it was a one time thing. Henceforth my boots shall receive the best of care. I hope the boot Gods will forgive me for this one transgression.
Oct. 13, 2009, 03:36 PM
a peeled potato is wet remember so boots would only get stretched in the area the spud is not like in abathtub for of water would take ages for the boots to dry out - but not with a spud
as the newpapers draws the wetness to it yet the wet side of the spud enters the leather and then the newapaper draws it back out dont ask me why it works but it does
then you stick the boot on the end of a broom handle a nd tweak it if nessacary in the place where the spud was