How To Widen Steel Toe Boots

Steel toe boots are famed for their toughness and durability, as well as their ability to keep your toes safe on worksites and industrial areas where heavy objects can fall onto these rather delicate and vulnerable areas of your body.

Steel toe boots, as the name suggests, incorporate a steel plate into the design, usually located in the front of the boot directly above the toe area of the boot.

While steel toe boots are often essential for certain professions, there’s nothing worse than working a long day in a pair of new boots which haven’t been broken in.

This is especially true of steel toe boots which are usually a little tougher and more rugged than other types of boots, which makes them even harder to break in and more uncomfortable when you start wearing them, to begin with.

Uncomfortable footwear can have many implications for your health, some of them incredibly long-lasting and difficult to resolve, so ensuring you have helped make your boots as comfortable as possible is critical to your health and workplace performance/comfort.

In this guide, we’re going to look at a few different ways you can widen your steel-capped boots to enable you to break in your boots much more effectively and help mold them to your feet instead of mauling them.

Use A Boot/Shoe Stretcher

While a boot stretcher may not be a common household item, it’s one of the most effective ways to break in boots and help stretch them out so they fit you better, because it’s specifically designed to do so.

To use this method do the following;

  1. Use some leather conditioner (if using leather boots) and rub this in circular motions all over the boot. This helps protect the leather from being damaged when you stretch it and keeps it healthy for longer, improving the long-term quality of your boots.
  2. Use the handles on the boot stretcher to make sure it will stretch the boot correctly. A two-way stretcher should expand outwards in both directions. Ensure that the stretcher doesn’t move lengthways as this will lengthen the boots and make them narrower which is the opposite of what’s required.
  3. Turn the handles counterclockwise until they are closed enough to fit the stretcher in the boot.
  4. Insert into the boot and adjust the lengthener if necessary as well as the width of the boots to ensure it fits snugly inside the boot, and then adjust the width three or four more turns to help stretch the boot out.
  5. Leave the stretcher in place for 24 hours.
  6. Check the fit!

Heat The Boots

Another method of stretching out boots is to heat them, as this can make the leather more malleable and easier to stretch and mold to your feet.

  1. Put on two pairs of thick socks to protect your feet from the heat, then put on the boots you want to stretch.
  2. Use a hairdryer on its highest setting to begin heating the boot, particularly on the areas of the boot where the boot creases, as well as the edges of the boot. Hold the nozzle around 3 inches away from the leather to avoid damage. 
  3. Once you’ve heated the boot for a minute in each area, and the boot feels more comfortable, you can walk around in them to help them stay in this wider shape.
  4. Now apply a leather conditioner or polish to help the leather stay moist and prevent cracking due to exposure to heat.

Use A Broom Handle Or Long Pole

This method uses leverage to help stretch the boot out and widen them, but it isn’t as refined as some other techniques.

  1. Use some leather conditioner on your boots preemptively if they’re leather to help prevent tearing or damage.
  2. Insert the handle of a broom or long pole into the boot and make sure you have enough space to get some good leverage on the protruding handle.
  3. Press down on the handle so it’s pressed against the base of the boot and then orient and move the handle around so that you bend and stretch the ankle of the boot and the uppers to help stretch them out. Do this for 30 seconds to a minute before changing the orientation of the handle and stretching a different area of the boot.
  4. Take the boots in your hand and bend the soles to help widen them and stretch them even more.
  5. You can do this for around 5 minutes and take a rest, then resume for another 5 minutes. Try the boots on after a few turns to test them and feel for differences, stopping when the boots feel loose enough and comfortable.

Stuff the Boots When Not in Use

This is a more old-fashioned method that helps the boots stay in the shape you’ve worked them into using one of the techniques above.

  1. Take some old magazines or newspapers and tear out plenty of pages.
  2. Scrunch the pages up into balls and stuff them tightly down inside your work boots until the whole interior of the boot is filled as if your foot were inside it.
  3. Leave the boots filled overnight or when not in use, as this will stop them from shrinking and reduce the chances of your adjustments being lost over time.