Stretch Tight Shoes with a Baggie of Water in the Freezer

First Things First: Can You Stretch Climbing Shoes?

The answer depends on the type of shoes you own. Climbing shoes are all made with a rubber base and either a treated leather or synthetic body. The rubber base may stretch a small amount with increased wear, but nothing like the half-size stretch many people are looking for.

In general, leather shoes will stretch more than synthetic shoes, so if you just bought brand new synthetic shoes and you haven’t climbed in them yet, you should return them and go a size up. Leather shoes are going to be your best bet for successfully stretching a shoe.

The other part of stretching a shoe is the direction that needs to be stretched. If the shoe is too short for you, you should buy a size bigger. A shoe is not going to stretch noticeably in length, but if width or height is your problem, you may be able to stretch it out.

So say you decide that stretching your shoes might be your best option. Before you commit to stretching your new, likely quite pricey, climbing shoes, you may find yourself wondering how exactly they should fit.

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How to stretch climbing shoes

In honesty, the forceful stretching of shoes is something you should try and avoid.

Climbing shoes might look pretty simple, but in reality, they are very complex and are designed to create tension that directs power throughout the shoe. By forcibly stretching them, you are in danger of interfering with the careful balance of the shoe’s construction.

That said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Whether it was an ill-informed buy, a steal of a deal only available in a half size down, or an online purchase you can’t return; wherever the reason, if the usual break-in process just isn’t cutting the mustard, don’t panic.

We purposely got our hands on the new Five Ten NIAD Moccasym half a size too small, so we could test some of the popular methods of stretching climbing shoes for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Can Leather Shoes Be Stretched?

Leather shoes can be stretched from a quarter to a whole size. The result depends on the method you use as well as the actual leather. The most cost-effective ways that yield good results are shoe-stretching liquid and the freezer method.

How Much Does It Cost to Stretch Shoes?

Overall, It costs no more than $50 to stretch leather shoes, but it depends on the method. For example, buying a shoe stretcher may cost you about $40, while walking in wet footwear needs no investment.

Does Putting Potatoes in Shoes Stretch Them?

Putting potatoes in shoes will stretch them, and it’s most effective for soft leathers. All you should do is insert a medium-sized potato in the opening of each shoe, push it into the front corners and let it be for 48 hours.

How Long Does It Take Leather Shoes to Stretch?

It can take as little as a few minutes and up to as much as 2 days to stretch leather shoes at home. Depending on the method and the amount of extra room you need in your shoes, it can take longer. However, it usually takes 2 or 3 days for a cobbler to stretch shoes.

Is It Possible to Stretch Leather Shoes?

Yes, it’s possible to stretch leather shoes using different in-home techniques, such as soaking them with water, buying a shoe stretcher or stuffing them with newspaper. Alternatively, seek a professional for assistance.

How Can I Stretch My Leather Shoes Wider?

You can stretch your leather shoes wider using various methods, such as wetting, heating, freezing, using alcohol and stretching tools.

Shoe Stretcher Tips

Check Your Sole

Despite the stretchiness of the suede leather, the sole of the shoe is made from much tougher, non-stretchable material. In such a case, you’ll have to check to see if the bottom of the shoe will get in the way of stretching. Heavy work boots tend to have thick soles that won’t stretch well, but it is possible if you show your shoes to a professional footwear expert.

You might think that it’s impossible to stretch heavy thick, rubber soles or shoe soles made from other non-malleable material. However, checking in with a professional footwear expert could give you the option to stretch your shoes without damaging the item too much.

If you love your shoes and can’t bear to part with them, the shoe expert could increase the size of suede shoes a quarter to a half size at an affordable price. Do your research to see if stretching the sole of your shoes would be a necessary obstacle to get over to properly enjoy your shoes.

Avoid Using Shoe Stretchers on Narrow Shoes

Some shoes are designed to be narrow, and so trying to stretch the suede leather could tear the suede from the sole or tear holes in the leather. The top layer of the shoes — the part that holds your foot — would look like a bubble over the smaller sole, leading to an unfortunate aesthetic result.

If you think the shoes are designed for narrow feet, but your feet don’t fit into the shoe, you might have to cut your losses and find a different pair of shoes. See if the company you bought your shoes from will allow a return.

You could risk stretching the shoes to make them wearable, but if stretching narrow-designed shoes prove fruitless, you could damage your ability to return or sell the shoes.

A shoe stretcher helps break in shoes faster and enables you to increase shoe sizes a quarter to a half size up. But they can’t perform miracles — they can’t change the amount of material the shoes come with or the size of the sole. There might be little you can do to properly stretch narrow shoes, especially with a shoe stretcher and shoe stretching spray.

Talk to a Shoe Professional First

Shoe professionals see, handle, and understand shoes for a living. They’ll know how to properly stretch suede shoes without breaking them or damaging the appearance of the shoe. You can use their vast knowledge of shoes to find the best ways to stretch your suede shoes.

A shoe professional will most likely know what stretching methods work the brand and style of shoe you own. They can offer wisdom on the best process for you to use at home. Or, if you want to save yourself time and the risk of messing up your shoes, you could pay the shoe expert to stretch your shoes for you.

That way, you know your shoes are in good hands and that they’re not likely to break or rip the shoes (unlike you, the novice).

Do some research in your area to see if there are shoe experts who will talk to you about your shoes. They might offer a small consultation fee. If your shoes are essential to you, though, the cost could be worth it to ensure your shoes are wearable.

Read Also: Best Shoe Stretchers

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