Many are the benefits of a good pair of rubber boots. A good pair of rubber boots will keep your feet dry, keep them safe, provide good slip resistance and traction, and give a lot of comfort.
Rubber boots have become somewhat a standard in professions where foot damage is a common risk, such as construction workers, electricians, and factory workers. According to the BLS, over 60,000-foot injuries per year result in lost workdays.
Unfortunately, rubber is not incorruptible and even the best rubber boots show wear with age. Heat, moisture, and everyday use can change the integrity of the rubber, causing your boots to shrink and hardened.
Luckily, you can save your favorite pair of rubber boots by stretching them a bit. You can stretch rubber boots so that they fit better and regain some of their elasticity. We are going to cover some neat ways can save your favorite pair of rubber boots by stretching.
How Can You Stretch Rubber Boots?
It helps to first understand how, exactly, rubber boots are made. Essentially, rubber boots are molded and shaped by a process involving high temperatures and pressures.
Heat and pressure allow the rubber to be molded and initiate a quickening process that makes the rubber strong and durable.
So, stretching your boots and applying appropriate heat can let you stretch them again while still retaining most of the strength of the rubber sole. Each method of rubber boot stretching we are going to cover all have different “expansion mechanics” but rely on the same principle; you can stretch rubber boots by continually applying heat or pressure.
Keep in mind that new rubber boots usually take some time to break in. They may start off as somewhat rigid and inflexible, but they conform to your foot after a bit.
You should not try to stretch new rubber boots using these methods right off the bat. Give some time to break them in, then if they still don’t fit properly, try some of these methods.
Methods to Stretch Rubber Boots.
1. Ice Stretching
This first method is pretty neat and only requires some water, plastic Ziploc bags, and a freezer; all common household items.
Ice stretching is a good method for small or medium changes, but you shouldn’t rely on it for full shoe size changes. Here is how to do it:
This nifty method takes advantage of the unique properties of water. Unlike most liquids, water expands when it is frozen, so when the water freezes and expands, it stretches your boots.
A unit volume of water expands by about 9% when frozen so this method can be used to stretch your boots maybe a centimeter or two, usually enough to make them fit comfortably again.
A few warnings though: Make sure the bags you use are freezer safe. Otherwise, they could rupture, and the water can damage your shoe.
By the same token, make sure you do not completely fill the bags with water or else they can burst when frozen.
2. Heat Expansion
You can also stretch your boots using heat. Heating rubber causes it to expand and you can repeat this process the more you need to stretch. All you need for this method are some thick socks and a house hairdryer.
The method takes advantage of heat to expand the rubber and stretch it. The benefit of this method is that it is very quick and can be repeated basically as much as you need.
Essentially, you are just remodeling the boot around your foot so it will not only stretch but mold to the unique shape of your foot. This method may not be permanent but its quick method to get some short-term stretching results.
Make sure you do not heat the rubber too much. Cheaper rubber boots can actually lose their integrity and start to melt if heated too much. Also, make sure the socks you pick are thick enough so that you don’t accidentally burn yourself.
3. Use stretching liquids
You can also buy special liquids that let you stretch shoes. These liquids chemically react with the rubber making it more pliable for a short period of time.
It is important to find a stretching liquid that is safe for rubber. Some liquids made for leather shoes, for example, can actually damage the rubber.
This method is good, but it does mean you have to buy special shoe stretching liquid. It can often be hard to tell if these stretching liquids are safe for use on rubber.
4. Use a boot stretcher
There are several boots stretching devices on the market that let you target specific regions of your boots for stretching.
Usually, these machines are meant to stretch the toe and shaft area of the boot and will not make the boot wider. All boot stretching devices work differently, but the main process is the same:
Boot stretchers are great and made specifically for this task, but that does mean you have to go out of your way to buy one.
5. Take the to a professional cobbler
If you don’t have the time or don’t trust yourself, you can always take your rubber boots to be stretched by a professional cobbler.
Cobblers have the proper tools, devices, and experience to stretch new and old footwear.
Moreover, a cobbler can tell you if your boots can even be stretched or if it would be a better choice to just get some new ones. They can also help you stretch the calf and shaft areas if need be.
Boot Stretch FAQ
Can I stretch my rubber boots too much?
Yes, you can stretch rubber boots too much. After a certain point, any more stretching will just weaken the rubber and make the boot fall apart.
The average rubber boot can probably handle about ½-¾ inches of stretching before it starts to fail. If you need your boots stretched more than that, your best bet is to just get a larger pair.
How many times can I stretch my rubber boots?
It depends on how often you stretch them and how much you stretch them each session. Unfortunately, rubber is not indestructible so eventually, stretching them will break them down.
In general, the more you stretch and the more stretch per session, the faster the boots will wear out. As long as your stretching is minimal and infrequent, you should not experience any degradation other than that which is normal for aging shoes.
Can you stretch boots made from a material other than rubber?
Yes, you can! Virtually every type of boot can be stretched at least a bit, you just need the right method. In fact, all the methods explained above also work for leather boots.
Can I stretch new rubber boots?
You certainly can, but it’s not recommended. Usually, rubber boots take some time to break in. After wearing them a bit, the rubber will soften up and stretch a bit to fit your feet better.
So, if you have new rubber boots, don’t jump straight to stretching them using these methods. Wear the around first and give them some time to soften and expand. If they are still too tight, then you can try some of these stretching methods.
Rubber boots are great and by occasional stretching, you can keep them in good condition for longer.
Fortunately, most rubber boot stretching methods can be done at your home and don’t require a lot of specialized equipment.