7 Ways to Alter Boots for Wide Calves

We’ve all got that one pair of favorite boots. Those boots are our go-to choice for heading out the door because they’re just so comfortable and make you look and feel great.

But what happens when you fall in love with a pair of boots in the store and bring them home… only to find the boots rub against your calves?

You’re in luck because we know how to alter boots for wide calves and what NOT to do if you want your boots to last!

Browse through these methods and choose which one would work best for you. Not every option will work for you, so read carefully and pick the ones that sound like they’d work on your boots.

How to Alter Boots for Wide Calves

So, let’s get into the various methods you can use to alter boots for wide calves. Some won’t appeal to you, and some aren’t suitable for certain types of shoes.

Read through them and decide which ones would work best for you.

1. Use a Boot Calf Stretcher

A boot stretch is a handy tool to have. You get the regular stretchers that fit right down into the toe of the shoe for stretching, but you can also get calf stretchers—designed specifically for this problem.

You can find one on Amazon quite easily, like the FootFitter Professional Cast Aluminum Combination Boot Instep & Shaft Stretcher. Make sure you’re getting the right one.

All you need to do is insert it into the calf of your boot and open it to the desired width. Take care not to over-stretch the boots, though, because there’s a chance of damaging them.

Once it’s at its desired width, leave it for 12 hours or more. It’s important to note that you may need to do both boots separately if you only have one stretcher, so you’ll need to wait 24 hours before you can wear your boots.

2. Apply Heat

You need to be careful with heat because going overboard can cause permanent damage to your boots. We advise opting for a hair dryer, as you can control the amount of heat you apply and the area to which you apply it.

Put the boots on over a thick pair of socks. Once they’re on, blow-dry the top of the boots for around 30 seconds, and then walk around for a bit in the shoes so the fabric can mold to your calf.

Be very careful when trying this method so that you don’t burn yourself with the dryer. Apply heat carefully to the shoe only, and hold the dryer at least a few inches away from the shoe while doing so.

3. Use a Shoe Stretching Spray

You can find shoe stretching sprays online, like the FootMatters Professional Boot & Shoe Stretch Spray. This spray is suitable for multiple fabrics and is designed to not damage your shoes.

Take care when shopping for a spray online, as some are only designed for specific materials and may damage others.

It’s very easy to use. Just spray the inside of the boot—in this case, especially around the calf—with the spray until it’s fairly saturated. Put your boots on immediately and walk around in them for a while.

You should keep them on your feet for at least a few hours to give the shoe time to better soften and mold to the shape of your calf.

Make sure you don’t spray it on the outside of the boot—it can cause discoloration and damage to the material.

4. Use Water

To clarify, we don’t mean applying water to your boots. In this case, you’re going to fill up a few Ziploc bags with water and insert them into the calf area of your boots. Place your boots in the freezer for the water bags to freeze.

Remember to be careful how you position your boots and the bags in the freezer. If you stand the boots up, the bags will fall into the boot. If you lie them down, the bags may flatten and not have the desired effect.

It would be ideal for standing the boots up and hang the water bags on a string, just inside the boot. However, this might not be possible for most people! If you can’t find an easy way to do this, it might be best to try a different method.

If you try it, leave them in the freezer for 10 to 12 hours. Allow the ice to thaw for about 15 minutes before trying to remove them from the shoes.

5. Try a Zipper Extender

A zipper extender could be a great way to add some room to your boots while making them look stylish. It can be hard to find these online, but it’s a gusset that attaches to the boot in the zipper and allows for more room in the calf.

You can always make yourself a gusset if the boot you have doesn’t have a zipper. It does require you to cut your boots, so it’s a damaging method, but it can also be very effective.

Cut a line down your boots on the side until you reach the spot where it’s tight. Then, cut a triangular piece of elastic or leather, and either glue it or sew it into place in this gap. It should open up the width of the bootleg, giving you noticeably more room.

6. Ask a Cobbler to Add a Zipper

If the boot is tight, you can always ask a cobbler to add a zipper. Not only will this make the boot easier to get on and off, but it will add a sense of style that it didn’t have before!

You can do it yourself if you’re that way inclined. But many people may be nervous about performing shoe surgery, so taking it the cobbler may be a better choice.

7. Ask a Cobbler to Stretch Them For You

If you’re nervous about any of these methods, it may be the best choice simply to take your shoes to a cobbler, explain the situation, and ask them to help. They know all the best ways to alter boots for wide calves, and you can get it done with no stress for just a few bucks.

Methods to Avoid

Like anything, there are certain actions you should avoid if you want this to go well. These methods can damage your boots rather than helping you.

1. Saturating Your Shoes With Water

Soaking your boots in water can do more harm than good, whatever type of boot. The integrity of the leather or other material can be compromised, leading to wear and tear much quicker than it should arise.

Ignore anything that tells you to soak your boots in water and wear them. It’s not safe for your boots, not to mention uncomfortable for you!

2. Direct Sunlight

Placing your boots in direct sunlight can cause the material to fade in color or leather to dry out and crack. You can’t control the temperature of the sunlight or which parts of the boot it hits, so it’s an unpredictable and dangerous way of trying to widen your boots.

3. Extended Heat

Other sources of heat can also be damaging. We favor the hairdryer as it’s easy to control and direct. But placing your shoes in front of a heater, in the dryer, or in other sources if direct heat can ruin the materials and compromise the shoe’s structure.

What You Should Know About Altering Boots for Wide Calves

You May Need to Do It More Than Once

In some cases, the boots will tighten gradually again as they conform to the shape of your calves. You may need to go back a few times and repeat the process of widening them, so they stay comfortable for you.

Don’t overdo it by widening your boots every week or even every month. Wait until the tightness around your calf is noticeable, which could take a few months. This is when you should consider trying again.

When In Doubt, Go to a Pro

Fixing your shoes at home is appealing, but in some cases, it could end up being more of a long-winded process than anything. And there’s no guarantee that it’ll even work!

But cobblers work with shoes daily. They know them inside and out; if anyone can alter boots for wide calves, it’s a cobbler.

Usually, their prices are reasonable, and their work is good. This is a good option if you don’t know what method to choose or are nervous about causing damage to your boots.