How To Break In Your Vans

Did you buy a nice pair of Vans only to find it’s just a bit too small? Maybe the cap is pinching at your toes, or the heel seems to be digging into your flesh relentlessly…

Wherever it is, the absence of space is something you are consciously aware of while walking in what should have been some fun kicks.

You can break in your Vans by wearing them around your house, or putting a shoe tree inside of them when you aren’t using them. Try taking out the insoles for a little more wiggle room. You could even use water and a hairdryer to truly get the job done; by blowing hot air on lightly soaked shoe material, you can stretch them out.

How do you break in your Vans swiftly and safely? Do Vans stretch out over time? The following will be an overview of what you can expect with Vans in terms of sizing and stretchability, as well as four methods you can use to break in your Vans.

Do Vans Stretch?

Before you take to every article, “how-to” and demonstration video the internet allows for, you should know that your Vans will stretch out eventually. The material itself is made to have some stretchability, as most athletic and athleisure shoes are.

With that being said, they are also made to be durable and long-lasting, which is why many find difficulty in breaking them in for a little while.

Despite the manufacturing being the same, some shoes might break in easier/sooner than others. It is for this reason that you cannot hold all Vans models to the same standard when breaking them in.

Do Vans Loosen Up?

Vans shoes do loosen up over time, assuming you can wear them, to begin with. After a couple of wears, they will loosen up and you’ll be able to wear them perfectly comfortably.

Notably, Vans shoes typically come true to size in consideration of the location from which you purchased them from. This issue is unlikely to result in returning the product if the appropriate size was selected.

Certain shoes may feel tighter than others on your specific foot, so be aware that you may experience a bit of pain at the back of your foot above the heel. This is a common issue among just about any pair of shoes you can find both in-store and on the internet.

Now, over time they may loosen up without wear. This happens when you put them away without a shoe former/shoe tree. Leaving a pair of shoes to sit unworn for a lengthy amount of time after being worn can result in minimal loosening. The time frame would have to be many years though, so this really isn’t something to fret about.

4 Ways to break in Vans

So you’ve been scouring the internet for a method, to break in your Vans slip-on shoes or maybe your Vans Authentics. You even triple-checked the size and know damn well you selected a size 9.

However, some shoes come in a size smaller regardless. For example, Vans slip-ons come in slightly smaller in order to remain fitted and snug on the wearer (as there are no laces/forms of security).

No matter the case, here are three different ways that you can make shoes fit if you need just a bit more room:

Method One: Wear them around the House

The most common way that people tend to break in shoes, in general, is to simply wear them around the house. A couple of wears and you should typically be good to go from there.

Method Two: Take out the Insoles

For this method, you should take out the insoles or comforters of the shoes first. The soles in some shoes can be quite thick. By removing them you’ll allow for a couple of millimeters of extra space.

Insoles have a tendency to push your foot towards the front of the shoe.

The only con to this method would be the potential lack of foot support and comfort. Even so, you could replace them with thinner insoles. It’s worth a try.

Method Three: Put Shoe Trees in the Shoes

Just as shoe trees would hold the form of a shoe, by putting a slightly bigger shoe tree in the shoes, you’ll find that they will loosen up.

So when you aren’t wearing your shoes, just pop it in; it will not only keep the shape of the shoe but also stretch out the material.

Method Four: Hairdryer and Water

This method should be pursued with caution, because when done wrong or with too much intensity, your shoes may become damaged.

This is a simple and straightforward method that you can apply to most shoes. Ensure that your shoes are washable and do not have any “extras” that might become affected by the process of adding heat.

Now that you’ve made sure you’re good to go, you will pour some water on the outside of the shoe, preferably where it is you find there is the most tightness. You can place it all over if the shoe overall seems to be a bit short.

You are going to want to put on a couple of pairs of socks and put the shoe on. Putting on several pairs of socks is optional, however, it is ideal as the purpose of this method is to stretch the shoes out as much as possible while the dryer is loosening up the shoe material.

Now that the shoe is wet and you have your foot jammed inside, you will turn on the hairdryer and position it so that the heat is directed towards the problem area. Not too hot, because if it is too hot for your feet to handle then surely it’s at an inappropriate heat setting for the shoes themselves.

You do not need to do this for too long, nor do you need to press the hairdryer against the shoe itself. The dryer should not be more than three to five inches away from the shoe either.

This is by far the most effective method, but as stated previously, proceed with caution. In some cases, when done improperly or for too long, the shoes will not only become stretched but completely fall apart. Hence why you should do this intermittently and with care.


With the aforementioned simple methods, you should be able to stretch out your shoes within no time. If you still find that they are simply too small to even snuggly put your foot into after attempting these methods, consider returning the item.

Vans as a company as a good/standard return policy. This way you can get a size up or simply the correct size, and genuinely enjoy wearing your Vans.

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