Welcome to my beginners guide on shoe trees.
What the heck are these oddly-shaped things and what purpose do they have in this world?
Well there are a lot of benefits you can gain from using shoe trees, and in this beginners guide I will teach you everything you need to know.
Do I use shoe trees? Yes
Are they worth it? Yes
Will they save your shoes from self-destruction while in storage? Absolutely
Lets get into this article as I explain what shoe trees are all about, what kind you need, and everything else you need to know.
An Introduction to Shoe Trees
Shoe trees mimic the shape of your foot, designed to hold the shoe taught while absorbing moisture buildup that’s accumulated throughout the day.
Essentially that’s all it is.
Why would you need a shoe tree?
Because shoes absorb a hefty amount of sweat during the day (half a pint to be precise), there’s nowhere for this sweat to go if not removed.
Air drying works but not as effectively as a shoe tree.
Air dries the shoe at its current shape…all creased up and warped.
A shoe tree allows it to dry without warping or cracking, and hold its shape while in storage.
Who would use a shoe tree?
They are best used for dress shoes since these are made of leather and leather tends to crack as it dries.
Also dress shoes are expensive, so it makes sense to look after them and increase the lifespan.
What about everyday shoes (gym, casual, work, etc)
Yes, these are still good for everyday shoes and I highly recommend it if you can.
Of course you won’t have shoe trees for all your shoes since they are not cheap, but for your more expensive shoes, you should definitely protect them.
How to Use a Shoe Tree
Types of Shoe Trees
First and foremost, you need to determine what kind of shoe tree you need for your shoe type.
Shoe trees vary in material.
These are natural wood, varnished wood, beechwood, cedar and plastic.
Each have their own pros and cons.
Wood is eco-friendly and absorbs moisture and sweat, whereas plastic cannot do that and is damaging to the environment.
However, plastic is cheaper and better for travelling because they’re so lightweight.
I recommend going with any type of wooden shoe tree for dress shoes and everyday sneakers.
They may be more expensive but last longer and absorb all the moisture from the day.
Ideally you want the size to be 2 cm bigger than your foot.
The reason is to smooth out any creases while keeping it taught.
How to get your foot size:
Stand on a piece of paper, lean on your foot to put weight on it, mark the front of your toes (the one that sticks out the most – probably your big toe) and the back of your heel.
Measure one end of the marking to the other for your foot size.
Now simply choose a shoe tree that has 2 cm more than your foot measurements.
This will give you a perfect sized shoe tree.
Tightness is determined by the type of shoe and how stretchy the leather is.
You do not have to tighten the shoe tree so much that it damages it.
It should be just enough to smooth out the creases and hold its shape for at least 24 hours.
Length of time
Shoe trees should be kept in the shoe for a minimum of 24 hours.
This gives it adequate time to absorb moisture and hold its current shape.
It’s okay for shoes to be in storage for months as the tree holds its shape well, ultimately increasing longevity and stopping it from creasing and dry rotting.
Do They Really Work?
That’s a given.
They really do work, especially for dress shoes that need to be in storage for months before being worn again.
Plus if you go with wood, they absorb sweat and eliminate odor!
Think of a shoe tree as your double.
It takes your place while you’re away, but without the usual wear and tear.
So yes, shoe trees 100% work and you should definitely consider getting a couple, or one at the very least, for your most expensive shoes.
Can they Cause Damage to the Shoe?
Shoe trees will not cause damage per se, but there is a possibility of permanent indentation with the wrong type of shoe tree.
The shoe tree below has protrusion that can stick into the sides of the shoe.
Try avoiding protruding areas because over time these can create a permanent indentation that may never come out.
Ideally you want one that mimics the shape of your shoe.
In the picture below you can see that there is much less protrusion, resulting in less risk for any damage.
Can Shoe Trees Stretch Shoes?
No they do not stretch shoes and should not be used as a shoe stretcher.
Think smoothing, not stretching.
There are many differences between a shoe stretcher and shoe tree.
Shoe trees are designed to smooth out the creases and that’s it.
Shoe stretchers have all the bells and whistles that allow you to spot stretch specific areas that give you the most pain or tight spots (how to stretch shoes).
Trees have one ability, and that is to keep your shoes taught while you are away, absorb moisture, and give it a nice aroma smell with the cedar wood!
Wood or Plastic?
I hands down recommend cedar wood for your shoe tree because they have more benefits.
They are better for the environment, keep the shoe smelling clean and absorb moisture.
Wooden shoe trees are best for everyday shoes and shoes kept in storage.
Plastic is bad for the environment, they do not have moisture-wicking qualities or provide a nice aroma smell.
However, they are cheaper and lighter.
Plastic shoe trees are good for travelers.
For everything else, cedar wood is the way to go because all of the reasons mentioned above.
When Should You Use a Shoe Tree?
As soon as you remove your shoes, a shoe tree should be placed inside asap.
That’s true for both everyday and dress shoes.
The reason being is your feet sweat throughout the day.
The quicker you get the tree in the shoe the faster it can work its magic and dry those suckers out.
Leaving them to dry on its own will not do any damage in the meantime, but overtime this constant sweating and drying eventually causes immense damage by speeding up the dry rot process.
Well that pretty much sums up everything about shoe trees.
Remember that they are NOT a stretching tool.
They are a smoothing tool that keeps the shoe taught and absorbs moisture while extending lifespan.
They have proven to work and will hands down increase the lifespan of your shoes.
I hope you learned a lot and found everything you were looking for
If you did, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you asap.