That's where shoe trees come in. Some men look at the wooden shoe inserts as an unnecessary purchase, but shoe trees are crucial to keeping shoes in amazing shape as they age.
Due to the sweat and moisture cause from our feet after a day of wearing, a shoe tree will help to wick out the mositure keeping the lining of the footwear intact and this will help the leather from cracking as well. A shoe tree holds a shoe in its proper shape so it dries out correctly. The absorbent wood also helps dry out the lining of shoes so that they don't rot from the inside out.
Shoe trees are a definitely worth the small price you would pay for them as they will extend the longivity of an expensive pair of leather shoes, rather than having to pay a whole lot more of getting a new pair. It will keep your current pair in excellent condition for years.
Not all shoe trees are created equal. There are three tiers of shoe trees, as well as travel shoe trees.
Cheaper shoe trees generally don’t have full wooden heels. Instead, a nob or a piece of thin wood helps stretch out the shoe. These will help with odor and leather cracking, but they won’t hold the shoe shape quite as nicely as more expensive options.
Also, don’t buy a varnished shoe tree. They look nice, but they don't properly draw moisture and sweat from the leather and lining, which is the point of the product. A rough cedar version should work well.
(Pro tip: When the smell of the cedar starts to fade, you can lightly sand the shoe tree to bring it back.)
Quality shoe trees will have ventilation slots at the toe to help dissipate moisture, a longer, crafted heel, and contain more wood for better drying and odor control. They will also ensure the closest possible fit between the shoe and tree.
As with the cheaper versions, top marks go to unfinished cedar models and those with knobs or handles for maintaining your shoes' shape during polishing.
DO I NEED A SHOE TREE IN EVERY PAIR OF SHOES?
This is the most common question about shoe trees, and something shoe bloggers and experts find controversial.
It would be ideal to have a shoe tree in every nice pair of shoes you own — no, you don’t need them in your sneakers — but it's not absolutely necessary, as long as you rotate your shoes and shoe trees throughout the week.
Shoes need a full 24 hours to dry before the next wearing, and the best way to properly dry them is to insert a shoe tree. If you have a few pairs of nice shoes that you rotate, ostensibly you need only one or two shoes trees to keep in your most recently worn pair of shoes.
The vital time for using shoe trees is the hour or two after you’ve removed your shoes from your feet to best draw out moisture and help the shoe return to its natural shape. After that, the shoe trees merely retain shape and help with odor control.
But if you’re a huge fan of all your shoes and have a vast collection of expensive footwear, then buy a shoe tree for every pair. Some shoe collectors swear by them. But most men can get away with using a single set of shoe trees on their most recently worn shoes.