The best inventions are ones that are easy to use and that make your daily life easier. Shoe horns aren’t new – they’ve been around since as early as the 15th century – but their design hasn’t changed much since they were first created.
What started out as a tool that made it easy for nobility or common people who had mobility issues with slipping on their shoes remains a great option today for anyone who wants to preserve the shape of their heel or who has trouble reaching their feet.
Although they are often most prevalent in older populations, the best shoe horn options can be used by anyone to protect their dress shoes and keep from having to mash and wiggle your foot into place. This includes anyone who has mobility issues like those who are recovering from an injury, have joint stiffness, or even pregnant women.
The simple device helps guide the shoe over your heel, making it smooth and simple to slip them on. They can be made from a variety of durable materials, including plastic, wood, and metal, and come in a range of price points.
Unlike in the 15th century, today’s models have additional features like comfortable grips, expandable lengths, or portable specifications to give you more options than ever before. This means you’re sure to find a perfect fit for your needs, but that it may also be challenging to narrow down your list.
In this helpful guide, we’ll give you buying tips that make it simple to decide which is the best shoe horn for you. You’ll learn who might need a shoe horn, key considerations for use, types of materials they’re made from, questions to ask before you shop and buy, and important features that may influence your decision.
Then, we’ll dive into a top 12 list where we break down our favorite picks and give you the pros and cons of each model.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Shacke 15-Inch Stainless Steel Shoehorn with Paracord Handle
- Best Premium: OrthoStep Shoe Horn Long Handle Metal 24 inch
- Best Value: Goodbrand 20-Inch Long Plastic Shoe Horn with Loop
Let’s get started with expert tips to help you shop.
Best Shoe Horn Buying Guide
Once you know the questions to ask and what to look for, it’s easy to pick the best shoe horn for you or your loved one. Whether you’re giving a gift or trying to make your own life more comfortable, here, we’ll give you answers to important questions and key criteria you can use when it’s time to shop.
What is a Shoe Horn?
Like we mention above, a shoe horn is a tool designed to make it easy to slide the heel of your shoe onto your foot. They’re made from smooth, durable materials and typically have a narrow end that serves as the easy-to-grip handle and a rounded end that guides the shoe.
The device gets its name from the material it was initially crafted from – real animal horn.
Today, you can still find models made from polished, finished horn, but modern materials mean that there are also options that are sturdy and far more affordable. We’ll tell you more about those below.
Who Needs a Shoe Horn?
There are many different reasons you might want to add a shoe horn to your wardrobe. The most common reason people use them is to overcome mobility issues that make it difficult to put on your shoes.
Whether you’re recovering from a recent injury, a surgery, or have aging-related issues like arthritis; you know that your joints can flare up when you do certain movements. Putting on your shoes can become extremely difficult if you have to twist your spine in an uncomfortable position, cross your legs, or yank on your foot, ankle, or knee to get your shoe close enough to get the job done.
For those with joint issues, like back or knee problems, you can use the device to eliminate the need to bend over or sit down to slide on your loafers, sneakers, or dress shoes. But they’re not just for injury recovery or the elderly.
Younger people, like pregnant women, can benefit. Particularly as they get close to their delivery date when bending over becomes nearly impossible, a shoe horn can eliminate the need to move into uncomfortable positions when sliding your sneakers on and off.
In addition to the benefits of comfort, there are also benefits to your shoes, too.
Another benefit of using the tool is that it protects the heel of your shoe from unnecessary wear and tear. Think about the last time you had to wiggle your foot into place. Did the material that runs around the back start to bunch or bend? Doing that over and over again can cause premature wear, which means you’ll be in for a costly replacement pair sooner than expected.
If you use a shoe horn, you’ll protect your shoes, which is an especially attractive benefit if you invest in expensive pairs for work or play.
What Are the Key Specs to Consider?
There are several criteria and specifications you’ll want to understand before you decide on the best shoe horn for you. They include:
- Handle Material
- Loops or Grips
Let’s examine each of these more closely to understand better how they can impact the overall function and quality of the product.
Shoe Horn Length
There are four different categories of shoe horn lengths. They are:
- Extra Long
The option that’s right for you will depend on your height, whether you plan to use it seated or standing, and individual needs.
Travel models are usually compact and measure no longer than four inches in total. Typically made from a lightweight material like metal or plastic, they slide into your carry on suitcase or purse for easy transport.
These are a good choice if you want something you can bring with you in a briefcase or on an airplane, but they don’t offer much assistance for someone with limited mobility. They are also sometimes too short for shoes that have shafts longer than three inches, like winter boots.
Standard models are usually between four and 7.5-inches long and are a versatile option for most types of shoes and boots. They’re also best used when you’re sitting down and are a good choice if you can easily reach your foot from a seated position and just want extra assistance guiding the heel over your foot.
Long models can extend up to 15-inches, and many fall at about a foot long. These are an excellent choice for high-rising boots or other footwear with a long shaft, and if you don’t want to have to sit or kneel all the way down to your foot. Long options are not always very portable unless you look for extendable models that collapse into a more compact size.
Extra-long options are most common among people with joint issues or the elderly who need the ability to slide their shoes on while still standing and leaning against a wall or other sturdy object for balance. These extend between 15 and 32-inches and are typically a bit heavier and not portable. This could be the right choice if you want an at-home model that you can keep by the door for when you’re running errands.
Shoe Horn Materials
Commonly, shoe horns are made from four main types of materials. You can easily find:
- Animal Horn
Although they all function similarly regardless of what’s used to construct them, there are a few key factors to consider when deciding which best meets your needs.
Plastic is the easiest to find, and also the least costly option. Despite those advantages, it’s one of the more flexible materials, which means it could potentially break. Some users enjoy the flexibility when they use it because it allows them to slide in their heel and then easily retract the horn, but be cautious that you purchase a high-quality model to avoid an injury if it breaks or snaps during use.
Metal is the next most commonly used material, and it’s more durable than plastic. Some users appreciate that it also has a very slick surface, which makes it glide effortlessly over your sock or barefoot. Some models have a handle that’s made of a different type of material to make it easier to grip, and these options might also have extra features like extendable lengths.
If you like the idea of all-natural material, you may want to consider a wood option. These are usually thicker and heavier than plastic or metal and are often buffed and polished to be slick and shiny.
Finally, a polished animal horn is a traditional choice. You’ll find these in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and most often, they’re made from cattle or wild buffalo. These often have excellent craftsmanship, and you can sometimes find unique pieces made by local artisans by hand. These are also the heaviest and most expensive material.
Be sure that you check that any animal horn products are responsibly sourced and stay away from those crafted using resources from endangered species like elephant or rhino.
Shoe Horn Handles
There are a couple of different ways that manufacturers craft the handle of the device. Many times, it’s made from the same material as the rest of the shoe horn and might feature indentations to help you know where to grip. Most commonly, you’ll see this feature in handles made of wood and plastic.
However, some models may use a different material for the handle to help make it easier to grip and maneuver the shoe horn into place. Particularly in long or extra-long varieties where it becomes more important to be able to hang on to the horn without squeezing too tightly.
Handles can be made from a variety of substances, including rubber, leather, silicone, or they may also be covered in things like rope or cord to help make them easier to grip.
When shopping, check to see how the handles are mounted to ensure they’ll be secure and stay in place during repeated use.
An additional feature that some models incorporate is a loop made from string, rope, plastic, fabric, or leather that you can use to hang it from the wall near your shoes. This is especially handy if you don’t want to have to bend down to pick up the shoe horn from the floor every time you need to use it.
There are also options that have a built-in hole that’s either drilled into the material or shaped from the handle that can be wall-mounted, too.
Although traditional shoe horns are one crafted from one solid piece of metal, wood, or plastic, there are some options with unique design features that might make them better suit your needs. For example, there are foldable, flexible, and expandable models that have benefits for specific users.
Foldable models are typically designed to be travel size, and they hinge at the mid-point to make them even more compact. They are a great choice if you want a shoe horn handy when you’re on the go, but will be limited in the types of shoes with which they’re compatible.
If a manufacturer labels their model as flexible, this means that there’s a hinge installed near the scoop of the horn to give you more ability to adjust the angle. You’ll most commonly find this feature in long or extra long models because it can be tricky to maneuver them into the perfect position from a standing posture and farther distance.
Expandable options, which are sometimes also referred to as telescopic, come most commonly in medium, long, or extra-long models. You can expand or contract the length of this shoe horn, which means you can use it in a variety of positions, including kneeling, crouching, sitting, or standing, depending on the total length.
Although these are very useful, you’ll want to be sure to look for models that hold their shape and length during the process so that you’re not fighting against gravity as you pull the heel of your shoe up and over your foot.
Shoe Horn Thickness
Although it might be tempting to choose a thick, durable shoe horn, it’s worth pointing out that a thicker base is better for sliding on your shoes. If you like the idea of something more sturdy and substantial, look for options that have a large, easy-to-grip handle but a thin concave curve that will take up less space in your shoe.
Traveling with Shoe Horns
If you prefer to carry on your luggage when you travel, avoid packing a long wood or metal shoe horn. Depending on the current threat level, TSA may consider them to be a potential weapon and could confiscate them from your carry on luggage. Either pack your larger model in a checked bag or opt for a travel-sized version to avoid the hassle.
Questions to Ask Before You Shop
Now that you understand the different specifications and features you might find in available models, it’s important to consider how you’ll use the device. Ask yourself these five questions to help narrow down your search for options that will work best for your specific needs.
Will I Use it Seated or Standing (or Both)?
To decide which length shoe horn is best for you, first think about how you want to use the device most frequently. If your preference is to put on your loafers, boots, or sneakers while standing, then you’ll need to search for one that’s long enough to accommodate your height. If sitting down is more comfortable for you, shorter varieties may work just as well.
Do I Plan to Travel with It?
As we mention above, TSA may have limitations on what types of shoe horns you can bring with you when you fly. If you like the idea of a longer, more durable model but plan to travel with it frequently, you may need to rethink if it’s the best fit. Alternatively, you could search for more than one option to have one for home use and one for your suitcase, or could purchase a set like the one reviewed below that contains multiple lengths.
Do I Have a Material Preference?
Some people may not care what their shoe horn is made from, while others may gravitate toward one material over another. Although all of the options on our list are durable and many come with warranties, if the idea of plastic, wood, or metal doesn’t appeal to you, then it’s smart to limit it from your criteria to help narrow your search.
Will I Hang it On the Wall in My Home?
If you plan to mount your shoe horn in a convenient location that’s easy to access and nearby your shoe collection, then you’ll want to search specifically for options that have lanyards or built-in holes for that purpose. It will save you time and effort once you purchase to find one that already has those features.
What is My Budget?
On this list, we have options that range from very affordable to high-end products. There’s something here for every budget, but it’s helpful to know yours before you get started. For example, if you’re giving this as a gift, it’s smart to set a limit so that you can pick a high-quality shoe horn that doesn’t break the bank. Make sure you take into account any shipping fees and keep an eye out for sale prices.
Best Shoe Horn Top 12 Review
Now that you know the essential criteria you should consider while shopping, browse our list of the top 12 shoe horns and the details about these favorite picks.
This 15-inch extended model is our winner for the best overall shoe horn for several reasons. It’s one of the newest products to Shacke’s line-up, and it has some features that make it stand out from the crowd.
Crafted from extremely durable stainless steel, it can stand up to repeated daily use. Users reported that not only was it helpful for average slip-ons and sneakers, but it also helped glide on heavy winter shoes, rain galoshes, and work boots without any warping or breaking.
At 15-inches long, it’s an ideal length for both sitting and standing unless you’re particularly tall.
The most notable feature of this model is its paracord handle. It wraps around the handhold, making it easy to grip and maneuver, and comes in 9 different shades and designs, which allows you to choose one that best fits your personality.
- Durable stainless-steel construction
- Paracord handle
- Nine different handle options
- Might be too short to use while standing for tall people
This sleek, classy, all-metal shoe horn is our high-end pick for the best premium product. It comes in five different finishes, including brushed brass, silver, brushed nickel, black, and blue.
It measures 24-inches long, which means even tall users can easily reach their feet while standing without needing to hunch or bend over.
The smooth handle features a loop at the end that you can use as a finger or thumb hold to position the device securely and guide it into place.
- Five different classic finishes
- 24-inches long
- Loop to improve grip
- Not compact enough for travel
This plastic model is our pick for the best value option. Made by Goodbrand, it measures 20-inches long, which is a convenient length for most people to use sitting or standing. It’s crafted from high-quality plastic with carefully formed soft edges that protect both your hands and your shoe and a shaped tip that perfectly cups your heel.
This shoe horn has a top-end rubber loop that you can use for hanging, and some users who don’t have excellent grip strength also say they wrap it around their wrist to prevent it slipping out of their hand during use.
Notably, this Goodbrand model comes with a 100% lifetime money-back guarantee. If you’re unhappy for any reason or the product breaks or wears out over time, they will replace it or refund your entire purchase price.
It’s worth noting that the 20-inch measurement includes the loop at the end. The actual plastic piece of the product measures 16-inches making it most suitable for use while sitting down.
- Lifetime 100% money-back guarantee
- Top-end loop for hanging
- Soft edges protect your hands and shoe
- May not be long enough to use standing for tall people
This 12-inch shoe horn from Numplar is an excellent choice if you want a thick, substantial, well-made metal option. It measures two millimeters thick and just under two inches wide and weighs in at 132 grams. In comparison, most other metal models of this same length weigh around 90 grams. The extra density means that it won’t bend or lose shape over time.
It comes with rounded, smoothed edges to protect your shoe and a full mouth that makes it a suitable choice for users with wider foot widths. There are four different color options, including classic black, grey, army green, and an eye-popping orange.
It comes with a grey silicone lanyard loop for hanging, and that can also be used as an easy-to-grip attachment. The loop measures just under four inches long, making the total length, including the 12-inch metal shoe horn, almost 16-inches.
- Thick and sturdy
- Four color options
- Silicone lanyard loop
- The weight may not make it a good fit for traveling
This travel-sized metal shoe horn from Zomake is 7.5-inches long and made with a comfortable wide mouth, which is beneficial if you have wide feet that are difficult to slip into your shoes.
The compact design can easily fit in a suitcase, purse, backpack, briefcase, or carry on item, but it also comes with a hole in the handle, which makes it easy to hang for home use.
Zomake takes their manufacturing and design seriously and has had many versions of this shoe horn, each one an improvement on the last. This version is polished with a classy black finish that removes any burrs that could snag on your shoes, material, or your hands.
This product comes with a 12-month warranty from the manufacturer, and users rave about the company’s commitment to customer service when it comes to their products.
- Portable size
- Upgraded design
- Polished black finish
- Best for use sitting down
Another heavy-duty stainless steel metal shoe horn, this model from Wfwty has an easy to grip handle with an arc design that’s customized to make it extremely easy to use regardless of the type of shoes or size and width of your feet.
The handle features a hook to help make it easy to grip, and it comes with convenient holes for hanging.
The metal length of the shoe horn is actually 16.5 inches, and it’s 1.6 inches wide. This is a comfortable length to use for most people while standing, and the slightly narrower width makes it a great fit for those with narrow feet and smaller shoe sizes.
Wfwty is another company known for its after-sales service and support, and they have a hassle-free refund policy if you’re unhappy with your purchase for any reason.
- Narrow width suitable for smaller shoe sizes
- Excellent customer service and support
- Hook handle with holes for a secure grip and hanging
- Lightweight construction may be susceptible to bending
If you like the idea of a metal shoe horn but want a comfortable and classic handle, this travel version from Gainwell might be the perfect one for you. It’s a compact 6.7-inches long and 4.3 centimeters wide, which makes it ideal for traveling because it can fit easily in a small suitcase or even the pocket of your jeans.
It comes wrapped in a comfortable, branded leather handle in either black, light brown, or dark brown leather. The rivet is drilled directly into the metal to hold the grip in place, so you don’t have to worry about shifting or slipping when you use it.
Thanks to the affordable price point, this option makes an excellent stocking stuffer or small gift, and could also be combined with a pair of shoes for a perfect combination.
- Extremely compact
- Leather handle with an attached rivet
- Three leather options
- May be too small for taller shoes
- Must use sitting down
This extra-long model from Shacke is made from high-tech synthetic plastic that’s both sturdy and durable. At 24-inches, it is an excellent choice for quickly slipping into your boots or shoes while standing without having to bend over or crouch down.
Made with seniors or those with mobility issues in mind, the easy-grip handle covers your entire palm, and the extended length makes it easy to maneuver. It’s attached at a slightly tilted angle for perfect positioning.
Thanks to its extra-long length, it’s a good choice for everything from comfortable loafers to high-rise work or winter boots.
The sturdy plastic model comes in seven different colors, including ones like traditional black, white, and brown, as well as some unique options like baby blue, red, and turquoise.
- Extra long and easy to use standing
- Wide handle for a comfortable grip
- Seven color options
- Too long for travel
If you like the aesthetic of a traditional wood shoe horn, this option from TungSam might check all our boxes. It’s made from high-quality wood and is handcrafted and carved to give it a classic finish. The manufacturer carves and polishes this model to provide it with a sleek finish and a smooth feel without compromising the beautiful look of the natural wood grain.
It comes with a cord hanging strap for easy storage in your home. At 15-inches long, it’s suitable for sitting or standing. The smooth edges protect both your shoes and your handles, and the ergonomic design protects your spine, hips, and knees.
- Classic finish
- Hanging strap
- Somewhat bulky
There are several advantages to an expandable shoe horn, most notably, that you can adjust it based on your height and whether you’re sitting or standing during use. This model from Fanwer starts at 16-inches but can stretch to up to 31-inches long which makes it an excellent choice for someone searching for a versatile model. It’s also a favorite among people over six feet tall as it’s long enough to allow for use with standing without needing to bend or hunch over.
Crafted from 304 stainless steel, this high-quality metal is rust-resistant, durable, and will stand up to repeated use. A spring connection joins the horn and the handle, which means you can always get a clean insertion no matter what angle you use.
Although this Fanwer model expands to 31-inches, the 16-inch length is compact enough to pack in a suitcase, and the material is extremely lightweight and portable.
The non-slip rubber handle is easy to maintain your hold, and it comes with a rope lanyard that you can hang in your home.
Although users enjoy the adjustability of this model, some report that it doesn’t stay in place when fully extended. There isn’t a locking mechanism to keep it at a specific length or in one particular position, which means the range can sometimes shift during use.
- Expandable up to 31-inches
- Spring connection
- It doesn’t lock in a specific position
Another fan favorite, this heavy-duty long-handled model from Comfy Clothiers, is built to be sturdier and longer-lasting than its competitors. It weighs in at 200 grams, which, compared to the average of 100 to 120 grams of other 18-inch models, is significantly more dense, making it less likely to warp, bend, or break with use.
At 18 inches, it’s a good choice for use while standing, even for taller people. Users who have health conditions, like sciatica or joint arthritis, find it to be beneficial. Others who are recovering from injuries or who have limited mobility also enjoy that they don’t have to sit or kneel when sliding on their shoes.
The brushed finish gives it a classic edge, and for a nominal, upcharge, you can order this same product inscribed with “Dad” or “Grandpa” if you’d like to give it to a loved one as a gift.
It’s worth mentioning that while this shoe horn is made from an 18-inch piece of metal, the ergonomically curved handle takes away around an inch and a half of actual end-to-end length. It measures around 16.5 inches of usable material with this feature.
Comfy Clothiers is another of the manufacturers on this list who stand by your happiness with their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you’re not pleased with your purchase, they will refund the entire cost, including any fees you paid for shipping with no questions asked.
- Heavy-duty stainless steel
- Optional engraving
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
- Very heavy
- May not be suitable for travel
If you’re having trouble deciding what shoe horn might be the perfect length for you, then a set that comes with multiple options could be your best bet. Panoware makes this high-quality plastic set of two that includes one 17-inch model and a travel-sized 7-inch companion.
Both have an ergonomic, contoured handle that’s easy to grip, and they’re incredibly lightweight, which makes them easy to maneuver.
The high-quality plastic has a bit of flex, which some people feel makes it easier to use, especially in the longer model. Both have a built-in hole for hanging, and they have comparable widths between the two different length options.
- Two length options
- Slightly flexible plastic
- Narrow horn can make these tricky to position
Find Your Perfect Shoe Horn
Now that you’re well-educated on the different benefits and features of shoe horns, and are armed with a list of some of the best options available, it’s time to pick your perfect fit. Whether you’re recovering from a surgery or injury, have mobility issues, or simply want to protect your shoes from unnecessary wear and tear, there’s an option on this list to suit your needs.
If you want to save time, you can opt for our favorite selections in our three review categories. Our overall winner is the Shacke 15-Inch Stainless Steel Shoehorn with Paracord Handle because of its durability and the different style options thanks to the patterns available on the handle.
A high-end option is our premium winner, the OrthoStep Shoe Horn Long Handle Metal 24 inch, which boasts a classic design and excellent construction. If you want good value without breaking the bank, be sure to check out the Goodbrand 20-Inch Long Plastic Shoe Horn with Loop, which has several attractive features and doesn’t skimp on quality.
Regardless of which option you choose, you’re sure to love the ease of putting on your shoes without putting a strain on your bones or joints. Remember, the design doesn’t have to be fancy to get the job done perfectly.