Best Kids Hiking Shoes for 2020

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Planning on hitting the trails this year and want to give your kid every advantage you can?  Investing in a good pair of children’s hiking shoes is a MUST.

Truth be told, kids really don’t care what they wear on their feet, they’re going to run, climb, jump, and splash regardless of what shoes they are wearing hiking.  But if your kids are slipping on rocks, getting blisters, or have wet feet, it’s going to be pretty impossible to go very far.  So consider kids hiking shoes an investment in your sanity, and a pretty good way to stack the odds in your favor of reaching your hiking destination instead of turning around halfway.

What to consider when you want to buy the best kids hiking shoes:

girl hiking, mountain top kid

Hiking Shoe Comfort:

This is always my number 1 factor when buying any pair of shoes for hiking with kids, simply because if the shoes aren’t comfortable, your kids won’t wear them.  Each kid is different, so trying on a couple of pairs to find the best kids hiking shoes for your childs feet is always a great idea (even if you have to buy 2 pairs and return one) to find comfortable hiking shoes for kids.

Hiking Shoe Support:

When we’re on the trail, I know that my kids feet are going to be working HARD.  Look for kid hiking shoes that support the arch, the toe, and if you have a kid who’s prone to rolling their ankles or falling a lot, get a good pair of kids hiking boots with high or mid height to support the ankle.

Hiking Shoe Traction:

From a kids perspective, hiking may as well be considered an opportunity to scramble on every rock, jump on every log, and run down every hill.  Since there’s no real way to slow a kid down, the best you can do is to buy shoes with good traction for hiking kids so that they can at least stay on their feet. One major advantage that hiking shoes for children have over sneakers is the traction, so it’s worth investing in good kids hiking shoes.

Waterproof Hiking Shoes:

Many kids hiking shoes today are waterproof, which can be both a good and a bad thing.  It’s great because, well, it keeps their feet dry.  It’s bad because waterproof shoes typically don’t breathe as well.  So before you pick waterproof hiking shoes for kids, think about what kind of terrain you’ll typically be hiking in and what feature is most important. If you live in an especially wet climate, kids waterproof hiking boots are a must.

However, when it all comes down to it, there is no BEST hiking shoe for every kid.  Every kid is different, and so the best fit will be different for each person.  Some kids have wider feet or need a more cushioned insole.  What we typically do is to order a couple of pairs and return the ones that don’t fit.  Sadly, not many stores sell kids hiking shoes, so we have found the most options available online.  Below we are sharing the 10 best hiking boots and shoes for kids – some of them we’ve tried (and loved) personally, and others came highly recommended to us by adventurous families.

kids running down mountain, hiking shoes

Merrell Kids Chameleon

For the last year, we’ve put these shoes to the test almost every single day.  Unless it was snowing, my daughter wore these to her outdoor focused school where she’s running, climbing, and exploring for big chunks of every day.  They are still in fantastic condition overall, and we’ll probably get her another pair when she grows out of these.  They’re water-resistant (not fully waterproof though), dry quickly and have really great traction.  The colors also look great, which scores them HUGE style points!
Find the best prices on the Merrell Chameleon for kids HERE.

Columbia Kids Peak Freak

This is a lightweight and durable mid-height hiker.  It features Omni-Grip rubber for extra traction and the inner is seam sealed with Omni-TECH waterproofer.  A great waterproof hiking boot for kids for whatever the trail sends your way!  Learn more about the Columbia Kids’ Peakfreak boots here.  

Keen Kids’ Terradora Low

These low hiking shoes for children are streamlined to provide the best fit possible.  With good support for uphill climbs, and cushioning for the way down, these are sure to score high marks for comfort.  They’re also stylish enough to wear around town or to school for the day.  Find the best prices on the Keen Terradora here.

Vasque Breeze WP

The Vasque Breeze is designed to take kids everywhere from peak bagging down to puddle jumping.  It’s a lightweight hiking boot for boys and girls that has the feel of a sneaker with the toughness that you expect from a serious backcountry boot, all packed into children’s hiking boots. .  These are some of the best waterproof hiking boots for kids. Made of waterproof suede leather. Check out more about the Vasque Breeze here.

Salomon Kids Xa Pro Trail Running Shoes

Trail runners are a great option for kids who really just want to wear sneakers, but need more support and traction.  It has a unique breakaway lace system that lets go if it gets hung up, and is designed for both comfort and a snug fit for every foot type.  Backed by a 2 year limited warranty (how cool is that?!?).  Find great prices on Salomon kids trail runners here.

Hi-Tec Altitude Lite

These boots are made of waterproof suede combined with a breathable mesh upper for maximum comfort and dryness.  The reinforced toe offers great protection (and helps the shoes to not wear out as quickly), while the outsole is made of MDT rubber for great traction.  The best feature of these is the Big-Fit System that gives your kids feet room to grow so they last even longer!
Find more details about the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite here.  

Keen Targhee Waterproof

Made of waterproof leather, these boys waterproof hiking shoes are ready to be put to the test. With Keens signature toe bumper, quick lace system and all-terrain traction, kids can explore all over the place in their waterproof kids hiking shoes.  My favorite feature is the Cleansport NXT which helps control odors (boy moms rejoice!!).  These are also available as a Keen kids hiking boot. Check out prices on the Keen Targhee here.

La Sportiva Falkon

Another great trail running shoe that gives kids the feel of a sneaker with the stability of a youth hiking shoe.  The uppers are made with zero compression points for maximum comfort all day long while hiking with kids.  The rubber toe cap and heel stabilizer help add durability to these hiking shoes for youth and protection to the shoe.  Completed with an extra soft cuff, your kids will be wearing these low hiking shoes for kids wherever they go.  Check out more about the La Sportiva FALKON here.  

Columbia Kids Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe

The Redmond childrens hiking shoe is ready for adventures of all shapes and sizes.  These Columbia kids hiking shoes are made with a combination of suede and mesh, these shoes are constructed to be waterproof.  These lightweight kids hiking shoes are designed for outdoor performance in a variety of settings.  The cushy midsole and gripping outsole are a perfect combination for long days on the trail.  Compare prices on the Columbia Redmond here.  

Teva Kids Arrowood

These waterproof mid-height youth hiking boots are a great choice when durability and traction are high priorities.  Teva shoes are well-known for their great traction even in wet conditions and this children’s hiking boot is no different.  The boys hiking shoes are designed to be simple for kids to use with their ultra lightweight design and their elastic lacing system to make them easy to put on and take off.  Find more details about the Teva Arrowood here.

 Merrell Kids Trail Chaser

If you’re looking for a great toddler hiking shoes, or hiking shoes for young kids, the Merrell Trail Chaser is a great option. I’ve found that the best toddler hiking shoes are usually better than toddler hiking boots since little ones can have a hard time walking in a high boot. These hiking shoes for toddlers are great because they have a velcro closure so they can put them on and off by themselves, and the sole offers great traction for toddlers. While these toddler hiking shoes aren’t waterproof, they are a much more solid option than a regular tennis shoe for hiking with toddlers. Find more details about the Merrell Kids Trail Chaser here.

Hopefully this helps you choose the best hiking shoes for kids. Remember that the best hiking boots for kids really depends on each kids foot type and kids hiking style, so make sure to try on a few pairs of kid hiking shoes before purchasing one.

Need more tips?  Make sure to look into our top 20 tips to get kids hiking without whining, our favorite hydration packs for kids to hike with, and all about what to wear hiking, so that’s a great place to start!

So whether you’re planning on hiking around Moab Utah, trekking Glacier National Park, hiking around the Tetons, or exploring Acadia National Park, you can rest assured that your little ones feet can make the trek!

hiking with kids
kids hiking, hiking boots

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