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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 hiking shoes they’re wearing. 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, and a good pair of hiking shoes for kids can help solve that problem.
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 hiking shoes for kids:
Kids 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.
Childrens Hiking Shoe Support:
When we’re on the trail, I know that my kids feet are going to be working HARD in their kids hiking shoes. 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 shoes with high or mid height to support the ankle.
Traction for Hiking Shoes for Kids:
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. Whether you’re hiking the shores of Hawaii or the mountains of Colorado, hiking shoes with good traction is essential.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes for Kids:
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.
Planning on hiking in super wet or snowy conditions? Check out our review of the best winter boots for kids.
If you’ll be doing more warm weather hiking, consider getting a pair of outdoor sandals for kids or sturdy water shoes, since many have excellent traction and support.
However, when it all comes down to it, there is no single BEST hiking shoe for EVERY kid.
Which Kids Hiking Shoes Fit Best?
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, so plan on doing your shopping here. Below we are sharing the 15 best hiking boots and hiking shoes for kids – most of them we’ve tried (and loved) personally, and others came highly recommended to us by other adventurous families.
- What to consider when you want to buy hiking shoes for kids:
- Which Kids Hiking Shoes Fit Best?
- Best Hiking Boot For Kids Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Kids Hiking Boots
- Overall Best Hiking Shoe for Kids Salomon Xa Pro 3D Waterproof Trail Running Shoes for Kids
- Altra Lone Peak Trail Running Shoes – Best Trail Running Shoes For Older Kids and Teens
- Merrell Kids Altalight Low Hiking Shoes
- Adidas Outdoor Trailmaker – Lightweight Kids Hiking Shoe
- La Sportiva Jynx – Trail Running Shoes for Kids
- Columbia Kids Newton Ridge Boot
- Keen Kids’ Targhee Sport Vent
- Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe
- Vasque Breeze WP
- Columbia Kids Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Merrell Kids Chameleon
- Teva Kids Canyonwood Hiking Shoes
- Can Kids Wear Sneakers Hiking?
- Best Sneakers for Hiking With KidsMerrell Kids Nova 2
- Reima Edeten Waterproof Kids Sneakers
- Best Toddler Hiking Shoes
- Stonz Cruiser and Cruiser Plus Toddler Shoes
- Keen Chandler CNX Toddler Hiking Shoes
- Merrell Kids Trail Chaser
Best Hiking Boot For Kids
Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Kids Hiking Boots
Sizes: Kids 10.5 – Youth 7
We absolutely LOVE these kids hiking boots from Merrell. If your kids are going on more difficult or longer hikes, I highly recommend these hiking boots for kids. Our 14-year-old wore them on a 50 mile backpacking trip with his scout group and they were incredible. They provide lots of ankle support so they’re great for backpacking with kids and the traction is also pretty great. We loved sending him out knowing that we could be fully confident in the shoes that he was wearing.
We love these kids hiking boots because they’re a mid-height so they’re a bit more comfortable than a full hiking boot, but they still offer good ankle support. If you’re looking for rugged kids hiking boots, we think these are the overall best kids hiking boots you can buy. For average hikes, they might be a bit overkill, but if you do serious hiking, these are the boots we recommend! These boots come in 4 different colors so they work well as a girls hiking boot or boys hiking boot.
Best features of the Merrell Moab kids hiking boot:
- Waterproof to help keep feet dry
- Reinforced toe for extra durability
- Leather and mesh upper construction
- Antimicrobial lining to help prevent odors
- Excellent traction
Also worth checking out: Merrell just developed the kids Moab Speed hiking boot. It’s available as a kids waterproof hiking boot or just a regular boot. It’s much lighter weight than the Moab 3 and has a more flexible sole. While we haven’t tried it out yet, this kids hiking boot has incredible potential.
Overall Best Hiking Shoe for Kids
Salomon Xa Pro 3D Waterproof Trail Running Shoes for Kids
Trail runners are a great option for kids who really just want to wear sneakers, but need more support and traction while they are hiking. If you’re looking for a shoe that has a lot of versatility from the trail to the playground, trail running shoes for kids are so fantastic.
These kids waterproof hiking shoes have become my daughters go-to everyday shoe that she used for everything from school wear, to mountain bike practice and everything in between. She loves to bike and climb trees on her way home from school, so she chooses these shoes since they’re good for her PE class, but still give her extra traction when she’s off exploring. These waterproof trail running shoes are also great if you’re going to encounter a bit of snow or mud as well.
These Salomon kids trail running shoes have a unique breakaway lace system that lets go if it gets hung up while kids are hiking, and is designed for both comfort and a snug fit for every foot type. These are the best waterproof hiking shoes for kids if you want versatility and high quality.
Altra Lone Peak Trail Running Shoes – Best Trail Running Shoes For Older Kids and Teens
We recently have become HUGE FANS of Altra shoes. They have a much sider toe box which gives your feet lots of freedom to move while still getting plenty of support. After my husband, oldest son, and I all started wearing Altra trail running shoes a year ago, we looked into what their selection for younger kids was.
Truthfully, it’s really hard to find kids trail running shoes…which is shocking since my kids really just want to run down every trail. However, when we went to the Altra shop, they let us know that they don’t carry any kids’ shoes…but that their women’s shoes work well for kids. I was skeptical at first, but once they explained to me that their women’s shoes run small and that there’s about a 2 size difference between women’s shoe sizes and kids shoe sizes, we gave them a try. As it turns out, their smallest women’s shoe (a size 5.5 women’s), fit my boy with size 2 feet. Trail running shoes need to be bigger than a traditional sneaker so that kids don’t smash their toes against the end, so this ended up being a great fit.
Since then, my son has been wearing Altra trail running shoes and they’re some of the best kids hiking shoes we’ve found. They’re really light weight and flexible which is rare to find in kids hiking shoes. Best of all, they have incredible traction so that he stays on his feet well as he’s running down the trail.
These are the hiking shoes that my 10-year-old son wears on a daily basis. They provide great flexibility and traction, while still being a lightweight hiking shoe kids will love. These kids hiking shoes are great for everything from running down the trail, scrambling rocks, and even mountain biking (the traction really helps them stay on the pedals well).
These light hiking shoes for kids are also really breathable, so they’re perfect as hot weather hiking shoes for kids. The lining even has anti-bacterial properties to help prevent shoe odors! If you have a kid who gets hot, smelly feet, these are the best kids hiking shoes for them! These are also some of the most affordable kids hiking shoes, so buying them won’t break the bank! These kids hiking shoes come in three different colors so they can work well as girls hiking shoes or boys hiking boots.
Best Features of the Merrell Altalight Kids Hiking Shoe:
- Lightweight and durable upper material
- Breathable so kids don’t overheat
- Anti-microbial lining to help prevent odors
- Great traction
Adidas Outdoor Trailmaker – Lightweight Kids Hiking Shoe
Sizes: Kids 10.5 – Youth 7
Adidas doesn’t just make sports shoes – they actually make some of our FAVORITE kids hiking shoes. Yes, the Adidas Outdoor line is focused all on kids outdoor footwear and it’s amazing. We owned an older version of this shoe a few years ago and it was one of the best kids hiking shoes we’ve ever found. It was discontinued for a while and though we’ve tried several other Adidas Outdoor shoes, the trailmaker is the version we like best.
It’s got the feel of a supportive tennis shoe with unbelievable traction. This shoe is seriously amazing if you need something with lots of traction, so it’s prefect for rough or uneven terrain. These kids hiking shoes from Adidas are waterproof, abrasian resistant and so much more!
Here are some of our favorite features of the Adidas Terrex kids hiking shoe:
- Waterproof Outers
- Abrasian resistant outer material to help them last longer
- Wide shoe lace loops so they’re easy to adjust the fit
- Lightweight and feel like a running shoe
- Tongue Gusset keeps out dirt and rocks
La Sportiva Jynx – Trail Running Shoes for Kids
This is the shoe that my teen grabs for over and over again. It’s one of the best teen hiking shoes (though technically a trail runner), and our son loves to wear it for hiking, trail running and it also works great for mountain biking. After 6 months of HARD wear, they’re still in fantastic shape (even if they are filthy and smell like a teenage boys feet). Best of all, the kids sizes go up to a 7.5, so you can save some money by not having to buy adult shoes for your kids with bigger feet. We highly recommend these shoes.
Another great trail running shoe for kids hiking that gives the feel of a sneaker with the stability of a youth hiking shoe. This kids trail running shoe provides an excellent combination of comfort and shock absorption for hiking downhill. We also love that the outsole has really great traction for hiking with kids to make sure that they have great grip both going up and down the hiking hill.
The rubber toe cap and heel stabilizer help add durability to these hiking shoes for youth and protection to the shoe.
If you’re looking for a classic hiking boot for kids, you’ll love these Columbia kids hiking boots! This is a lightweight and durable mid-height hiking shoe for kids. It features Omni-Grip rubber for extra traction and the inner is seam sealed with Omni-TECH waterproofing. This is an excellent kids hiking shoe for muddy conditions or if you might potentially encounter snow on your hike. A great waterproof hiking boot for kids for whatever the trail sends your way! Learn more about the Columbia Newton Ridge kids hiking boots here.
These gender neutral kids hiking boots make them great hiking boots for girls or boys hiking boots.
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 Keen kids hiking shoes are sure to score high marks for comfort. They’re also stylish enough to wear around town or to school for the day.
We love these hiking shoes for kids with extra ventilation on hot days, and think they’re perfect kids shoes for warm summer hikes, or for kids who get very sweaty feet. These come in several colors so they’re perfect as a boys hiking shoe or a girls hiking shoe. These are the best lightweight hiking shoes for kids.
Sizes: Kids 13 – Youth 7
The Salomon Speedcross waterproof hiker for kids is technically a kids trail running shoe, but it also is one of the best kids hiking shoes that we’ve tested. We love that it has super knobby soles which provide superior traction support and the lacing system ensures that you get a perfect fit for your child’s feet.
If you’re taking your kids on longer or more technical hikes, these are some of the best children’s hiking shoes to buy. These kids waterproof trail shoes are also waterproof and still provide great breathability, so they’re great for hot hikes with kids.
There are several fun color varieties of these kids trail runners so they can be excellent girl trail running shoes or boy trail running shoes.
Sizes: Kids 10 – Youth 6
The Vasque Breeze kids hiking boot 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.
Sizes: Toddler 8 – Youth 7
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. The shoes have a rubber sole that provides excellent traction on a variety of terrain, including slippery rocks and steep inclines. Additionally, the shoes have a comfortable and supportive midsole that helps to absorb shock and reduce the impact on kids’ feet and joints.
Sizes: Kids 10 – Youth 7
Last year, we put these Merrell kids hiking shoes to the ultimate test – a kid who loved them and wore them nearly every 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.
At the end of the year they were still in FANSTIC CONDITION, and now her friend is wearing them and they’re still holding up just as well a couple of years later. 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!
Sizes: Kids 8 – Youth 5
These waterproof youth hiking shoes 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 shoe is no different.
Here are some of our favorite features of this Teva kids hiking shoe:
- Gusseted tongue helps keep rocks and debris out of the shoes
- Waterproof material to keep feet dry
- Lining is a breathable mesh, so feet don’t overheat
- Extra traction on the outsoles
- Treated with antimicrobial treatment to help prevent bacteria growth and odors
These kids hiking shoes are designed to be simple for kids to use with their ultra lightweight design and their easy lacing system to make them easy to put on and take off. Note: This is a new style so we haven’t tested it much. We’ll update our thoughts when we test them more!
Can Kids Wear Sneakers Hiking?
Absolutely YES! Kids can wear their sneakers hiking, as long as they’re high quality to begin with. The most important thing to consider is that your children’s sneakers have good traction and support for hiking. Hiking shoes kids love, really just need to be shoes with better traction and grip so they they can wear their sneakers hiking too. Here are some of our favorite kids sneakers for hiking.
Best Sneakers for Hiking With Kids
Merrell Kids Nova 2
If you’re looking for a great sneakers for kids to hike in, I highly recommend the Merrell Kids Nova 2. This shoe looks and feels like a sneaker since it’s lightweight, has an easy on and off velcro closure, and it really moves with kids feet. My son has been wearing them almost daily for 8 months and we absolutely love them. They’re a perfect shoe if you want a hiking shoe that can really do it all, and work just as well on the playground as it does on the trail.
Probably our favorite thing about this kids hiking shoe is that it’s incredibly easy to put on, so kids can do it all alone. Unlike most shoes that are really stiff and hard for kids to get on and off, the Nova is the easiest hiking shoe for kids to put on.
Reima makes excellent quality kids gear and their footwear is fantastic quality. My rough and tumble 7-year-old has been wearing these sneakers for months and they still look fantastic. These Reima kids sneakers are good for hiking as well with a knobby sole and my favorite feature is that these are waterproof sneakers which is so hard to find.
We love these waterproof kids shoes for muddy and wet exploration, and esepcially love how easily they clean up when they get dirty. We literally just give them a quick rinse after muddy hikes and they look amazing again, and since they’re waterproof, we don’t have to wait days for them to dry.
Best Toddler Hiking Shoes
If you’re going to be hiking with your toddler, which we highly recommend, a good pair of toddler hiking shoes is a great investment. While you likely want a more rigid hiking shoe for older kids, getting flexible hiking shoes for toddlers is the best option. Flexible hiking shoes for toddlers will give them extra stability and balance, which quickly translates into more confidence on the trail. While toddler hiking boots are cute, we’ve found that it’s easier for toddlers to hike in low hiking shoes that really move with their foot and allow them to move freely through the terrain.
The Stonz Cruiser shoe may not look like a traditional toddler hiking shoe, but we’ve been loving them on the trail for our youngest. They have a really flexible sole that provides a really solid amount of traction as well. Best of all, the stability they’ve given my son when hiking over rough terrain is incredible. He’s a little scrambler and I’ve never seen him more balanced running across rocks to keep up with his older siblings than when wearing these shoes.
As a mom, I love that they’re easy for kids to put on alone, don’t have any awkward laces to worry about, and that they are super breathable and dry easily. They’ve become our grab and go toddler shoes that are shockingly managaing to stay stink free, even without socks lots of the time.
This is truly a minamalist toddler hiking shoe that really allows little kids to feel and move with the terrain underfoot. They’re really lightweight and are some of the most flexible toddler hiking shoes we’ve seen. We’ve been a huge fan of Stonz products for YEARS (literally, best kids mittens EVER), and are thrilled to find such amazing toddler outdoor shoes from them.
We love these hiking shoes for toddlers, and they’re another flexible and lightweight toddler hiking shoe option! With a velcro strap and bungee elastic, they’re easy to get on and off toddlers chubby feet. The quick dry mesh is great for when your toddler inevetably jumps into a puddle as well. These little kids hiking shoes are great for introducing toddlers to hiking and the traction on the soles make these the best toddler hiking shoes. With multiple color options, these are great hiking shoes for girls or hiking shoes for boys.
If you’re looking for a great toddler hiking shoes, or hiking shoes for young kids, the Merrell Trail Chaser is a great option, albeit a stiffer toddler hiking shoe. 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.
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 deciding on one pair of hiking shoes for kids.
Yes, it’s fine for kids to hike in sneakers if you’re going on easy hikes (think flat hikes under a mile). Make sure that the shoes have good traction for the trail since lots of kids athletic shoes are designed for use on an indoor court, so they don’t work as well on the trail. If you need a kids hiking shoe that doubles as a sneaker, we highly recommend getting your kids some trail running shoes for kids hiking trips.
If you’re going on longer hikes or hikes that are more difficult, hiking shoes make a major difference.
While it’s not necessary, we always get our kids hiking shoes 1/2 size larger than their true size. This not only allows them to grow into their hiking boots better, but it also give extra room to prevent toe slamming. Toe slamming often occurs when you’re going downhill quickly and your toes slam into the ends of your shoes. Making sure that kids shoes are well laced up so they stay secure can also help prevent toe slamming while hiking with kids.
A bargain pair of kids hiking shoes (aka, a good brand on a closeout sale), can be as cheap as $25. If you look at second hand shops, you can find them for around $5, so don’t discount that option. For a high end pair of kids hiking shoes, you’ll likely spend between $60-$90, though they’ll often last for years and be able to be passed through multiple children.
Absolutely! If you’re taking your kids on a hike that’s more than a mile or so, and has some moderate difficulty to it, hiking shoes make a major difference. With our kids, I’ve noticed that our kids can hike nearly double the distance if they’re wearing good shoes. While they might not be articulate enough to tell you that their feet hurt, the complaints of tiredness and fatigue are often directly related to the shoes your kids are wearing.
Yes, hiking boots provide more support and stability, but most children don’t need the additional support. In fact, for younger kids, we recommend a flexible hiking shoe over a hiking boot all the time. As kids start to get into their tween and teen years and do more difficult trails (or start backpacking), they may want a hiking boot over a shoe. We, personally, choose hiking shoes over boots most of the time since they’re more versatile.
Absolutely! In fact, in the summer, we’re often hiking through the water, so my kids prefer sandals. Not just flip flops or slides, but rugged outdoor sandals. We wrote an entire article about outdoor sandals for kids and any of those with good traction and support are good for hiking. Note, when hiking with kids in sandals, we usually limit our hikes to 3-4 miles. When kids hike in sandals, it’s easier for rocks and debris to get stuck in their sandal and irritate their feet, so shorter distances are best.
For longer family backpacking trips, my kids almost always take their hiking shoes and a pair of outdoor sandals as well.
Truthfully, it can be hard to find stores with a good selection of kids hiking shoes. We’ve found that outdoor specialty stores usually have the best selection. Our nearest REI is about an hour away and always has the most options, but our local Sportsmans Warehouse has several options too. REI is our favorite because if the kids get shoes and they start hurting a couple of weeks later, they’ll let you return them and get your money back!
We always have our kids try on several pair of hiking shoes or boots before we decide on a pair. If you are having a hard time finding some, consider getting a few different options that you can buy online and return what doesn’t fit right.
Kids hiking shoes are generally not as stiff as adult hiking shoes and can usually be broken in after 3-5 hikes. If you need to quickly break in kids hiking boots, have your kids wear them to school and the playground for a couple of days!
Inexpensive hiking shoes for kids are usually lower quality. If you’re getting a really high quality kids hiking shoes, they will last longer. We’ve had some of our kids hiking shoes last for 4 years and through multiple kids. We’ve also had other “budget hiking shoes for kids” that are hanging on by a thread at the end of the season. As a whole, the kids hiking shoes that have lasted the longest are all leather hiking boots, as well as hiking shoes from Keen and Salomon Trail running shoes for kids.
Oh, stinky hiking shoes. As a mom of 4 boys, I’ve been there more than I want to remember. For mildly stinky shoes, we sprinkle some baking soda inside, shake them around, and dump them out the next morning.
For really stinking kids hiking boots, we throw them in the washing machine (unless they’re mostly leather or waterproof). Every shoe I’ve washed comes out cleaner and smelling good, and always seems to breathe new life into an old pair of kids shoes for hiking.
Before your get your kids hiking shoes, consider where you’ll be hiking. waterproof hiking shoes for kids are great, but they’re also not as breathable as regular hiking shoes. IF you’re doing a lot of desert hikes, opt for breathable hiking shoes. If you’re in a wet area, like the Pacific Northwest, waterproof hiking shoes will be a lifesaver!
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, hitting the trails in Salt Lake, or exploring Acadia National Park, you can rest assured that your little ones feet can make the trek!