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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 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 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. So consider 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:
Comfort: This is always my number 1 factor when buying any pair of shoes for 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 is always a great idea (even if you have to buy 2 pairs and return one).
Support: When we’re on the trail, I know that my kids feet are going to be working HARD. Look for 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 high or mid height hiker to support the ankle.
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 a shoe with good traction so that they can at least stay on their feet.
Waterproof: 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 a shoe, think about what kind of terrain you’ll typically be hiking in and what feature is most important.
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.
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.
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 boot for whatever the trail sends your way! Learn more about the Columbia Kids’ Peakfreak boots here.
These low hikers 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.
The Vasque Breeze is designed to take kids everywhere from peak bagging down to puddle jumping. It’s a lightweight boot that has the feel of a sneaker with the toughness that you expect from a serious backcountry boot, all packed into kids sized footwear. Made of waterproof suede leather. Check out more about the Vasque Breeze here.
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.
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.
Made of waterproof leather, these 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. My favorite feature is the Cleansport NXT which helps control odors (boy moms rejoice!!). Check out prices on the Keen Targhee here.
Another great trail running shoe that gives kids the feel of a sneaker with the stability of a hiking shoe. The uppers are made with zero compression points for maximum comfort all day long. The rubber toe cap and heel stabilizer help add durability and protection to the shoe. Completed with an extra soft cuff, your kids will be wearing these wherever they go. Check out more about the La Sportiva FALKON here.
The Redmond hiking shoe is ready for adventures of all shapes and sizes. Made with a combination of suede and mesh, these shoes are constructed to be waterproof. These lightweight 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.
These waterproof mid-height 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 boot is no different. The 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 2 here.