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Test Results: Best Kids Hiking Shoes for 2021

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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.

girl hiking, mountain top kid

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.

kids hiking shoes

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 boots with high or mid height to support the ankle.

biking national parks with kids

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.

kids waterproof rain jackets

However, when it all comes down to it, there is no single 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, 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.

kids running down mountain, hiking shoes

Best Hiking Boot For Kids
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Kids Hiking Boots

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 is going on a 50 mile hike this summer with his scout group, and has been training a lot for it, and these are the shoes that he’s choosing to wear, so we have confidence that they’re the best kids hiking boots.

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. These shoes come in 3 different colors so they work well as a girls hiking boot or boys hiking boot.

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.

salomon kids hiking shoes

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.

kids hiking shoes trail runners

Best Hiking Shoes For Teens + Older Kids
La Sportiva Jynx

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.

la sportiva jynx hiking shoes for older kids

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. 

Merrell Kids Altalight Low Hiking Shoes

These are the hiking shoes that my 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).

climbing rocks with hiking shoes on

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 shoes.

backpacking hiking shoes for kids

Columbia Kids Newton Ridge Boot

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.

Keen Kids’ Targhee Sport Vent

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.

Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe

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.

Vasque Breeze WP

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.

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. 

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!

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.  Note: This style has been discontinued so it’s harder to find, but a great option for kids hiking boots if you can find it in stock.

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.

Merrell kids hiking shoe

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 Edeten Waterproof Kids Sneakers

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. Hiking shoes for toddlers will give them extra stability and traction, 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.

Keen Chandler CNX Toddler Hiking Shoes

We love these hiking shoes for toddlers! They’re really lightweight and are some of the most flexible toddler hiking shoes we’ve seen. 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.

 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.

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.

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!

hiking with kids
kids hiking, hiking boots

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