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Having a good pair of outdoor sandals is essential if you’ve got active kids. My kids start wearing sandals as soon as the snow melts, and I have to bribe them to take them off in the fall when the temperatures dip below freezing. In between, those shoes get put through A LOT! They go swimming, hiking, biking, and probably a lot of things that I’d rather not know about. And since we’re all about encouraging our kids to be active and go explore, giving them a good pair of shoes is a MUST.
What makes a good outdoor sandal for kids?
Well, obviously comfort is really important, but traction is a close second. You see, kids take these shoes EVERYWHERE, and it’s important that whether they’re on the rocks or in the river that they’re not going to slip. Some kids prefer closed toed sandals (I like these for kids 4 and under since they’re constantly tripping), and many summer camps require closed toed footwear so keep that in mind when shopping around. My older kids prefer traditional sandals with adjustable straps, so a lot of it is personal preference. We do a lot of whitewater rafting so sandals that do REALLY well in the water are a must for us (learn all about how we got into rafting here).
How do you narrow it down? Well, it’s a bit of trial and error. I’m linking all of these shoes through amazon and many of them offer free returns. Try them on and if they really don’t suit you, send them back for something different (THANK YOU AMAZON!). Finding a good selection of outdoor sandals can be tricky in person, so just ordering them has been our best (and cheapest) option!
In our family, this is our all time favorite sandal, for both adults and kids (as you can see from the picture). They offer great traction with Vibram soles and the straps are totally adjustable. They can be thrown in the washing machine, and seem to last forever (seriously, we just passed a pair on to the 4th kid and they are in great shape still), so it’s a great investment. Chaco has so many different options to personalize your sandals too, that it’s easy to find something for everyone. Head here for a great price and selection on Chaco Z1 Ecotreads.
Keen Newport H2 Sandals offer a bit of everything. The soles are thick and rugged, almost like a hiking shoe, yet they’re completely waterproof and allow water to drain through the many openings in the side. A great option for kids who want a bit more coverage or need a closed toe shoe. Head here for a great price on the Keen Newport H2.
Merrell’s Hydro Monarch 2.0 is a great shoe for girls who are looking for amore feminine style, but still like to get out and explore. The uppers are a combination of leather and mesh which gives lots of comfort, but still dries fast. The Velcro straps make it easy to take on and off, but with the cushioned footbed, it’s likely she’ll just want to wear them all day long. Head here for a great price on the Merrell Kids’ Hydro Monarch 2.0.
Until last year, I WOULD NOT have considered these an adventure sandal…that is until a friend gave us a pair of these. These shoes have a synthetic sole and a waterproof leather upper (yes, it’s seriously waterproof) so they can really be worn everywhere. These were the only shoes our youngest owned last summer and they were great for everything from exploring to church, and I can’t recommend them enough (especially for toddlers!!). Find a great price on Salt Water Sandals for kids here.
With a combination of leather and mesh, the Jambu Squamata is a great mix of a tennis shoe and a sandal. It provides lots of foot protection and traction, while still being water friendly. This could be a great option to wear with socks occasionally if you’ll be in several different climates this summer and want one shoe to do it all! Check out these prices in on the JambuKD Squamata Sandal.
Teva’s are a classic outdoor sandal with a classic design that’s been around for decades, but don’t think that’s a bad thing. Teva’s are super adjustable with 3 different Velcro adjustments, making them easy to fit and also easy to size up a bit (we always get our Tevas 1/2-1 size bigger since I know I can cinch them down well). The new heel padding is also a great upgrade to make these a super comfortable sandal. Find great prices on kids Teva Sandals here.
These sandals by Merrell are designed to be durable and dry quickly. With a lightweight flexible sole these sandals are easy to wear (especially for kids who would just prefer to be barefoot). They have a closed toe and are equipped with Merrell’s M Select Fresh lining to help combat stinky shoes (boy moms REJOICE!!). Here are some awesome prices on the Merrell Hydro Sandal.
If you’re looking for a good supportive shoe, but want one that’s lightweight and has a minimalistic feel, this is a great option. It’s much lighterweight than a traditional Keen like the Newport, but still offers great quality. Best of all, these can be thrown in the washing machine! Compare prices on the Kids Keen Seacamp Sandal here.
A Teva Sandal with a bit more support, the Tirra is a great option for both fit and comfort. The Velcro webbing straps are easily adjusted and dry quickly, while underneath the padding keeps kids feet comfortable and secure. The rubber soles also offer the great traction when wet that Teva is known for! Find great prices on Kids Teva Tirra Sandals here.
Crocs are a must have for young kids, in my opinion. They’re easy to put on, comfortable, and they float (my favorite feature!). While traditional Crocs aren’t the most stylish shoe, the Crocs Swiftwater takes the comfort that kids love from Crocs and puts it into an adventure sandal. Great prices for Crocs Swiftwater can be found here.