10 Best Outdoor Sandals For Active Kids in 2020

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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.

boy exploring with Teva sandals

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 a 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 with kids here).

Make sure that your kids sandals have a back on them for extra security. If they just slide on, they’ll likely lose them in the water, or they won’t provide the stability they need to be active outdoors.

What kids sandals are the best for the outdoors?

Personally, my favorite kids sandals are these ones. They last forever (one pair has already made it through 5 kids) and I love how adjustable they are and that they never get stinky!

However, every kid is a bit different, so it’s important to find what works best for your kids. 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!

Do kids need waterproof sandals?

YES!  If you’re buying your kids sandals, make sure that they’re waterproof so they can splash and play to their hearts delight.  In the summer kids are also much more prone to hot sweaty feet, so having waterproof sandals also means that they’re easy to wash so they don’t get all smelly. All of the sandals we recommend below are waterproof.

family river trip wearing chacos

Should I buy my kids closed or open toed sandals?

A lot of this comes down to personal preference. Four of my kids prefer open-toed sandals and one loves closed-toed sandals. If you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking in sandals or are planning to wear them to summer camp, grab closed-toed sandals. If you’ll primarily be using the sandals on the lake or at the river, I recommend opentoed sandals. As I mentioned above, kids 4 and under do better with closed-toed sandals since they trip more frequently and often stub their toes.

The Top 10 Outdoor Sandals for Kids in 2020

1.  Chaco Z1Ecotread Kids Sandal

In our family, this is our all time favorite sandal, for both adults and kids.  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.

2.  Keen Newport H2 Sandal

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.

3.  Merrell Kids’ Hydro Monarch 2.0 Sandal 

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.

4.  Salt Water Sandals

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.

5.    JambuKD Squamata Fisherman Sandal

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.

6.  Teva Kids Y Hurricane XLT2 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.  

7.  Merrell Hydro Water Sandal

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.  

8.  Keen Kids Seacamp 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.  

9.  Teva Kids Tirra Sport Sandal

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.  

10.  Crocs Swiftwater River Sandal

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.

kids sandals, kids chacos, kids keens, kids tevas
kids sandals, kids chacos, kids keens, kids tevas

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