Our selection of hiking shoes for kids (toddlers and up) for family hikes and outdoor adventures.
Good hiking shoes are essential for a safe and positive hiking experience and this is true for adults and kids alike, even very young ones.
While it may be tempting to think that a small child won’t need special footwear, having the wrong kind of shoe can make their feet cold, sore and can cause problems with traction and support, all things that can be not just unpleasant but also cause outright injuries.
We love hiking with our kids and, over the course of the years, we have tried several kid hiking shoe brands and styles.
This is our guide to the best hiking shoes for children we have found, tested on hikes near home and on travels.
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Click on the link to see official specs and price for each model
Best hiking shoes for kids chart
|Brand||Type||Several colors available||Age/Size|
|Keen Kids’ Seacamp||Hiking Sandals||Yes||1-12 years|
|Merrel Kids H20||Hiking Sandals||Yes||1-12 years|
|Keen Kids Terradora||Kids Hiking shoes||Yes||4-12 years|
|Teva Kid Manatee||Kids sport sandal||Yes||8-12 years|
|Merrel Unisex Trail Chaser||Kids hiking sneaker||Yes||4-8 years|
|Hawkwell Outdoor Shoes||Outdoor walking shoes||Yes||Toddler and up|
|Mishansha hiking shoes||Boys and girls hiking sneakers||Yes||7.5 toddler and up|
|Merrel Kids Access||Hiking boot for kids||Yes||Size 1 Little Kid and up|
|Columbia PeakFreak||Toddler Hiking shoes||Depends on size||Toddler and up|
|Merrel Kids Moab Hiking sneaker||Hiking sneaker||Yes||4-12 years|
|Keen Chandler||Toddler hiking shoe||Yes||1-4 years|
|Keen Targhee||Kids hiking shoe||Yes||4-12 years|
|Salomon Kids’ Speedcross J||Kids trail running shoes||Yes||4-12 years|
What to look for when choosing hiking shoes for kids
When choosing the most appropriate kids shoes for hiking, I recommend you look at the following.
Choose a sturdy yet flexible sole
One of the main characteristics of hiking shoes is to have a sole with good grip to give you stability on mountainous and uneven terrain.
This usually means hiking shoes soles are thicker than let’s say runners or trainers and have less flexibility, to protect the sole of the feet from a rough steps, rocks and bumps on the road.
A proper sole is best when buying for kids however, you don’t necessarily need the thickest you can find every time.
You need flexible yet strong soles for proper mountain hikes and elevation gains while you can use more flexible and thinner soles if you walk mostly on flat terrain, country roads or gentle slopes.
With our kids, we found having the lightest sole suitable for the terrain was best.
Keep weather in mind
Like with all type of shoes, you need to keep in mind the weather conditions you are buying for and the season for the use of the shoes.
For summer, lightweight and partially open shoes can be a good idea (see below my take on hiking sandals) while for winter it is paramount to have warmer shoes, high tops and ideally a lined interior should you face snowy conditions.
In all weather, shoes that are waterproof or at least water resistant are a must both for safety on the trail and to have them last longer.
Ankle boots or low top hiking shoes?
Hiking shoes for kids come in two main styles: boots that protect the ankle and low top shoes, that look like a sturdier version than sneakers.
As a general rule, ankle boots are best on steep terrains and full-on mountain walks as they provide extra stability and can protect from bumps while on flat terrain and country walks low top shoes are usually enough.
Shoelaces or Velcro?
The choice between shoelaces or velcro is one you are likely to make regularly when buying new shoes for your child and the main rules apply to hiking shoes too.
Shoelaces tends to give better support and stability to the foot, so they are better if you are going on serious hikes as they will help keeping the shoe in place.
However, they will come undone and will get your child to stop a million times on the path while velcro is easier for them to manage and will tend to stay in place.
A good compromise and what many kids hiking shoes we love have is a closed lace system/ no tie laces that gives the stability of laces but the practicality of the velcro.
Good to know: while shoelaces that come undone can be annoying, they are also super easy to clean. If they get mucky or wet on the hike, you can simply wash them and they come out as new while velcro is harder to clean, if it get tangles with debris from the trail. So if you see a pair of hiking shoe with laces you like, don’t discount them just on the laces account!
Hiking shoes for kids or hiking sandals?
If you are buying shoes for your kids to hike in summer you may be wondering if it is best to go for closed shoes or sandals.
While hiking sandals can be great for warmer temperatures, especially considering how hot kids feet can get, they do come with a downside: they let in dirt and pebbles.
How much of a problem this is depends on the terrain you go onto and your child.
One of my children find dirt on their feet intolerable when walking while the other seems to not mind so in this case, I recommend you consider your children normal habits and go with what works best for them.
I do however find hiking sandals especially good if you have toddlers.
They are perfect to let their fee breath and they are the most comfortable for them when in the carriers, so they can feel the air on their skin and stay cool.
One thing I do however recommend when buying hiking sandals is to always go for closed toe.
While many open sandals have decent grip on the terrain, exposing the toes is, in my my opinion, too risky on rough terrain and too prone to injury.
My tip: some hiking sandals for kids are waterproof however, I find best to bring with us water shoes if we expect to go paddling in water. They occupy next to no space in your hiking backpack and I find it is more comfortable to walk in dry shoes, even if technically the sandals can survive a dip in water.
Get the right size
Picking the right shoe size for someone else or when buying online is not easy but I found online shops have now gone a long way to give exact sizing and choosing has become a lot easier.
With kids hiking shoes, you need to take into account the length and width of your child foot and also add the padding that will come from the hiking socks.
After you take that into account, you need to add a little space and make sure the toes do not touch the front of the sole (when you go downhill especially, you want the toes not to bump on the shoe or this will cause damages to the nail).
A good rule of thumb is to buy shoes that leave enough space between the back of the shoe and the heel of your child so that you can feel the space with your finger.
Best hiking shoes for toddlers | best hiking shoes for kids 2021
Keen Seacamp Hiking sandals – maybe best hiking sandals for toddlers
Keen Seacamp Hiking sandals are a great pair of hiking sandals for toddlers and older kids alike.
They are one of the few kids hiking shoes brands that actually cater for toddlers age 1-3 (they also have Little Kids kid and Big Kid sizes).
They have closed toe, perfect for to protection, a good sole and side opening that strike a good balance between protecting the foot and let it breathe.
In terms of securing the shoes, they have lace-lock bungee system that means the sandals stays in place and you don’t have to endlessly tie laces!
These toddler sandals for hiking come in several colors and have the added plus of being easy to wash, so you don’t have to worry excessively when they will inevitably get dirty and mucky from the hike.
These are versatile shoes that your toddlers can wear on hikes but also at the park, garden and, really, everyday thanks to the lightweight, breathable materials.
Keen Kids Seacamp Sandals some in several models and sizes, including toddlers, Little Kids and Big Kids.
Keen Kids Terradora walking shoes for kids 4 -12
The Keen Terradora walking shoe for kids are perfect if you are looking for a shoes that feels like a trainer buy also works well on rougher terrain.
This model has a reinforced toe perfect for the trail, a breathable mash top and a sturdy sole for traction.
Extra bonus: they are no-mark so you don’t have to worry about your floors once they are worn in the house!
The shoe has a no tie lace closure and a strap that makes the laces stay in place and it is easy for kids to manage themselves.
These are presented as hiking shoes for girls and come in nice colors to suit different taste.
Good to know: the Terradora also come in the form of a kids hiking boot with higher ankle support. Find specs here
Teva kids Manatee hiking sandals for toddlers and up
I adore my own Teva sandals and I adore these hiking sandals for kids by them too.
These are the Teva Manatee Kids sport sandal:
They come in several colors and they have a nice reinforced closed toe, flexible yet thick sole for protection from the rought terrain and they have side openings to allow the feet to breathe.
The no tie lacing system allows the sandal to stay put without the laces coming undone.
I personally like that the good toe closure make them feel more like a shoe than a sandal while still allowing for good air flow, perfect for summer hikes.
Merrell Kids H20 unisex waterproof hiking sandals
The Merrel kids h20 are great hiking sandals for toddlers and older kids.
Like others on this list, they have a sturdy closed toe, stay in place lacing sytem and a good sole however, they have mesh on the sides with means they allow the feet to breathe while stopping most dirt from coming in.
Because of this characteristic, these are hiking sandals but we have found they work well with socks as a hiking shoes even for the mid season.
Merrell Unisex-Child Trail Chaser Sneaker for kids 4-8 years
Merrell Unisex-Child Trail Chaser Sneaker are a great hiking sneaer for kids who love the look and feel of a runner shoes but need more traction.
They have a good sole, reinforced toe, laces that sit in place and a Velcro strap and they are made of leather and textile which means they stay breatheable in warmer weather, while being a closed shoe.
I find these to be good versatile shoes good on trails but also for school in winter since they tend to resist rain quite well.
Hawkwell Kids Outdoor Hiking Shoe toddlers, little kids and big kids sizes
This is another good model of walking shoes for kids, good if you are looking for low top walking shoes for country walks and days out. Find specs here:
The sole has good grip and the lace and velcro closing system helps keeping them in place.
The toe is reinforces and they resist rain, which makes them attractive and everyday winer shoes too.
They come in several colors too, which is cool one you havr growing kids who are fussy about their fashion style.
Mishansha Kids Hiking Shoes for Outdoor Trails, Walking, Athletic Sneakers
Another pair of shoes that works well is the Mishansha kids, a brand that I didn’t know but found online and attracted me for the good price point.
The shoes are low top and wear like a sneaker but have a good sole that works well on country roads and easy paths.
They have a reinforced toe for protection and velcro straps and they are a good versatile shoe if you are looking for shoeware that can be used everyday in the winter too and even as shoes and even for school and the park.
Merrell Kids’ M-Chameleon 7 Access water resistant Hiking Shoes
If you are looking for kids hiking boots with ankle support, then I recommend you look at the M-chameleon 7 by Merrel.
These are excellent shoes for hiking with a good sole, reinforced toes, good laces and they are good for mid season or winter if worn with thick socks as they are waterproof.
Columbia Kids’ Toddler Peakfreak XCRSN Waterproof Hiking Shoe
A good pair of closed hiking shoes for toddlers is this Peakfreak by Columbia.
Columbia is the brand I use from my own winter shoes and my kids seem to find it as good as I do.
These are closed shoes for the winter with a good sole and two velcro straps as closure, perfect for toddlers and younger kids.
Merrell Kids’ Moab Waterproof Hiking Sneaker
Merrell also makes this lovely pair of waterproof walking sneakers that are good on trails but also a good versatile everyday sport shoe, the Merrell Moab for kids
They have a good sole and reinforced toes while managing to stay lightweight and they have a handy closure of laces and velcro.
The look is in between the sneaker and the hiking shoe which worked well for our kids who like a sporty everyday look even when not hiking.
KEEN Kids’ Chandler CNX Hiking Shoes for toddlers
If you are looking for closed hiking shoes rather than sandals, then I recommend you have a look at this other model by keen again, the Chandler CNX.
These are great Kids trail shoes for toddlers with a nice reinforced toe, a good sole for outdoor pursuits and a handy velcro closure perfect for smaller kids.
The shoes are sturdy and good for days in the garden and days outdoors and we loved as toddler girl hiking shoes as they come in a pretty purple color our daughter lovers.
Keen Taghee Hiking shoes
The Keen Targhee are another good model of walking shoes for kids with ankle support.
These ankle boots have a strong, no mark rubber sole, a sturdy reinforced toe and they are made of breathable upper material that makes them good for most seasons.
They come in several colors depending on the size and they are have a sporty look that will appeal to boys and girls.
They are available from age 4 an up.
Salomon Kids’ Speedcross J Hiking kids 4 and up
If you are looking for kids walking shoes for easy trails and days in the country, then you may like the Salomon Speedcorss hiking shoes for kids.
Compared with others on this list hey have a less rugged sole however, they are good on non strenuous trails then you still want toe and sole protection.
They are good kids trail running shoes and they also double up as everyday shoes as they are very comfortable and rain resistant which makes them attractive not just on trails but also for winter days in the park.
I hope you enjoyed our selection of toddler hiking shoes, hiking boots for kids and kids walking boots and sneakers and it helped you find the perfect pair for your little explorer!
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