There’s nothing better than a family hike, but if you want to make it farther than the trailhead, you’re going to need to shod your budding outdoorsman or -woman with a pair of kids hiking boots or hiking shoes. Whether you’re headed deep into the wilderness in a trailer or around the neighborhood park’s gravel loop, the best kids hiking shoes will let your youth safely wander and roam over uncertain terrain.
When selecting a pair of hiking shoes or boots for your child, first note how they’re going to be used. Is he or she the type to yo-yo between you and what’s around the next bend? Or is your child more likely to hang by your side—likely the case for toddlers? For the former, consider a light-and-fast trail shoe, and for the latter, a solid, waterproof boot may be more appropriate. Other factors include the ruggedness of the terrain, the amount of precipitation you expect, and the heaviness of a pack. The more extreme for each of these, the more a traditionally built boot may be appropriate, while the less of each of these, a lightweight trail runner would work. Also fit the shoe a little long — from a half- to a full thumbnail’s width between the end of the toes to the end of the shoe, or a half to a full size longer than their normal length — to reduce the possibility of blisters. Finally, don’t neglect a good pair of kids socks, which wick moisture away and do their part to prevent blisters. The mountains, paths, and trails are calling, and with your son or daughter, you must go.
The Best Kids’ Hiking Boots and Shoes
This kid favorite provides plenty of traction as well as a rubber bumper for toe protection, but it's also super breathable. Due to its generous venting, it also makes a great water shoe for rafting, canoeing, and other half-in, half-out outdoor amphibious activities.
As tough as the Rockies, this beefy hiker is for serious protection in hard terrain. Its Traxion outsole is secure in wet or dry conditions, but unlike others, it's still surprisingly breathable thanks to a textile top-half. We like the high-vis yellow accents for keeping an eye on adventurous kiddos farther down the trail.
This classic-looking and -built boot is waterproof and seam-sealed for wet hikes in the worst weather. But while your child's body might be getting uncomfortable, his or her feet will be enjoying soft cushioning inside the rugged leather and secure, all-direction traction.
When the forecast is questionable, the Mt. Maddsen is already lacing up. Its leather outside is sealed from rain and snow thanks to a waterproof membrane inside, while the gusseted tongue is great for keeping the trail grit and mud out.
A tried-and-true classic, these waterproof kids' hiking boots are built of breathable mesh nylon and water-resistant suede upper. They've got cushy EVA midsoles and a removable inner footbed — these feel great out of the box. With great traction and true waterproofing, these boots have extra-tough bumpers on heel and toe for maximum durability.
Beginner hikers will appreciate these boots, which are lightweight and waterproof. The rubber outsoles provide flexible traction, and the mesh uppers keep feet cool and comfortable. There's a Velcro closure around the ankle, for easy on and off.
Salomon's Speedcross is built for speed. It's meant for rugged trails, and has moderate cushioning. The Salomon trail runner shoe is built with extra grip for young feet ready to tackle any terrain. There's a pocket for laces to reduce the risk of tripping Plus, the shoe has abrasion-resistant linings for outstanding breathability and quick-drying performance. You also get molded insoles for cushioning and stability. It's not waterproof, which could be an issue.
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