Hiking is a great family activity and for that, your kids need hiking boots.
Kids’ feet grow fast and unpredictably. The shoe dilemma — how to keep up with those ever-changing feet — has most parents simply relying on hand-me-downs or combing the shelves. That’s not the best option when it comes to hiking or backpacking boots, however. Out on the trail, ill-fitting shoes can be a disaster than can slow a hike or, worse, leave kids with blisters or other foot problems. So what should you look for when choosing the right hiking boots for your kids? Two words: comfort and stability. They will be pounding out some trail miles in these kicks so they have to want to wear them, but they will also be navigating tough terrain, so the boots will need to hold their own and protect those precious feet too.
See more: Best Hiking Boots for Men
When shopping for kids hiking boots, look for shoes that combine those two aspects. Boots that are too stable can take too long to break in and hurt. Too floppy and your kid goes home with a sprained ankle. Keeping those boots fitting while jostling around on the trail is key, so seek out lace systems that are easy to pull snug and keep secure. When it comes to size, remember that those feet will grow, so leave some room, but don’t by they so big that they cause blisters or flopping on the trail. Also, be aware of what type of hiking you plan on doing with your progeny: Day hikes lend themselves to lighter boots that the kid can also wear to school.
With those principles in mind, here are some of our favorite hiking boots for kids.
This all-terrain hiking sneaker boot is great for the playground, or for a hike on your local trail. It's waterproof. It's lightweight. And it has great traction and a bungee-cord lace system that won't cause shoelace headaches.
This cute all-terrain sneaker has an upper made of PU-coated leather to keep water out. It’s lined with lightweight, breathable mesh to keep little feet from sweating and overheating. And the rubber outsole guarantees solid traction.
Coming in at less price lower than the latest Ninjago Lego set, these boots from Northside, a brand based in the rugged Cascades, can take a beating.
The beefy sole offers lots of grip and the laces are easy to tie and stay fastened on the trail. Plus, a mesh upper makes them breathable so you won’t face complaining about hot feet and they will dry out fast. That tough sole offers up a lot of versatility, making the boots ideal for everything from rocky trails to school trips. Now, as is normal at this price, they don’t provide as much ankle support as bigger boots (may not be the best choice for big packs or clambering over boulders terrain). They’re also not waterproof.
Get your little hiker off on his or her best foot with the Merrell Chameleon. It's a high-performance shoe that will last.
The Merrell hiking shoe has dry waterproof construction for keeping toes dry and a ground-grabbing outsole for traction. We love the durable leather and breathable mesh upper, to keep feet fresh. The closures are easy for kids to manage. And there’s a durable rubber cup sole for non-marking traction.
The Keen Chandler hiking shoe weighs just over six ounces, making it lightweight. But it's also solid, with multi-directional traction.
The Keen Chandler hiking shoe has a contoured arch for added midfoot support, elastic lacing for ease of use, a multi-directional lug pattern for increased traction and reverse strobel construction that gives kids a streamlined interior. The Chandler has quick-dry mesh that makes it breathable, and the lacing system keeps the shoe secure. If your kid is in-between sizes, go up a size.
If you plan on tackling rugged terrain with your kids, these are the boots for you.
The Timberland hiking boots features leather uppers, lace-up styling, a fully-gosseted tongue, and a sockliner for perfect fit every time your kid wears them. Plus, the shoes include OrthoLite footbeds for cushioning and moisture control, and rubber and ground-contact EVA outsoles.
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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