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 or just around the neighborhood park’s gravel loop, the best kids hiking shoes will let your youth wander and roam in their footwear over uncertain terrain and into a lifelong passion for the outdoors.
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? 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 is more appropriate. 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
The smallest hikers may handle single track with ease and yet still struggle with laces. That's why we're big fans of this laceless option from Merrell. It will save both you and your child time tying and instead allow you focus on what matters: nature.
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.
For that child that is always being told to walk, not run, the Altalight is just what he or she needs to let loose on the trail. A breathable, rip-resistant mesh upper and EVA foam midsole make this perform more like a running shoe, but the deep lugs on the outsole are ready to get dirty.
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.
The all-purpose shoe for every type of adventure, this Merrell trail sneaker has an easy hook-and-loop closure, plus a padded EVA footbed, and a slip-and-trip resistant outsole. It's just as great for playground climbing as it is for hiking, is comfortable, easy to put on and take off, and because of its breathable mesh upper, is best-suited for warmer weather adventures.
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.
These hardy little hikers have the same durable design and reliable waterproofing as Keen's adults boots. Great for exploring on and off trails, over tree roots and straight through puddles, they also give kids the satisfaction of wearing seriously grown-up hiking shoes. Constructed of waterproof leather with textile upper, with anti-microbial inner lining.
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. The upper is 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.
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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