Family hikes — whether they take you to the neighborhood park or deep into the wilderness — offer a perfect synchrony of all the best things, letting kids explore rich new environments, overcome gentle challenges, and spend time outside. The natural world is the ultimate STEM toy, full of opportunities for observation, categorization, and problem-solving, with boundless opportunities for open-ended, imaginative, collaborative play. But to hit all those trails, parks, knolls, forests, coastlines, and valleys, you’ll need to find a good pair of kids’ hiking boots. The best kids’ hiking boots and shoes strike a balance between comfort and stability, and are built to last.
Kids 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. 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 be loose 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.
The Best Kids’ Hiking Boots
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.
When you're serious about cold-weather hikes, get this shoe. It has a full-grain leather upper for comfort and Primaloft 100 insulation material for added warmth, even when it rains. The outsole provides fantastic traction, and the insulation keeps your kids' toes warm no matter what the weather.
These mid-level hiking boots have a waterproof, breathable membrane, plus a bungee lace system and a PFC-free durable water repellent to keep feet snug and dry. The footbed on this kids' hiking shoe helps break down odor in sweat, so there's no foot stench. These shoes are solid without being heavy, and have a padded tongue and collar for even more comfort.
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.
Get your little hiker off on his or her best foot with the Merrell Chameleon. 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. It's a high-performance shoe that will last.
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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