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The Best Back-to-School Kids Shoes, Sneakers, and Boots

There's even a pair kids can customize.

The start of a new school year means buying back-to-school shoes. Unlike backpacks and lunch boxes ⏤ which can last a few years before being replaced ⏤ children usually do need a new pair of kids’ shoes to start school. Those little feet grow so damn fast. And since kids always want to look fresh when they walk through that classroom door, picking the right pair of back-to-school shoes is kind of a big deal. So, no pressure, dads.

First, a few common-sense tips from theAmerican Podiatric Medical Association when buying kids’ shoes:

  • Kids’ feet grow fast, so make sure their shoes fit and they haven’t outgrown them.
  • Don’t ever pass down footwear. Hand-me-down shirts are fine. But shoes won’t fit children the same way.
  • Because feet are rarely the same size, buy for the larger foot. And always buy shoes that can be worn immediately and don’t need a break-in period; try shoes on with socks, too.
  • When you bend a shoe, it should be flexible but should never twist in the middle.

Best Back-to-School Shoes

See Kai Run's kicks have a herringbone lug pattern that provides great traction for play, which means the ability to run free at the playground during recess.

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These APMA-approved shoes are lightweight, ultra-durable, come in a ton of different colors and patterns, and have a classic SKR fit with a wide toe box to allow for toes to move freely as your kid’s feet grow.

For the athlete, you should go with these Saucony sneakers, which don't stink and are easy to take on and off.

Another APMA-approved shoe, this one has an antimicrobial treatment to reduce foot stench. The Saucony sneaks also have an EVA midsole with major cushioning and traction. And the Velcro minimizes any issues involving annoying laces.

If your kid is going to be spending a ton of time outdoors, get him or her this shoe, which has a hydrophobic woven upper that dries quickly, plus, serious traction for stability.

What makes these particular shoes stand out is their woven-sock-like upper, which feels comfortable and secure on little feet. Plus, they’re easy to pull on and off. And there’s a biocentric footbed, which means your child’s feet are positioned appropriately.

If style is of paramount importance (and really, when isn't it?), go with the elegantly rustic boots that also happen to be APMA-certified.

These gorgeous, roomy leather boots give your kids’ feet a full range of motion. Plus, the wide toe box gives them plenty of wiggle room. Also, we sort of want an adult pair for ourselves.

If your kid just likes to throw on that go-to pair of shoes and get going, he or she needs these OluKai sneakers.

While these OluKai sneakers are not APMA-certified, we love them because of their anatomical molded EVA footbed that is removable and washable. Plus, the slip-on style makes them beyond convenient. And these kids’ shoes are lightweight and quick-drying, not to mention damn good looking.

These have to be the coolest kicks on the market. They're flexible, breathable, and customizable with interchangeable tabs.

PLAE shoes also don’t have APMA certification, but what they do have is a precisely contoured footbed especially designed for children, and impeccable traction.

With these dope Nike sneakers, kids get a supportive yet stretchy Flyknit upper along with solid sole for balance and traction.

Sneakers should be easy to pull on and take off, and the sock-like fit of this Nike sneaker is ideal for kids on the go.

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