As family outdoor activities go, hiking is underrated. As long as you live near a place with rocks, dirt, trees, some sort of running water, or a combination thereof, it’s just a matter of finding the trailhead and knowing exactly how long you have until your kid melts down. About the only thing you need is water, a few snacks, and footwear that keeps your feet dry, cool, and blister-free — for you and the kid. Here are 10 that are well reviewed by outdoor gear specialists and actual hiker-parents, which will keep all feet, big or small, at their peak until you reach the peak. If your kid throws a fit and forces you to turn back before then, blame it on the trail mix.
For The Kid
KEEN Chandler CNX-TThe Chandler CNX-T comes in 3 fun colorways, is lightweight, and features the single most kid-friendly footwear feature of all time: velcro. The company’s shoes tend to run small by a half size, so keep that in mind if you get swept up in their marketing about living “a hybrid life” and buy a pair. They probably don’t mean being a combination dad/sherpa, but whatever.
Salomon Xa Pro 2 WPHere’s a clever insight: kids don’t need any sort of technical hiking shoe — they need something super comfortable that’s waterproof and has enough grip for slippery rocks and logs. That’s why the Xa Pro is just a cushy running shoe with Salomon’s Contragrip sole. The only downside here is that, when your kid gets excited and bolts up the trail, you might have trouble keeping up.
Merrell Chameleon Low LaceMerrell’s reputation for durable, high end hiking boots goes back more than 30 years, and their kids’ shoes are no different. The shoe’s M Select DRY membrane provides waterproofing and breathability, its M Select GRIP outsole provides great traction, and the M Select FRESH is an anti-microbial material that ensures your kid’s shoes never stink worse than your own.
Vasque Breeze 2.0Lightweight, waterproof, and tough, perhaps the best thing you can say about the Breeze is that the boots have a reputation for preventing blisters. Since blisters will scuttle a good day in the woods faster than a tarantula crossing the trail, that’s high praise indeed.
Hi-Tec Renegade Trail WPThe Renegade has a kid-specific last (that’s cobbler-speak for “shape”), plus an EVA sockliner and compression-molded EVA midsole for ultimate comfort. The liner is moisture-wicking, which, in addition to waterproof materials and sealed seams, should guarantee your kid stays dry. Unless they just straight-up walk into a creek, which they will almost certainly do.
Salewa MS Speed AscentWith “Speed” right there in the name, there should be no mystery about your intentions once you strap these on. The upper is water-resistant, breathable mesh, while the Vibram Outsole and MFF+ Footbed with Take-Off Technology provide maximum adjustability, traction, smoothness. That all sounds pretty fast — just don’t forget you have a kid in tow.
La Sportiva Primer Low GTXThis shoe is all about 360-degree coverage. Gore Surround technology for all-around breathability, plus a unified midsole and upper for great ankle support. The only way to improve on this thing is to just replace your feet with boots.
Helly Hansen Trackfinder 3 HTHelly Hansen does 2 things: the sea and the mountains. So you can feel pretty confident that the low profile Trackfinder — with Hellytech performance fabric and Hellywear protection for high-wear areas — will get you through any trek. You shouldn’t have to worry about the sea on account of that whole “being on a mountain” thing.
Vasque Inhaler Mid GTXBreathable fabrics are great, but you know what’s better? A boot that actually breathes. The Inhaler has ventilation ports in the heel and toe, so you’re expending wet stinky air and taking in fresh dry air with every step. Unless you followed your kid into the creek, in which case you’re on your own.
KEEN Durand Mid WP>All the boots in this roundup are well reviewed by hikers on Amazon or in the outdoor media, but only the Duran Mid is endorsed by always-on-my-feet workers with plantar fasciitis. Hikers known plenty about footwear, but if these can make that person’s life easier, what more do you need to know?