24 Best Hiking Shoes and Boots for Kids in 2022

By Joshua Davis •  Updated: 07/30/22 •  28 min read

The day finally came!

My first-born son was joining me on our first father-and-son-only camping and hiking trip. He had just turned four and, like his dad, was raring to go!

I’ll admit, I was a bit over-zealous when it came to acquiring hiking and backpacking gear for him and, when it came to footwear, I didn’t know what I was doing.

As I scoured the internet for the best boys’ hiking shoes and boys’ hiking boots, it never occurred to me that his feet had never seen the inside of anything other than a soft, pliable, lightweight sneaker.

And, hiking footwear and sneakers are as different as military boots and bunny slippers.

I settled on a pair of Vibram-soled Nevados mid-high boots that, for all intents and purposes had the density and flexibility of small cannon-balls.

Even before his first hike, he hated them (don’t let that angelic, toothy grin fool you).

Sure, they were tough, resilient, sharp-looking boots; but, when he tried to wear them he walked like he was wearing ski boots: no bend, no flex, and UNCOMFORTABLE.

Nine years later, they’re occupying a remote spot on his younger brother’s closet shelf hoping for the day they get to see some action. Not likely.

After over a decade and hundreds of miles hiking with my boys, I’ve learned a few things when it comes to being realistic and smart about selecting the best hiking shoes for boys and, even girls.

And, I’d like to share them with you. It just might save you some coin, and, more importantly, agony on the trail.

QUICK LINKS
  1. OFHQ’s Favorites
  2. Things to Consider: Choosing the Best Hiking Shoes for Boys and Girls
  3. Hiking Shoes for Kids
  4. Hiking Boots for Kids
  5. Trail Running Shoes for Kids
  6. Hiking Sandals for Kids
  7. Hiking Shoes for Toddlers
  8. Let the Trail-Tromping Begin!

OFHQ’s Favorites

Spoiler Alert! You’re going to see a LOT of kids hiking shoes by Merrell and KEEN in this post.

The reason is simple: these brands have stood the test of time (and trail miles) by offering high-quality shoes at a fair price with a generous warranty winning a wide customer loyalty base.

No hype here.

When you use proven materials to construct robust footwear with a durable sole that lasts and lasts and lasts …

… well, you make our list of favorites, for sure.

1. Jack Wolfskin Kids Woodland Waterproof Hiking “Shoe”

It’s new. It’s inexpensive. It’s German.

Das ist gut!

Best Budget Overall Hiking Shoe
Jack Wolfskin Kids Woodland Waterproof Hiking "Shoe"
$22.81
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10/04/2022 07:21 am GMT

2. Merrell Hydro Free Roam Chroma Monarch Sandal

While it may not be the “best sandal” in everyone’s opinion, it is for us if only for its ability to keep out more grit and grime when hiking.

Hiking in sandals can be irritating when you don’t have a stream or river nearby to wash them out periodically and when you’d rather conserve your drinking water rather than use it as a sandal wash.

Like a good pair of sandals, they dry quickly, have that open-air feel, and, when necessary, look less geeky with a pair of socks than traditional sandals.

Best Hiking Sandal
Merrell Hydro Free Roam Chroma Monarch Sandal
$29.56
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10/04/2022 12:18 am GMT

3. Merrell Moab Kid’s Hiking Shoes

In a world where hiking shoe manufacturers seem to be bending to every waft and breeze of new fashion fads and trends, Merrell has stayed true to the traditional hiking shoe design while gently embracing changes that make true utilitarian differences, not merely cosmetic.

Everywhere you go, on every trail you hike, you’ll see Moab’s on the feet of beginners and veterans. There’s a reason for that!

This rugged shoe boasts a grippy sole, protective toe bumper, and an insole that moulds well to children’s feet proving that tough hiking shoes can be comfortable hiking shoes.

Best Hiking Shoe
Merrell Moab Kid’s Hiking Shoes
$40.00
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10/04/2022 12:24 am GMT

4. Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe

Not just for full-throttle trail-blitzing, these all-around hikers are suited for strolling, running, and even moderate backpacking.

It’s an excellent selection for those needing something a little more versatile.

Best Trail Runner
Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe
$49.00
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10/04/2022 08:15 am GMT

5. KEEN Ridge Flex Waterproof Kids’ Boot

Compelling a young child to go through the boot-break-in process can be a battle. KEEN made things substantially easier.

By replacing the traditional, rigid hiking boot material with flexible (yet, still rugged) “bellows” in areas that need to bend and flex with each step, the break-in process has been all but rendered obsolete.

Not completely obsolete … just almost.

The flexibility of the soles and body of this shoe will make junior’s adjustment to them a more-likely success.

As a parent with experience in this category, that’s enough to proclaim it the best kids hiking boot!

Best Hiking Boot
KEEN Ridge Flex Waterproof Kids' Boot
$46.99
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10/04/2022 12:26 am GMT

Things to Consider: Choosing the Best Hiking Shoes for Boys and Girls

When selecting solid, dependable, comfortable hiking footwear for your family’s arsenal of hiking and camping gear, the variety and types can pose a substantial dilemma.

Hiking boots are the Sherman Tanks of hiking footwear (heavier, ultra-supportive, and typically tough to break in) while trail runners are the Porsche 911s (lightweight, easy to break in, but not as supportive).

Standard hiking shoes, however, are the crossovers blending the best of boots and runners, offering a happy medium between the two (which is why we recommend them for most kids).

Then you have the minimalist hiking sandals which are essentially the Jeep Wranglers of the bunch – they can go almost anywhere with the top down and doors off but aren’t as comfortable for long, arduous, technical terrain.

How far and long your kids will be able to hike with you relies heavily on how comfortable and supported their feet are; so, how do you decide which one is best for your child?

1. Hiking Shoes, Boots, Trail Runners, or Sandals?

Ultimately, the most important factor to consider when choosing the type of hiking footwear is what type of hiking you’ll be doing with your kids as well as what your child’s feet can easily adapt to.

If you’re looking at a multi-day backpacking excursion or hiking undulated, rocky trails, you’ll want to get them some supportive hiking boots.

But, for the average day hike on a well-maintained trail, lighter-weight hiking shoes will suffice.

Trail runners used to be just for those who blazed past strolling hikers, zipping along the trail at a trot or full-on sprint; however, as the hiking and backpacking world has moved to lighter gear made from better materials, trail runners have slowly begun to replace the tank-esque hiking boot even among the likes of thru-hikers who want to travel fast and light … even if they’re not running.

And hiking sandals: these are best for those hikes where getting wet feet is a foregone conclusion like creek crossings or waterfalls.

The beauty of sandals is that, due to their openness, feet can dry out quickly reducing the probability of blisters (and a stench) forming in wet conditions.

The wearer, however, should be able to handle grit rubbing between the toes without twitching and shouldn’t carry anything heavier than a small backpack.

Aside from this, there are a few other things to keep in mind:

2. Break-In Time

There are few things worse than hiking in brand-new, never-been-worn boots. The first few miles will be filled with blisters, hot spots, and general misery.

On average, it can take 2-4 weeks of regular wear to break in a new pair of hiking boots in preparation for the “big hike.” Unless your child has the opportunity to do this before hitting the trail, we recommend avoiding boots altogether.

Hiking shoes and trail runners, on the other hand, only require a few hikes to break in and are typically comfortable from the get-go. We still recommend wearing them regularly for a week before hiking more than a few miles in them.

Sandals, on the contrary, require less break-in time and more time for the skin of your feet to adjust to the rub of sandal straps without the soft barrier of socks.

3. Waterproof or Not?

At first, this may sound like a grand idea; but, consider this: if moisture can’t get in, moisture can’t get out. That being said, sweaty feet are typically miserable inside waterproof hiking shoes or boots.

And, once they start to sweat, they will never not sweat. And, my friend, let me tell you, there is no odor in this universe like the stank of a sodden sweaty-footed hiker’s boot after a long day on the trail.

So, while waterproof may sound good in theory, it’s often more comfortable for your child (and your olfactory sensors) to go with a water-resistant, breathable shoe or boot, especially in warm-to-hot climates.

HOWEVER, if you plan on hiking in moist, rainy, cold environments where cold, wet feet can be a hazard, waterproof shoes or boots are a more practical option.

Helpful Tip: Almost every hiking boot manufacturer will claim to have “breathable mesh” integrated into their waterproof boots and shoes. While this helps to a degree, it is only a moderate difference compared to wearing non-waterproof footwear.

4. Support and Comfort

These two go hand-in-hand. If a boot or shoe isn’t supportive, it won’t be comfortable. If it isn’t comfortable, your child won’t wear it. And if you force them to, they’ll be miserable and they will share that misery with you in spades.

Furthermore, if you’re looking at shoes for younger hikers, consider that their bones and muscles are still developing.

You want to make sure they have enough support to avoid any long-term problems but also enough wiggle room to allow their feet to develop properly.

This is why we recommend against getting shoes that are too big in the hopes that they’ll “grow into them.” Not only will this cause problems now, but it can also lead to issues down the road.

5. Traction

For kids, it’s not necessary to get too far into the weeds about all the different proprietary tread types manufacturers claim to be the best.

Still, most hiking injuries occur from slips and falls on slick slopes, wet stones, and muddy trails, so it’s important to get a shoe with good “teeth.”

If your children are very young and still learning to pick up their feet when walking, hiking treads can present a tripping hazard as much as a vicious tree root; so, ensure they have time to wear them and adjust before the hike.

6. Durability

As I said before, most kids hiking shoes or boots from a reputable brand will outlive your child’s need for them.

If you choose to go with an obscure brand that tries to reel you in with a low price point, catchy sales pitch, fun colors, and slick-looking designs, be sure you read up on the company’s history as well as what owners of the product have said.

Some of these will fall apart within the first day of use … and they’re not always returnable.

Hiking Shoes for Kids

The best hiking shoes for a little kid or a big kid are a happy medium between robust, heavy hiking boots and less-rigid, minimalist trail runners.

They provide the best of both and avoid those features that are unneeded when trekking along your standard park trails, from easy to strenuous difficulty levels.

A good hiking shoe provides a good lug pattern on the bottom providing confident footing on various types of terrain, from packed dirt to loose scree, a stable, low-profile design with a wide base that prevents rolled ankles on uneven ground, and a protective sturdier upper and toe rand that keep little toes safe from stubs and rocks.

They should also have a comfortable fit that’s not too tight or constricting, but also not so loose that allows your feet to develop blisters from sliding around inside.

And finally, they should be lightweight to avoid tiring out little legs on longer hikes.

1. Keen Kids’ Targhee Sport Vented Kids Hiking Shoe

Keen Kids’ Targhee Sport Vented Kids Hiking Shoe
$31.42
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10/04/2022 01:08 am GMT

Why someone at KEEN decided to name a shoe after an American breed of sheep known for being rather tasty, my feeble intellect cannot grasp.

The oddly-monikered Targhee from KEEN is an ideal choice for those conscious of the effects of industrial chemicals and materials on the human body.

For example, to make shoes odorless, manufacturers will typically coat their shoes in a bacteria-killing pesticide.

KEEN does not. Instead, they use natural probiotics.

To make shoes water-resistant, many shoe manufacturers coat their shoes in perfluorinated chemicals which are suspected carcinogens.

KEEN does not. Instead, they use non-toxic alternatives that are just as effective.

And, it’s built to the same standards of comfort and ruggedness that KEEN is famous for.

This tasty mutton chop is also available in a boot. See the section on Hiking Boots for Kids below.

2. Merrell Kids Trail Chaser Hiking Shoes

Merrell Kids Trail Chaser Hiking Shoes
$44.95
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10/04/2022 12:28 am GMT

I’m going to shoot straight: I’m a Merrell groupie. I’ve been hiking for 23 years and have owned more pairs of hikers than I can remember… but, what I can remember is that most of them have been Merrells and the Merrells have outlasted all the others.

The kids’ Trail Chasers offer the same rugged durability and foot protection in a no-frills design.

The materials are breathable, the closure snug and simple, the EVA footbed comfortable, and the outsole tough yet flexible with great traction.

‘Nough said.

3. Merrell Kids Altalight Low Hiking Shoes

Merrell Kids Altalight Low Hiking Shoes
$28.78
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10/04/2022 02:20 am GMT

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get your kids to put their shoes on when they go outside? They’d walk out the back door and explore the whole wide world in their bare feet (or their socks … grrrr!) if you’d let them.

It’s because shoes are heavy, hot, … and bare feet are not! So, how about a shoe that is so cool and lightweight that it feels like wearing almost nothing?

That’s what Merrell had in mind when they designed the Altalight Low hiking shoes for kids. At only 6 oz. per shoe, they are one of the lightest shoes on the market but don’t skimp on protection or support.

And, with a removable EVA footbed, you can make it even lighter!

The tough, breathable ripstop upper keeps the foot cool and resists tears and abrasions. And as for traction, this shoe’s got some teeth!

4. Merrell Kids Chameleon Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Merrell Kids Chameleon Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
$78.00
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10/04/2022 02:53 am GMT

If your child needs a tough shoe that can face wet environments and keep their feet toasty warm and dry, the Chameleon will get the job done.

This shoe is completely waterproof thanks to upper materials and construction that seals out water while allowing perspiration to escape (to a degree …).

But because this shoe is fully waterproof, it is also heavier than some of the other shoes on this list. So, if you plan on doing a lot of walking with your little ones, be sure to take that into account.

Finally, this shoe features a lace-up or an alternative closure method for young hands to manage.

The Chameleon is also available in a kids’ hiking boot.

5. Merrell Moab Kid’s Hiking Shoes

Best Hiking Shoe
Merrell Moab Kid’s Hiking Shoes
$40.00
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10/04/2022 12:24 am GMT

I don’t have actual statistics to back this up; but, I am pretty sure that the Merrell Moabs are the most widely-owned hiking shoe out there.

I say this because I’m a people watcher (not in a creep-a-zoid way, I promise) and at every national and state park I go to, I take note of what gear other hikers (adults and kids) are using, and …

… the Moabs are EVERYWHERE!

Among the myriad of kids’ hiking shoe options out there, these seem to meet most folks where they’re at!

Not just available as a shoe, the Moab is also available in a mid-high boot and, if needed, with waterproof inner-booties.

The Moab collection has been around for more than a decade, one that Merrell keeps coming back with due to its customer loyalty base.

While not a lightweight shoe, it’s built rough-‘n’-tough at a price point that leaves you feeling like someone in the marketing department made a mistake.

A good mistake.

6. Jack Wolfskin Kids Woodland Waterproof Hiking “Shoe”

Best Budget Overall Hiking Shoe
Jack Wolfskin Kids Woodland Waterproof Hiking "Shoe"
$22.81
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10/04/2022 07:21 am GMT

Up until a few days ago, I had never heard of Jack Wolfskin. As it turns out, this reputable German outdoor wear and gear manufacturer of 40+ years of experience made the American scene back in 2020.

And when you see a price tag this low coupled with a Lifetime Warranty, it’s easy to be a bit … skeptical.

As of yet, state-side reviews of their products are hard to come by; but, the ones that are cropping up are good. Really good.

Considered a boot by its maker, the Woodland has such low-cut ankle support that, for all practical purposes, it gets nudged into the hiking shoe category.

Made of waterproof, breathable Texapore, the overall construction of the shoe is simple and practical … no frills. But, this does not detract from the shoe’s lightweight, comfortable hug-of-the-foot.

For the price, they’re worth the gamble, especially with that guarantee!

If I were German, I might say, “Gut erledigt, Jack Wolfskin!”

7. Columbia Child’s Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Columbia Child's Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe
$48.75
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10/04/2022 12:16 am GMT

Columbia has been our family’s default choice for our kids solely on the grounds of their price-to-quality ratio.

In our experience, Columbia’s kids’ hiking shoes and boots are durable enough to be used by the older son and still have plenty of fight left as a hand-me-down to the younger one.

And, they don’t break the bank. That’s my favorite part.

The Redmond is neither the lightest nor heaviest child’s hiker; however, it is built as tough as shoes twice its price. And, it has a better warranty than most.

Excellent traction, easy-to-manage lacing aglets, a solid-yet-flexible sole, and a toe bumper that just begs the wearer to play soccer with a boulder … all this comes together to make a great foot fort!

8. Northside Gamma Hiking Shoes

Northside Gamma Hiking Shoes
$40.00
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10/04/2022 03:22 am GMT

Northside will be the first to tell you that they manufacture shoes designed for “light outdoor recreation;” however, to be fair, that is what the large majority of families engage in together: light recreation.

If you don’t plan on scaling the cables on the back of Half Dome, hiking rim to rim in the Grand Canyon, or taking on vast stretches of the John Muir (these would be “heavier” recreation), then there’s no need to break the bank on over-built foot forts.

The Northside Gamma Hiking Shoes for kids are simple, reasonably-built, reasonably-priced shoes with a reasonable guarantee.

So, we reasonably recommend them.

Hiking Boots for Kids

When you’re carrying a heavy pack and the terrain features wobbly stones, undulated trail surfaces, short jumps from ledges, and slick surfaces, it’s time to armor up.

When your little hiking wingman (or wing girl) is learning to carry their own pack, carefully considering their feet becomes much more critical.

Kids hiking boots provide unmatched ankle support and foot protection in the world of hiking footwear and, although it can be a battle getting a little one to grow accustomed to the snugger, heavier feel of boots, it’s better than an injury when venturing out into more extreme terrain.

These mid-duty boots feature a stiff design and mid-rise ankle protection that is designed to provide support to little hikers carrying heavy packs and tackling undulated, ankle-rolling topography.

Here are a few kid-friendly boot designs that will make the adjustment easier for your little trailblazer.

1. KEEN Ridge Flex Waterproof Kids’ Boot

Best Hiking Boot
KEEN Ridge Flex Waterproof Kids' Boot
$46.99
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10/04/2022 12:26 am GMT

I despise heavy, stiff, suffocating footwear. When it came time to choose new hiking boots for myself, I was anything but excited.

I love hiking in my minimalist Merrel Trail Gloves that were hardly thicker than a pair of socks; however, I knew they wouldn’t cut it with a 35-pound pack on my back.

I tried on countless varieties of boot-shaped concrete blocks that were as heavy as their price tag and when it came to finding boots for my boys, was running into the same miserable luck.

And then KEEN had an epiphany: how about a boot for kids that weighs a mere 8.1 oz. and is constructed in such a way that it has a broken-in feel straight out of the box?

What if it had a breathable membrane that let sweaty piggies dry faster and a closure system that didn’t require a college degree in boot lacing?

Enter the Ridge Flex, aptly named for the flexible-yet-rugged material KEEN ingeniously integrated into the boot at key bend-and-wear spots. It’s like a hiking boot mated with an old-fashioned bellows (you know, that artifact from a bygone era used to stoke fires …).

You might have to Google that one.

The bungee cord closure system is simple enough for young fingers to manage and the boots’ tough construction can take all the hiking, climbing, jumping, and running that your wild child can put it through.

In our estimation, the Ridge Flex is the best of the best hiking boots for kids available.

2. Kids Merrell Moab 2 Kids Waterproof Hiking Boots

Kids Merrell Moab 2 Kids Waterproof Hiking Boots
$55.99
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10/04/2022 08:03 am GMT

As I said before, you can find Moabs everywhere, and for good reason. These boots have been a leader in the industry for over a decade, and, honestly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

While not the most stylish boot, the Moab’s creators are focused on sheer ruggedness and durability while not sacrificing comfort.

That being said, these need to be broken in before hitting the trail for them to conform to your child’s foot appropriately.

We recommend having your child wear them regularly for a few weeks before tackling rough terrain.

Oh, and have them practice tightening and tying those boot laces, too!

3. Columbia Kids Newton Ridge Boot

Columbia Kids Newton Ridge Boot
$40.89
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10/04/2022 08:11 am GMT

Inspired in design by the classic mountaineering style of boot, the Newton Ridge boasts waterproof suede construction, a lightweight midsole (although, it’s not any lighter than any other hiking boot), and ample, springy cushioning.

The sole lugs provide plenty of grab on a variety of terrain … overall, a great 3-season boot.

The use of traditional boot laces can be a challenge for young kids, however. Some boot-tying practice may be needed!

4. Vasque Breeze WP Kids Hiking Boot

Vasque Breeze WP Kids Hiking Boot
$40.00
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10/04/2022 08:12 am GMT

While not as well known and on the pricier side, Vasque (pronounced vask) has been making dependable, high-quality mountaineering and hiking boots for over 40 years.

The Breeze, thus named for its breathable upper despite the Gore-Tex waterproofing, has been lauded as one of the best mid-duty hiking and backpacking boots.

This sturdy boot is in the mid-duty range, comprised of rugged leather, excellent foot, and ankle protection, Vibram soles, and Gore-Tex waterproofing.

The stiff design provides the support a hiker needs when lugging a heavy pack.

Once broken in, these boots will outlast your child’s foot’s ability to fit into them, making them a great hand-me-down option for younger siblings.

One final note: the closure system employs traditional boot laces which can be a challenge for young hikers to tighten and tie. Some pre-hike practice will be needed.

5. Keen Targhee Mid Waterproof Kids Hiking Boot

Keen Targhee Mid Waterproof Kids Hiking Boot
$55.00
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10/04/2022 08:59 am GMT

The mighty mutton returns!

And, if that one-liner flew past you, see the section on the Keen Kids’ Targhee Sport Vented Kids Hiking Shoe above.

The KEEN Kids Targhee waterproof hiking boots provide fortress-like mid-ankle support, performance, and traction for leading the way on family excursions and backpacking expeditions.

The kid-friendly design fore-went the tricky boot laces and integrated an easy-and-fast bungee closure and a velcro strap that even the youngest kids can manage.

The waterproof membrane is reinforced with a non-toxic 95% PFC-free coating to keep piggies dry … and healthy!

The internal mesh lining provides room for airflow inside to help keep the feet cool in warmer climates while the robust rubber outsoles provide an impressive defense against trip and stub hazards along the trail.

6. Deer Stags Kids Drew Waterproof Hiking Boot

Deer Stags Kids Drew Waterproof Hiking Boot
$37.99
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10/04/2022 01:19 am GMT

It may well be that your hiking plans require your child to wear boots; but, the idea of shelling out for the standard $40-60 price tag is rather unpalatable.

It’s not easy to nail down a quality pair of boots for under $30; however, with the Drew by Deer Stags, we may be in luck.

These boots boast no proprietary materials or unique construction. Made of run-of-the-mill ballistic nylon, simulated leather uppers, and EVA insole, it’s a respectably-crafted boot.

And, it’s getting a healthy smattering of glowing accolades from satisfied users.

Even without a warranty, the price and positive consumer feedback make this boot worth a trial run.

Trail Running Shoes for Kids

This genre of hiking shoes has become a bit blurry in recent years. In brief, trail runners aren’t just for running.

While there are some highly technical runners whose sole purpose is to break speed records (and your budget, for that matter), the large majority are just lightweight, flexible, all-around trail shoes.

Most of them are not weighed down with as much armor and supporting construction as the more robust hiking shoes, but, unless you’re planning on some serious bouldering on a talus slope, sliding through scree, or playing hacky-sack with a two-pound river stone, you may not need it.

1. Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe

Best Trail Runner
Salomon Speedcross Kids Hiking Shoe
$49.00
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10/04/2022 08:15 am GMT

What began as a family wood ski and binding workshop in 1947 is now a maker of hiking shoes that is revered in the world of hiking.

While not the most affordable option, Salomon’s shoes are the stuff of legend and, if spending a little more is an option, you’ll be acquiring a finely-crafted piece of trail equipment with a warranty that seems ridiculously long for a pair of shoes.

Salomon’s Speedcross is built for virtually any terrain you can find a trail on. Their proprietary lugs are deeper and sharper than most other trail shoes, providing good traction on muddy hikes.

The shoe can be pulled into a snug, comfortable fit with a single tug on the Quicklace, and the entire construction of the shoe is designed to develop a custom fit as it is broken in.

As far as durability … try to wear them out. I dare you.

2. Salomon Kids Speedcross ClimaSalomon Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

Salomon Kids Speedcross ClimaSalomon Waterproof Trail Running Shoe
$59.35
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10/04/2022 01:35 am GMT

If you like the Salomon Speedcross, but will be hiking in cold and/or wet environs, your wish is Salomon’s command.

These waterproof trail runners provide everything the original Speedcross boasts, but with an added fully waterproof bootie.

What a bootie-full idea!

3. Altra Lone Peak Kids Trail Runner

Altra Lone Peak Kids Trail Runner
$58.90
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10/04/2022 02:20 am GMT

If someone could figure out how to manufacture a hiking shoe that grows with a child’s foot, I would buy stock in it.

Until that day, a less-known shoe manufacturer has done the next best thing: created a trail running shoe with a removable insole that provides a little more growing room … buying us parents a little more time before we have to shell out for another pair.

Engineered for tackling any terrain and with the natural shape of a child’s foot in mind (as opposed to style or fashion), the outer sole and cushioning of the shoe minimize impact, especially when at a full gallop.

Hiking Sandals for Kids

Hiking sandals are best for those kids whose feet are accustomed to frequent hiking, are likely to experience wet conditions like water crossings, and have developed a good walking technique (i.e., NOT dragging or shuffling their feet and, subsequently filling the sandals with dirt, gravel, and dust).

Also, due to the rubbing factor, we consider them better suited to a short hike than a long one.

Here are some we recommend:

1. Merrell Hydro Free Roam Chroma Monarch Sandal

Best Hiking Sandal
Merrell Hydro Free Roam Chroma Monarch Sandal
$29.56
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10/04/2022 12:18 am GMT

At first glance, the Chroma Monarch looks like a fully-enclosed sneaker; however, it’s more like an over-protective sandal.

Providing more foot protection than most other open-design sandals, this pair is engineered with longer hikes in mind.

The outer sole, inner cushioning, and synthetic upper are suited for all-day hiking, durable, flexible, lightweight, and easy to slip on and take off.

Still, like a sandal, it can take the water, will dry quickly, and has that open-to-the-air feel.

2. KEEN Newport H2 Unisex Child’s Sandal

KEEN Newport H2 Unisex Child's Sandal 
$21.59
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10/04/2022 12:32 am GMT

The KEEN brand is synonymous with toughness and durability in the world of hiking and the Newport H2 is no exception.

With a lightweight and long-lasting durability, this sandal is built to protect little feet from the rough, cobbly stones of a stream bed.

A comfortable design, the Kid’s Newport Neo H2 is constructed on KEEN’s classic wider footwear form and the washable polyester webbing upper ensures fast drying on the trail and easy cleaning anywhere anytime.

For support, KEEN employs their lace lock bungee system that hugs the foot uniformly and a reinforced toe box provides ample piggy wiggle room.

The insole provides good arch support while the sole features tread that is made for wet, slick surfaces.

3. Keen Seacamp CNX Sandal

Keen Seacamp CNX Sandal
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Designed for young children to slip on, tighten, and remove easily on their own, everything about the Seacamp gives kids a little more autonomy.

The use of KEEN’s CNX rubber outsole makes this sandal lighter (only 10 oz.) than its counterparts with more ground feel and excellent traction while offering plenty of protection for the bottoms of little feet as well as a stout toe bumper to protect toes.

Let ’em get wet. Let ’em get dirty. The sandal’s material washes easily and dries quickly.

4. Merrell Bare Steps H20

Merrell Bare Steps H20
$33.50
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10/04/2022 03:22 am GMT

It’s like a sandal-loafer-slipper-thing …

If your little trailblazer loves getting their shoes wet in every puddle, stream, and pond they come across on the trail but don’t like the feel of grit between their toes, the Bare Steps are a great solution.

The closed design of this shoe provides more coverage and less chance of pebbles and sand working their way into the interior.

The simple velcro closure is easy for a young child to manage and the materials wash and dry easily and quickly.

While a great short-hike shoe, the lack of arch support and tread don’t make this suitable for longer, more technical hiking.

Hiking Shoes for Toddlers

Do toddlers need footwear specifically engineered for hiking?

Nope. Absolutely not.

Toddler-aged humans simply do not require the podiatric support that heavier, more-developed humans require. Toddlers don’t hike, run, jump, and climb like older kids and adults; they just … toddle.

They toddle at home. Toddle at the park. And, when you take them out of the baby carrier in a national park and set their pudgy piggies on the trail, they toddle there, too.

They don’t need hiking shoes. They just need ….toddling shoes.

So, why have I included a section on hiking shoes for toddlers?

Because, toddler shoes, whether marketed as hiking shoes or everyday shoes are still useful in general.

Just know that, in most cases, you’ll be paying more for hiking-designated toddling shoes when a standard pair of toddling sneakers will do.

Still, if you must adorn their puffy peds with hikers, the least I could do is direct you to some high-quality makes.

1. KEEN Kids Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal

KEEN Kids Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal
$36.99
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10/04/2022 07:04 am GMT

Easy to put on and take off. Machine-washable and quick-drying.

Built with an outsole and impenetrable toe bumper that makes for a formidable mini-foot-fort.

2. Keen Chandler CNX Shoe

Keen Chandler CNX Shoe
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The Chandler CNX is a streamlined, flexible, and light sneaker with a non-marking rubber outsole and multi-directional traction.

It’s comfortable, secure, and breathable, thanks to its quick-dry mesh and lacing system.

3. Stonz Cruiser and Cruiser Plus Toddler Shoes

Stonz Cruiser and Cruiser Plus Toddler Shoes
$52.99
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10/04/2022 12:33 am GMT

While not a designated hiking shoe, Stonz makes a great all-around shoe that will suit any mini-you while trail toddling.

The Cruisers can be worn with or without socks, go on and come off with ease, and are ultra-breathable.

Oh, and they’re machine washable. My favorite part.

Let the Trail-Tromping Begin!

Whew, that was a trek! But, we made it.

We covered a lot of ground in this post.

We talked about the different types of hiking shoes, what to look for when choosing a pair, and some of the best brands and models on the market today for making your children’s feet as comfy as possible on the trail

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start shopping … and hiking!

Now, get out there!

Joshua Davis

Being outdoors is freedom! Being outdoors with my wife and two boys is LIVING! Whether in my backyard or getting lost in a National Park, there’s nothing I’d rather do than explore, discover, and experience the paradise that surrounds us. Give me my family, a backpack, and a trail and my life is full!