The Best Hiking Shoes for Kids: for Young Adventurers

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Hiking is an invigorating activity that offers both physical and mental benefits, and when it comes to outfitting children for a hike, the importance of selecting the right footwear cannot be overstated. High-quality hiking shoes for kids are designed to provide the support, traction, and protection needed to handle varied terrain. Whether the trail is rocky, muddy, or strewn with fallen leaves, having the right shoes can make a significant difference in a child’s hiking experience.

Children’s feet are constantly growing and are more sensitive compared to adults, which means the best hiking shoes for them will not only need to fit well but also be flexible and durable to withstand the rigors of outdoor play. The shoes should have sturdy soles for grip, cushioning for comfort, and enough breathability to ensure their feet stay dry and comfortable throughout the hike.

When considering a purchase, key factors such as shoe size, ankle support, material, and design must be taken into account. Each aspect plays a crucial role in comfort and performance — a well-fitting shoe with proper support can prevent blisters and injuries, and materials like waterproof membranes can protect against wet conditions.

Knowing what to look for can feel overwhelming, but we’ve taken the time to analyze numerous options to help you find the best hiking shoes for children. With the right pair, the youngest adventurers can safely and comfortably explore the natural world. We’re here to guide you through this year’s top picks for children’s hiking shoes, so your little ones can enjoy every step of their journey.

Top Hiking Shoes for Kids

Finding the right hiking shoes for our children ensures their outdoor adventures are not only safe but comfortable too. We understand the importance of durable soles for grip, breathable materials for comfort, and sturdy construction for enduring the rough and tumble of kids’ play. Our curated selection focuses on quality, customer satisfaction, and suitability for a range of child-friendly activities. Join us as we explore the best options to equip your youngsters for their next trail conquest.

Merrell Trail Chaser

Merrell Unisex-Child Trail Chaser Hiking Sneaker

We recommend the Merrell Trail Chaser for its balance of comfort, durability, and kid-friendly design, making it a solid choice for any young explorer’s outdoor activities.


  • Easy hook and loop closure for quick on/off
  • EVA footbed provides cushioning for all-day play
  • Non-marking outsole with excellent traction


  • Initial comfort period may be required for some children
  • Sizing may be challenging; careful selection needed
  • Velcro wear and durability over time could be a concern

When seeking out the best hiking shoes for children, practicality and comfort are key. The Merrell Trail Chaser excels in offering both, designed with a fuss-free hook and loop closure that kids can manage without any help. The comfort provided by the EVA footbed means kids can play for hours without unnecessary breaks, which is what being a child is all about.

Considering longevity, the non-marking outsole is not only respectful of indoor surfaces but also offers the flexible grip needed for various terrains. Whether on a hike through the woods or a dash across the playground, these shoes are built to withstand a kid’s active lifestyle.

We’re also mindful that while shopping online, getting the sizing right is critical to avoid the inconvenience of returns. Pay close attention to the sizing guide. Take note that like all shoes, there may be a break-in period. Some children might find them a bit stiff at first, but this typically resolves quickly with wear.

Moreover, while the Velcro closure simplifies things, its longevity could come into question after repeated use. As with any item with these fasteners, one should monitor wear and tear to ensure the shoes remain secure during those action-packed adventures.

KEEN Kids’ Targhee

KEEN Kids' Targhee Hiking Boot

We believe the KEEN Unisex-Child Targhee Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot is a solid choice for kids who engage in outdoor activities, offering a mix of durability and comfort.


  • Waterproof design keeps feet dry on wet trails
  • Added stability with the TPU heel-capture system
  • Easy to put on with stretch laces and Velcro


  • Some may find the shoes difficult to tighten properly
  • The ankle height could be bulky for certain activities
  • There’s a possibility of sizing inconsistencies

The market for children’s hiking boots is competitive, but KEEN stands out with its commitment to a balance of form and function. The Unisex-Child Targhee Boot comes equipped with a KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane, ensuring dry feet even when traversing puddles or crossing shallow streams. Its leather and textile upper offer rugged protection without sacrificing breathability, an essential feature for any child’s active footwear.

Stability on uneven terrain is crucial, especially for young hikers. That’s why the TPU heel-capture system in these boots is such an important feature. It helps to control foot movement, preventing slips and ankle twists. The cushioned tongue and collar not only increase comfort but also provide extra protection from rocks and roots that kids will inevitably encounter on the trail.

Despite their many advantages, these boots are not without potential issues. The waterproof claim is a big promise to live up to, and while most find it holds true, it’s something to watch for in long-term use. Additionally, achieving the right fit might be tricky, especially with the Velcro strap’s limitations. It’s worth noting that proper fit is key to preventing blisters and ensuring comfort on long hikes. Parents will also want to be mindful of the sizing, perhaps considering a size up for growing feet and thicker socks.

In summary, if you’re seeking a hiking boot that will support your child’s outdoor adventures with reliable features, the KEEN Targhee might just be the right fit.

Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid A/C

Merrell Unisex-Child Chameleon 7 Access Mid WTRPF Hiking Boot

We find the Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid A/C a solid choice for parents seeking waterproof and durable shoes that will keep their kids’ feet comfortable and protected on hikes.


  • Equipped with M Select Dry waterproof construction.
  • Offers optimal traction with a ground-grabbing outsole.
  • Features an easy alternative closure for kid-friendly use.


  • Only available in one country of origin—China.
  • Rubber sole may not offer as much flexibility as other materials.
  • The synthetic fabric might not be as breathable as natural alternatives.

Young adventurers deserve footwear that can keep pace with their explorations, and the Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid A/C steps up to the challenge. The waterproof construction is a standout feature, ensuring that a child’s feet remain dry even when traversing through wet conditions. Sturdy in their build and versatile in performance, these boots strike a balance between function and comfort.

When selecting hiking boots for little ones, ease of use is a crucial consideration. Thankfully, the alternative closure system in these boots allows kids to gear up independently, fostering a sense of autonomy and reducing the hassle for parents during packed outdoor adventures.

All the while, their high traction outsoles are a key element, instilling confidence with every step on a variety of terrains. Whether the trail leads through muddy forests or rocky paths, these hiking boots are designed to provide the grip kids need for a steady hike.

In conclusion, the Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid A/C hiking boots embody the essential qualities of great youth outdoor footwear. We see them as an asset for any young explorer’s wardrobe, combining function, ease, and durability to accompany them on their nature-bound journeys.

Hawkwell Kids Hiking Shoes

Hawkwell Kids Hiking Shoe

We recommend these Hawkwell Kids Outdoor Hiking Shoes as they combine comfort with durability for young adventurers.


  • Designed for comfort during long walks
  • Machine washable for easy care
  • Attractive design that appeals to kids


  • Durability may be an issue with intense use
  • Not as waterproof as some may need
  • Sole adhesion could be stronger

Outdoor adventures with children require shoes that can handle the rugged terrain while keeping those little feet comfortable. Hawkwell’s hiking shoes for kids are built with EVA outer material and thermoplastic soles, providing a balance of comfort and support for various outdoor activities.

While comfort is paramount in kids’ shoes, so is the ease of care. Being machine washable, these shoes can quickly go from muddy trail runs to clean and ready for the next journey, making life a bit easier for us parents.

Style isn’t lost on these hiking shoes either. Their modern and sporty looks make them a hit among the little ones, and the range of size availability means they cater to toddlers as well as big kids.

However, it’s also crucial to keep in mind the practicality when it comes to long-term use. Some reviews suggest that these shoes may not withstand the test of time and rigorous play, and they may not keep feet dry against heavy rain or in puddles—something to consider if you’re planning lots of wet-weather hiking.

Additionally, though cases are seemingly few, there have been instances of the soles peeling away from the shoe, which raises concerns about their longevity.

Overall, our examination suggests that Hawkwell Kids Outdoor Hiking Shoes could be a practical and attractive choice for casual hikes and outdoor play, provided they are not expected to endure overly harsh conditions or frequent, intense use.

Northside Caldera Junior

Northside Caldera Junior Hiking Boot

Whether you’re outfitting your kid for a school trip or a family adventure, the Northside Caldera Junior offers a balance of comfort and durability at a family-friendly price.


  • Affordable solution for growing kids
  • Comfortable design for long hikes
  • Features such as quick-draw lacing and toe guards


  • Some durability issues with lace hooks reported
  • May require purchasing insoles for better support
  • Sizing challenges; consider ordering up

Investing in our children’s outdoor gear shouldn’t break the bank, and with the Northside Caldera Junior, it doesn’t have to. These boots provide supportive features typically found in more expensive footwear.

Comfort is key on the trail, and feedback suggests that these boots deliver. However, it seems the lace hooks might fall short in terms of longevity, so being gentle with them may help extend their use.

Finally, it’s a wise move to examine sizing carefully when ordering. With the Northside Caldera Junior, we may avoid the squeeze of a too-tight boot by considering a size larger, especially for fast-growing feet.

Quickshark Kids Water Shoes

Quickshark Kids Water Shoes

We think these shoes are a solid choice for active kids who need reliable footwear for water play and light hiking.


  • Quick-dry fabric keeps feet comfortable
  • Flexible design supports natural movement
  • Machine washable for easy maintenance


  • Not waterproof, can be heavy when swimming
  • Sizes may run large
  • Some reports of discomfort and blisters after extensive wear

When it comes to outdoor activities for our children, we prioritize comfort, functionality, and durability. The Quickshark Kids Water Shoes seem to tick these boxes with their high elasticity fabric and a sturdy rubber sole. This combination offers both the flexibility for energetic play and the toughness needed for varied terrains.

Convenience is another aspect we value highly, and these shoes are especially appealing due to their machine washability. Let’s face it, kids will get their footwear dirty quickly, and the ease of cleaning these shoes makes them very practical for repeated use.

However, our kids’ safety and comfort come first. While the Quickshark Water Shoes are mostly appreciated for their style and function, it’s worth noting that they may not be suitable for extended wear due to some users reporting discomfort. We must also consider when recommending these shoes that they might not be the best choice for swimming due to their non-waterproof nature. Careful size selection can mitigate the risk of them being too large, a common concern among some users.

KEEN Women’s Hiking Shoes

KEEN Targhee 3

We recommend these hiking shoes due to their balance of durability, comfort, and eco-friendly construction, suitable for various outdoor adventures.


  • Eco-friendly materials and odor control technology
  • Waterproof leather construction for dry adventures
  • Roomy toe box for a comfortable fit


  • Requires a break-in period for optimal comfort
  • Slightly heavier compared to other hiking shoes
  • May run large, consider sizing down

Outfitted with a durable, waterproof leather upper and a keen focus on environmentally conscious production, these KEEN Women’s Hiking Shoes offer a robust option for the adventurous. The inclusion of waterproof materials ensures feet stay dry, which is crucial for those extended treks where weather can be unpredictable.

Comfort is key during long hikes, and the roomy toe box design here aims to accommodate a wider range of foot shapes, which is a thoughtful touch for inclusive sizing. Meanwhile, the Eco Anti-Odor technology helps manage sweat-induced smells without relying on harmful pesticides, ensuring freshness after a strenuous hike.

When we’re considering longevity and purpose, the Targhee 3 doesn’t disappoint. The rubber outsole provides solid traction on various terrains, and the shoe’s overall construction speaks to the KEEN commitment to creating long-lasting, reliable footwear. However, it’s worth noting that these may require some time to break in, so it’s smart to allow time for this before planning any major expeditions.

Buying Guide

Understanding Features

When selecting hiking shoes for kids, it’s important to evaluate several key features. These characteristics are essential for both safety and comfort on the trails.

  • Fit: Shoes should fit snuggly without restricting circulation. There should be enough room to wiggle toes, with a thumb’s width space in front of the biggest toe.
  • Material: Look for breathable, lightweight materials for comfort, and waterproof coatings for wet conditions.
  • Traction: Outsoles should provide adequate grip to handle various terrains.
  • Ankle Support: Mid to high tops are ideal for protecting kids’ ankles from twists.

Durability vs. Growth

Balance the need for durable shoes with the fact that kids’ feet grow quickly.

  • Quality Construction: Durable shoes will withstand rough terrain and extend their usability.
  • Flexibility: Shoes should allow for natural foot movement to avoid discomfort.

Comfort and Design

Kids are more likely to wear shoes that feel good and appeal to their personal taste.

  • Cushioning: Ensure the midsole offers enough cushioning to absorb shock but is not too bulky.
  • Appealing Styles: Involve children in the design selection to increase the likelihood they’ll enjoy wearing the shoes.

Comparing Options

Feature Why It’s Important
Fit Prevents blisters, ensures comfort
Material Manages moisture, durability
Traction Safety on varied terrain
Ankle Support Protects from injuries

Remember to prioritize safety, comfort, and adaptability when choosing the best hiking shoes for kids.

Frequently Asked Questions

When selecting the best hiking shoes for kids, it’s crucial to focus on fit, material, features, and suitability for the child’s hiking activities. We’ve gathered some commonly asked questions to help guide your choices.

How do I select the right size when purchasing hiking shoes for children?

When purchasing hiking shoes for kids, ensure there’s a thumb’s width between the toe and the end of the shoe. This space allows for growth and foot swelling during hikes. It’s also important to have your child try on the shoes with hiking socks to get the most accurate fit.

Which materials are recommended for durable and breathable kids’ hiking footwear?

Look for kids’ hiking shoes made from a combination of leather and synthetic fabrics. Leather offers durability, while synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, enhance breathability. Waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex are also beneficial for keeping feet dry.

What features should I look for in toddler girls’ hiking shoes for optimal comfort and safety?

For toddler girls’ hiking shoes, search for flexible soles with good traction, ankle support to prevent sprains, cushioned insoles for comfort, and adjustable closures for a secure fit. Reflective details for visibility and a toe cap for protection are also advantageous features.

Is it advisable for children to use trail shoes for regular hiking excursions, and why?

Yes, trail shoes are suitable for kids’ regular hiking because they provide good traction, stability, and are lighter than boots, making them easier for kids to adapt to. They’re ideal for most trails and conditions encountered during casual hiking.

What advantages do specialized kids’ hiking boots offer over general-purpose sports shoes for outdoor activities?

Specialized kids’ hiking boots offer better ankle support, increased traction, and sturdier construction to withstand rough terrain compared to typical sports shoes. They also often include weather-resistant features that are essential for outdoor environments.

What are some recommended brands known for high-quality hiking shoes suitable for children?

Brands like Merrell, Columbia, Keen, and Salomon are well-regarded for producing high-quality kids’ hiking shoes. They offer a range of options designed for durability, comfort, and the specific needs of children’s feet while hiking.

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