Our kids have been hiking since they were able to walk at 10 and a half months old. They are now four and six years old and have been on many hiking adventures and even a few backcountry hiking trips. Over the years we have tried out a few different hiking shoes for kids and have done a ton of research on kid’s hiking boots. The hiking shoe you invest in will depend on your child’s age and the type of hiking you are doing with them.
Best Hiking Shoes for Kids
Full Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links but all recommendations are 100% my own. If you choose to buy one of the products then I make a few cents to support my family’s Friday night pizza fund!
To really gather the best hiking boots for kids, the post needed to be broken up into toddlers and older kids. It can be a challenge to find hiking boots and especially waterproof hiking boots for toddlers that are under a size 8. For this reason, you will find a section on the Best Hiking Boots for Toddlers and the Best Hiking Boots for Kids (Older than a toddler).
Best Hiking Boots for Toddlers (Kid’s under two)
Ideally, you want your toddler’s hiking shoe to have a flexible, flat sole that is not rigid so that they can build the feet and ankle muscles.
The minimal shoe mimics barefoot walking that helps with balance, posture, and coordination. However, if you already have a minimalist shoe for your kids, or your child spends a lot of time barefoot in the summer, then consider a slightly more sturdy and waterproof option. Here are some of our favourite hiking boots for two-year-olds.
A few important questions to ask yourself before choosing a hiking shoe for your toddler.
How much will your toddler be walking in them?
If you want a toddler shoe for every day and for hiking, then you may want to buy a running shoe for toddlers that are light and flexible. This will help build their foot muscles. If your toddler is hiking a lot then you also want to make sure they fit well without rubbing to prevent blisters.
Will they need to be waterproof?
If you already have a quality running shoe then consider something a little more rugged or even waterproof. This will be worth the extra dollars if you are purchasing a different type of shoe.
Are they hiking on varied terrain that may have slippery rocks?
I remember taking our daughter’s hiking on Ptarmigan Cirque which is a steeper and more challenging hike for kids. Our oldest was three at the time and was wearing runners. We found her slipping a lot on the loose gravel. After that hike, we invested in hikers with more grip.
Do they already have a runner with a minimal sole and need something more rugged to handle stubbing toes into rocks and roots?
A shoe with an extra barrier around the toe can help prevent toe-stubbing on rocks and roots. This feature has saved our kids from crying on the more challenging, uneven terrain.
Toddler’s Waterproof Trail Model Hiker by L.L. Bean
The Toddlers’ Waterproof Trail Model Hiker by L.L. Bean is the only waterproof hiking boot for kids that comes in a size 5, 6, and 7T and goes up to size 9. A waterproof hiker is so nice to have if you already have a toddler running shoes.
Why we love it?
The only hiker for toddlers that is waterproof that comes in such a small size! Sometimes rubber boots can feel so challenging for little kids. Having a waterproof hiker on those wet days or as a shoe that you pack in case you hit snow or water on the trail is nice to have and worth the investment. We used waterproof hikers on any day that was a little bit wet and the kids wanted to run!
Purchase the Toddlers’ Waterproof Trail Model Hiker here.
Keen’s Toddler’s Chandler CNX Shoe.
A sturdier hiking option that offers a quick-dry mesh is Keen’s Toddler’s Chandler CNX shoe. The Chandler still has enough flex for toddlers that are starting to hike more along the trail and it offers protection for little toes that might stub into rocks and roots.
Why we love it?
Although it is not waterproof, the Chandler is water-resistant. It also is breathable, has good grip, and a flexible sole.
Purchase the Keen’s Toddler’s Chandler CNX hiking boot here.
See Kai Run First Walker Shoe
For really little kids that need a size three to six then consider the See Kai Run First Walker Shoe. These shoes were awarded the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
Why we love it?
This is a simple, flexible running shoe that is perfect for kids that are just starting to walk a few steps on the trail.
Purchase the See Kai Run First Walker Shoe for $53.95 CAD and $45.00 USD here.
Best Hiking Boots for Kids (older than toddlers)
Great news! There are more options for kids that are a little bit older and take a size 8T or larger. A few great waterproof options come in models with either a low or a high ankle. Some hiking boots that aren’t waterproof can also double as an everyday runner for kids. Here are our top picks!
For school aged kids, the Saucony Peregrine is versatile as it doubles as a hiker and a playground shoe. It also is a mini version of a very popular adult trail running shoe. The hiker is light, breathable and agile for running. The shoe is waterproof but the tongue does not have gussets which means that if water is higher than the start of the tongue, the feet can get wet.
Why we love it?
The Saucony Peregrine is the hiking shoe we currently use for our oldest daughter because she can use it for hiking and at school on the playground. Her foot does not overheat making blisters less of an issue for longer treks. Unforunately, it does not come in smaller sizes and so you will have to wait until your kids are around 6 or 7 to use these hikers!
Purchase the Saucony Peregrine here.
The Little Kids Terradora
The Little Kids’ Terradora Waterproof Low is a favourite for adult women and now Keen created the same version for younger girls. The quality hiking shoe for girls starts at size 8T and has the same features as the adult version of the shoe. The hiker is waterproof, breathable, and is lightweight!
Why we love this hiker?
We love that they decided to make one of their most popular women shoe that is waterproof, breathable, and lightweight in mini size too! The shoe is marketed for young girls that love to hike. Women have not always been carefully thought of when it comes to adventuring. As a mother of two girls, I am happy to see quality gear being built for even the youngest girls that need hiking boots. The Terradora hiker also has a model for kids with a higher ankle.
Purchase the Terradora hiker for kids here.
The Hikeport Mid Waterproof by Keen
The Hikeport Mid is a stable hiking shoe for kids that offers versatility with the extra length at the ankles. Whether support around the ankle is needed is debatable depending on who you talk to, the high ankle can actually provide extra protection against water and snow. The Hikeport also comes in a low ankle version as well.
Why we love it?
We liked using mid waterproof hikers with thick wool socks on our young kids for winter hikes if the snow was not too thick. They can still hike and run while keeping their feet protected.
Purchase the Hikeport Mid for $79.63 CAD here.
The Speedcross for Kids by Salomon
The Speedcross for kids by Salomon packs the same features as the adult shoe. The grip on the bottom of the shoe helps prevent slipping but still manages to be flexible and light. It is the ideal hiking shoe for kids that want to run up and down the trail.
Why we love it?
If you don’t need a waterproof hiker, the Speedcross is a quality shoe on the trails and also for playing in the park.