Ready to embark on a hike? Are you excited about a special little friend accompanying you for the first time? And now, you want a safe, comfortable, and trustworthy pair of toddler hiking shoes for your child.
Of course, just like hiking shoes are extremely important for you to keep you comfortable on long hikes, so are they important for your toddler or even more so as they will help create a great first impression in the early stages of exploring the outdoors.
We will cover the features that matter in hiking shoes for toddlers and kids and then proceed on to discussing a few of the most popular trail shoes for kids. Read on to know more about how to make an informed choice of shoes for your toddler.
Is it too early to invest in hiking shoes?
The precise answer is ‘No’. It is never too early to expose your toddler to the outdoors. And, it is best to make their early hikes as pleasant as possible, so it would be the beginning of a lifetime of positive feelings about the outdoors.
You may be demotivated by the fact that hiking shoes for kids are almost as expensive as those for adults, and they will only be able to serve you for a very little time before your kids’ feet outgrow them. Cheap shoes may not provide the required support. The key here is to look for the best pair that you can find at a price rather than the lowest priced shoes.
Look for hiking shoes that your child can wear for sports and other outdoor activities too on a daily basis rather than just on the occasional hike.
A Few Features to look out for
The features that matter for baby hiking boots are mostly those that are important for your hiking shoes. A few important ones are enlisted below.
Traction and Grip
Paths on a typical hike may comprise of varied terrain including wet, muddy, and slippery surfaces. Kids usually love to jump in puddles, climb up the odd rock, and explore these different terrains. So, it is extremely important that their shoes have enough traction and grip to support them on these risky surfaces.
Of course, you cannot expect your toddler to tell you how good their shoes are by trying them on. So, you are better off relying on customer reviews and product specifications for the most part of it. Go for shoes that have lugged outsoles, so you can be assured of good traction.
The best shoes for toddlers would be those that are as light as possible. Most hiking shoes reviewed here come under a lightweight category. Make sure that the shoes you buy for your toddler are not uncomfortable because of their weight. With a toddler in tow, you can anyway expect to carry them for most of the time.
Lightweight shoes will make it a tad easier for them to want to walk as much as they can. Choose hiking shoes with a weight that is comparable to their other shoes they wear daily.
It goes without saying that the shoes need to fit comfortably on your toddler’s feet. If you can, it is always good to pop into a store and let your toddler try on the shoes you are considering to purchase. Some shoes run smaller and some bigger than the normal sized shoes. Check online customer reviews to see whether a particular pair of shoes is true to size or not. Also, check the size guide that the company has.
If your toddler has wider than normal feet or needs half-sizes, a few brands like Merrell do shoes in in-between sizes and in a wider fit. Take a careful decision and when your shoes arrive, let your toddler wear them and run about nearby before you make sure they are perfect for the hike.
Waterproof ability and breathability
Shoes that are waterproof are definitely more useful, especially on hikes that involve wet patches and wet weather. Otherwise too, it is best to have this feature, so you will not have an irritable toddler during the occasional shower and puddle, which would result in wet feet.
Ideally, a waterproof pair would keep feet dry even when they are completely immersed in water. However, these shoes tend to be less breathable. Most toddler hiking shoes are actually water resistant even when they say they are waterproof. It is best to go for a pair that says ‘waterproof’ in the description.
If on the other hand, you are looking for shoes to be used on the beach and river, etc., you may like water shoes that are made of mesh and have facilities to drain water quickly and keep feet dry.
Look for shoes that have a bit of mesh for making them breathable and thus, comfortable for little feet.
Popular hiking shoes for toddlers – Reviews
Let us now discuss the features and reviews of toddler shoes, a few waterproof ones and a few other breathable ones from famous brands like Columbia, Keen, and Merrell.
KEEN CHANDLER CNX SHOES
Weight: 7 oz.
Available Sizes: 4 M US Toddler to 6 Youth US Big kid (1 – 12 years)
Specific Features: Textile and mesh uppers, synthetic sole, mesh lining, reverse strobel construction, adjustable hook and loop strap on the instep
Best Use: Keep your toddlers safe with these high-quality shoes
The KEEN Chandler CNX Shoes for toddlers offer a comfortable fit, even for kids with wider feet than normal. The synthetic and mesh uppers along with the mesh lining make them breathable and comfortable.
They have comfortable insoles and outsoles that give a good grip and traction. These shoes are not only cute looking but also functional and durable. These are strong enough to withstand the usual abuse shoes get from kids in mud and snow. They keep kids safe on therough and uneven terrain.
Quite unsurprisingly, these shoes have attracted hundreds of positive reviews. These are well worth their price. The only few cons seem to be the quality of the laces and Velcro straps, which are easily replaceable. Choose one among the variety of colors these are available in.
COLUMBIA YOUTH PISGAH PEAK SHOE
Weight: 7.9 oz.
Sizes Available: 1M US Little kid to 7M US Big Kid
Specific Features: Waterproof, sealed seams, suede, mesh, and PU uppers, cup sole midsole, rubber outsole, low cut
Best Use: Lightweight and waterproof shoes to be used on trails and trips.
The Columbia Youth Pisgah Peak Shoes are comfortably lightweight and well-constructed for little feet. The uppers of these trail shoes are made of a combination of high qualitysuede and polyurethane, which makes them durable.
The materials and seam sealed construction make these waterproof.In addition to being waterproof, these are breathable too due to the use of mesh in the uppers.
Their design, thus, ensures that feet are cool and dry, even on wet trails. The midsoles have a comfortable contoured Cupsole construction that provides adequate support and balance. The outsoles are made of tough rubber for optimum support and great traction. These shoes also come in great color combinations for a great look.
One little con for these is that the laces are a bit too long. A few customers have found that the lace grommets are easy to break. For their price, the Pisgah Peaks are a great pair to make your kids’ outdoor experiences quite comfortable even when the weather is wet.
Related: For toddler sizes, see the Columbia Children’s Pisgah Peak Shoes for toddlers and little kids. For a different pair that are similar to these, look at the Columbia Youth Redmond Explore Trail Shoes.
MERRELL JUNGLE MOC FROSTY SHOES
Weight: 12 oz.
Sizes Available: 10 M US Toddler to 7 M US Big Kid
Specific Features: Waterproof, M-Select DRY sealing, molded nylon arch shank, synthetic sole, lugged outsole, suede upper
Best Use: Use these every day or on hiking trips; in any weather conditions
The Merrell Jungle Mocs Frosty are a pair of lightweight shoes that feature suede uppers with M-Select Dry sealing, which make these waterproof and comfortable.
The lugs on the outsole help to provide a good grip and excellent traction. These shoes provide good support due to the molded nylon arch shank. These are extremely easy to slip on and off, so kids can use them on their own, and they stay put on kids’ feet.
Their sizing is, however, not very suitable if your kids have wider feet than normal. These can also be used as PE shoes as they look suitable for it. These shoes have good insulation and are great to use in any weather condition, even in light snow.
Most customers have experiences of kids using these shoes till they outgrew them and continuing to own them in bigger sizes. They may seem a little pricey, but they seem to keep up to their brand name.
Related: If you are not particularly looking for waterproof shoes, you may like the original Merrell Jungle Mocs, which seem to have even better reviews. Or, try the Merrell Jungle Moc Sport Slip-ons, designed for outdoor activities.
CHAMELEON MID-LACE SHOES
Available Sizes: 1 M US Little kid to 13.5 M US Big kid
Specific Features: Leather, synthetic sole, waterproof, M Select DRY mesh upper, M Select FRESH lining, M Select GRIP outsole
Best Use: Wear them to school every day or use them on hikes that require some protection from the elements
The Chameleons are yet another great pair of shoes by the popular ‘Merrell’. Like other Merrells, these have also attracted hundreds of good reviews from satisfied customers.
Featuring M Select DRY membranes on the mesh uppers, these shoes provide a combination of breathability and waterproofness. The padded tongue and collar on the shoe addtothe comfort. These also come with a breathable lining that additionally features the M Select FRESH for keeping out theodor.
The synthetic soles on these shoes take advantage of M Select GRIP for sufficient amount of traction and grip, so they are suitable to be walked in on wet and snowy surfaces. Most customers have found these shoes to be durable, rightly functional, and affordable.
Customers have tested these in snow and have proved to be waterproof, though a handful of customers think they cannot keep up with heavy rain.These are light in weight and provide good support making them great for little feet. They come in cool colors that kids and adults would appreciate. Purchase them in a size or two bigger than your child’s size, though, as they run smaller.
Related: If you would prefer a hiking boot, take a look at the Merrell Capra Mid Hiking Boot, reviewed later in this article. If you would rather go for a low hiking shoe, you may like the Merrell Chameleon Low hiking shoe.
COLUMBIA YOUTH DRAINMAKER II SHOE
Weight: 6.6 oz. per shoe
Available Sizes: 1 M US Little kid to 7 M US Big kid
Specific Features: Open single-layer mesh uppers, Techlite technology midsole, Omni-grip rubber sole, 1.25” heel, synthetic lacing – quick lace toggles, water shoes
Best Use: Use for hiking in muddy wet conditions, water sports, and other activities in thewater like at the pool.
The Columbia Youth Drainmaker II are great water shoes to own for summer trips and activities in thewater like jet skiing, pool aerobics, and hiking through rain forests and down rivers.
These shoes are made of a breathable mesh that dries quickly, keeping feet comfortable. The non-marking rubber outsoles with lugs provide the required traction and grip, so you can walk without fear on wet and muddy surfaces like in rainforests and in tough terrain.
The midsoles have drainage ports in the forefoot and heel. The large drainage holes in the footbed help in achieving a fast drainage, ensuring around 30 percent quicker drying than their predecessors. The Techlite technology on the midsoles provides superior cushioning.
These shoes are easy to put on and take off. They feature easy-to-use synthetic laces. They provide a good fit, which again, is an important feature for hiking shoes. They, however, run a little bigger; so, you would be good to order them in one size lower. Customers have had good experiences even in long camps and hikes. Choose from among the summery color combinations they come in.
Related: For toddler sizes, see the Columbia Youth Drainmaker II for toddlers and little kids. For a similar pair of shoes with even faster drying, see the Columbia Youth Drainmaker III.
TEVA ESCAPADE LO TRAIL SHOES
Weight: 8.4 oz.
Available Sizes: 10.5 M US Little kid to 7 M US Big kid
Specific Features: Leather and textile uppers, rubber outsole
Best Use: Great for day-to-day use and little hiking trips
The Teva Escapade Lo Trail Shoes are comfortable shoes for little ones. Even at their affordable price, these are comparable to higher-end models.
They have a comfortable leather and textile make. Their rubber soles provide good grip and thus, make them suitable enough to be trusted upon when undergoing activities like rock climbing. Though they may not be waterproof, they are water resistant.
These shoes have a little narrow fit, and so, may not fit quite well if your child has wider than normal feet.These have just a few downsides, one of them being a strong chemical or plastic smell when first opened. This should not be worrisome as it gets better with use.
The laces that come with these shoes are also reported to be of a poor quality. Again, these can be replaced when they give way, and therefore, this should not be much of an issue.
CAPRA WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS
Weight: 15 oz.
Available Sizes: 10 M US toddler to 7 W US Big kid
Specific Features: Leather and mesh uppers, rubber sole, M Select DRY membrane, M Select FRESH EVA midsole, removable footbed,M Select GRIP outsoles, conventional laces
Best Use: For comfortable hikes – even for long ones – in any weather condition.
Yet another highly rated pair of Merrells, the Capra Waterproof Hiking Boots, rest over the ankle. These, like the Merrell Chameleons, feature M Select DRY for sealing out moisture from the mesh membrane, M Select FRESH for preventing odor, and M Select GRIP for great traction and grip.
True to expectations, these boots provide a comfortable fit and good grip and keep feet dry even when treading through wet and muddy surfaces. These boots are designed to provide more cushioning at the heels and less at the forefeet to enable ground to feel at the forefeet. Moreover, these are lightweight shoes compared to most hiking boots.
And, these are available in half sizes and for wide feet. You may find the laces to be a bit too short. Replace them with longer ones for easier handling.
Are little feet ready to test one of these?
Now that you have an idea about popular hiking shoes for kids, have you made a choice regarding which one to go for? As we have seen, Merrells seem to be a popular choice for most customers. Merrells usually come in in-between sizes, which are a little hard to find. Chameleons, jungle mocs, and Capras, all are waterproof shoes/ boots with good grip and durability.
If you are alright with their price, you won’t be disappointed with their quality and functionality. Choose one of these according to your choice of style. Columbia Youth Drainmakers are a great option if you are looking for water shoes that drain fast. For a cheap option with not much compromise on the quality, look no further than the Teva Escapades. For a durable and cute pair for day-to-day use, go for the KEEN CNX shoes.
Did our reviews help you? Have you watched your kids enjoying in a particularly comfortable pair of hiking shoes?Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.