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Hiking Shoes for Toddlers: How to Find the Perfect Pair

Bringing kids to hike
John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

Oh, how quickly they grow, right?  Sharing invaluable outdoor experiences with toddlers will provide them with a lifetime of memories, precious life lessons, and of course, adorable pictures to cherish for years to come.  But what’s the one thing you need to get your children outside in the first place?

Shoes! Or more specifically, hiking shoes or hiking boots.  Yes, sturdy footwear is just as important for your children as it is for you. Having a good foundation keeps the rest of the structure solid.  If you put time and research into purchasing your own hiking boots, why not do the same for your kids?

To make things a little easier, we have done a lot of the research for you.  In this article, we will discuss six different hiking shoes and boots that we think are the best on the market. We have carefully researched the shoes, weighed the pros and cons, and have come up with this handy list of shoes.

We are confident that at the end of this article, you will have found the right pair of new hiking shoes for your child. The table below lists the six different hiking shoes we will be discussing later in the article.

Product NameAges (Years)WeightSpecific featuresPrice
Timberland Field1-82 lbPadded collar for comfortable wear around the ankles, Taslan laces, no scuff rubber outsoleCheck price on Amazon
Merrell Jungle1-82 lbWaterproof suede, lugged outsole for solid traction and grip, nylon arch shank for slipping onCheck price on Amazon
Columbia Pisgah Peak4-124 lbSuede and mesh, low cut design so as not to cut into the ankles, rubber sole with deep treadCheck price on Amazon
Adidas Outdoor Adisnow CP4-120.6 lbPrimaloft insulation, climaproof membrane for waterproof protection, traxion outsole for 360 gripCheck price on Amazon
Dadawen Hiking6-100.76 lbPadded tongue, padded collar for ankle support, velcro strap, breathable, durable, thick sole and good gripCheck price on Amazon
Keen Pagosa Low WP1-81 lbWaterproof, breathable, non-marking sole, secure fit lace capture system- no lace tying requiredCheck price on Amazon

Most Important Features to Consider

We will begin our review by discussing what we think are some of the key features to consider when on the hunt for new shoes:

Waterproof

What child doesn’t want to run splash in any puddle they find?  Or perhaps stomp through any stream or creek that they come across.  Any shoe that is designed for a little one needs to be waterproof. If you think that having a to deal with a cranky toddler halfway along a trail is a bad situation to be in, consider how much crankier that toddler will be if their feet are soaked.

To be fair, most boots labeled waterproof are in reality water resistant.  The difference is a waterproof boot would let your child stand in water that goes over the boot and still have dry feet, but a water resistant one would keep those feet dry on a rainy day, or some puddle splashing.

Either way, a boot sold as waterproof is a good start and if need be you can supplement the water resistance capabilities with various products that are widely available.

Ankle Protection

This is dependent on the terrain you anticipate navigating.  If you are considering some more strenuous walking and climbing over rocks or rugged terrain, investing in shoes with ankle protection is important.  Rolling an ankle and slowing down your energetic bundle of joy is most undesirable.

Many shoes also, have padded support around the ankles that, in addition to protecting their ankles, provide some added comfort and support, making them wearable all-day long.

Traction and Grip

When kids are taken out into the wilderness, they want to run around and climb things.  To borrow from some popular commercials, it’s what you do.  But sometimes those rocks and the like can wet and slippery.  No one wants their young ones to fall, so no doubt you will be interested in tracking down a pair that provides a good level of traction.

hiking shoes for toddler with good traction

For the most part you will want to look for a sole that mentions it has lugs.  Those are the chunky bits that stick out to help grab onto whatever you are standing on better.  No company is going to come out and say ‘we made these boots with no traction’ so you will need to pay attention to review pages, like this one.

Light Weight

Think about the last hiking you took with a toddler.  If the trail was one mile long no doubt the little one took a route back and forth across the trail and may have cover up to five miles.  With all that distance, you will want to make sure that the shoes you pick for your toddler to be as light as possible.

The heavier the boot you select the sooner they will wear out.  The sooner they wear themselves out, the more of the trail you will end up carrying them. Take into account the weight of the shoes that they wear most often.  In a perfect world, you would be able to pick a boot that is nearly that same weight.

child sitting on ground with hiking shoes

More realistically, you will want to give your child a few chances to get used to the weight of these boots before hitting the trail.  There is nothing wrong with strapping on the new boots and sending junior off to run around in circles in the backyard.

Durability

Durability is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider.  You want to purchase a high quality shoe that won’t fall apart after only a few hikes.  Durability encompasses longevity of use and more importantly, the safety of your child.  You don’t want shoes falling off or failing out on a hike.

These shoes are only going to have to last a short while, children grow quite fast, however, it’s still important to invest in quality products.  Finding a shoe with a combination of all the above mentioned features, and a comfort level to wear the shoes all day, will result in a good buying choice.

Price

Lastly, we will discuss price.  Higher quality shoes will be priced higher, yet there are many shoes that are still good quality, just perhaps not as popular of a brand, that will be a bit more reasonably priced.  This all depends on your budget and value on shoes.

kid wearing hiking shoes

Having safe footwear is important in ensuring the enjoyment of the great outdoors.  The more durable the shoe, the safer your child will be.

Top Products on the Market

Below are what we have picked as some of the best hiking boots for your little ones.  Here you’ll find each shoe reviewed and critiqued for price, weight, durability, and usage.

Timberland Field

Timberland Field

Price: $30 – $150

Weight: 2 lb

Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Padded collar for comfortable wear around the ankles, Taslan laces, no scuff rubber outsole

Best use: Hiking, daily wear, school appropriate

Description: The Timberland Field  is a great choice for a hiking boot for a young child that loves to go on hiking adventures with the parents.  The boot is waterproof to keep their little feet nice and dry, no matter the weather or the amount of puddles or streams that your trail might bring you across, and we know how important this is, since children simply love jumping in muddy puddles.

The collar of the shoe has added padding to keep the ankle of the little ones more comfortable as well as secure.  While style might not be as important as safety for a toddler hiking boot, it never hurts to have options and this set of boot comes in 9 different color choices.

The level of padding seems to be an issue, some reviewers have said that there is nearly no padding while others have stated that there is lots of padding.

PROS:

  • Protects ankles
  • Lightweight
  • Variety of options
  • Puddle jumping approved

CONS:

  • Can be expensive in larger sizes
  • Have laces

Related:  You can’t wear shoes without socks!  Check out these colorful Wool Blend Socks.  They’re very comfy, and not too scratchy because they’re made from a blend, not 100% wool.

Check the price on Amazon

Merrell Jungle

Merrell Jungle

Price: $36 – $70

Weight: 2 lb

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 4 inches

Specific features: Waterproof suede, lugged outsole for solid traction and grip, nylon arch shank for slipping on

Best use: Hiking, school appropriate

Description: If you are looking to find a toddler hiking boot that doesn’t need laces, the Merrell Jungle shoes might be the right choice to make for your child’s outdoor adventures.  The frosty variation of the Jungle Moc, provides an extra level waterproofing, to maintain the dryness of the child’s feet even if it is raining all day and your little one feels like jumping in every puddle.

The lugs on the sole do a fantastic job at ensuring that these boots have a great ensuring grip for little ones to go scampering up all sorts of rocks.  A number of reviewers have commented on how pleased they were, with the grip of these shoes.  Several reviewers have commented that these shoes last much longer than they expected them too, long enough that the kids outgrew them.

Some reviewers have mentioned that these tend to run a bit smaller than expected.

PROS:

  • Easy on and off
  • No laces
  • Waterproof

CONS:

  • Some run a bit smaller than expected

Related:  For a long day out in the great outdoors, keeping snacks and water handy is very important.  Check out the ultra colorful and lightweight ZippyRooz Backpack for kids and toddlers for your little one.

Check the price on Amazon

Columbia Pisgah Peak

Columbia Pisgah Peak

Price: $36 – $70

Weight: 4 lb

Dimensions: Varies

Specific features: Suede and mesh, low cut design so as not to cut into the ankles, rubber sole with deep tread

Best use: Hiking, school appropriate

Description: The Columbia Pisgah Peak  is a great choice that works equally well on the school yard for recess or heading down your favorite trail on a family weekend hike. This set of shoes, sports a round cord lace, that is similar to a paracord, one that is both tough enough to last without breaking, but easy to tie and not one that will easily come undone.

These are available in four different color options and have the look of a sneaker to them, while still being designed to perform well on the trail, with the traction that you would expect from a Columbia boot.  The shoes are very well waterproofed, with one reviewer relating a story of her son’s rain filled camping trip.

Despite raining all weekend long he was the one with dry feet thanks to these boots. A few reviewers were less than pleased with the material on the front of the shoe near the toe, they complain that it was too thin and easily torn.  Others have mentioned this is not the case and the shoe is solid.

PROS:

  • Laces don’t come undone easily
  • Very sturdy shoe

CONS:

  • A bit on the heavier side
  • Not fully waterproof
  • Rubber on front of shoe tears off easily

Related:  Fortify your Columbia Youth Trail shoes with an easy to apply, waterproofing spray.  Check out this top quality water repellent spray by Kiwi Camp.

Check the price on Amazon

Adidas Outdoor Adisnow CP

Adidas AQ4129 Boy's Climaheat Adisnow Climaproof Boot

Price: $45 – $85

Weight: 0.6 lb

Dimensions: Varies

Specific features: Primaloft insulation, Climaproof membrane for waterproof protection, Traxion outsole for 360 grip

Best use: Snow days

Description: Adidas Outdoor Adisnow CP  is a good choice if you will be hiking in colder climates or up in the mountains if there is a possibility of snow in the forecast.  Being designed as a snow boot it assumes that it will be worn in colder climates and as such makes a point to highlight the fact that its extra insulation will keep little feet warm.

It also means that the boot is designed to be waterproof and since it comes higher up than some other options deeper puddles don’t need to strike fear of dampness into your child’s socks.  One downside is that if your child falls in love with them hiking all winter long, when the warmer weather rolls around they might not like them quite as much with all the insulation.

This set is available in your choice of five different colors so you can most likely find an option that will suit your child’s style.

PROS:

  • Velcro strap
  • Waterproof and insulated
  • Boots reach higher than ankle

CONS:

  • Not wearable year-round

Related:  You might consider purchasing a pair of waterproof mittens for your children to enjoy a fun day out in the snow.  These SimpliKids Mittens are insulated, waterproof, and are adjustable to fit any sized hands and wrists.

Check the price on Amazon

Dadawen Hiking

Dadawen Hiking

Price: Approx. $70

Weight: 0.76 lb

Dimensions: 6.7 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches

Specific features: Padded tongue, padded collar for ankle support, velcro strap, breathable, durable, thick sole and good grip

Best use: Gym, school, and hiking/outdoors

Description: The Dadawen Hiking is a fantastic shoe choice if you are interested in selecting a shoe for your children that has been made with environmentally friendly materials.  These shoes feature a breathable upper, which is made from synthetic materials, to keep your little ones’ feet from over-heating on their outdoor adventures.

They also sport a convenient Velcro closure strap and elastic laces, so even if your kid hasn’t learned to tie their shoes just yet, they should have no trouble putting these on.  With the padding on the tongue and collar they should be a comfortable pair of shoes, even if they are worn for hours on end.

The reinforced toe cap, as well as the double fixed design on the back heel, is adding to the durability of the overall structure of the shoe, making this model a choice that should last well beyond when your child grows out of them.

PROS:

  • Velcro strap
  • Comfortable
  • Durable and long-lasting

CONS:

  • Price unavailable
  • Limited sizes to choose from
  • Not waterproof

Related: Consider purchasing your child’s very own water bottle to take with them out on the trail.  Invest in a sturdy, well reviewed bottle, such as one of these from CamelBak.

Check the price on Amazon

Keen Pagosa Low WP

KEEN Pagosa

Price: $50 – $70

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 4 inches

Specific features: Waterproof, breathable, non-marking sole, secure fit lace capture system- no lace tying required

Best use: Hiking, school appropriate

Description:  The Keen Pagosa Low WP is a great shoe for any parent looking for a low-cut shoe to let their kids adventure all day long in.  While these shoes have laces, your child does not need to worry about tying them up like a normal sneaker.

The laces are made of a bungee material and they sport a slide to tighten the laces down as needed.  This means that even if they get stretched out you will have the ability to keep them on your child’s feet.  While these boots are not as bulky as some hiking boots available, they are definitely heavier than tennis shoes, so before you take your child out on longer hikes give them a chance to get use to the weight of this shoe.

Some reviewers have mentioned that this shoe was too stiff and inflexible to provide any real comfort while others pointed out that they needed to be broken in before long hikes, as is the case with any other hiking boot.

PROS:

  • Easy laces
  • Comfortable
  • Low cut design for mobility

CONS:

  • Need to be broken in before hiking
  • A bit heavy for the size

Related:  Since these shoes run a bit on the small size, you might want to let your child wear them with thinner socks, such as these Low Cut Athletic Socks made by Prince.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping It Up

It may be difficult to justify spending a large sum on a pair of hiking shoes that your child may grow out of within 6 months… or less!  However, quality will ensure safety and durability.  Many of these shoes make good shoes to wear for everyday use, such as school or day care.

About to cross stream

Purchasing dual purposing hiking shoes with everyday wear will save you some cash. The things that matter most are getting your child outside, experiencing nature with your loved ones and sharing lifelong memories.  The shoes are just a way to get out there, to what’s really important– making those memories.

We hope you found this article useful, and if you have any shoes that you feel were just awesome on the trail, share with us!  We love to hear from our readers.  Leave your own mini product review, question, or heart-warming story in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Frederik Marner

    My little guys like hiking with me, but they have limited distance spans. What kind of shoes are the most comfortable that can let them hike longer and look fashionable? Great article, by the way.

  • John C. Porter

    All the shoes listed in the article are great, but if you are concerned about going the distance, then find a pair of lightweight hiking shoes and let your toddler break them in well before you go hiking.

  • Fabienne Robert

    Yes of course. I bought some cheap hiking shoes for my 6 years old son and the condition was not very good. I never went through these facts before I bought that and the shoes were not water proof. He suffered during that time and we had a real difficult time.

    • John C. Porter

      Now that you know, you can find a great pair of shoes for your son!

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