Selecting the best footwear for summer hiking and outdoor adventures with kids
Summer and fall are the best seasons to get your kids outdoors, and nothing burns extra energy like a beautiful hike in nature. Kids of all ages enjoy exploring the trails and splashing in puddles, streams, and rivers along the way (even if that wasn’t part of your plan!).
There’s a small chance that you’d like your child to preserve their regular pair of sneakers, meaning you’ll need to find sturdy hiking shoes that will hold up to regular wear and tear. Hiking sandals are an ideal choice for keeping little feet cool during those warmer months, and most are water-resistant as well.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the necessary features every good pair of kids’ hiking sandals should have and the top brands to consider. We’re confident you’ll be able to find the best hiking shoes for your child by the end!
This post is part of our outdoor gear series – helping you pick the best items for family adventures outdoors from hiking to camping or heading to the beach
Important Features to Look For in a Good Pair of Kids’ Hiking Sandals
There are several essential features to look for in any quality pair of kids’ hiking sandals.
We’ve always included hiking sandals in our Globetrotters’ wardrobe because they’re durable, well-ventilated, and dry quickly after an afternoon of playing in mud puddles or wading in shallow water. They also provide more structural support than regular sandals or aqua shoes for the beach and are comfortable enough to wear all day.
Here are the top qualities we look for in a good pair of kids’ hiking sandals:
Open-Toe vs. Closed-Toe
A key feature of a sturdy pair of hiking sandals is whether or not they have a reinforced toe or an open-toe design. If your child will be wearing them on potentially uneven terrain, an enclosed toe can prevent painful bumps and scratches.
Comfortable Ankle Strap
If your child’s hiking sandals don’t fit comfortably at the ankle, it can result in rubbing and blisters. To avoid this potential discomfort, ensure that you find the correct size of shoe and a cushioned strap around the ankle if at all possible. Many hiking sandals for kids also have an adjustable cord to help you find that perfect fit.
A machine-washable pair of kids’ hiking sandals is almost a must, and we’ll be highlighting some “tried and true” brands that are both easy to clean and hold up to multiple washings. The last thing you want is for them to fall apart after just a few cycles.
Trails, river beds, and rocky shorelines are uneven by nature, so it’s best to choose a hiking sandal with a thick, anti-slip sole to help prevent scrapes and falls. Shoes with smooth bottoms tend not to offer as much support.
Best Hiking Sandals for Kids
So looking at the best fit, sizing, comfort and range, here’s what we think you should be investing in when it comes to kids hiking sandals. We’ve summarised them here or read on to see our full review of each:
Pricing guidance: $ = under $30USD; $$ = $30-$50USD; $$$ = over $50USD
The suggestions below contain affiliate links to Amazon and other affiliate partners who we use and recommend. If a qualifying purchase is made we earn a commission.
Best Overall Hiking Sandals: Keen Unisex Kid’s Newport H2 Sandal
When it comes to finding the best all-around kids’ hiking sandals, KEEN is tough to beat. The Newport H2 has an EVA footbed with arch support, so your child can run and play for hours in complete comfort. The sandal has an enclosed toe to prevent painful stumbles, but the breathable design also keeps feet cooler in hot weather.
We love that the KEEN Newport H2 is also fully adjustable, with both a bungee system and an adjustable strap over the ankle. The water-repellent material is also anti-odor, which is a quality everyone will appreciate after a long hike! These kids’ hiking sandals are also machine-washable and hold up remarkably well to repeated washings.
With an extensive range of sizes and colors to choose from, your child will certainly be able to find a pair that fits their personality and individual style.
Also Consider: JACKSHIBO Athletic Closed-Toe Sandals
These unisex hiking sandals by JACKSHIBO are made of soft, water-resistant leather for all-day ease of wear. In addition, the shoes have shock-absorbent, anti-slip soles, and the breathable mesh fabric on the uppers provides cooling ventilation while fighting odor.
These water-resistant kids’ hiking sandals come in four different colors and are available in both Little Kid and Big Kid sizes. Your child can easily adjust them due to the hook and loop design, and the padded heel doesn’t rub on the back of the feet.
Best Boys Hiking Sandals: Merrell Unisex-Child Hydro H20 Hiker Sandal Sport
If you’re searching for a high-quality pair of boys’ sandals, these versatile Merrell shoes will hold up to countless adventures in water and on land. The leather upper has a quick-dry lining and breathable mesh to keep feet cool and dry. The M Select GRIP outsole is also surprisingly flexible, and it provides optimal traction on slippery terrain.
The Merrell Hydro H20 also comes in several different color combinations available in Little Kid through Big Kid sizes. This eco-friendly hiking sandal for boys also has a velcro strap for simple and quick fit adjustments.
Also Consider: Columbia Unisex-Child Techsun Wave Sport Sandal
The Techsun Wave Sport Sandal from Columbia is also an excellent boys’ hiking sandal option. The quick-drying shoes boast an advanced cupsole midsole for maximum all-day comfort. This hiking shoe also features a closed-toe design to prevent injuries in and out of the water, and the Omni-GRIP soles provide superior traction.
The Columbia Techsun Wave Sport comes in several eye-catching colors and designs, and it may be hard to get your child to take them off after a day of fun in the sun! However, these stylish hiking sandals for kids were built for the long haul, so you never have to worry about them falling apart before your child outgrows them.
Best Girls Hiking Sandals: KEEN Kid’s Moxie Closed Toe Casual Sandal
These bright and colorful girls’ hiking sandals by KEEN are both trendy and functional. Your child can comfortably wear them both in and out of the water due to the quick-drying polyester upper and interior jersey lining. When the shoes get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine, and they’ll be as good as new.
In addition to a non-marking outsole, these hiking sandals for girls also have a cushioned EVA midsole, so you’ll never have to worry about complaints regarding foot pain while your child is enjoying the outdoors. We like that the fabric around the ankle extends further down the foot to protect more of the heel from potential scratches as well.
Also Consider: Dream Pairs Outdoor Summer Sandals
The Dream Pairs Outdoor Summer Sandals are also an affordable choice if you’re looking for a cute and stylish hiking sandal for girls. They have a lightweight, cushioned insole and dry quickly after an afternoon at the beach or pool, and the rubber outsole provides added traction.
Dream Pairs offers several vibrant color combinations to choose from, but they’re geared more towards Little Kid sizes than Big Kid sizes. A well-made velcro strap and bungee lacing provide a secure fit–no painful rubbing or blisters!
Best Unisex Hiking Sandals: Merrell Unisex-Child Hydro Junior Sports Sandal
Sometimes you’d like to find a unisex pair of kids’ hiking sandals that you can hand down to the next child, making the Merrell Hydro Junior Sports Sandal an ideal choice. This eco-friendly choice has an ultra-breathable design and is made with flexible, recycled rubber.
The Merrell Unisex hiking sandal is available in several gender-neutral color schemes, and the lightweight material translates into hours of pain-free wear. In addition, the velcro closure and molded footbed provide a secure fit, and the rubber outsole offers superior traction.
Runner-Up: KEEN Unisex-Child Seacamp II CNX Sandal
You really can’t go wrong with the water-resistant KEEN Seacamp Sandal. This unisex kids’ hiking sandal is engineered for both land and water play, meaning your child can go from wading on the beach to running on the trails without missing a beat. The multi-directional lugs on the shoes’ soles enable kids to walk, jump and run without worrying about slipping and falling.
The Seacamp CNX sandal offers a secure fit with an adjustable bungee capture system and superior arch support. If you have a younger child, they can also easily take the hiking sandals on and off with the wide hook-and-loop strap. With so many colors and sizes to choose from, you may have to invest in more than one pair!
Best Waterproof Hiking Sandals: KEEN Unisex-Child Venice H2 Closed Toe Water Sandal
If you and your family plan to spend considerable time at the beach or pool in the summer, your child needs a comfortable pair of waterproof hiking sandals. Look no further than the KEEN Venice H2 Water Sandal. The polyester webbing on the upper portion of the shoe is water-resistant, lightweight, and machine washable. The quick-dry lining means your child can wear them anywhere.
The closed-toe and heel of the KEEN Venice H2 kids’ hiking sandal protect the most vulnerable parts of the feet while still providing maximum ventilation and advanced cushioning. Eco Anti, an odor repellent technology, reduces odor that tends to increase with extended use. These hiking shoes for kids are available in several colors for both Little Kids and Big Kids sizes.
Runner-Up: Teva Kids Y Tirra Sandal
If you’re looking for a waterproof kids’ hiking sandal with a more open design, the Teva Unisex Sport Sandal is both durable and versatile. It has an open-toe design for breathable wear both in and out of the water, and the polyester webbing dries quickly.
We like that the Teva Sport Sandal has several adjustable velcro straps, so kids can easily get them on and off. In addition, they come in multiple color combinations and sizes, so your child is sure to find a pair that fits their personality.
Best Value Hiking Sandals: Dream Pairs Closed-Toe Outdoor Summer Sandals
These attractive hiking sandals for kids from Dream Pairs are easy on the wallet and your child’s feet. These well-ventilated shoes look like a hybrid between sneakers and sandals, providing the protection you want with the enclosed toe and cooling ventilation towards the heel.
The water-resistant material dries quickly, and the hiking shoes’ athletic design allows your kid to wear them anywhere. They’re also incredibly adjustable with both a front and rear strap and bungee lacing. The Dream Pairs Summer Sandals are available in several color combinations, and you can find them in a wide range of sizes.
Saving money doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on quality, and we see this with the Apakowa Sport Beach Sandals. This sturdy kids’ hiking sandal is incredibly breathable thanks to the quick-drying leather and mesh upper. The rubber sole and enclosed toe also protect your child’s feet from bumps, blisters, and sharp objects on the ground or in water.
These unisex hiking sandals for kids come in 6 different color schemes and are available in Toddler, and Little Kid sizes only, which is a slight drawback. An attractive feature of these shoes is the extra adjustability provided by the rear strap.
Best Hiking Sandals for Toddlers: Keen Toddlers Newport H2 Closed Toe Sandal
Some younger children tend to have wider feet, which is why the KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Sandal is such a great option. This version of the Newport is built on a broader footbed to provide comfortable, cushioned support all day long. The water-resistant polyester material of the upper dries quickly and extends the life of the shoe.
We all know how hard active little kids can be on their shoes, which is why this hiking sandal is such an attractive choice. The closed-toe has a high-abrasion rubber tip for long-lasting protection, and the multi-directional lugs on the soles channel water away quickly for increased traction. Your child will love these colorful and versatile shoes.
Best Hiking Sandals for Big Kids: TEVA Unisex-Child Y Manatee Sport Sandal
These athletic hiking sandals by TEVA are sure to be a hit for your adventurous child. The hybrid sneaker design is perfect for a summer hike on the trails or running on the beach. Big kids will enjoy a more grown-up hiking sandal, and these are durable enough to endure a considerable amount of wear and tear.
These kids’ hiking sandals come in three different colors and Big Kid sizes only. They easily slip on and off and can be adjusted with the bungee cord drawstring. The cooling mesh keeps your child’s feet from getting too hot, and the rubber sole provides ultimate flexibility.
Looking for more hiking & outdoor adventure advice?
You’ve come to the right place! We can also help you with these great guides to encourage and support you getting into the great outdoors with your kids:
- Essentials you will need hiking with a baby
- Hiking with toddlers – How to make it FUN!
- Healthy kids hiking snacks to keep up their energy
- The best types of toddler carriers
- Essential gear for camping with a baby
- Toddler camping tips you will need
- How to go hiking with your dog
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Disclosures: We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Our whole family are regular wearers of Keen Footwear and we were gifted two pairs of kids Keen shoes as affiliate partners. You can read our full disclosure policy here.
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