Pick the perfect pair of toddler hiking shoes to fit your littlest outdoor adventurer
Seeing your toddler complete their first hike is an exciting moment for any outdoor-loving family. Even if it’s just a short trail, that sense of achievement – for all of you – can be overwhelming!
So once you’ve got that sense of achievement under your belt and you know you can do it, you start planning further trails to attempt with your toddler, but will you need to invest in specialised hiking shoes, or will their everyday walking shoes suffice?
In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into the special features of a toddler hiking shoe and when you might want to consider investing in a pair for your toddler.
This post is part of our travelling with toddlers advice series. You can learn more about outdoor family adventures here
No time to read it all? Our top toddler hiking shoes picks:
This toddler hiking shoe buying guide contains affiliate links that earn us a commission from qualifying purchases
Hiking shoe v hiking boot v hiking sandal
Before we dive into our favourite brands, let’s look at the different types of toddler hiking shoes.
It is not always necessary at the toddler age to have a full hiking boot. A hiking shoe or well-structured trainer or sandal will be just fine in most situations. Wet and muddy wintery conditions, however, may require a more structured boot, whereas snow boots are a different category altogether!
These are the qualities that we look for in a good hiking shoe:
You want your toddler hiking shoe to have a flexible, flat sole that is not rigid so they can build their feet and ankle muscles. Support for the ankle though is still important
If there’s a puddle of mud, your toddler will be sure to find it! Most hiking shoes for kids will be water-resistant rather than waterproof, especially hiking sandals that are made from quick-dry materials. A sturdier winter boot you will find more are water-resistant/waterproof.
If a hiking shoe does not fit well then it will cause not only discomfort but also blisters. One of the biggest challenges we have found in finding great toddler hiking shoes though is sizing – simply put the best brands we know and love for our older kids simply don’t come in the smallest of toddler sizes!
Their normal sneakers or garden shoes may not have an excellent grip. Especially on gravel paths, you’ll see the importance of having a good grip on the sole.
One of the key features of a more structured toddlers shoe is the extra reinforcement across the toes, even with sandals. This helps prevent toe-stubbing on uneven terrain.
So whilst for most family hikes it may not be essential to have a separate hiking shoe for your toddler, you can see the many benefits of having a specialised shoe for the occasion.
Other than having the right footwear, you can catch more of our favourite toddler hiking tips here
What are the best toddler hiking shoes?
We have chosen our selection from leading outdoor shoe specialists available on Amazon. Note, not all brands will go down to the smallest toddler sizes.
- Pricing Guide $ – Under $25USD; $$ – $25 to $45USD; $$$ – Over $45 USD
- Sizing based on US Toddler Shoe Sizes
Toddler Hiking Shoes/Sneakers
Best Toddler Hiking Sneaker: Columbia Youth Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Made from leather and synthetic, this is one of the sturdiest and most durable hiking shoes for toddlers. Built with the quality craftsmanship you’d expect of a Columbia product, it combines a waterproof seam-sealed membrane with a TECHLITE midsole for superior comfort on your little one’s feet.
The soles use Omni-GRIP™ traction rubber to provide great grip on a variety of Terrains.
With top of the range tech and materials going into the shoe, you can also expect top of the range pricing. This is the one we would invest in though if you plan on taking regular hikes with your toddler for maximum comfort.
Available in many different colours, you can see the full Little Kids range here (from Size 8 Toddler).
Runner up: KEEN Kids’ Targhee Sport Vent Shoe
KEEN are a world-renowned brand when it comes to kids footwear and for very good reason. The Targhee Sport Vent Shoe delivers superb traction and protection on the soles, whilst the breathable upper keeps feet cool and comfortable. Sizing starts from an 8 Toddler.
Best Value Toddler Hiking Sneaker: Mishansha Boys/Girls Hiking shoe Kids
These are a great, sturdy non-slip outdoor shoe with a fairly reasonable price tag. The shoe is breathable with a mesh lining and flexible with a synthetic upper. The anti-slip rubber sole makes it great for all sorts of outdoor activities from running to climbing.
We only wish it came in slightly smaller sizes (starting from size 7.5 toddler) otherwise this would be our outright winner for the best value hiking sneaker for your toddler.
Best Budget Toddler Hiking Sneaker: Hawkwell Kids Outdoor Hiking Shoe
These practical kids hiking shoes start from a 10 Toddler. They have an EVA foam footbed for comfort along with a protective toe cap and good traction soles. A breathable upper and good ankle support make these a great value toddler trainer for the outdoors.
Best toddler hiking shoe for really small feet: KEEN Kids’ Chandler CNX Hiking Shoe
If you’re toddler still can’t fit the Targhee sports shoe mentioned above, KEEN have one of the best solutions for super tiny feet that want to walk far. The lace-lock bungee system on the Chandler CNX makes these tiny toddler shoes easy to slip on (from Size 4) and the super sturdy design is still comfortable – See the full KEEN kids range on their website here.
Also Consider: Merrell Kids’ Trail Chaser Sneaker
Last but not least, still just about fitting into the toddler category we couldn’t go past Merrell when looking at companies that understand kids feet. Sadly not available in the smallest of sizes but a great, sturdy design for those approaching preschooler age is the Trail Chaser.
Toddler Hiking Sandals
A hiking sandal is a great summer and warmer climate option for your toddler. They are a really versatile outdoor shoe, most are water-resistant and breathable, making them great for scrambling at the beach through to longer family hikes.
Unlike hiking sneakers, many of these sandal brands go down to a size 4 Toddler so you should be able to find a nice snug fit perfect for toddler feet.
Best toddlers hiking sandal: KEEN Kids’ Newport H2 Sandal
An excellent water and outdoor sports shoe from KEEN, these feature a breathable jersey lining and moulded EVA footbed for all-day comfort. We love the great range of KEEN water sandals for toddlers – as small as size 4.
The closed-toe design protects toes with the synthetic upper is made from quick-dry material, ideal for those walks to the beach, waterfalls or anywhere toddlers can get their feet a little wet but still benefit from the protective grip of a sturdy shoe.
Note that the Newport also comes in water-resistant leather, the water sports sandal shown here comes in a huge variety of colours for kids to choose from.
Runner Up: Merrell Kid’s Hydro Sandal
On to the sandal-styled shoe for outdoor adventures, we love the Merrell Kid’s Hydro Sandal. A leader in its field, they are made with recycled rubber and with their M Select GRIP sole to deliver superior traction.
The upper is made from lightweight imeva for weightless comfort and quick dry. We’ve shown the boys here but they, of course, come in a wide variety of colours, they also work with width fittings too.
Good toddler sandal for small feet: Teva – Kids Manatee
We love that the Teva range starts sizing from as small as a 4 Toddler. They are super easy to get on and off with a bungee cord lace-up as well as a rear pull tab. The mesh lining makes them comfortable for all-day wear while the EVA foam footbed cushions and supports the foot.
Also consider: ALEADER Kids Youth Sport Water Hiking Sandals
ALEADER offers an exceptionally lightweight and flexible sports sandal with a good grip. The secure fit lacing system keeps these snug to your toddler’s foot, along with a hook and loop closure strap. They are made from breathable synthetic materials and come in several colours from size T7.
Best Value toddler hiking sandal: Apakowa Kid’s Soft Sole Close Toe Sandals
A simple but sturdy toddler hiking sandal, these are made from breathable synthetic material with a quick-dry upper and leather insole with that oh so important arch support. Available from a size 5 Toddler.
Also consider: HOBIBEAR Sport Water Sandals Closed-Toe
A great little toddler sandal with a protective closed-toe design, these will be a great buy for your outdoor summer adventures featuring a mesh fabric and synthetic upper for quick drying and hook and loop closure for a comfortable fit. Available from a size 5.5T
Also consider: KEEN Kids’ Seacamp II CNX Sandal
We’re adding another KEEN outdoor sandal choice to round things off as we really do love their outdoorsy kid footwear, these come in at a slightly cheaper price point than the Newport H2. Still a great comfortable fit with the EVA footbed and available from to a toddler size 4 so great for those younger toddlers who haven’t yet grown into the KEEN little kid’s range.
Toddler Hiking Boots
A hiking boot for toddlers provides not only the same comfort and traction as a hiking sneaker but the extra added ankle support as well as normally a higher standard of waterproofing.
Best Toddler Hiking Boot: Northside Kids’ Rampart Mid Hiking Boot
These sturdy and attractive hiking boots come in sizes as small as a 5 Toddler to give your child’s foot superior comfort in wintery outdoor conditions.
On the exterior, the ankle-high suede features breathable ripstop nylon, abrasion-resistant toe guard and moulded heel stabilizer. Inside you’ll find a contoured EVA insole for extra cushioning (removable/washable)
All up, a top-notch buy for a toddler who will frequently be enjoying outdoor adventures.
These sturdy and robust little kid shoes are ideal for all sorts of outdoor adventures. The waterproof synthetic upper is light and water-resistant with a waterproof membrane and extra reinforcement across the toes will help them last longer.
A high traction outter sole helps with grip, whilst inside the olded EVA footbed helps with cushioning.
Best Value Hiking Boots: Mishansha Kids Snow Boots
These wonderful warm winter hiking boots from Mishansha are a great value toddler hiking boot option. The visibly fleecy interior helps keep feet toasty warm and we love the side zippers for ease of getting boots onto your toddler’s feet (the struggle is very real!!)
Available from toddler size 7.5, these lace-ups are waterproof and slip-resistant, a great value buy.
Although not a well-known brand-named shoe, for the toddler who will only occasionally be enjoying outdoor adventures this is a great value choice, with a wide range of colours available (styles slightly differ as you move from toddler sizing to little kid).
The non-slip metal claw and unique outsole pattern provide excellent traction on all sorts of surfaces, whilst a thick toe bumper to protect the toes and excellent heel support can be found to protect the ankles.
Water-resistant artificial leather and suede make these boots water-resistant on the outside while the plush velvet interior provides for extra warmth. Overall a cosy, comfortable and cost-effective hiking boot for your toddler.
So now you’ve got your toddler’s footwear sorted, make sure you head on and find all our favourite hiking gear for all the family – with packing list suggestions.
More toddler adventures:
Before you go, you may also be interested in reading these toddler travel guides and gear reviews for outdoor adventures with your family:
- How to go hiking with your toddlers (and make it fun!)
- Camping with toddlers; Essential gear and practical tips
- The best toddler hiking carriers
- Essential gear for hiking with a baby
- Camping with Kids: The best toddler-sized sleeping bags
- Perfect beach shoes for your toddler
- Engaging road trip toys for toddlers – what sort of travel toys are best for toddlers on a long road journey
- Toddler Travel Essentials – we never leave home with our toddlers without being armed with these toddler essentials!
You can check out all the handy toddler advice on our website by visiting the Best Toddler Travel Advice home page here.
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