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
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
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 to have a full hiking boot at the toddler age. 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, it will cause discomfort and blisters. However, one of the biggest challenges we have found in finding great toddler hiking shoes 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 toddler shoe is the extra reinforcement across the toes, even with sandals. This helps prevent toe-stubbing on uneven terrain.
So, while it may not be essential for most family hikes 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
Toddler Hiking Shoes/Sneakers
Best Toddler Hiking Shoe: Merrell Kids’ Trail Chaser Sneaker
We couldn’t go past Merrell when looking at companies that understand little kids’ feet, the Trail Chaser Sneaker is among the best hiking shoes for toddlers. Since our first look at toddler hiking shoes, the Trail Chaser now goes down as small as a Size 5, making it perfect for your toddlers.
The colour range isn’t overly exciting for your little toddler girls who may prefer traditionally feminine colours. Still, it certainly does the job which is protecting your child’s feet. They have a cushy EVA footbed for comfortable wear all day and breathable suede and mesh upper.
Runner up: KEEN Toddlers Newport Shoe
KEEN is a world-renowned brand when it comes to kids’ footwear and for very good reason. The Newport Toddlers’s shoe is a superb choice for your active outdoor toddler who needs full foot protection you can only get from a we’ll-fitted trainer.
You can get KEEN shoes on Amazon, but note they tend to only stock from a size 8. If you want the smaller toddler sizes from a size 4, go directly to the KEEN store – they often have sales if you go direct so sign up for their mailing list, it’s one that’s definitely worth it!!
Best Value Toddler Hiking Sneaker: Mishansha Boys/Girls Hiking shoe Kids
These are great, sturdy non-slip outdoor shoes 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, 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 any of the brands we’ve mentioned above, we started using the KEEN Chandler CNX when our youngest was just 1.
Available from a Size 4+, this is an excellent choice for a new walker who you need sturdy protection for. The lace-lock bungee system on the Chandler CNX makes these tiny toddler shoes easy to slip on.
Also Consider: Columbia Youth Redmond Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Made from leather and synthetic, this is one of the sturdiest and most durable hiking shoes for little kids (and big kids!). 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 flexible sole 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.
The only reason we have taken this Columbia shoe off the very top of our ranking of toddler hiking shoes is they are really more pre-schooler sized, starting from a Size 8. We’d love to see them expand their range to the smallest kids’ feet!
Toddler Hiking Sandals
A hiking sandal is a great summer and warmer climate option for your toddler. They are versatile outdoor shoes; most are water-resistant and breathable, making them great for scrambling at the beach through to longer hikes with the family.
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 Toddlers’ 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 are 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 girls 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 and 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 Seacamp II CNX Sandals 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 the same comfort and traction like a hiking sneaker, additional ankle support, and a higher waterproofing standard. However, we will note that it’s difficult to get the smallest sizes in a full boot.
Best Toddler Hiking Boot: Northside Kids’ Rampart Mid Hiking Boot
These sturdy and attractive hiking boots for toddlers 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 are among the best waterproof shoes for toddlers.
These sturdy and robust little kid shoes are ideal for all sorts of outdoor adventures. The waterproof synthetic upper is light and water-resistant. 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 moulded EVA footbed helps with cushioning. Available from a Little Kids 7.
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 and rough terrain, whilst a reinforced toe bumper protects 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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