Seeing your toddler complete their first hike in 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 every day 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
Hiking shoe v hiking boot v hiking sandal
It is not 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 or mud, your toddler will be sure to find it! Most hiking shoes for kids will be water-resistant rather than waterproof, especially hiking sandals which 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!
There 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.
|Columbia Youth Redmond||From 8 Toddler||$$$|
|Mishansha Boys Girls Hiking Shoes||From 7.5 Toddler||$$|
|Hawkwell Kids Outdoor Hiking Shoe||From 10 Toddler||$|
|KEEN Kids' Terradora Ii Sport Hiking Shoe||From 8 Little Kid||$$$|
|KEEN Kids' Chandler CNX Hiking Shoe||From 4 Toddler||$$|
|Merrell Kids' Trail Chaser Sneaker||From 5 Little Kid||$$$|
|Merrell Kid's Hydro Sandal||From 4 Toddler||$$|
|KEEN Newport H2 Closed Toe Water Shoe Sandal||From 8 Toddler||$$|
|Teva Women's T Manatee Sport Sandal||From 4 Toddler||$$|
|ALEADER Kids Youth Sport Water Hiking Sandals||From 7 Toddler||$$|
|Apakowa Kid's Boy's Girl's Soft Sole Close Toe Sport Beach Sandals||From 5 Toddler||$|
|HOBIBEAR Boys Girls Sport Water Sandals||From 5.5 Toddler||$|
|KEEN Unisex-Child Seacamp Ii CNX Sandal||From 4 Toddler||$$|
|Northside Kids' Rampart Mid Hiking Boot||From 5 Toddler||$$$|
|Mountain Warehouse Drift Junior Kids Hiking Boots||From 9 Toddler||$$$|
|Mishansha Kids Snow Boots||From 7.5 Toddler||$$|
|Kids Hiking Boots Boys Girls Outdoor Walking Climbing Sneaker||From 8.5 toddler||$$
- 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).
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.
KEEN are a fairly well-renowned brand when it comes to kids footwear and for very good reason. The Terradora Li Sport Hiking Shoe delivers superb traction and protection on the soles, whilst the breathable upper keeps feet cool and comfortable. Sizing starts from an 8 Toddler
If you’re toddler still can’t fit the Terradora, KEEN have one of the best solutions for super tiny feet that want to walk far. The lace lock bungee system makes these tiny toddler shoes easy to slip on (from Size 4) and the super sturdy design is still comfortable.
last but not least, still jsut about fitting into the todlder category we couln’t go past Merrel when looking at companyies that understand kids feet. Sadly not available in the smallest of sizes but a great, strudy design for those approaching preschooler age.
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 size 4 Toddler so you should be able to find a nice snug fit.
Best toddlers hiking sandal: 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.
Runner Up: KEEN Kids’ Newport H2 Sandal
An excellent water and outdoor sports shoe from KEEN, these feature a breathable jersey lining and molded EVA footbed for all-day comfort.
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 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.
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.
ALEADER offers an exceptionally lightweight and flexible sports sandal with good grip. The secure fit lacing system keeps these snug to your toddlers foot, along with a hook and loop closure strap. They are made from breathable syntheic 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.
A great little toddler sandal with a protective closed toe design, these will be a great buy for your outdoor sumemr adventures featuiring a mesh fabric and synthetic upper for quick drying and hook and loop closure for a comfortable fit. Available from a size 5.5T
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 that the Newport H2. Still a great comfortable fit with the EVA footbed and available from to a toddler size 4 so better for those younger toddlers who haven’t yet grown into the KEEN little kids 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 the wintery outdoor conditions.
On the exterior, the ankle-high suede features breathable ripstop nylon, abrasion-resistant toe guard and molded 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 fett toasty warm and we love the side zippers for easy of getting boots on to 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-know 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!)
- The best toddler hiking carriers
- Camping with Kids: The best toddler-sized sleeping bags
- 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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