The 10 Best Hiking Shoes for Kids of 2022

The North Face Jr Hedgehog Hikers II Waterproof Boots are grippy and durable

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Given how fast kids’ feet grow, it can feel daunting to buy a new specialty pair of shoes for every category. But if you’re planning to do any serious hiking with the family, it’s best to invest in a proper pair of hiking shoes for kids, experts say.

Reviewed & Approved

The North Face ​​Jr Hedgehog Hikers II Waterproof Boots are both a perennial customer favorite and a podiatrist-approved pick. They’re durable, waterproof, and available in three color options. For hiking in wet conditions, the Merrell Kids Hydro Sport Sandals are a well-loved fan favorite for their versatility as a sandal, water shoe, and hiking shoe in one.

“For extreme activity, such as hiking, you want to find a shoe that is stable with a semi-rigid sole and little to no bend,” explains Asim Sayed, MD, a podiatrist in Overland Park, Kansas. “This will provide grip and support, decreasing the risk of falling or twisting an ankle. While the specific type of shoe may not completely eliminate the possibility of injury or fatigue, the comfort and design can definitely help!”

When researching the best pairs of shoes for family hiking adventures, we considered Dr. Sayed’s recommendations, value, material, and shoe construction, as well as reviews from users and our own colleagues.

Whatever your terrain—or your budget—here are the best kids' hiking shoes for 2022.

Best Overall: The North Face ​ Jr Hedgehog Hikers II Waterproof Boots

4.9
The North Face ​​Jr Hedgehog Hikers II Waterproof Boots

Amazon

Pros
  • Waterproof

  • Light and flexible

Cons
  • Runs narrow

“This waterproof option prioritizes grip and durability, which is great in a kid’s hiking shoe,” Dr. Sayed says, confirming our decision to make this shoe our top pick. This is also one of The North Face’s most popular youth hiking boots. “The reinforced heel and toe cap are also good for avoiding injuries.”

These flexible boots are light, grippy, and seam-sealed to keep out water and moisture. Plus, the single-pull closure makes it easy for kiddos to put on themselves. They’re available in three colorways: black, gray/pink, and gray/blue.

Price at time of publication: $65

Size range: 10-13C; 1-7Y | Materials: Dynalyte midsole, rubber outsole, suede overlay

Best for Wide Feet: Merrell Kids Moab 2 Mid Waterproof

Merrell Kids Moab 2 Mid Waterproof

Merrell

Pros
  • Waterproof

  • Available in medium and wide width options

Cons
  • Neutral colors may not appeal to kids’ tastes

These waterproof boots come in two width options—wide and medium—so kids are sure to find their perfect fit. Made with faux leather uppers and mesh panels for breathability, these boots have a classic lace-up closure. The pull-tab heel helps little ones pull the shoes on and off, while the toe bumper and padded heel protect their feet and keep them comfy.

Price at time of publication: $70

Size range: 10.5-13.5C; 1-7Y | Materials: Synthetic lining and footbed, faux leather upper, non-marking rubber outsole

What Our Editors Say

“It’s kind of embarrassing to say, but there have been several seasons where my husband, 9-year-old son, and I are all wearing matching Merrell Moabs on our hikes. They’re just the perfect balance between feeling lightweight on walks (and hot lava games) for miles, having the traction to scramble up and down rocks, and being waterproof enough to keep our toes dry when we wind up sloshing through puddles and get caught in a drizzle on the trail.” Sabrina Rojas Weiss, Senior Commerce Editor

Best for Toddlers: L.L.Bean Toddlers’ Waterproof Trail Model Hikers

L.L.Bean Toddlers’ Waterproof Trail Model Hikers

Courtesy of L.L.Bean

Pros
  • Toddler-friendly hook-and-loop fastener

  • Protective heel and toe bumpers

Cons
  • No half sizes (order up)

These toddler-sized hiking shoes are designed just like the brand’s adult version. They’re super comfortable and supportive for little feet, with a height that offers extra protection and freedom of movement. Substantial heel and toe bumpers protect against bumpy terrain, and the wide opening and hook-and-loop strap make it easy for littles to get on and off.

Price at time of publication: $59

Size range: 5-9T | Materials: Mesh nylon fabric and water-resistant suede upper, EVA midsole, rubber outsole

Best Waterproof: Keen Kids’ Targhee Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

Keen Kids’ Targhee Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

REI

Pros
  • Waterproof

  • Easy bungee cord lacing system

Cons
  • Higher price point

These breathable, waterproof hiking boots seal out the elements so kids’ feet stay dry when splashing through mud puddles, crossing streams, and camping in the elements. Bungee cord laces adjust the shoes with a single pull for a customized fit, and the velcro closures at the ankles help keep them secure. (The big kids’ sizes just have the bungee cord.) Laces stay conveniently out of the way, keeping kids safer from trips and snags. Non-marking rubber outsoles provide excellent grip, and padded tongues and collars keep feet comfy. 

Price at time of publication: $80

Size range: 8-13C; 1-7Y | Materials: Leather/textile upper, EVA midsole, rubber sole

Best Trail Runners: Merrell Kids' Trail Chaser Hiking Shoes

Merrell Kids' Trail Chaser Hiking Shoes

Merrell

Pros
  • Available in medium and wide widths

  • Affordable price point

Cons
  • May run small

These trail shoes are made for all kinds of family adventures, from traversing tricky trail conditions to puddle jumping. Suede and mesh uppers keep them breathable and durable, while antimicrobial and removable EVA footbeds mitigate odor. The slip-resistant outsole provides serious traction for safe and fun outdoor exploration.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $40

Size range: 10.5-13.5C; 1-7Y | Materials: Suede and mesh uppers, EVA footbed

What Our Editors Say

“This is another model of Merrell my kid has absolutely loved and wore as an everyday sneaker as well as a hiking shoe. That versatility made me feel better about spending money on them when I wasn’t sure how often we’d be using them on the trails.” — Sabrina Rojas Weiss

Best Water Shoes: Merrell Kids’ Hydro Sport Sandal

Merrell Kids’ Hydro Sport Sandal

Amazon

Pros
  • Available in a wide range of colors and sizes

  • Breezy for hot weather while protecting toes

Cons
  • Limited inventory in some colors and sizes 

Merrell’s closed-toe Hydro sandal may technically be a water shoe, but it’s built for performance in any outdoor adventure, in both wet and dry terrain. The outsole is flexible, and the rubber sole has tons of traction. The Velcro closure makes for a secure fit and helps kiddos get them on and off easily, while the vented construction mitigates odor and allows little feet to breathe. 

Price at time of publication: $40

Size range: 9-13C; 1-7Y | Materials: Leather and textile upper, EVA footbed, synthetic sole

Best High Tops: Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid Lace Up Waterproof Hiking Boot

Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid Lace Up Waterproof Hiking Boot

Amazon

Pros
  • Available in three colorways

  • Alternative lace closure

Cons
  • Critical reviews say waterproofing qualities are limited

These lace-up hiking boots have waterproof construction so you’ll never be caught off guard, no matter the conditions or the elements. A leather upper is both durable and breathable, and the alternative lacing closure creates a custom snug fit and allows easy on-off, too. The non-marking rubber cup sole offers excellent traction while remaining flexible.

Price at time of publication: $45

Size range: 10.5-13.5C; 1-7Y | Materials: Synthetic fabric and mesh upper, rubber sole

Best Sneakers: Keen Knotch Peak Sneakers

Keen Knotch Peak Sneakers

Keen Footwear

Pros
  • Machine-washable

  • Ergonomic toe notch for stability

Cons
  • Not suitable for all types of hikes

For lower-intensity hikes on paved paths, a solid pair of sneakers with good traction will do the trick. These durable shoes have a low-profile rubber outsole to keep kids protected on the trail and an ergonomic toe notch to help them keep their balance. The low-rise shoe also has a contoured arch for added foot support and an adjustable hook-and-loop strap for a secure fit. Bonus: You can toss these shoes in the washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle to clean.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $55

Size range: 4-13C; 1-7Y | Materials: Mesh and synthetic upper, rubber outsole

Best Budget: Mishansha Kids Trekking & Hiking Shoes

Mishansha Kids Trekking & Hiking Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Available in a wide range of colors

Cons
  • Limited durability

These hiking shoes come in nearly 30 color options, with sizes for toddlers to big kids, so there are tons of choices. They’re also available in a price range that’s more comfortable for families who don’t plan on hiking very often. The trekking shoes are comfy, lightweight, and water-resistant for use across various outdoor terrains. The non-slip sole offers solid traction, and the bungee lacing system helps them slip off and on easily.

Price at time of publication: $30

Size range: 7.513C; 1-6Y | Materials: Faux leather, mesh upper, rubber sole

Best for Style: Adidas Terrex Hyperhiker Hiking Shoes

Adidas Terrex Hyperhiker Hiking Shoes

Amazon

Pros
  • Stylish

  • Lightweight but sturdy

  • Made from recycled materials

Cons
  • Higher price point

These Adidas hiking shoes are as stylish as they are built for performance. They’re lightweight like trail running shoes, but also have the support and durability of hiking boots for sturdiness and comfort. According to Dr. Sayed, they’re “a good option if you are looking for an over-the-ankle style with good grip and stability.” They come in pink, beige, or black colorways. Bonus: These are made from recycled materials, with the upper made from at least 50% recycled content. 

Price at time of publication: $70

Size range: 10.5-13.5C; 1-7Y | Materials: 50% recycled material upper, EVA midsole, rubber outsole

How We Selected the Best Kids’ Hiking Shoes

To curate our list of the best kids’ hiking shoes on the market, we first spoke to podiatrist Asim Sayed, MD, to better understand what to look for in a high-quality hiking shoe for children’s feet. We then researched several brands and styles of kids’ hiking shoes that met his recommendations, making our final picks based on material, value, comfort, and construction.

What to Look For in Kids’ Hiking Shoes

Upper Material

Hiking boot uppers, the part of a shoe above the sole, are commonly made of leather for durability and comfort, though synthetics can be lighter and cheaper. Vegan leathers provide a cruelty-free alternative. You can also decide whether you need something waterproof, which often comes at a higher price point.

Outsole

The outsole refers to the hard piece affixed to the bottom of the shoe. For hiking, you’ll want good traction as well as protection against the elements.

Midsole

The midsole is the material between the shoe outsole and the foot. Look for adequate cushioning and comfort.

Comfort and Fit

A comfortable shoe is critical for a day of hiking, so look for adequate cushioning and support. But remember that no shoe—regardless of the quality or price point—will be comfortable if it doesn’t fit properly. 

Value

Not all high-performance hiking shoes come with a high-end price tag. Consider not just the price but the value that comes with it, from construction to materials to the types of outdoor terrain your little one will be exploring. Do note that you may not be able to get several years out of a kids’ hiking shoe regardless of the quality, given how fast kids’ feet grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do children need hiking shoes?

    While not absolutely necessary for all conditions, hiking shoes can help kids stay comfortable and protected. “When looking at shoe options for children, it’s important that the design always fits the activity,” Dr. Sayed says. “If you are planning to trek through uneven and inclined terrain in potentially wet areas for longer periods of time, hiking shoes are recommended.”

  • Are sneakers OK for kids to hike in?

    Sneakers are generally OK for most public, paved trails, but for rocky or off-road terrain, a hiking shoe is the safest bet. “If older kids are planning more experienced hiking, you should opt for a hiking shoe or boot,” Dr. Sayed says.

  • Should you size up hiking shoes for kids?

    For specific sizing in kids’ hiking shoes, always refer to brand-specific size charts, as sizes can run a little differently between brands. “The only instance to size up in a kid’s hiking shoe is if you plan to layer socks for colder weather activities,” Dr. Sayed explains. “No matter the size, the shoe should be comfortable and stable on his or her feet.”

Why Trust Verywell Family

Alesandra Dubin is a professional product reviewer in the parenting and lifestyle space. She’s also a mom to twins, whose footwear needs she’s personally researched ad nauseam