Feb 21, 2023
There is nothing like letting your toddler loose on the trails and watching them enjoy themselves. Maybe they completed their first mini mountain hike or you're sticking to the flat, there is nothing more special than hiking with your toddler.
But do they need toddler hiking shoes? The answer is mixed and I found through my 3 kids that certain shoes, sandals and boots make sense for hiking with toddlers.
Before deciding on the perfect hiking shoe for your toddler there are a couple things you will want to consider. Also check out Toddler Hiking Gear for more information on gear for hiking with a toddler.
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No, they don’t need it, but it might be smart to have your toddler wear shoes with certain features to help with hiking.
When you hike often with a toddler you notice that trails are rough, your toddler likes to climb on the rocks, go in the water on a hot day and jump on the tree stumps. If you wear their everyday sneakers on hikes the sneaker won’t last very long and it will become VERY dirty quickly.
For families that hike often, owning a pair of toddler hiking shoes is logical. It means you won’t ruin all their other shoes!
A toddler is new to walking and when walking on all different types of terrain you want a shoe that protects their developing feet and provides the right level of traction.
Depending on the type of hike and the weather you may wonder what type of toddler hiking footwear is best.
A toddler hiking shoe is designed like an athletic shoe but has additional features to help holdup on the trail. A hiking shoe will have low ankles, fitting like a normal shoe.
A toddler hiking sandal is designed to be lightweight and dry quickly. Your toddler will be able to wade in the creek and stream beds while protecting their feet. They are made to get wet.
Toddler hiking boots is similar to a hiking shoe but provides more ankle support. Hiking boots are heavier and sturdier. This is a great option for any toddler who has hurt their ankles or needs additional support.
Toddlers play rough. You want a hiking shoe that can uphold the abuse it will get. Shoes made with leather/rubber soles are a great sign.
If the shoe is not comfortable on your toddlers feet they will have no problem taking them off, no matter where you are
A new walker needs to strengthen the muscles in their feet. The best way to do this is to wear a shoe that is flexible and does not inhibit motion.
Children’s feet sweat 2-3 times more than adult feet. A breathable lightweight shoe helps prevent your toddlers feet from overheating.
A hiking toddler is going to be rock scrambling, jumping off logs and running down hills; to prevent falling you want a shoe with great traction. No slips please.
Hiking trails are not free from sharp objects, but a hiking shoe will protect your toddler’s arch from it!
Best Lightweight Toddler Hiking Shoe Boy and Girl
Best Flexible Toddler Hiking Shoe
Best Affordable Young Toddler Hiking Shoe
Great Toddler Boys Hiking Shoe
Best Budget Hiking Shoe Girl and Boy
Merrell Trail Chaser is the lightest toddler hiking shoe you will find, coming in at 8 ounces. This toddler hiking shoe provides great traction and stability to protect your toddler’s feet.
The hiking shoe comes in half size increments with a wide option. It closes with a velcro closure that tiny hands can navigate.
The shoe is made from a durable suede and mesh upper making the hiking shoe breathable. You can select from a range of colors making it the perfect toddler hiking shoe for girls or boys.
Keen Chandler CNX is the best flexible toddler hiking shoe for both girls and boys. The hiking shoe comes in many color choices, even more than the Merrell Trail Chaser.
This toddler hiking shoe is the quickest shoe to dry and most breathable. To secure onto foot simply close with the velcro closure.
OshKosh Bump Toe Shoe was my oldest child’s first hiking shoe. The shoe is durable, provides great toe protection and is somewhat flexible. It is machine washable and comfortable to wear.
Compared to the Merrel Trail Chaser and Keen Chandler the OshKosh shoe is less breathable and there is less traction on the sole. For a new hiker who won’t yet climb on the boulders or jump off the tree stumps this is a great affordable hiking shoe.
UOVO Boys Hiking Sneakers have everything you want in a toddler hiking shoe; lightweight, extremely flexible, toe cap, great traction and breathable.
The hiking shoe is made for all outdoor adventures and comes in many design choices. The insole features a unique cellular EVA foam insole making the shoe comfortable and waterproof vamp.
Mishansha hiking shoe is a great budget friendly toddler hiking shoe for either a boy or girl. The hiking shoe has a rubber anti slip sole, anti collision toe bump and breathable mesh.
I do notice the quality lags behind the other brands, but a great hiking shoe option for those toddlers who only hike occasionally.
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A toddler hiking sandal is primarily used in warm weather. The benefits of a sandal is complete breathability and opens up water play options.
My toddler primarily wears toddler hiking sandals in the summer and I love it. The hiking sandals spend a lot of time in streams and in creek beds and when we hit the trail again, quickly dry out before getting in the car to go home. I don’t have to worry about wet socks or pruney feet.
You will want to look for everything that was important in a toddler hiking shoe, but also
A great toddler hiking sandal will dry quickly on a toddlers feet
A sandal should stay securely on a toddler’s feet, a slip on will NOT work. For a hiking sandal to work the sandal should go around your toddler's ankle and have a way to tighten.
Keen Newport H2 Sandals is the premium toddler hiking sandal. The sandal is made to take anything you can throw at it on the trail and is great in the water. It dries quickly and stays securely on my toddlers feet.
I find this toddler hiking sandal very durable, with each pair lasting me two kids. It is lightweight, flexible and securely fitted. If you want a toddler hiking sandal which can take a lot of abuse this is your sandal.
My two boys wear this sandal all the time in the summer months, hiking or not!
The Merrell Bare Steps H20 is made for water play. The design ensures breathability and no way for objects to get into the sandal. It is best on smooth trails and less ideal for rockier long hikes.
If you plan on lots of short summer hikes to streams, ponds, lake beaches this sandal is ideal. It also comes in a wide option for toddlers!
Hobibear Water Sandals with Closed Toe is an affordable toddler hiking sandal that checks all the boxes. It is quick-drying, flexible, lightweight and protects the toes. Great for a toddler who won’t wear them everyday.
The one thing to note is the velcro closure can wear out quicker than other brands. I tried these sandals one summer and they worked great for 2 months. By the third month and being used every day the velcro frayed.
Only going hiking a couple times in the summer and want a toddler hiking sandal that can withstand water play? Apakowa toddler sandal is a great budget friendly option.
With my first child I used this toddler sandal for hiking to start and wasn’t disappointed for the price. It only lasted one kid and by the end of summer was a little worse for wear, but got used everyday for 3 months.
However, if you are looking for a hiking sandal to survive more than one child, the Keen Newport H2 Sandal is what I would recommend. I do notice a difference in quality.
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Toddler Hiking boots are best for toddlers who require extra ankle support when hiking. Or your toddler might like hiking boots over hiking shoes just because mommy and daddy wear a hiking boot.
Toddler hiking boots are going to be very similar to a hiking shoe except for added support particularly around the ankles. They will be heavier than a shoe, but still should be breathable and flexible.
Typically a young walker doesn’t require the extra ankle stability and often manufacturers only start making a toddler hiking boot at larger sizes (around 8T and above).
A hiking boot is more common in colder weather, however in snow I recommend toddler snow boots, not hiking boots. For snow a snow boot will be designed to keep your toddlers feet warmer and dryer than a toddler hiking boot.
Merrell Chameleon Hiking Boot is a perfect waterproof toddler hiking boot. The sole is a durable rubber made to have great traction that lasts. This hiking boot will outstand the toughest kid and be available for your next.
This hiking boot is ideal for both girls and boys with its color choices. You can select a lace up or velcro close option, my preference being velcro for toddlers.
Keen Targhee Hiking boot is a solid toddler hiking boot for the older toddler. The hiking boot only becomes available at size 8 LIttle Kids, so around the age of 3 or 4 for most kids. The hiking boot is made to last. It has a rubber sole with multi directional traction!
The hiking boot is made to be breathable with mesh linking and also waterproof. A high abrasion rubber toe bumper will protect your toddlers feet from any rock or tree branch.
This toddler hiking boot is my personal pick! It will survive multiple children and heavy use.
If you are looking for the original rugged toddler hiking boot then the Toddler Timberland waterproof boot is your winner. It is made from premium leather with seam-sealed waterproof construction. This boot will keep your little one from any damage nature can throw at you.
The hiking boot will protect your toddler from getting wet feet, but will be heavier and less flexible than other options.
Mishansha Toddler hiking boots are a reasonable choice. The boot features everything you are looking for in a toddler hiking boot at an affordable price point. The sole is made of rubber with decent traction and flexibility. It is a heavier hiking boot than others and some fraying might occur over time.
The hiking boot comes in many color options and available in half size increments.It is breathable and provides toe protection.
Specific Toddler Hiking Shoes are not required to go hiking with your kids. For casual hiking an athletic sneaker will be appropriate.
If you plan on hiking often a toddler hiking shoe makes sense. You don’t want to ruin your nice shoes, wear them out or get them filthy. A hiking shoe is designed to take the extra abuse your toddler will no doubt dish out.
A toddler hiking shoe provides better traction for your toddler while rock climbing, tree hopping and trail scrambling. It will protect your toddler’s toes but yet be lightweight and breathable.
As your toddler gets older and hikes more, a toddler hiking shoe is worth the cost. And they look adorable when on!
Pro Tip: When hiking with a toddler and wearing toddler hiking shoes or boots always pack an extra pair of socks! Nothing is worse than unexpected cold, wet feet.
Need some help getting your toddler excited about hiking read my 15 Tips To Get Your Toddler To Enjoy Hiking.