Best Hiking Shoes for Kids of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

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How We Test & Methodology

We assess kids’ hiking shoes in five different dimensions: comfort, traction, user-friendliness, durability, and water-resistance/dry time. We kitted out some kiddos and asked them what they thought and used our experience and expertise to round out the list.


As any parent knows, comfort is crucial for kids’ footwear, so we paid special attention to this metric. To assess comfort, we examine the space in the toe box. Ideally, there’s enough so that toes can spread naturally. We also look at cushioning in the insole and around the ankle, as well as arch support. Flexibility at the mid-foot is also important so that children can keep their natural gait while still being protected on rocky and root-filled trails.


Staying upright can also make or break an adventure. We scrutinize the outsole, noting the pattern and depth of the lugs pattern and depth of the outsole, noting how effectively they bite on different natural surfaces like dirt, loose soil, mud, wet rocks, roots, and sand. We also examine the pattern of the lugs, noting the degree to which each model flakes or accumulates mud and debris. We also look at the material of the outsole material, and its stickiness and flexibility.


If a child is old enough to get their footwear on by themselves, then the shoes they are getting on shouldn’t fight back. We note any features that make it easier and faster for kids and adults alike to get them on and keep them on, including gusseted tongues, Velcro, straps, and toggles.


We know parents want footwear that lasts so for durability, we evaluate the resilience against abrasion and wear of the outsole. For the upper, we pay special attention to seams, noting any fraying, and scrutinize the material for signs of blowouts and tears in high-wear areas, as well as laces, Velcro, and straps.


Dry feet are happy feet. For water resistance and dry time, we had little ones splash in puddles to see how effective waterproof models are at keeping water out. We also assessed how long it took for more porous options to dry out once they were wet. Similarly, breathability – how well shoes release moisture from the inside – is another dimension that falls into this category.

What’s Most Important to You in a Hiking Shoe?

We rate our hiking shoes for kids across several different metrics, but if you prioritize them differently, here are our suggestions based on:


Hiking shoes with a very short break-in period

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