Hiking is a great way to enjoy nature, exercise, and bond with your family. But if you want to have a fun and comfortable hiking experience with your kids, you need to make sure they have the right footwear for the trail. Kids hiking shoes are not just smaller versions of adult shoes. They have different features and requirements that suit their growing feet and their adventurous spirit.
In this article, we will help you choose the best kids hiking shoes for different terrains and weather conditions, such as sand, mud, snow, rain, and more. We will also share some tips on how to fit and care for your kids hiking shoes, as well as some of our favorite brands and models.
You might be wondering why you need to buy special hiking shoes for your kids when they already have sneakers or sandals. The answer is simple: hiking shoes provide more protection, support, traction, and comfort than regular shoes when walking on uneven and challenging surfaces.
Hiking shoes are designed to:
- Protect your kids’ feet from rocks, roots, thorns, and other hazards on the trail
- Support your kids’ ankles and arches to prevent injuries and fatigue
- Provide grip and stability on slippery, steep, or loose terrain
- Keep your kids’ feet dry and warm in wet or cold conditions
- Fit snugly and comfortably without causing blisters or rubbing
When choosing kids hiking shoes, you need to consider the type of terrain and weather conditions you will encounter on your hikes. Different shoes have different features that make them suitable for different environments. Here are some factors to look for when choosing kids hiking shoes for different terrains and weather conditions:
If you are hiking on sandy trails or beaches, you need shoes that are breathable, lightweight, and easy to clean. Sand can get inside your shoes and cause irritation or abrasion. You also want shoes that won’t trap heat or moisture in your feet.
Some of the best shoes for hiking on sand are hiking sandals. Hiking sandals are open-toed shoes that have straps or Velcro closures that secure your feet. They are well-ventilated and quick to dry. They also have rubber soles that provide grip and durability on sand.
If you are hiking on muddy trails or fields, you need shoes that are waterproof, sturdy, and easy to clean. Mud can make your shoes wet, heavy, and dirty. You also want shoes that won’t slip or sink in the mud.
Some of the best shoes for hiking on mud are waterproof hiking boots. Waterproof hiking boots are closed-toe shoes that have a high-top design that covers your ankles. They have a waterproof membrane or coating that keeps your feet dry. They also have lugged soles that provide traction and stability on mud.
If you are hiking on snowy trails or mountains, you need shoes that are insulated, waterproof, and warm. Snow can make your shoes wet, cold, and slippery. You also want shoes that won’t freeze or crack in low temperatures.
Some of the best shoes for hiking on snow are insulated winter boots. Insulated winter boots are closed-toe shoes that have a high-top design that covers your ankles. They have a thick layer of insulation that keeps your feet warm. They also have rubber soles that provide grip and durability on snow.
If you are hiking on rainy trails or forests, you need shoes that are waterproof, breathable, and quick-drying. Rain can make your shoes wet, soggy, and uncomfortable. You also want shoes that won’t cause blisters or fungal infections.
Some of the best shoes for hiking on rain are waterproof trail runners. Waterproof trail runners are closed-toe shoes that have a low-top design that allows air circulation. They have a waterproof membrane or coating that keeps your feet dry. They also have mesh uppers that provide breathability and quick-drying.
Once you have chosen the right type of kids hiking shoes for your terrain and weather conditions, you need to make sure they fit properly. A good fit is essential for comfort, performance, and safety.
Here are some tips on how to fit kids hiking shoes:
- Measure your kids’ feet before buying or trying on any shoes. Use a ruler or a foot measuring device to measure the length and width of their feet in inches or centimeters.
- Choose a size that matches their measurements or slightly larger. You want to leave some room for growth and socks. A good rule of thumb is to leave about a thumb’s width of space between their toes and the end of the shoe.
- Try on the shoes with the socks they will wear on their hikes. Different socks can affect the fit and feel of the shoes.
- Check the fit by having them stand up and walk around in the shoes. The shoes should feel snug but not tight around their feet. There should be no gaps or bulges around their heels or toes.
- Adjust the laces or straps as needed to secure their feet in place. The laces or straps should not be too loose or too tight.
- Test the comfort by having them walk up and down stairs or inclines in the shoes. The shoes should not rub or pinch their feet anywhere.
- Test the stability by having them balance on one foot or jump in place in the shoes. The shoes should not slip or slide off their feet.
After each hike, you need to care for your kids hiking shoes to keep them clean, dry, and functional. Proper care can extend the life span and performance of your kids hiking shoes.
Here are some tips on how to care for kids hiking shoes:
- Remove any dirt or debris from the shoes with a brush or a damp cloth. Do not use harsh chemicals or detergents that might damage the materials or colors of the shoes.
- Dry the shoes completely before storing them. Do not expose them to direct heat or sunlight, as this might cause them to shrink, warp, or crack. You can stuff them with newspaper or tissue paper to absorb moisture and maintain their shape.
- Treat any stains or odors with a mild soap or baking soda solution. You can also use specialized products designed for cleaning and deodorizing footwear, such as Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel or Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator. Follow the instructions on the label carefully.
- Apply a waterproofing treatment to the shoes periodically, especially if they show signs of wear or water penetration. You can use spray-on or wipe-on products, such as Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof or Gear Aid Revivex Durable Water Repellent. Follow the instructions on the label carefully.
- Store the shoes in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place away from direct sunlight, heat sources, or moisture. Do not stack them with other items, as this might deform them or cause mildew growth.
Hiking shoes for kids are an important part of any family hiking adventure. They can make a big difference in how your kids enjoy and appreciate nature. By choosing the right type, fit, and care for your kids hiking shoes, you can ensure that they have a fun and comfortable hiking experience with you.