As much as I know it can be hard to swallow because of how fast they grow, kids do benefit from proper hiking gear just like adults. We want them to stay comfortable so they can focus more on hiking than what they’re wearing. Below we’ve gathered our recommendations for the best hiking gear for kids.
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Best Hiking Gear for Kids for Comfort and Safety
Below we line out the gear that our kids use on a consistent basis for hiking and all-around adventure. They are pieces worth investing in so your child can spend more time exploring out on the trail.
Want more post about family hiking? Check them all out here.
KEEN Chandler CNX (for toddlers – big kids): These are a good all-around runner/hiker shoe. They have less aggressive traction than some of the others, but allow for great movement and flexible sole. This is the shoe that my kids wear specifically when they are 1-3 years old.
KEEN Terradora: The most substantial of the KEEN shoes/boots here, the Terradora is what my daughter loves because they are easy on-off, are water proof so allow for creek crossings (which always happen), and are substantial enough to allow great support AND traction.
Merrell Trail Chaser: More of a trail shoe than the Moab, but in true Merrell fashion they’re comfortable, durable and have great traction.
Merrell Moab: A great basic runner/hiker that does what it needs to do. My boys both wear these for most of our hikes and their various adventures. Great traction for a runner/hiker combo.
Northside Bismark Hiking Boots for toddlers/little kids/big kids: These are a great affordable option for hiking boots. They hold up very well, have great traction and their price tag is hard to beat!
Water Shoes (suitable for wet/hot hikes):
Merrell Hyrdo Choprock 2.0: These have become the shoe of choice for my kids for summer hikes. They also have THE best traction of any water shoes I’ve seen for kids.
Merrell H20 Bare Steps Water Shoe: We LOVE these water shoes for the fact that they don’t let small rocks in, don’t cause blisters and are super easy to walk in. They are perfect for toddlers and much better than sandals.
KEEN Newport Neo H2 Sandal: A comfortable option that really covers their toes, allows for good hiking and lets them jump in the river at the end. Available in big and little kid sizes and adult sizes too.
KEEN Toddler Moxie Sandal: These are particularly great for toddlers because they are very flexible. The traction isn’t as awesome as the Hydro sandals, but they feel good on little feet.
Best Button-up Sun Shirts
Sometimes I just get so tired of having to douse my kids in sunscreen (and so do they.) These long-sleeve hiking shirts keep both the sun and the bugs at bay and layer easily over wool or cotton (or by themselves).
My kids wear them hiking, biking, playing in the river and everything in between. The sleeves can be fastened in the rolled-up position, so they are easy to buy big and grow into them.
Just like any long sleeve option, these can get hot in the summer heat, but it’s super easy to just get them wet to cool the kids down.
This is the shirt my kids have worn every single year since they were 18 months old. We’ve tried many others and keep coming back to this one. It’s also available in a more feminine style.
I have and love my own Nuu-Muus, but my girls love and wear theirs too a few days a week. They’re great for hiking since they stay cool and they’re super hard to get dirty. They last forever too. While the smallest size is a 4, my two-year-old can rock it just fine.
They are particularly good for layering under and over as the conditions change throughout the day.
I am a stickler about hats living at a high altitude. The air is thinner and the sun is intense. We’ve been strict about them from the beginning (just like helmets) so the kids don’t put up TOO much of a fight usually. Here’s our favorites:
Sunday Afternoons Play Hat: This is hands-down our favorite hat for kids of all ages. It is incredibly adjustable and works for the baby AND the seven year old. We love that it keeps the sun off their neck, is comfortable and has a quick release chin strap for safety.
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat: This hat is slightly more stiff than the play hat, but the bill is foldable and wider so it also provides more coverage.
I don’t know why it is SO hard to find hiking pants for little kids, but not too many companies make them and they’re getting harder to find. Hopefully in the near future more will. Here’s what our kids wear.
Kuhl Boys‘ Renegade Pants (size XS – L): These are THE best and a favorite of my boys. They let them move easily, dry quickly, protect them from brush and sticks and just feel good. I also love how they look good enough to wear anywhere.
Kuhl Girls’ Horizn Recco Pants (size XS – XL): Our favorite for girls too. They stretch with them, keep them cool and protected and look cute too.
Columbia Silver Ridge Pull on Pants for Girls: We love these pants because they are easy on and don’t have a button top closure for comfort. They have built-in moisture wicking and sun protection.
Tiggo Zip-off pant (available in a size 3y-10y): These are newly available via Biddle and Bop. This brand uses a finish called Bionic-Finish Eco which is fluorine-free, highly water-repellent, repels aqueous soil, and is free of formaldehyde and paraffin. The material remains soft, light, and flexible to the touch.
Deuter Kids’ Packs
We love Deuter packs for kids because they fit little bodies, have a sternum strap to keep them on, are full of pockets for little treasures and are comfortable.
Ours will be passed down again and again. They are built incredibly well and withstand the abuse of some serious trail (and school) time.
We recommend the following for kids’ day hike packs
Kikki: Super cute, great pockets and top open. For kids ~ aged 1.5-4
Pico: Easier to unzip and stuff items in. For kids aged ~1.5-4
Junior: Works for younger grades for school, is a good day pack and perfect for kids aged ~5-8
Climber: Perfect for smaller kids backpacking or a good day pack. For kids ~5-9
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