Best Toddler Hiking Boots, Shoes, and Sandals

Best Toddler Hiking Boots for New Walkers

If you are planning on hitting the trails or the slopes this year with a new walker then investing in good well-fitting footwear is a MUST!  Sure kids are happy to run and play in pretty much any shoes or even nothing at all, but if you want to avoid unnecessary falls, blisters, and sore feet investing in quality footwear will make everyone’s experience a more pleasant one.  Here are some of our favorite hiking shoes and boots for toddlers.

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Toddler boy playing by a river

Toddler Hiking Sandals: Quick Recommendations

Toddler Hiking Shoes: Quick Recommendations

Toddler Hiking Boots: Quick Recommendations

Little girl riding on her dad's shoulders on a hike

What to Look For When Buying Toddler Hiking Shoes

If you have a new walker that is no longer content in a carrier it’s time to get your kid their first pair of hiking shoes.

Won’t any kid shoe work?

I thought since my kids were so small they wouldn’t need hiking shoes.  Wouldn’t any old shoes work?  Boy was I wrong.  If you value hikes where everyone is enjoying themselves you need to make sure everyone in your family has the right gear, even your tiniest hiker.

Hiking shoes for your little hiker provide better traction, keep little toes protected, and keep socks dry.

A flexible and lightweight sole

Whenever possible it is best to get your early walker a shoe with a flexible sole.  The first year of walking is when a child needs to properly experience the full muscle movement of their foot to properly strengthen the muscle in both their foot and ankle.  It is best to find a good balance between a flexible, lightweight sole while still making sure the foot is protected from the environment.

Rubber sole with good traction

Little kids are always on the lookout for things to climb on and over.  Making sure your little one has a good sole with decent traction will give them the grip they need to climb every rock, log, and tree they see without accidental slips.

Foot support and comfort

No one wants to wear a shoe that isn’t comfortable.  Making sure the shoe has arch support and is comfortable will keep your little one happier and willing to take on big climbs and longer hikes.

Quick-dry or waterproof

Buying your kid a waterproof shoe seems like a great idea, but first, consider the purpose.  Will you be taking swimming breaks or will your hike be warm?  Waterproof shoes tend to not breathe as well and once wet take a long time to dry.  I like waterproof shoes for cooler weather and tend to choose more breathable shoes or sandals for warmer hikes.

Fit versus function

When choosing the best shoe for your new walking thing first about safety.  What will keep their feet safest during our adventure?  Sometimes a shoe that is harder to walk in is the safest shoe because it keeps toes warmer or has better traction in a slippery situation. 

Next, ask what fits best and is most comfortable for my kid?  Whenever possible trying on shoes in the store is best to find one that fits perfect for your child’s unique feet.

Used shoes

A special note about used shoes.  While used shoes are not great for older kids due to each child’s unique wear pattern, early walkers are light enough and grow fast enough that this doesn’t tend to be a problem.  Used shoes are a great option to save some extra money.

Shop Sustainably, Pay Purposefully for Keen Shoes with Sezzle

Keen has a unique partnership with Sezzle that gives families a payment solution when buying gear to spread out their payments to 4 interest-free payments over six weeks. We love that this allows you to buy the quality, long-lasting gear your family needs without a big upfront cost.

When purchasing KEEN shoes, simply choose “Sezzle” at check out.

Best Hiking Sandals for Toddlers

Choosing the best shoe for your little hiker depends on the season and type of adventures you plan to do.  We find that hiking in closed-toe sandals on the hottest of days tends to be the easiest for little ones.

Toddler wearing red Keen sandals at the top of a cliff over looking water

Hobibear Sandals

Hobibear Sandal

Available in sizes 5T – Big Kid

For a lower-priced option, these are a great pick.  The sole has good traction and the toe is protected.  While comparable to the Keen Newport Sandals, I found these were not quite as durable as the Keen version.  If you plan to hand your sandals down to siblings it may be worth it to splurge.  

Keen Newport Sandals

Keen newport hiking sandals

Available in sizes 4T – adult.

Starting at a toddler size four, these tiny sandals are perfect for warm weather hiking.  The “bump toe” piece in the front prevents injuries while hiking and the sandal design allows for spontaneous water play.  If your little one has sensory issues like my son, wearing socks with these sandals until it is time for water play keeps any foreign objects out. 

Merrell Bare Steps H20

Merrell barefoot H20

Available in sizes 4T – 10T and also available in a wide width.

If your kiddo really struggles with getting rocks or sand in their shoes, these are SO great. They let water in and out easily, but nothing else. The traction on the H20 is better suited for water play and not necessarily intended for trails, but we use them for both.

Hiking Shoes for Toddlers

Keen Chandler CNX

KEEN Chandler Shoes

Available in sizes 4T – adult.

We found these ran a little small which is perfect so those super tiny feet.  Their toddler size four could easily be used with socks for a toddler with size three feet.  Size up if you have a bigger or wider foot.  These are very breathable and dry-quick when your kiddos inevitably find a puddle to jump in.

Merrell Trail Chaser

Available in sizes 5T – Big Kid

The Merrell Trail Chasers have great traction and good fit for toddlers. The top strap keeps them on and makes them easy for toddlers to put them on themselves.

Best Hiking Boots for Toddlers

YES there is a place for hiking boots for toddlers. They keep little feet protected, add stability and traction, and keep toddlers safe from snakes or ticks.

Toddler boy hiking in a wooded trail wearing Merrell Bare Step Boot Chukka toddler hiking boots

Merrell Bare Steps 2.0

Available in sizes 4T – 10T and also available in a wide width.

Merrell’s Bare Step line of boots and shoes have a fantastic flexible sole with lots of traction.  We like these boots for hikes when the trails are not as well worn, the trail is rocky, or the hike is long.  While staying flexible on the bottom the higher boot design provides extra ankle support for wobbly walkers. The boot is water-resistant but seems to still breathe well.

L.L.Bean Toddlers Waterproof Trail Hikers

L.L Bean Boots

Available in sizes 5T – 9T.

A thick sole, waterproof, and the tallest hikers for toddlers we could find these are best if you want a stiffer more structured boot. While these are not as flexible, some toddlers need a more structured, durable boot and these fit the bill perfectly. 

Northside Rampart Mid Hiking Boot

Northside toddler Hiking Boot

Available in sizes 5T – Big kid.

These are sturdy, ankle-high boots that come as small as a toddler size 5.  We found that with thick socks, our new walker who normally wears a size four could easily walk in these.  We weren’t a fan of laces as they were hard to tie on a squirmy toddler, but the adjustability of laces makes it a nice choice for toddlers with chubby ankles.  These are a nice choice at a more affordable price.


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  • Anna is a proud Washingtonian living in the Cascade mountain range with her park ranger husband and their three kids. Their family is lucky enough to live in a ranger house in a state park and have lots of access to the outdoors year-round. Anna is expecting her fourth child in early March and is on a mission to find the best gear for the tiniest of explorers.

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