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Do Kids Really Need Hiking Shoes?

Having the kids around for summer break or other vacations is exciting and presents you with a chance to bond with them. If you have been considering setting out on a hiking adventure, proper preparation is essential. You know you’ll need some items for the activity, but will your kids need some hiking shoes or not?

Your kids will not need hiking shoes if they are hiking on flat and smooth trails and in dry weather. They will be okay in most types of footwear including sneakers or sandals. However, if the adventure is longer and on rocky or muddy terrain, they will need good hiking shoes.

Shoes are the connection between your kid’s feet and the ground, and therefore you must ensure they are comfortable.

In this article, I’ll discuss a few topics related to this question in great detail. The topics include why hiking shoes are essential for your kids, what to look for in a pair of hiking shoes, and different types of hiking shoes.

Why Are Hiking Shoes Important For Kids?

Providing Ankle Support

When you set out on a hiking adventure, the safety of your kids should come first. Most hiking shoes offer stability by ensuring your kid’s ankles don’t get twisted as they hike. This significantly reduces the risk of sprains and falls since the shoes can limit lateral movement and reduce stress on the joints. 


Although it depends on location, many hiking trails are full of stones or loose soil, and that’s why good hiking shoes are recommended. They provide enough traction to prevent them from slipping or falling, unlike when wearing ordinary shoes.

Additionally, when your kids have good footing, it will help them feel comfortable and safe and able to run and roam on the trail with confidence.


Hiking trails can be full of leaves, and you never know what may be lurking under them. Your kid will be more protected from snake bites in hiking shoes than sandals.

Also, the hiking shoes reduce the risk of little feet being poked by nails, broken glass, pebbles, or sharp sticks.

Mud And Streams

If you are hiking during rainy weather, mud will be inevitable, so good quality hiking shoes are a good idea.

Good hiking shoes will feature a waterproof lining, and therefore it will be easy for kids to walk through mud and streams without getting soaked.

Or on the flip side, some outdoor shoes are made using mesh, thus allowing water to flow through them and dry faster.

If it’s a warm-weather hike in wet conditions, this type of shoe might be preferable to a waterproof hiking shoe.

What To Look For In Kid’s Hiking Shoes

Good hiking shoes for your kids will make a massive difference in the success of your hiking adventure. They will allow your kids to walk on different surfaces and environments for a long time and have a memorable hiking experience. Here are ideas of what features to look for in hiking shoes for your kids.

A Good Fit

The shape of the hiking shoes should have a dimension and shape that doesn’t jeopardize the health or comfort of your kids. You don’t want them to suffer from blisters or swollen feet because the shoe was too small or too big.

Make sure you understand your kid’s foot size and the optimal shape of their underfoot to get them an excellent fitting shoe that will keep them comfortable. Such a shoe also offers adequate shock absorption and support.

Light Weight

When choosing a good hiking shoe, consider its weight. In most cases, you will find the best hikers wearing lightweight shoes.

Therefore, pick light hiking shoes because heavy ones will weigh your kids down, and they won’t be able to make the repetitive motion that hiking demands.

If the shoes are too heavy, they’ll get tired out faster and you’ll start to hear complaining before you’ve even reached the halfway point.


Cushioning is a shoe’s shock-absorbing ability, and it is an essential characteristic in kids’ shoes for hiking.

A well-cushioned shoe increases the time of an impact, which significantly reduces the shock load transferred to the musculoskeletal system of your feet.

As a result, the impact forces that cause pain or discomfort are dampened. A well-cushioned pair of shoes will help your little one last longer on the hike before getting tired out.

Shoe Laces (Or Not)

This might be a toss-up for you, but it depends on your child’s age. If your kids are quite young, consider hiking shoes without laces because they are convenient. A hook-and-loop strap or elastic band type of fit is much easier for them to take on and off independently.

However, if your kids are older, they can manage to tie the laces independently. But you should consider their preference because they might want shoes with or without laces.

Bump-toe Reinforcement

Hiking shoes for your kids (especially younger children) should have a reinforced bump toe because kids like kicking things. The reinforcement prevents the shoe from wearing out quite so fast.

Also, if you get a hiking shoe with this feature, you will not have to worry about your kids hurting their toes when they inevitably kick a rock or stick on the trail.

What Are Different Types Of Kids Hiking Shoes?

Hiking shoes are available in many different types. Here are just a few of them.

1. Approach Shoes

Approach hiking shoes are a great option for kids because of their versatility. They will help your kids go through steep and tricky areas and climb through rocky areas.

These shoes feature a sticky rubber exterior and a stiff interior midsole, making them the best for all types of hiking. They will protect your kids from blisters and make them comfortable because they boast a lacing system extending to the toes.

The only downside of the approach hiking shoes is that they typically have mesh uppers, and can’t offer protection against water and mud.

2. Light Hikers

These hiking shoes have a firm sole, tread patterns, and perfect traction. This means that your kid can wear these shoes all over the place, even when you hike on rough terrain. They are the best for traditional hiking since they are lightweight and still protect your kids against water. (And no one likes to hike with wet feet!)

3. Mid-weight Hiking Shoes

Mid-weight hiking shoes don’t have a whole lot of difference from light hiking shoes. Nevertheless, they feature a higher cuff, offering more ankle support. Additionally, they are versatile, durable, fit securely, and prevent your feet from hurting because they have a stiff midsole.

Can You Change The Factory Insoles Of Kid’s Hiking Shoes?

Yes, you can change the insole of your kid’s hiking shoes if they are not providing them with enough comfort.  Different types of insoles offer comfort and support differently.

Don’t hesitate to change the insoles if your kids complain of some foot fatigue, hot spots, or soreness of the feet.

Kids need hiking shoes if the terrain is rough and muddy.

The shoes will offer ankle support, comfort, and traction. When you get a pair of hiking shoes for kids, ensure they fit correctly, are lightweight, well-cushioned, and have a bump toe reinforcement.