Top Kids’ Hiking Boots Guide 2023

Stepping into the great outdoors with your kids isn’t just about finding the right trail or packing the perfect snack—it’s also about ensuring they have the proper gear to tackle the adventure ahead. Chief among these necessities are kids’ hiking boots. Choosing the right pair means looking beyond just a cool design; it involves understanding what makes a boot capable of supporting and protecting young feet across varied terrain. From assessing materials for durability and comfort to ensuring the fit is precisely right, selecting hiking boots for children is a crucial step in prepping for any family outdoor excursion. Let’s dive into what makes a hiking boot worthy of your child’s next adventure and how to keep them in tip-top shape for many treks to come.

Criteria for Choosing Kids’ Hiking Boots

Selecting the perfect hiking boot for kids may seem daunting at first glance, yet it’s a vital step in ensuring their outdoor adventures are both safe and enjoyable. Hiking boots are the guardians of little feet, offering support, protection, and comfort during those exciting treks through nature. Let’s dive deep into what makes a great hiking boot for the young explorer in your life.

Fit and Comfort:

The cornerstone of any stellar hiking boot is its fit. A child’s growing foot needs ample room to move without being too loose. Look for boots that offer a snug fit around the heel and ankle while leaving enough space in the toe box for the toes to wiggle. Comfort cannot be overstated as well, as a comfortable boot will keep those little complaints at bay and encourage a longer, happier hike.


Kids are naturally energetic and bound to jump and run around when on a hike. A great hiking boot will provide plenty of ankle support to minimize the risk of twists or sprains on uneven terrain. This support comes from a structured but flexible ankle shaft, which should comfortably wrap around their ankle.


Let’s face it, kids are tough on gear. From scrambling over rocks to splashing through streams, their boots need to withstand a fair bit of abuse. Durability in kids’ hiking boots often comes from reinforced materials, such as tough leather or synthetic uppers, and a solid, often rubber, outsole that can grip the terrain without wearing down too quickly.


Speaking of outsoles, traction is a key feature. The best hiking boots for kids have rugged soles with deep lugs that can handle a variety of surfaces, from muddy trails to slick rocks. Good traction not only keeps them safe on the trail but also boosts their confidence as they navigate through nature’s obstacles.

Water Resistance:

Kids and puddles are like magnets, so water resistance is a feature you can’t overlook in a hiking boot. Look for boots labeled as waterproof or at least water-resistant to keep their feet dry and comfortable during those unavoidable encounters with water. However, bear in mind that breathability is also important – their feet shouldn’t feel like they’re in a sauna.

Ease of Use:

Lastly, consider how easy the boots are for your child to put on, take off, and secure. Models with hook-and-loop closures or easy-to-tie laces are ideal for younger hikers, promoting independence and reducing frustration on those busy mornings getting ready for a hike.

In conclusion, selecting a great hiking boot for kids boils down to finding a balance between function and comfort. Whether you’re dealing with a seasoned little hiker or a first-timer, the right pair of boots will make all the difference in their outdoor experience. Remember, the ultimate goal is to cultivate a love for hiking and the outdoors, and happy feet are key to achieving just that.

Image of a hiking boot designed for kids

Top Recommended Kids’ Hiking Boots

When choosing the best kids’ hiking boots for the trail, an essential consideration often overlooked is weight. Lightweight boots are a game-changer for young hikers. They reduce leg fatigue, making those long treks far more enjoyable. Let’s dive into this aspect, along with a few notable options that have been making waves in the outdoor community.

Optimal Weight

The importance of a lightweight boot cannot be overstated, especially for children whose endurance levels are still developing. Heavy boots can quickly become a burden, turning an exciting adventure into a trudge. The ideal boot combines light weight with robust support and durability, ensuring it’s not weighing them down as they explore.

Break-in Period

Another crucial factor is the break-in period. Some boots require a significant amount of time to break in, becoming comfortable enough for extended wear. For kids, the best hiking boots are those that are comfortable out of the box, with minimal break-in time needed. This ensures that little hikers are good to go for their next journey without having to suffer through blisters or discomfort.

Temperature Management

Kids can be incredibly active, which means they can also get sweaty fast. This is why temperature management within a boot is so crucial. Look for boots designed with breathable materials that help regulate the temperature, keeping feet cool in summer and warm in the colder months. Proper ventilation can make a big difference in overall comfort, especially on longer hikes.

Top Picks for Kids’ Hiking Boots

  1. Merrell Moab FST Mid Waterproof – A standout for its durability and lightweight design, the Merrell Moab FST is perfect for kids on the move. It boasts excellent traction, a waterproof yet breathable membrane, and a comfortable, supportive fit right out of the box.
  2. Keen Targhee Mid Waterproof – Known for its rugged durability and exceptional support, the Keen Targhee is another top contender. It’s designed with a waterproof leather upper and a breathable mesh lining, ensuring kids’ feet stay dry and comfortable. The adjustable hook-and-loop closure makes it easy for kids to put on and take off themselves.
  3. Columbia Youth Newton Ridge – For a blend of functionality and budget-friendliness, the Columbia Youth Newton Ridge is a great option. It features a waterproof seam-sealed construction, a lightweight midsole for long-lasting comfort, and superior cushioning. Plus, its high-traction grip ensures stability on various terrains.

Last Thoughts on Choosing the Right Pair

Remember, the best kids’ hiking boots will enhance the hiking experience by providing comfort, support, and protection, without the unnecessary bulk. It’s important to involve your child in the selection process — let them walk around in the boots and listen to their feedback. After all, they’re the ones hitting the trail in them. With the right pair, your little adventurer will be ready to conquer any path they choose.

Ready to gear up? Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll find the perfect pair of hiking boots for your young explorer. Happy trails!

Image of various kids' hiking boots lined up in a row, showcasing different styles and brands

Size and Fit Guide for Kids’ Hiking Boots

Selecting the ideal hiking boots for your child goes beyond just picking the right size. It encompasses understanding their unique foot needs and how they will be using the boots. From day hikes to family camping trips, the right pair of boots can make all the difference in your child’s outdoor experience. To ensure you find the perfect fit in kids’ hiking boots, consider these additional factors:

Understanding Foot Growth Patterns

Kids’ feet grow at lightning speed, and what fits today might not fit a few months down the line. However, it’s crucial to avoid the temptation of buying hiking boots several sizes too large. Oversized boots can lead to blisters, discomfort, and can be a tripping hazard. Ideally, there should be a thumb’s width between the front of the boot and your child’s longest toe. This space allows for some growth and toe movement, essential during walks.

Adjustability Features

Look for hiking boots with adjustable features like laces or Velcro straps. These adjustments can help customize the fit around your child’s feet, accommodating for narrower or wider shapes. Proper adjustment ensures the foot is securely held in place, reducing the risk of blisters and improving overall stability on uneven terrains.


While keeping water out is essential, so is letting moisture escape. Select boots with breathable materials to prevent sweaty feet, which can lead to discomfort and blisters during warmer days or longer hikes. Some boots use a combination of waterproof and breathable membranes, like Gore-Tex, to strike a balance between keeping the feet dry and comfortable.

Checking the Insole

The insole or footbed of a hiking boot plays a vital role in providing comfort and support. When trying on boots, consider the feel of the insole. Is it too hard? Too soft? Some boots come with removable insoles, allowing for custom orthotics if your child requires additional support. An insole that conforms slightly to the foot’s shape can offer better support and enhance walking comfort.

Heel and Ankle Support

Children are often energetic and can be quite adventurous on trails. A boot with adequate heel and ankle support can prevent sprains and injuries, providing a more stable base for their explorations. This support is especially important on uneven terrains where the risk of twisting an ankle is higher. Feel the boot’s construction around the heel and ankle; it should be firm but not restrictive, allowing for natural movement.

Trying Boots at the Right Time

Our feet tend to swell later in the day after we’ve been walking on them for a while. It’s a good idea to try hiking boots later in the day when your child’s feet are at their largest. This ensures the boots won’t feel too tight during hikes. Have your child wear the type of socks they’ll be hiking in when trying on boots for a more accurate feel of how they’ll fit on the trail.

Involve Your Child in the Process

Finally, make sure your child is involved in the selection process. They should walk around in the boots to gauge comfort, fit, and any potential irritation spots. Their feedback is crucial; if they say the boots pinch or rub in certain areas, consider a different model or size. Comfortable kids are happy hikers.


Finding the perfect fit in kids’ hiking boots requires a mix of practical considerations and an understanding of your child’s needs. The right pair of boots will provide the support, protection, and comfort they need to enjoy the hiking experience fully. Remember, a well-fitting pair of boots empowers your child to confidently explore the great outdoors alongside you.

Image of a pair of kids' hiking boots ready for outdoor exploration

Care and Maintenance of Kids’ Hiking Boots

Keeping hiking boots for kids in tip-top shape is crucial for ensuring their adventures on the trails are both enjoyable and safe. Extending the life of these boots not only saves you money over time but also teaches your young hiker the value of taking care of their gear. Here’s how to make those boots last longer, ensuring they’re ready for any adventure your kids are keen to embark on.

Caring for the Boots: Cleaning and Drying

After each hike, it’s essential to clean the boots thoroughly. Dirt and mud can dry out the material, leading to cracks and deterioration over time. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any loose dirt. For stubborn grime, a mild soap and lukewarm water will do the trick. Avoid using harsh chemicals or detergents as they can damage the boots’ material and water-resistance features.

Drying the boots correctly is equally important. Never place them near direct heat sources like radiators or heaters as intense heat can warp the shape and damage the material. Instead, remove the insoles and let both the boots and insoles air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Stuffing the boots with newspaper helps absorb moisture and maintains the shape of the boots as they dry.

Waterproofing and Maintenance

Even if the boots start off as waterproof, that protection can wear off with time. Regularly apply a water-repellent treatment suited to the boots’ material. This not only revives the water resistance but also helps to prevent stains and extend the overall life of the boots. Remember, it’s easier to maintain waterproofing than to try and fix boots that have already begun leaking.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific care tips and recommended products to ensure compatibility with the boot’s material. For example, leather and synthetic materials may require different treatment.

Lacing Techniques and Storage

The way boots are laced can affect their longevity. Teach your child to lace their boots snugly but not too tightly; excessive pressure can strain eyelets and wear out the material faster. Also, untie the boots before taking them off to avoid stretching the material unnecessarily.

When storing the boots, especially if they won’t be used for a while, choose a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Sun exposure can fade the color and degrade the material over time. If the boots will be stored for an extended period, consider stuffing them with paper to help maintain their shape.

Inspecting and Addressing Wear and Tear

Regular inspection of the boots can catch potential issues before they turn into major problems. Look for signs of wear on the sole, loose stitches, or areas where the material may be starting to crack or separate. Early detection means simpler fixes like applying a bit of shoe glue to a separating sole, rather than needing to replace the boots altogether.

Encouraging Responsibility

Involve your child in the care of their hiking boots. This not only educates them on the importance of maintaining their gear but also instills a sense of responsibility. A simple checklist of cleaning and maintenance tasks can make it easy for them to remember what needs to be done after each hike.

Final Touches

Remember, while extending the life of your kids’ hiking boots requires a bit of effort, the reward of durable, comfortable footwear for countless adventures makes it well worthwhile. With regular cleaning, proper drying, maintenance, and a little bit of care, those boots will be ready to tackle many more trails. Encouraging these habits early on not only prolongs the life of their current boots but also teaches valuable lessons in taking care of their belongings, lessons that will serve them well on and off the trail.

A pair of hiking boots being cleaned and maintained, showing the steps described in the text

Selecting and maintaining the right hiking boots for your kids can significantly impact their outdoor experiences. By focusing on durable materials, a supportive and comfortable fit, and the proper care and maintenance of the boots, you provide your child with the foundation for a positive and enjoyable relationship with nature. Remember, the goal is not just to find boots that can withstand the trek but to encourage a lifelong appreciation for exploration and adventure. With the right approach, your children’s hiking boots will carry them confidently on many joyful journeys.

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