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How to choose hiking shoes for kids?

kids' hiking footwear

Choosing Hiking Shoes for Children

Each step in nature is a new discovery for a child. Whether it's during family hikes in shaded forests, excursions along babbling streams, or clilmbs on steep mountain trails, outdoor adventures are an endless playground for young, curious minds. But to turn every outing into a joyful and comfortable memory, choosing the right pair of hiking shoes is essential. This guide is designed to help you with this crucial task, providing practical advice and insightful tips for selecting the best shoes to follow your child's steps on all types of terrain. The goal? To ensure a safe, enjoyable, and enriching outdoor adventure for children.

Encouraging children to engage in walking and hiking from a young age promotes their physical development and connection with nature. Proper equipment is crucial. Children's hiking shoes and boots are at the heart of this gear: they protect feet that are still growing, offering support and comfort on hiking trails, from country paths to the most demanding mountain hikes.

Comfort and safety when hiking largely depend on the quality of the hiking shoes or boots chosen for your child. Well-fitted shoes with a flexible yet sturdy outsole not only ensure good grip on various terrains but also help prevent falls and slips. For children, who often have boundless energy and a strong desire for exploration, a lightweight and responsive shoe allows to move with ease on trails, from forest paths to the more rugged routes of mountain hikes.

Walking and Comfort: Choosing the Right Size

Choosing the right size of hiking shoes for a child is essential for their comfort and safety during hikes. Shoes that are too small can restrict foot growth and cause pain, while shoes that are too large can lead to falls and blisters. To avoid these pitfalls, it is recommended to leave about a finger's width between the child's heel and the back of the shoe. This extra space not only allows for a comfortable fit but also provides room for thicker socks and the swelling of the feet that can occur after several hours of walking.

Good sizing and proper fit are particularly important as children are often more active and less likely to report discomfort before problems arise. Taking the time to choose the perfect pair of shoes is an investment in your child's enjoyment and well-being during every hike.

The Right Outsole

The quality of the outsole also plays a crucial role. A flexible outsole promotes a natural stride, while good traction is essential for navigating safely on slippery trails or uneven surfaces. The presence of a rand at the front of the shoe can be useful for protecting the toes from impacts against rocks or roots.

kids' hiking footwear

Closure Type: Laces, Velcro, or BOA

Additionally, the shoe's closure system deserves special attention. Strong, easily adjustable laces allow for a secure and customised fit, essential for preventing the foot from slipping in the shoe when hiking. For younger children, models with Velcro or buckle closures can facilitate independence and ensure a quick and secure fit.

Cuff Height: Low or High?

The choice between low-cut shoes and high-ankle boots for hiking with your child largely depends on the type of terrain where you plan on hiking.

Low-Cut Shoes

Low-cut shoes offer more freedom of movement and are generally lighter, making them ideal for short hikes on well-maintained trails or for everyday activities. They allow children to move naturally and comfortably, which is essential for encouraging the learning of walking and the love of exploration from a young age.

High-Ankle Boots

On the other hand, high-ankle boots provide extra ankle support, which is crucial for mountain hikes or on rough terrain. This type of model helps prevent ankle sprains, especially in areas where feet are likely to slip or twist on unstable rocks or roots. Additionally, boots often offer better protection against the elements, such as water and mud, due to their better coverage.

Hiking in Summer or Winter: Which Model to Choose?

The choice of hiking shoes for your child should adapt to the whims of the weather and the specificities of each season. Summer calls for open or low-cut shoes that promote better ventilation, essential to prevent overheating of the feet during long hikes under the sun. These lightweight shoe models allow children to feel freer and more agile on the trails, making summer exploration both pleasant and refreshing.

However, when temperatures drop and landscapes are covered with a white blanket, the requirements for children's hiking shoes change. For winter hikes, opt for boots that offer extra protection against the cold and moisture. Waterproofness becomes an essential criterion, which we'll discuss further in this guide.

Safety on slippery terrain is also a top priority during the winter months. An outsole offering excellent traction will reduce the risk of slips and falls on ice or packed snow, ensuring safer and more enjoyable hikes for the whole family.

It is also wise to consider the shoe's closure system. Strong laces that do not easily come undone are essential to maintain a good fit throughout the outing. For young children or those who haven't yet mastered the art of tying knots, models with alternative closure systems, such as buckles or Velcro, can be a practical solution for hikes in any season.

Finally, regardless of the model chosen, it is important to remember that hiking shoes should be both comfortable from the first wear and durable enough to withstand the rigors of mountain hikes or other challenging terrains. With the right footwear, your child is ready to embrace adventure, no matter the weather.

Waterproof Shoes to Keep Feet Dry

Keeping feet dry is crucial for ensuring your child's comfort during hikes, whether under clear skies or in wetter conditions. Waterproofness is an essential feature of children's hiking shoes, especially for mountain hikes where puddles and muddy terrain can quickly turn a fun adventure into an unpleasant experience.

Waterproof shoes with Gore-Tex membranes provide a reliable barrier against moisture while allowing feet to breathe, preventing overheating and excessive sweating. This technology is particularly appreciated for its ability to balance protection and comfort, two essential criteria for young hikers.

It is also important to consider the cuff height of the shoe. Boots, in addition to providing extra ankle support, offer better protection against moisture. They are ideal for crossing streams or walking in snow, keeping feet dry even in fully wet environments.

A good water repellent finish on the shoe's upper also contributes to waterproofness. This treatment prevents water from penetrating the fabric, causing droplets to simply trickle off the surface. This is a significant advantage when walking through tall, wet grass or hiking in light rain.

Remember, waterproofness is not just about comfort; it's also a safety measure. Wet feet can quickly become cold, increasing the risk of hypothermia in unfavourable weather conditions. Additionally, wet shoes can cause friction and blisters, ruining the hiking experience for your child.

kids' hiking footwear

For Girls and Boys

Children's hiking shoes are designed to protect and support, regardless of gender. The differences between shoes for girls and boys are mainly in aesthetics and colour. The important thing is to choose a pair of shoes that your child likes, while meeting their needs for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Salomon, Adidas... Kids’ Models from Leading Brands

Brands like Salomon and Adidas understand the importance of quality hiking shoes for children. They offer a variety of models suitable for young hikers, incorporating technologies such as Gore-Tex for waterproofness and practical closure systems for securely fastened laces. In addition to these brands, we also offer models from manufacturers like La Sportiva, Merrell, and Keen.

The Right Shoe for Successful Hikes

Hiking with children is a great way to introduce them to nature and encourage an active lifestyle. By following these tips, you can be sure to choose the best hiking shoes for your child, ensuring their comfort and safety on all terrains and in all weather conditions. Embark on the adventure and create unforgettable family memories!