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Best Hiking Boots for Kids | HileHighValley

Best Hiking Boots for Kids | HileHighValley

Best Hiking Boots for Kids

I have been taking my kids hiking for as long as I (and they) can remember. It became clear pretty early that the right footwear would be key to our having successful adventures. Sore feet are no fun for adults or kids, and without good hiking shoes, my kids understandably did a lot of complaining. And I was asked to do a lot of carrying. There are plenty of options for hiking boots for kids, which can be overwhelming. Based on my experience, I will provide some tips on what you should look for when seeking out hiking boots for your child, as well as review options for both girls hiking boots and boys hiking boots. My hope is that this guidance will make the decision-making process easier and lead to your own great adventures on the trails.

What to Look for when Choosing Hiking Boots for Kids

It can be a challenge to choose hiking boots for kids, particularly when they are young and unable to communicate their thoughts about a how the boots feel. With my kids, they would often be attracted to a certain shoe and once they found that shoe it was “good” or “fine” no matter how it really fit. This can be a problem and led to my researching what qualities I wanted to see in a boot prior to presenting the options to my kids to try on.

I usually choose hiking boots for my kids, rather than the shoes that don’t provide ankle coverage. While hiking boots are likely heavier than shoes, they offer more support, which I feel is important for kids who are still developing and building strength. Should you begin taking your kids on longer hikes and carrying more weight, perhaps for backpacking, you will want to look for boots that offer even more support and a better grip.

Just like when you are choosing boots for yourself, it is important when selecting boots for kids that the boots fit well. When trying the boots on, the child should wear the socks that they plan to wear once boots have been purchased. There are a few different things to watch out for as the child tries on each pair:

  • Is there sufficient space in the toe box? Depending on the age of the kid, you may be able to get assistance with that answer. The child’s toes should not feel like they are squished on the sides and if they are feeling like their toes are being squeezed, than the shoe is not a good fit. On the other hand, if the child has so much room in the toe box that their toes are not supported, that too is not a good fit.
  • How is the length of the shoe? This is tricky with kids and their growing feet. You can check the length of the boot by having your child stand up without the boots laced up. Have them slide their foot forward until their toes touch the front. You should be able to comfortably place your finger between your child’s heel and the heel of the shoe.
  • Once the boot is laced, your child should not feel like their foot slides forward when rising up to their toes. Of course it should not be so tight that it is cutting of circulation.
  • When your child is walking around with the boots on the child’s heel should not lift or move around. The heel lifting or moving can lead to blisters and a too-loose boot can lead to a twisted ankle.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the options available for kids.



Best Boys Hiking Boots

For my very active son, who is 11, a pair of hiking boots serve two purposes; proper support when out on the trails and a pair of shoes that he (hopefully) won’t destroy over the course of a month or two. Let’s take a look at five options and what they offer.

Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot (Little Kid/Big Kid)

Boys hiking boots

It is no surprise that the first boots I will look at are Keens, having been wearing them myself for years. I love mine and each time I wear out a pair I immediately get myself a new version. Why not consider those for my son?

The Keen Pagosa is made of both leather and synthetic materials, offering a waterproof leather and mesh upper that stops moisture from entering the boot while letting moisture out. The boot has a “secure fit lace capture system” which apparently makes it easy to put on and take off. This is appealing when considering a boot for my son, who can take 10 minutes to get one shoe on in the mornings. The sole is made of synthetic material and the outsole is rubber. The shaft (part of the boot that covers the ankle and leg) is 4.5” from the arch. The Keen Pagosa is advertised as having a lot of traction, support and stability.

As of right now the Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boots have recieved incredibly positive reviews. Commenters rave about the durability, support and comfort of the boots. Of the few poor reviews, one notes that they found the boots to be uncomfortable and another comments that the boots were stiff. As of writing this post the reviews, 94% of reviews are four stars or above on this awesome hiking boots.

Columbia Youth Newton Ridge Waterproof Hiking Boot (Little Kid/Big Kid)

best hiking boots for boys


I have purchased a number of different items made by Columbia over the years, so this is a logical next brand of boot to consider. With a shaft that measures about 4” from the arch, the Columbia Youth Newton Ridge Waterproof Hiking Boot is made of polyurethane coated leather with a rubber sole and outsole. The boots are waterproof with cup sole construction.

There are many reviews for these boots online and the vast majority are quite positive. The reviews report that the boots are very sturdy; one reviewer notes that her son wore them for two years and now his younger brother has them. Reviewers note that the shoes are comfortable and that the shoelaces tie well without coming undone. That is nice to hear as there are many arguments in our house about tying shoes…the less we have to worry about that, the better. There is mention several times that the shoes run small, so that is important to keep in mind when choosing a size. The only negative comment that we some multiple times is regarding the eyelets breaking easily on the boot, leading to the boots being unable to be tied.

Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP JR Hiking Boot (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

Hiking boots for boys


Hi-Tec offers a variety of hiking boots for kids and the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP Junior Hiking Boot seems comparable to the others I have been exploring. The Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP JR Hiking Boot is made of leather and textile, with a synthetic sole and a shaft that measures 4.5” from the arch. The upper portion of the boot is made of mesh, which is helpful for ventilation, and there is a Dri-Tec “waterproof, breathable membrane” that allows your feet to remain dry. There is an abrasion-resistant toe cap and heel that help to protect feet from blisters (which hopefully will protect parents from their complaining). The boots boast a multi-directional traction outsole that will be helpful in children maintaining their footing when on rough terrain and a ghillie lacing system will help the boots fit securely.

The Hi-Tech Altitude Lite I WP JR Hiking Boot has quite a few online reviews with average as of writing this review being a total of 4.5 out of five stars. The majority of consumer reviews of this product were incredibly positive. Reviewers mention that the boots hold up very well and the traction they provide is excellent. Based on reviewers’ comments, the boots truly are waterproof and are comfortable to hike in. The one negative review states that the boots were not true to size; various reviews note that the boots run a bit small, to compensate for this consumers may want to order a boots a sixe larger. This will also ensure the boot last for a longer time as the child grows.


Teva Escapade Mid LEA Boys Hiker (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

boys hiking shoes


Most folks know about Teva for the sandals that they make. It turns out that they make boots as well. The Teva Escapade Mid LEA Boys Hiker is a popular durable leather upper for youth offering comfort and stability. There is a heel pull loop to allow them to be easy for kids to get on and the collar and tongue are padded to provide additional comfort. The boots feature a mesh lining that helps with ventilation and there is underfoot cushioning that will keep your child comfortable when wearing their boots all day. The rubber outsole is designed to be durable and to offer traction in rough terrain.

As of writing this the consumer reviews of the Teva Escapade Mid LEA Boys Hiker have an incredibly high average of 4.9 stars. The reviewers express that the boots are lightweight, hold up well, are definitely waterproof and are very comfortable. There are currently no reviews under three stars and only one review rates the boots three stars, noting that the boots were too narrow which is more of a preference than a con.


Timberland Whiteledge Waterproof Hiking Boot

youth hiking boots


The Timberland Whiteledge Waterproof Hiking Boot is made of both leather and textiles, offering a synthetic sole and a shaft that is approximately 3.25” from the arch. The boot can get wet, having waterproof leather, seam-sealed waterproof construction and a textile lining that will catch moisture. The boot provides durability and solid traction for the child with a rubber outsole and there is an EVA food bed to protect and support the child’s feet. The ankle of the boot is padded, to increase comfort during longer days on the trails.

There are many reviews of these youth hiking boots as the are one of the most popular pairs of hiking boots for kids. Currently 88% of the reviews being four stars and above, many purchasers have had great experiences with these boots. Reviews describe the boots as “lightweight” and “solid” and reports state that the boots keep children’s feet warm and dry.  Per the reviews, the kids seem pleased with the comfort as well. The main complaint about the boots contradicts that they keep feet warm and dry; one comment notes that the sides of the tongue are not connected to the shoe so water can get in under the laces.


Which to Try First?

Based on my research, the first boot I had my son try is the Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot. Aside from having had good experiences myself with this brand of boot, I like that the shaft is 4.5” from the arch, providing

high support for a child’s ankle. I also feel good about the fact that 94% of those who commented about the boot rated it with four or more stars. When my son, who is 11, tried these on though, he felt that the size 4 was too small and the size 5 too big. I was then ready to have him try my second choice, the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP JR Hiking Boot. I am again attracted to the 4.5” shaft, and appreciate the comments about the boots being truly waterproof. If my son encounters water, he will step right into it. We definitely need something that can handle that. Luckily, while I was helping my daughter, my son chose these on his own to try and loved them.



Best Girls Hiking Boots

While boots are important for my son, they are perhaps even more important for my daughter, who is not as sure-footed as her brother and not the most enthusiastic of hikers. If I want to limit the complaining, I will need some very comfortable boots.

Many of the hiking boots available for kids can be worn by boys or girls. In fact, my two top choices of hiking boots for boys, the Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot and the Hi-Tec Altitude Lite I WP JR Hiking Boot come in multiple colors. Depending on the girl, the ones with a little purple may or may not be more appealing than the ones with orange. While I investigate other boot options for girls, I will keep these boots in mind as possibilities as well.


Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

kids merrell shoes

The Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot looks to be a good option for girls or boys. With a 4.5” shaft from the arch, these leather boots offer good ankle support. The boots offer several features:

  • M-select dry: an impermeable membrane that keeps water out and lets moisture escape so your feet stay dry
  • M-select fresh: prevent odor to keep feet from smelling
  • M-select grip: durable traction on the outsole that grips when needed to handle rough terrain

The boots have a removable footbed. The boots come in several colors and are appropriate for girls or boys.

The online reviews for these boots as of writing this post have an average of 4.7 star rating out of 5. In fact, currently, 95% of reviewers rated these boots with four or more stars. Some highlights; the toe guard is great for protecting against stubbed toes, the boots are very comfortable, no complaints after miles of hiking on rocky terrain, good grip and they keep feet dry and warm; even good in snow! The few negative comments point out that the boots are somewhat narrow, particularly through the toe area, the tongue is bulky and rubs the top of the foot and there is no padding at the top of the shoe.


Hi-Tec Kid’s Nepal Waterproof Junior Hiking Boot (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

hiking shoes for kids


The Hi-Tec Kid’s Nepal Waterproof Junior Hiking Boot comes in multiple colors and is also suitable for either gender. Like the Hi-Tec boots previously reviewed, the Nepal Waterproof Junior Hiking Boot offers a 4.5” shaft. The boot is made of waterproof suede and synthetic material, along with a rubber sole with good traction. The upper portion of the boot has a breathable mesh lining that is waterproof. That, along with waterproof construction keeps feet dry. The boots have a steel shank that provides support and stability. There is a Big-Fit insole system that has two insoles. You can remove the lower insole to make the boots a half size larger. This is great for kids’ feet that seem to grow every three months. There is also a toe bumper for extra protection when stubbing a toe on a big rock.

These boots currently have 208 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Positive reviews point out that the boots are well-constructed, lightweight, truly waterproof, comfortable and sturdy. As 95% of the reviewers gave the boots four or more stars, there were few complaints. The main problem reported was that the sole started to peel off after just a few months of use. It was also noted by one reviewer that their child’s feet got very wet when wearing these in the snow.


Air Balance Girl’s Lace Up Hiking Shoes Boots Brown/Pink (Little Kid/big Kid)

girls hiking shoes


I was determined to find a shoe that is made specifically for girls. For some, this matters, yet it seems this is hard to come across. Therefore, I was excited to find the Air Balance Girl’s Lace Up Hiking Shoes. I found them online and the information provided was so minimal it was hard for me to stay excited. The boots are made of leather and synthetic materials, have a reinforced heal and toe and a rubber sole. It is noted that sizes tend to run small.

Though there are not many reviews on these hiking boots I still found the few there were to be quite positive. Consumers of this boot often spoke of the high quality offered with this boots design as well as the comfort felt when wearing it.


Timberland Euro Hiker Boot (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

Timberand girls hiking boot

Another unisex pair of boots, the Timberland Euro Hiker Boot is available in so many colors it is hard to imagine that a child could not find at least one that they like. The boots have a shaft that is 4” from the arch and is made of leather and textile with a lightweight, synthetic sole (with great traction). The tongue of the boot is padded which helps with comfort. The footbed and lining are made of brushed nylon which increase comfort and warmth. The EVA midsole is helpful for shock dispersion and the boots are crafted for durability.

As of writing this post 143 reviews of these boots on Amazon with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars. Many of the reviewers note that the boots are very comfortable and that their children are in no hurry to take them off. The reviewers report that boots are well made and durable and that kids’ feet stay warm and dry. The few negative reviews seemed more focused on the order being incorrect, though a few stated that the boots were of poor quality.


Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot (Little Kid/Big Kid)

childrens hiking boots

Yes, these are the same boots by Keen that I wrote about in the section for “best boys hiking boots”. My preference is to find boots with a 4.5” shaft, which these offer, and I like the idea that my daughter would not have to tie these (a benefit of the “secure fit lace capture system”). My daughter is way too busy to stop and tie her shoes. I admit I am attracted to the purple version of these boots, which are girlish without being over the top.  Based on the options I have discussed for “best girls hiking boots”, the Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot is my top choice for both girls and boys. These boots offer great support and do well on rough terrain. My own hiking boots are Keens, and they have proven to be durable and comfortable.


Which to Try First?

The Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot is my favorite option; however it will need to feel good on my daughter’s feet. I am also going to have her try the Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot; I like that the shaft is also 4.5” and the boots have received great reviews, with only 5% of reviewers awarding the boots less than four stars.

When I took my kids to look at boots, my daughter was instantly attracted to the Keen Pagosa Mid WP Hiking Boot. She immediately picked up the purple version, tried them on and announced that they fit just fine. I reminded her that more important than the look of the shoe was how they felt. I also had her tried on the Merrell Capra Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot as a point of comparison. There was no question in her nine year old mind; the Keen’s were it. She felt that the boots by Merrell were not as comfortable. And she really did not like the fact that she would have to tie the laces, rather than pull to tighten the shoes as with the Keens.



There are many great options available when it comes to hiking boots for kids. So many that it can be overwhelming to try and make a decision. Should you be looking to purchase boots for a child, I recommend that you have in mind which shoes you feel are the best options and start there. If you narrow it down to two or three that YOU are comfortable with it will give you a starting point with your child. Should they find one of those options to be comfortable, than you can make your purchase and feel good about it.

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