How to choose hiking shoes for kids
Is your child a true little hiker? Does he love playing outside? Choosing footwear designed for his size and needs is key to his comfort and protection while he’s learning how to hike. What size? High-cut boot or low-cut? Read on to find answers to all your questions so you can make the best choice.
In this article, we’re only going to talk about footwear for kids from 3 to 6 years old with a shoe size of around 7.5 to 12.5 US (7 to 11.5 UK, 24 to 30 EU). Clearly, your baby won’t be going for a hike when he takes his first steps. Or if so, then he’ll more likely be on your back! For kids 7 years and older, you can read our article on how to choose hiking shoes for adults.
High-top boots or low?
The first thing to consider when choosing footwear designed specifically for your child: what will he or she use them for?
For walking in the mountains, your apprentice hiker needs stability and support. Stability is provided by a certain amount of rigidity in the sole that will provide security during the most difficult parts of his hike. A high upper that covers the ankle will provide additional support. High-top boots are all the more recommended if your child is walking with a small backpack or if your itinerary includes a bit of elevation gain or drop.
--- High-cut shoes for kids
For hiking on flat, easy terrain, you can go for multi-purpose outdoor shoes. A low-top shoe with a soft sole will bring all the freedom of movement and sensitivity that your child will need to get used to hiking on rough terrain, whether in the city or in the mountains.
--- Low-top shoes for kids
How to choose the right footwear based on weather
For summer and other times when it’s hot, look for footwear that is well-ventilated because children’s feet have more difficulty evacuating perspiration as adults’ feet. Open shoes are a good choice, but if you want to protect your child’s feet from small rocks and other debris you should go with closed shoes that are made from a highly breathable fabric like mesh, for example. These shoes won’t be waterproof, but they will dry really quickly.
For use during mid-season when the temperature is cooler, or for a hike in the mountains, we recommend closed shoes. For wet conditions, opt for a shoe with a water-repellent treatment or a waterproof shoe with a Gore-Tex type membrane or something similar. These shoes will keep your toddler’s feet dry … unless he decides to jump in all the puddles!
In winter and snowy conditions, waterproof boots with a high upper and an insulated lining will provide all the necessary protection. Après-ski type boots can also do the trick for a short hike in the snow as well as for making a snowman. When your child tries the boots on, remember to make sure he’s wearing his thick winter socks.
How to get the right size
Finding the right size hiking boot for a child is not that easy. Your child’s feet are constantly growing and it’s no simple task to make sure you get the right size when he tries it on. To increase your chances, start by measuring your child’s feet with a foot measuring tool (Brannock Device), which are always available in shoe stores. Go for one size larger. In the end, you should be able to put your little finger between your child’s heel and the shoe. No more, no less.
It may be tempting to get larger shoes to make them last longer but be aware that if the shoe is too big your child’s foot will move around inside the shoe and will not be well supported. There will also be a greater risk of overheating or blisters if you get the wrong size.
Shoelaces, elastic or velcro?
Lace-up hiking boots are common even though younger kids will need your help to tie them.
Elastic and velcro closures are simple, support the foot well and enable your child to be more autonomous. You can also find children’s hiking boots with an elastic strap at the bottom of the foot and velcro on the upper that provide excellent support.
So there you have it! You now know all about how to choose hiking shoes for your child. All you have to do is find an easy and fun route that will enable him to learn how fun hiking can be. As for hikes in the big mountains? There will be time for those when they grow up!