If you start your kids off with a love of nature early on, it’s likely going to follow them for the rest of their lives. There is nothing quite as sweet as the memory of a family outing among the rocks, trees, and lakes of the natural world.
For your kids to enjoy a day in the woods, they need the right equipment. Otherwise, you’re likely to be dealing with complaints from tired and sore children who only want to rest – and who could blame them?
Finding the right hiking gear for children is not an easy task. Because children grow so quickly, hiking gear for kids is not particularly well built. Other times, it’s a little too well built and ends up costing an arm and a leg. If you have to replace your child’s gear every six months, you’re going to regret splurging on the best quality boots you could find.
To make your life easier and help you spend your days outdoors with your family, we’ve put together a thorough guide to the best hiking footwear for children. We surveyed the market, read up on reviews, and checked out customer feedback to come up with what we think are the best hiking boots and shoes you can buy for your kids.
Also, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to put together a handy guide to hiking with toddlers. This guide will not only make your buying decisions easier, but it will help you better enjoy your hikes. This section goes through some handy tips for hiking with kids, some do’s and don’ts, and some of the best kinds of hikes for kids of various ages.
Now, without any further ado, here’s a look at our complete guide.
Tips For Hiking With Toddlers
To start, we thought that it might be helpful to put together a few handy tips for hiking with toddlers. The fact is, kids have a lot of different needs than adults. Often, adults can forget this – even attentive parents. When you’re hiking with your kids, you need to think about things differently. Here are some of our handy tips for hiking with toddlers or young children.
- Pick the right hike: This is vital. When you are hiking with your kids, you have to be sure that the hike you’ve selected is a good one for young children. Many people consider the length and difficulty of the terrain when hiking with kids. Sometimes, you need to think a little more broadly. Instead of focusing entirely on selecting a hike of the right length and difficulty, try to pick one that is also kid-friendly. A kid-friendly hike is one that they will enjoy. Think about hikes with loops, rest stops, and fun destinations such as waterfalls. While it might be fun for an adult to hike to the end of a long path for a great view and then head back, the monotony is likely to wear the little ones down.
- Take it slow: When you’re hiking with kids, picking a long hike may not be the way to go. Your kids will likely need much more time to complete the hike than you do. If you end up taking six hours to complete a three-hour hike, you’ll all be pretty worked up by the end of it. In addition to picking a shorter hike, you need to expect to take it slow. If you plan a hike to take an hour and the kids need to rest for half an hour in the middle, you might find yourself rushing to get to the end. When hiking with kids, don’t expect to keep to the regular or suggested pace. Instead, focus on making sure that everyone is comfortable and having a good time. If your kids want to rest for a bit or explore, let them.
- Don’t fret: Though it can be tough at times, try to keep it cool. If your temperature starts to run high, the kids will pick up on it. It’s important to try to roll with the punches when it comes to hiking with kids. If they are running slow, getting hungry, or even throwing a tantrum in the middle of the hike, try to move on. Help them enjoy the day by enjoying the day yourself. Otherwise, it will feel like you are forcing them to do something that they don’t want to do and then punishing them for not enjoying it.
- Allow them to explore: This is what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it? If you’re out for a walk in the woods or mountains, let your kids explore! You shouldn’t get too caught up in making it to the end of the beaten path. If you pay attention, you might learn something from your kids. Get into the woods with them, look at the trees, climb the rocks, and have a blast. Making a hike into an adventure rather than an act of physical exertion alone makes it way more appealing for the youngsters. If your kids understand that exploration is one of the benefits of being outside, they’ll develop a deeper appreciation for it. This notion carries over beyond the trail as well.
- Pack a lot of snacks: Seriously, you really can’t overpack when it comes to snacks. One of the most common reasons that kids stop enjoying a hike is getting tired or hungry. If they are not eating enough food, they’re going to run low on energy. Besides, it is far better to have too many snacks than not enough snacks. If your kids get bored, they may start complaining about everything. Some of these things are beyond your control. Others are not – make sure that they can’t complain about being hungry.
- Bring a lot of water: Like food, you will need more water than you need. We know that it’s heavy – we know you don’t want your kids to drink too much in case they need to use the bathroom – however, hiking with dehydrated kids is no fun at all. Make sure that they are well hydrated, healthy, and fed. Remember, your tolerance for dehydration and hunger is far higher than your kids. Keeping on top of this will make the hike a lot more fun for everyone.
- Talk to your kids: Your kids will get bored of walking a long distance quietly. For an adult, the sounds of nature and silence can be welcoming. For kids, they are unlikely to pay much attention. If you want to keep your kids happy, make sure to talk to them as you walk. Keep a conversation going by pointing out different features along the trail or discussing the importance of nature to keep them entertained and invested in the hike. It is also a great way to instill an understanding and love of the natural world. If your kids know why it is important to be out and about in the woods, they will likely want to do it far more often.
- Bring the right gear: As we mentioned earlier, having the right gear makes more of a difference than you know. Not only will your kids have a much easier time walking on tough hills, rocks, and trails, but they will also enjoy having the right gear for the task. Having hiking boots and packs makes it feel like an adventure – almost like a game. If you’re going for a hike, get your kids ready and make them feel like they are doing something special, rather than making the hike into a chore.
Best Hiking Shoes For Toddlers
1. KEEN Chandler CNX Shoe
The Keen Chandler CNX is one of the best hiking shoes for children. It is available in sizes for toddlers to eight-year-olds. This lightweight design features synthetic leather uppers and a synthetic sole, and it’s fitted with a great mesh lining for breathability. The shoe has a velcro strap for convenience. It is also available in a range of fun, kid-friendly colors.
2. Teva Kids’ Arrowood 2 Mid
Teva Kids’ Arrowood 2 Mid is a heavy-duty hiking shoe. This shoe is made from 100% leather and textiles and has a waterproof membrane. It is also fitted with pull-tight laces to make tightening the shoe easy for kids of all ages. These shoes are available for both girls and boys.
3. Columbia Redmond
The Columbia Redmond hiking shoe is a midsole shoe. It is waterproof and comes with elastic laces, which can be pulled tight. These shoes are another excellent heavy-duty option for kids of all ages. They are also lightweight and can therefore be used by children for everyday wear in the park and playground as well as backcountry hiking.
4. Chaco Outcross 2
Chaco’s Outcross 2 is a very lightweight option, perfect for breathable wear. Though these shoes are not waterproof, the fabric is water-resistant, which means that your child should not try to take them through deep puddles if they want to keep their feet warm but don’t have to worry about a little rain or heavy dew on the grass. Many kids wear these as water shoes due to the mesh band structure.
5. Merrell Chameleon 7 A/C Mid
The Merrell Chameleon is a strong, durable, and waterproof shoe for kids. This shoe is perfect for the adventurous youngster who likes to get up on rocks, climb trees, or stray from the path. Though it is a little bit heavier than some of the others on our list, it is ideal for strenuous hikes or rough play.
Best Hiking Boots For Toddlers
1. Columbia Youth Newton Ridge Hiking Boot
Columbia is a name with a great reputation when it comes to outdoor wear. With their youth hiking boots, this is no less true. If you’re looking for a hiking boot for your kids, you really can’t go wrong with Columbia. The Newton Ridge boot is a great-looking and highly durable option.
2. Timberland Pawtuckaway Hiking Boot
If there is one thing that you can count on Timberland for, it is style. These are some of the best-looking youth hiking boots we came across. The Pawtuckaway boot is designed for toddlers but was given the same care and attention as their adult lines. This boot is waterproof and made of full-grain leather with a comfortable mesh inlining.
3. Zamberlan Quantum GTX Boot
Zamberlan Quantum toddler hiking boots are top-of-the-line. They are fitted with a breathable GORE-TEX lining, have removable footbeds, a rubber bumper toe, and a comfortable padded tongue. They are great for children of all ages and made with high-quality nubuck leather.
4. Rocky Boys Insulated Boot
The Rocky Boy’s insulated boot is a great option for hiking, fishing, or any other activity in the great outdoors. These boots come in a cool camouflage color, which young boys will love. They are also high quality, with a TPR rubber sole, split suede leather outer lining, nylon materials, and Thinsulate insulation. They weigh about three pounds, making them a little heavy for the youngest kids but ideal for heavy-duty wear.
Hiking with kids can be a rewarding experience. Bonding with your child in nature is something special. However, hiking with kids requires a little extra effort on everyone’s part, which means planning well, preparing appropriately, and staying positive. If you’re planning to take your kids out on a long hike, it is a good idea to fit them with the proper footwear to keep their bodies and minds at ease.