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8 best kids’ hiking boots for covering all terrains

Keep little feet dry and comfy on long walks and rambles, whatever the weather throws at you

Jen Barton Packer
Thursday 05 January 2023 14:53 GMT
These have been tested on walks in London parks and Devon shores
These have been tested on walks in London parks and Devon shores (The Independent)
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Trust us, finding the best kids’ hiking boots and walking shoes is probably the most important thing to sort ahead of a long family ramble or countryside hike. The reason? If the youngsters don’t feel their feet are comfortable, dry and well-supported in their shoes, your hike just isn’t going to happen (well, it might – you’ll just end up carrying a child for three hours).

For kids, the best hiking boots need to be durable yet lightweight, weather-resistant to handle all conditions, and should tread just as easily across forest floors and muddy trails as over sand dunes. Appealing to a child’s sense of style in terms of colour choices and design is important, too, and parents will be pleased to see that there’s a lot more variety in kids’ hiking shoes these days beyond black and brown shades.

You’ll also want to check the fastenings. Some kids’ hiking boots have Velcro straps and adjustable toggle laces, so little ones can get them on and off on their own without needing to know how to tie them.

Kids’ hiking boots are available at a range of price points, from high street offerings that cover the basics for under £25 to technical performance footwear, which is designed to stand the test of time (and handle the elements). We’ve found that as our kids get older, a good pair of walking shoes is indispensable as they head off on daytime treks and overnight camping trips.

Top tip: Since most kids’ hiking boots are hi-top styles, pairing these with the right socks is important to avoid rubbing and discomfort. Merino wool is moisture-wicking if you’re hoping to keep feet drier for longer.

How we tested

We started testing these boots on four kids aged four to 12 before the summer break – some styles were so popular in our household, our kids insisted on wearing them around even when we weren’t planning any treks. The kids have worn these hiking boots to school, on walks and activities in London, as well numerous trips to the local playground.

These boots have gone on bike rides, hikes and wet walks in Richmond and the Wiltshire countryside, climbed what feels like every tree, and gone camping overnight. The kids’ cousins have also been testing them on walks around beaches, lakes and trails in north Devon.

One caveat: We tested these shoes through the summer heat waves. It was uncharacteristically dry and hot, so we didn’t have as much experience with inclement weather, cold weather and Peppa Pig’s favourite – muddy puddles – as we would have liked. Having said that, we tried to push these shoes to the max, encouraging the kids to wander into streams, jump into every puddle they spotted, and run around in the mud on the few rainy days we experienced.

The best kids’ walking boots for 2023 are:

  • Best overall kids’ walking boots – Keen redwood mid waterproof boots: £49,
  • Best kids’ walking boots for younger ones – Drift junior waterproof boots: £34.99,
  • Best waterproof kids’ walking boots – Merrell moab speed mid A/C waterproof boots: now £54.99,
  • Best value-for-money kids’ walking boots – Quechua kids’ waterproof hiking shoes: £24.99,
  • Best kids’ walking boots for older ones – Aku rocket dfs GTX: £116.76,
  • Best kids’ walking boots for summer – Bobux summit: £25.80,
  • Best lightweight kids’ walking boots – Mountain Warehouse Oscar walking boots: £29.99,
  • Best kids’ walking boots for comfort – Peter Storm kids’ broadoak mid walking boots: £29,

Keen redwood mid waterproof boots

Keen redwood mid waterproof boots.png
  • Best: Overall
  • Sizes: UK 1 to 13
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Leather
  • Inner material: Synthetic

Oregon-based Keen is at the forefront of style and comfort, and one of the leading brands of hiking boots for kids for various reasons. First, the Velcro strap and toggle lacing means they don’t require shoe-tying skills, and they’re easy to slip on and off (an issue with some of the other styles, which proved annoyingly tricky to remove when a stone got in). They’re also great for climbing, and our nine-and-a-half-year-old tester deemed the neutral dark-brown leather and red colour combo “cool” (they do have ‘cool California hiker vibes’ when paired with denim shorts).

We were really impressed at how well these boots repel water and keep feet dry – Keen.dry waterproof technology includes a breathable membrane, which seals out water from inside the shoe. The rugged soles have lots of traction, which our tester described as “good for climbing”, adding: “These are so comfortable, easy to walk in, and they’re not even heavy.”

The shoes include Keen.warm technology, which keeps feet warm, even when they get damp. They also have a cushioned Luftcell air-injected PU insole, which might explain why our tester kept reaching for these even on days we didn’t have tricky-terrain walks planned.

  1. £49 from
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Drift junior waterproof boots

Drift junior waterproof boots.png
  • Best: For younger ones
  • Sizes: UK 6 to 13
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Synthetic and mesh
  • Inner material: Synthetic

These kids’ hiking boots tick all the boxes when it comes to kitting out the younger kids. There are four eye-catching colourways (we opted for navy with hot-pink accents for our six-year-old tester, but also liked the yellow-on-black and blue-on-grey options, too). Kids can get them on without assistance (no laces) and our tester liked the look and feel of these so much that she insisted on wearing them to school.

They are sturdy (rather than ultra-lightweight) – good to “climb in” – with mesh inserts for breathability. They seem easy to walk and run in on a variety of terrains. The combination of water-resistant upper and waterproof membrane kept our little one’s feet dry, and there was a lot of traction on the sole for running on different surfaces, such as wood chips in the woods.

Our six-year-old was the upper limit of sizing (these go up to a 13), which is why we think they’re a smart, well-priced choice for five-year-olds and under.

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Merrell moab speed mid A/C waterproof boots

Merrell big kid’s moab speed mid AC waterproof.png
  • Best: Waterproof boots
  • Sizes: UK 1 to 5
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Synthetic
  • Inner material: Synthetic

These boots are a great all-rounder for countryside hikes and all things wet, mucky and outdoorsy. Not only are they made with the tech-savvy materials you’ll associate with Merrell – like a FloatPro footbed to cushion little feet, super-grippy soles with good traction and a waterproof design that keeps feet dry (and clean, even when running through mud) – they look super-cool, too.

We were sent the royal blue shade, with fluoro-yellow and black accents to trial, but they also come in grey with pink, purple and black. Our four-year-old tester was as happy wearing these around the shops as she was jumping in the mud on one of the few rainy days we had over the summer.

They don’t go as high up the ankle as most of the other hi-top boots, so she never complained of rubbing (though you may find they’re a bit snug on wider-footed kids), and the elasticated laces with Velcro strap meant she could easily get into them on her own. There’s a breathable mesh upper and reinforced toe cap, too. Quality-wise, we’d expect these to go the long haul.

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Quechua kids’ waterproof hiking shoes

Quechua kids’ waterproof hiking shoes.png
  • Best: Value for money
  • Sizes: EU 28 to 34
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Polyester
  • Inner material: Polyester

Decathlon consistently delivers quality items for kids across all sorts of outdoor and athletic gear – at a great price. We were impressed with the design and wearability of these kids’ hiking boots, which are a bargain at a penny under £25.

The range of sizes goes from EU 28 to 34, so these are designed for younger children, with elastic laces and Velcro strap. We loved how lightweight these were, as well as their grippiness and waterproofing (they can get covered in water and feet stay dry and comfy).

It’s the flexibility of these boots that really sold them for us and our four-year-old tester. Although they’re sturdy and seem durable, they can bend like a pair of jazz shoes (our tester liked that they didn’t make her foot feel “trapped” like some other styles).

These were also the only hiking boots for kids we tested that had any sort of pattern design, which we appreciated. If you can’t have whimsical details on a hiking shoe when you’re four, when can you? We can understand the hundreds of five-star reviews on the site.

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Aku rocket dfs GTX

Aku rocket dfs GTX.png
  • Best: For older kids
  • Sizes: UK 3 to 9
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Synthetic
  • Inner material: Synthetic

These shoes are technically made for adults – they start at size three – so are only suitable for older children, tweens and teens (this is reflected in the price, so we’d recommend these for more serious trekking families). That said, the innovative technologies, comfy low-top style and ultra-lightweight design make them an ideal choice for hillwalking and speed-hiking (or any intensive DofE expeditions your child may have coming up).

Let’s talk innovations first. There’s the Aku Dual Fit System for laces, which can be easily tightened or loosened throughout your hike for optimum fit, support and comfort. The Vibram Traction Lug outsole offers increased grip and improves traction by up to 25 per cent – essentially, they grip very well on every surface. A Gore-tex extended comfort membrane ensures maximum breathability, and they are completely waterproof.

Our 12-year-old tester was running through streams in these, marvelling how she “couldn’t feel any wetness”.

“There was lots of grip so I could go on rubber tyres and rocks and not slip off, and when I splashed in water, nothing happened – there was no water on them at all. The soles are quite thick and have little grips on them, which really help when you run on surfaces that aren’t flat. The adjustable toggle is quite good for tightening easily,” our tester raved.

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Bobux summit

Bobux summit.png
  • Best: For summer
  • Sizes: EU 22 to 26
  • Waterproof: No
  • Outer material: Coated leather
  • Inner material: Nylon spandex

Hiking boots and super-hot summer weather don’t always go hand-in-hand, so we were keen to try a hybrid walking sandal shoe. The summit from Bobux didn’t disappoint. This style looks stylish, and can work in the forest or on a smart family dinner out equally well. Choose from four appealing, two-tone colourways, covering pastels, bright colours and black.

This all-terrain shoe is hard-wearing and durable, made from a coated, all-purpose leather with mesh overlays for breathability and flexible bungy lacing. It’s easy for kids to slip on and fasten, thanks to an adjustable Velcro strap. While they shouldn’t be fully immersed in water, the coated leather design can withstand the odd splash of water, from the sea or a puddle (you choose).

It’s not an exaggeration to say our six-year-old tester was living in these throughout the hot summer weeks. She loved that you don’t need to wear socks with them if you don’t want to, because “they’re sandals and walking shoes in one”.

  1. £25 from
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Mountain Warehouse Oscar walking boots

Mountain Warehouse Oscar walking boots.png
  • Best: Lightweight boots
  • Sizes: UK 1 to 5 and 10 to 13
  • Waterproof: No
  • Outer material: Synthetic and mesh
  • Inner material: Mesh

While you should never judge a book – or a kids’ hiking shoe – by its cover, we have to admit the colour combo of cobalt blue and neon yellow on these boots from Mountain Warehouse is our favourite of the bunch. It really stands out against the darker alternatives in our sea of testing samples.

This is a lace-up pair, so one that requires assistance for younger children. It’s a solid, basic choice for a comfy kids’ walking boot that does what it needs to. And although these shoes don’t make any claims to be waterproof, we did get them wet and our tester didn’t complain of discomfort.

We’d recommend these for everyday walking and hiking, since they’re very lightweight and the predominantly mesh upper keeps them breathable. Padding at the ankle and tongue provide extra support for little feet, and our four-year-old enjoyed countryside trail walks in these, which passed mostly without complaint (an impressive feat when walking in the Great Outdoors with a youngster in tow).

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Peter Storm kids’ broadoak mid walking boots

Peter Storm broadoak walking boots.png
  • Best: For comfort
  • Sizes: UK 1 to 5 and 10 to 13
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Outer material: Storm-shield membrane
  • Inner material: Unspecified

Our nine-and-a-half-year-old tester enjoyed the extra cushioning in the soles of these boots, which she said made them “really good for any sort of ground. I went from running along a stream to grass, then rocks and forest.” A Storm-shield waterproof membrane meant they were fine when she did jump into the stream (although she got the insoles wet at one point, which did take some time to dry out).

The Storm-grip cushioned outsole is a lot thicker than most of the other brands we tested (bar the Keen), so it’s no surprise they were as comfortable on pavement as they were on dirt, rocky terrain and woodland. Our tester’s one gripe was that they were a bit gappy at the ankle, which attracted wood chips and stones into the shoe occasionally.

With their current price of just under £40 (reduced from £70), these are a good investment. For a non-lace-up alternative, try Peter Storm’s tornado boots (£39,, which feature a toggle and Velcro fastening.

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The verdict: Kids' walking boots

For families who want to invest in hiking boots that will withstand the test of time – and any conditions or terrain – you won’t go wrong with Keen redwood mid waterproof boots. We also loved the quality (and style) of Merrell moab speed mid A/C waterproof boots. For less than a third of the price of these styles, bag a bargain with Decathlon’s Quechua kids’ waterproof hiking shoes, which look and feel good, thanks to an ultra-flexible design, waterproof outer, grippy soles and top marks for comfort.

Kit your child out for rainy-weather fun with the best kids’ waterproof trousers

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