Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

Getting the right hiking equipment for your baby primarily involves choosing the best footwear. The following 3 factors must be taken into account at all costs: the sole, the comfort and the support.

Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

1/ At what age should you start buying a baby walking or hiking boots?

The good news is that there's really no age limit! Long before your baby took their first steps, they may already have accompanied you on short walks in their baby carrier or an ergonomic baby carrier. Now that your little one is starting to take their first steps, it's time to equip them with hiking boots so that they can take their first steps during outdoor activities!

In short, listen to what your kid says and start with short outings so that they can build up self-confidence as the hikes progress. The motivation of discovering the wonderful world of the forest, the mountains or even the local park should be enough to get your little one out walking (especially if it's been raining and there are puddles... that's the art of turning an obstacle into an opportunity!).

Of course, at that age, kids tire without warning! So always bring something to carry them, because your kid is likely to go back and forth between dry land and the baby carrier, especially if you start extending the length of your family outings.

If this is the first time you're hiking with a toddler, we've got a guide to help you prepare for your hike with baby.

2/ Which sole should I choose for my toddler's walking or hiking boots?

It's not easy to find a pair of hiking boots for a little hiker. And that's normal! The needs of kids’ growing feet, especially toddlers' feet, are very different from those of adult feet, which are fully grown.

A flexible but technical sole to respect kids’ feet

When learning to walk, it's vital that the foot can feel the ground and build up its sense of balance. To achieve this, while guaranteeing a certain level of comfort, it's best to choose a shoe model with a flexible sole that's not too thick.

A sole with good grip and good traction on all types of terrain

For good traction, you should choose a studded sole, preferably in rubber, which will provide safety and assurance on a variety of paths and types of hiking terrain. Whether you prefer a short walk on flat ground or steep mountain trails, your kid will be climbing everywhere (rocks, trunks, slopes, etc.) and will need both grip (thanks to the little studs in the sole) and traction (thanks to the sole’s material). Of course, at this age, plan an easy route. Or anticipate the moments when your little one is likely to give up and climb back into the baby carrier.

Don't go for shoes with arch support: indeed, the latter will gradually take shape as the foot muscles strengthen when walking; no need to artificially support it.

Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

3/ What are the most comfortable hiking boots for babies?

Baby's first outings on foot should be a pleasure, to make them want to go out again! It's vital to find them comfortable shoes that they’ll want to put on again to set off on an adventure as soon as the slightest opportunity arises!

What type of walking shoes for baby boys and girls?

Good news: there’s no anatomical difference between the average feet of little girls and boys. You can therefore choose a pair of shoes with your baby in a mixed footwear department, or without taking into account the indications "girl" or "boy" which correspond to coloured ranges. What's more, let your baby choose their own colour - you might be surprised at what your baby likes when you let them shop alone!

Finally, for the comfort of baby's feet, whether boy or girl, a good walking boot should offer sufficient volume in the toe area.

What type of hiking boots will be comfortable for babies in the mountains?

As with adults, shoes with toe bumpers to protect the foot from stones and breathable materials such as leather, which absorb and wick away perspiration, preventing the foot from "sticking", are preferable.

What type of footwear should I choose to keep my baby's feet warm in winter?

Warmth is part of the concept of comfort. To keep baby's feet warm, you'll need to choose boots with a high upper and a lining that acts as a thermal insulator. It's a bit like the principle of lined boots! In this case, the sole will also be thicker so that the bottom of your kid’s foot is not chilled by the ground. However, the sole should be flexible enough not to prevent the foot from rolling.

4/ What type of boots will give your young hikers good foot support?

Stability when walking is guaranteed by the sole and the upper (the top part of the shoe).Choose high uppers, which are ankle-high, and traditional lacing for unrivalled support. Velcro is best reserved for everyday use.

These essential points can be completed by an additional question: whether or not the footwear is waterproof.

Even if it is unlikely that you will go on a hike when it's raining, our babies love walking through puddles whenever possible! Most leathers used on hiking boots are already treated to be water-repellent, i.e. repel water, or even have a waterproof and breathable membrane. In summer, however, we recommend open-toe shoes for comfort and to let perspiration escape.

Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

5/ Which après-ski boots should you choose to introduce baby to the joys of the snow?

For baby's first steps in the snow, whether you're going for a short stroll or introducing them to sledging on the slopes, you'll need warm, waterproof footwear.

We also recommend footwear with a high upper (boots that cover the ankle) to prevent the snow from getting inside, wetting the foot and turning their little feet into icicles. If you go sledging or if your kid starts drawing their first angels in the snow, a low shoe will let the snow in.

You should also go for après-ski boots with rip-tab fastenings. Your kid hasn't yet learnt how to tie their shoes, so shoes with rip-tabs will help them to be more independent and to put them on and take them off on their own. This will make all the difference in helping them become independent and self-confident! In fact, Decathlon has designed a range of baby ski boots with rip-tab fastenings and wide flaps with little straps so that your kid can put on and take off their boots on their own!

6/ Size 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. what size should I choose for my baby's first hiking boots?

It's "hard being a baby", but it's also "hard choosing the right size of baby shoes". Age is not enough to choose the right shoe size. That would be far too easy... Or maybe you know your kid's size, but they're growing so fast you can't keep up? We've put together <link href="/contents/6b5c6cae-d33b-4722-98d6-227cfb9be889" target="_blank">an article on how to choose the right shoe size for babies and kids.</link>

Choosing the right babies' hiking shoes

7/ What is the life span of a baby's hiking boot? Are some brands better and more robust than others?

As well as brands, you can judge whether a hiking boot will stand up to baby's outdoor adventures by the materials used, the type of reinforcement and assembly. Kids don't care how much you spend on a pair of shoes. They'll treat them all in the same way, running everywhere, climbing everything in their path, skidding with varying degrees of control on more or less stable ground, or even playing ball with the first big stone they come across. In short, even though kids’ feet grow quickly, some shoes will be finished before they go up a size.

We therefore advise you to pay attention to how the sole has been reinforced: you don't want the sole to come off at the back and turn your kid's shoes into flip-flops. So opt for shoes with flex zones and a reinforced sole. For hiking, choose a model with a toe bumper at the front.

For snow boots or après-ski, to prevent part of the boot coming unstuck and letting snow or moisture in, get round the problem by choosing a pair of après-ski with a one-piece cradle. As the bottom of the boot is made from a single piece, it’s impossible for the sole to come unstuck.

If you choose shoes that are resistant and respect the body shape and needs of toddlers' feet, your kid will be able to wear them until their feet grow and they need to change shoes. In fact, it's usual to change your hiking boots every 5,000 km or so (which corresponds to a period of 2 or 5 years, depending on the number and distance of your hikes). To give you an idea, 5,000 km is equivalent to 10 Paris-Brest trips (the distance between the towns, not the pastry). But your kid will surely have grown up before they've done all that!

Now you know more about choosing your baby's first hiking boots. One last tip: if you're hesitating between two equivalent models: choose the lighter one! At the end of their little legs, a difference in weight will quickly be felt and will literally ruin your little one's hike!

Now all you have to do is find activities to help them discover the outdoors. We have just the thing, take a look at all our articles to help you make the most of your outings with young children:


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Hiking with children - teaser

Hiking with young children

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