First things first: don’t be put off by the name. These boots are made for walking, yes, but for running, jumping, climbing, camping, and all manner of other outdoor pursuits, too. Whether they’re heading off on their first ever Beaver or Brownie camp (try not to cry), engaging in everyday rough-and-tumble with their friends, or embarking on a proper big-kid hike, there’s a pair of boots for them.
Almost all boots come with some form of waterproofing technology, whether that’s Gore-Tex, own-brand offerings like Climashield, or non-branded. In essence, it all does the same stuff, so don’t worry too much about finding big names. The biggest thing that makes a difference to the life-span of walking boots is their construction.
Leather is naturally durable and waterproof, and makes for a long-lasting pair of boots that’ll never go out of style, but it can rub if not broken in properly. Synthetics, on the other hand, may not last as long, but they offer more immediate comfort and very good breathability, so for not-too-taxing occasional walks like a Duke of Edinburgh award or scout camp, and in good weather, they’re a good bet.
Your budget, of course, is up to you. Leather boots will usually cost a bit more, but you’ll likely get more mileage for your investment, and all of our picks are well under the £100 mark, so if you think you need to spend a huge amount of money to get a supportive, comfortable and long-lasting pair of walking boots for your kids, think again.
So you know what you’re looking for, but how do you know which kids’ boots can walk the walk? We’re here to help — read on for our round-up of the best boots for ramblers, puddle-jumpers, and tree-climbers.
We know it well: they only care about how they look, and you only care about them being comfortable and hard-wearing — because after all, you have to put up with the whinging and the mud. Well, you’re in luck, because these Salomon Kids walking boots strike the perfect balance of style and substance. The cool colourways make a change from the standard brown fare, the sole is supportive and robust, and the upper is both waterproof and breathable. Smiles all round*.
*May not apply to teenagers
With solid soles, just right for navigating rocky paths and fallen trees, and great ankle support, perfect for the odd slope, these waterproof Hi-Tec walking boots are great for everyday — the only problem is choosing between the three understated colourways. Really excellent all-rounders for a competitive price, these are a smart buy for kids who like to play outside, walk the dog, or head out on the occasional school trip.
If your young adventurer isn’t perturbed by walking in wet weather, get them boots that aren’t either: Merrell’s waterproof high-rise hiking boots will do the trick. They get our vote as the best waterproof walking boots for their quality leather upper and inner, which are durable and leak-proof, and their high-rise supportive ankle, which stops anything getting in, as well as keeping them upright. For £40, these are fantastic value waterproof boots.
These tough, all-terrain boots can take a real bashing, perfect for enthusiastic outdoorsy kids who frequently walk or camp, or have a hobby which takes them outside year-round. Waterproof enough to withstand determined puddle-jumping, but still with a breathable membrane to wick away sweat, these boots shine in all weathers. Their best feature, though, is their speed lacing system, ideal for children who haven’t yet mastered laces or struggle with coordination or mobility.
With the highest cut of all the pairs on our list, these Regatta junior walking boots are perfect for wearing on snowy walks, but that’s not the only time they come into their own. Kids can happily wear them on any winter day, when their cosy fleece lining will keep feet and ankles warm and toes thawed. And with a waterproof Hydropel finish and rubber toe bumper guards, they’re substantial as well as soft. Perfect for ski trips and cooler climes, but not ideal as a year-round pair. For more wear, go for something like the Merrell High Rise Walking Boots.
These boots aren’t the fanciest on our list, but they’re thoroughly good all-rounders, covering a lot of ground feature-wise. As such, they’re brilliant for little ones joining in on their first family walks, or for bigger kids heading out on a hike with no guarantee they’ll ever want to do one again. The suede and mesh upper is breathable and lightweight, and the high ankle and cushioned footbed offer decent support. Reinforced heel and toe bumpers mean the boots will last longer — good news if they do end up liking it after all!
Okay, these aren’t technically a hiking boot, but they make our list as our pick for best walking shoes for warm weather. While they’ll still want support and comfort on their walks when the temperature rises, often-heavy walking boots can be overkill — and, to be blunt, a bit sweaty — so that’s where these breathable shoes come in. A vented mesh upper keeps things light and cool, and a deep padded collar and tongue stop rubbing, while abrasion-resistant toe and heel bumpers make these snazzy shoes more durable than they look. A great buy for warmer climate walkers, or taking on active family holidays or school trips.
These might be the most expensive boots on our list, but they’re a real winner for dedicated adventurers. Where walking runs in the family, these grown-up-looking leather boots let the kids feel like one of the grown-ups, and they have the substance to back up their classic adventurer design. A cushioned EVA footbed keeps them buoyant on long and bumpy walks without adding weight, and the durable rubber outsole gives great grip and sheds excess mud. If there’s room in the budget, and you’re setting them up for a lifetime of happy rambling, these are great investment boots.