Best Hiking Gear for Kids: 5 Top Products


Love hiking with your kids or want to get started? Hiking as a family is a fun way to make memories, spend time outdoors together, and teach kids self-confidence. As a hiking mom, I’ve found it’s best to get the kids some gear made just for them.

From the proper footwear to kid-sized trekking poles, here are some items to consider for your mini-hikers.

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5 of the Best Pieces of Hiking Gear for Kids

Best Hiking Sandals: HOBIBEAR Sport Water Sandals

Image by HOBIBEAR

I love my KEEN hiking sandals, but buying the kids KEENs each time they grow out of their hiking sandals is not worth it. We’ve tried several brands of hiking sandals that are a less bit less expensive but still hold up, and HOBIBEARs are the winners.

HOBIBEAR hiking sandals come in a few different styles and many different colors, so you can pick the combo your child likes best. They’re great for hikes that involve water and seamlessly transition from the trail to the stream and back to the trail.

They’re made from mesh fabric and a quick-drying upper, they’re cushioned and contoured, they’re easy to put on and take off, and they have a toe guard. Unlike other less-expensive hiking sandals, HOBIBEAR hiking sandals have an excellent high-traction outsole.

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes: XERO Shoes Prio Youth

Xero Shoes kids hiking shoes best kids hiking gear
Image by Bethanie Hestermann

For summer hiking when closed-toe shoes are the best option over hiking sandals, a lightweight and breathable hiking shoe is best. (Because you know the kids will let you hear it if their feet get too hot.)

We like XERO Shoes’ Prio athletic shoes for kids. They’re flexible, have a wide toe box, and come in cute color combinations that your kids will be excited to wear. While probably not the grippiest shoes on the market, these have held up to loose gravel and rock on inclines and declines.

These shoes start at child size 12, so they’re not for toddlers. However, that typically means you’ll be buying shoes less frequently once you get into those youth sizes, so you might be willing to spend a bit more. My daughter can also use these for running, so they’re worth the investment in my book.

Best Trekking Poles: LEKI Legacy Junior

Do kids need trekking poles? Sure, why not? It might take them a little while to get the hang of using the poles, but nothing excites kids more than feeling grown up. More importantly, trekking poles can provide some helpful stability on the trail.

For your kids’ first poles, the LEKI Legacy Juniors are a great option. They are lightweight, straightforward to use, and easy to adjust, thanks to the LEKI Speed Lock Plus lever system. The Legacy Junior trekking poles are durable and adjustable between 80-110 cm (31.5-43.4 inches), so they’ll grow with your kid and outlast her adventures.

Best Day Pack: REI Co-op Tarn 12

best-packs-for-day-hiking
Image by REI

At just 12 ounces, the REI Co-op Tarn 12 is a fantastic little hiking day pack for ages 5-8. It has cushy shoulder straps and a padded back panel with a built-in airflow channel for ventilation. It holds 12 liters, which is plenty for some water, snacks, and a spare layer of clothing.

The pack has a hip belt, in case your kid likes wearing one, but it tucks away nicely for when he doesn’t want to wear it. Made from recycled ripstop nylon, the REI Co-op Tarn 12 pack has a water-repellent finish and is compatible with a hydration reservoir (not included).

For ages 8-12, REI also offers this pack in an 18-liter version, the REI Co-op Tarn 18.

Best Sun Hat: Connectyle Outdoor UV Sun Hat

sun hat best hiking gear for kids
Image by Connectyle

A breathable, quick-drying, UPF 50+ sun hat is another key piece of hiking gear for kids. There’s no need to spend a lot on a name brand; this one from Connectyle sells on Amazon for less than $15. It has a moisture-wicking sweatband, airflow vents, and an adjustable chin cord, plus it comes in lots of colors.

This hat comes in two sizes—2-4T and 4-6 years. It’s nice looking, functional, and the price is right. The wide brim will keep the sun off your kid’s face as he hikes, but it won’t blow away when the wind picks up.

Do Kids Need Hiking Gear?

Hiking with kids can be a challenge, but if your kids are old enough to hike outside of a carrier, one way to make it more fun is to get them some hiking gear they love. Gear designed for hiking and outdoor environments will also likely make the experience much more comfortable.

With the right footwear, a small pack, an outfit that’ll wick away sweat and protect from the sun, and maybe even some trekking poles, your little ones will be ready for their next family hiking adventure.


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