Our adventure shoes take us everywhere — from hiking down a trail, to riding a bike around the neighbourhood, to playing hide-n-seek at a local park! Picking the perfect kids shoes for outdoor play has sometimes proven to be a difficult task. With endless options, and features you want for the shoe — whether that be laces vs velcro, or needing them to be waterproof — it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for. With the help of KEEN, and our Explorer Families, we’ve come up with the perfect tips and tricks for how to pick the perfect kids shoes for outdoor play!

Picking the perfect outdoor play shoe:

We asked our Explorer Families what are things they take into consideration when picking the perfect outdoor play shoe, and here is what they had to say: 

  • Picking a shoe that is waterproof/resistant 
  • Being machine washable or easy to clean
  • Having good traction & flexibility 
  • Taking into consideration how well they can take them on/off
  • The heaviness and comfortability of a shoe — if your kid isn’t comfortable, it could lead to an off-set day
  • In addition to being able to take them on and off, how well they actually STAY on

All of these factors seem to be pretty important to most of our Explorer Families, and I’m sure for you too! But now the question stands, where can I find the perfect outdoor play shoe that fits under these categories?

Here are some of our favourite sneakers that fit under within these categories from KEEN: 

Chandler CNX Sneaker

This kids’ sneaker has a super light, streamlined, and flexible feel, and it’s been a kid fave for years and years. As happy at recess as it is on a trail through the forest. The mesh upper gives ventilation for comfort when those sunny days start to heat up.

Pro tip: See “CNX” in the name of a KEEN shoe? That means it has an especially lightweight design and a minimal outsole (great for giving toddlers more balance and dexterity as they find their footing). – KEEN

Click here to view the Chandler CNX Sneaker

Knotch Hollow Sneaker

This is our newest addition to the kids’ sneaker line-up, featuring a double hook-and-loop strap design for a secure fit. Rugged yet low-profile for plenty of ground feel across different terrain. Parents, you’ll love that this one is machine-washable. – KEEN

Click here to view the Knotch Hollow Sneaker

Newport Shoe

Their favorite play sandal of summer is now a fully enclosed shoe! The Newport shoe can go year-round with the fit and traction they love, without playground bark chips or pebbles getting in. Perfect for toddlers with the all-over protection they need for the slips and stumbles that come with being a toddler. – KEEN

Community Reviews: “We love the Newport. Best investment ever. Our son hikes in them and great for getting wet too.”

“My daughter lives in the Newport shoes, last year she had the same ones as well. They are shaped well to fit a wider toe area without being wide around the ankle. I love that they are great for water, have closed toes so she can scoot and bike ride, the velcro means she can take them off and on herself too.”

“Love the Newport! I’ve had mine for 14 years and they look new! Our kids have had them at various times over the years. Some pairs have been passed down through 5 kids!”

Click here to view the Newport Shoe

Targhee Sport Vent Sneaker

Whether you’re heading out for a hike or just have a wild backyard zone for kids to roam in, you need a shoe that protects their feet. These sneakers have a versatile, hiking-inspired design that’s cushioned for comfort, just like the adult version of the Targhee. The high-traction outsole is reliable on all kinds of terrain, and the vented upper keeps their feet comfy when it’s warm out.

Pro tip: If you live in a cooler, wetter part of the country, consider the Targhee waterproof sneaker. Same Targhee fit everyone loves with a waterproof design. – KEEN

Community Review: “We love them so much i wear the kid shoes! Love love love them”

Click here to view the Targhee Sport Vent Sneaker

Hikeport Waterproof Shoe

The Hikeport shoe looks like a sneaker and has a rugged and supportive design. It’s even waterproof (in case the forecast calls for rain). We make the Hikeport in both a shoe and a boot version — both have easy elastic laces they can do themselves. And to make things even easier, there’s also a lace-free version with hook-and-loop straps.

If your kids are anything like ours, the whole world is their playground. Whether they’re helping us garden, learning about nature with a day camp, or just working off all that extra energy on a jungle gym, we just love to see them enjoying time outside. Wherever their feet take them, they’ll be comfy and happy in KEEN shoes and sandals.”- KEEN

Click here to view the Hikeport Waterproof Shoe

Here are a few more of our Community Reviews:

“We love the Seacamp ll CNX for my girls. Newport H2 water sandal for my boys. We wear them all year, add socks when needed. We use waterproof hiking boots for rain/snow, but haven’t had a chance to try keen for those.”

“I’ve personally partnered with Keen Kids on their Newports and their Speed Hounds. Speed hounds have full toe protection for boarding, riding bikes, and more. Keens are all my kids wear. For hiking and everywhere wear. My husband and I both wear Keen Newports as well.”

Speed Hound Shoe

When you think about what is important to you when picking the perfect outdoor play shoe for your kids, what comes to mind? We hope that these suggestions from KEEN help make your outdoor play shoe decision just a little bit easier! 

*This is a sponsored blog post & contains affiliate links*

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