It’s that time of year again when we start seeking out winter footwear for our kiddos. While many of us dread this task (why must their feet grow so much every year?!), it doesn’t have to be daunting if you come prepared! Here is a list of features to consider when buying winter boots for your kiddos this year. Keep in mind that some of these will be more important than others depending on your location, the age of your kiddos, and their intended winter activities.

girl sitting on rocks in the snow

Waterproofing

Regardless of where you live or what you do, a waterproof boot is important in the winter. “Water-resistant” just doesn’t cut it with active kiddos that like to seek out piles of snow to explore and massive puddles to stomp in.

Warmth

Quality boots will have a temperature rating that signifies the approximate lowest air temperature at which the boot insulation will keep feet comfortable. Your ideal temperature rating will depend on the climate in your area, the level of activity you can expect from your child, etc. A wet, snowy northeast winter will require a much different temperature rating compared to a mild, southern climate. Keep in mind, temperature ratings are only a guide, and can be affected by many conditions, including weather, wearer’s activity level, metabolism, perspiration, circulation, exposure time, type of sock worn and cold sensitivity.

Traction

Winter weather often brings slippery conditions. When these conditions are paired with active kiddos, it can spell disaster in the form of falls and injuries. Be sure to choose a boot with superior traction without being too heavy and clunky. After all, the level of traction won’t matter if your kiddo can’t easily move around without tripping over heavy footwear! We recommend boots with Merrell M Select® grip, which provides excellent traction on wet and icy surfaces.

Easy to Put on

If you have ever tried to get shoes on a toddler, you know that it can be like trying to wrangle an angry octopus. Now imagine attempting to get boots on that octopus who is already frustrated that they are clad in cold-weather gear yet still stuck inside. Any caregiver will tell you that it’s the stuff of nightmares! Shoe companies such as Merrell have heard our cries for help and offer alternative closures that still offer a great fit without the fight. We especially like the medial zipper of the Alpine Puffer from Merrell (and we can’t get enough of the retro, colorful, puffer-jacket vibe of this boot!).

Merrell Alpine Puffer Snow Boots

Lightweight

It’s important for little feet to stay warm, but they also need to be able to move around and have fun! Thanks to new innovations in boot design, the bulky, stiff boots of the past can stay a thing of the past. Choosing a boot that is lighter and also more flexible without losing the insulation and waterproof properties will ensure that kiddos can have fun in the colder temperatures.

Breathability

While keeping moisture out of the boot is super important, it is also important to let moisture escape. Active kids can make for sweaty feet, and if that moisture can’t escape, that sweat can turn cold quickly, making for some icy toes. This can also lead to a build-up of the bacteria that cause odors in the boot, which can cause boots to smell awful after only a few wears. Seek out a boot that is both breathable and contains anti-bacterial properties in the lining to keep kiddos comfortable and boots smelling fresh.

Versatility

This one will depend greatly on your intended use for the boots. Will your kiddos be wearing them all day between school, errands, and an evening stroll on a trail? If so, you want to choose a comfortable, sneaker-like boot that can be worn all day in differing conditions. If you are looking for a boot just for outdoor activities in very chilly weather, a specialized boot with extra traction and a lower temperature rating is essential.

boy walking on rocks

By selecting a boot based on these key features you’ll set yourself up for winter outings that involve less stress and more comfort and fun, whether your kiddos are hiking the snowy trails or running errands with the family.

Be sure to join the Hike it Baby Community Facebook Group. It’s a great place to ask questions, learn from others, and share your family outdoor adventures!

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About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Craig.

This post was sponsored by Merrell, however, we would never recommend products that we don’t love.

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