As we start to see the spring light at the end of the winter tunnel, it’s time to think about shedding our heavy winter footwear in favor of lighter alternatives. But with so many options, how do you choose the right shoes for your family? One shoe feature we find to be extra important, especially for little hikers, is shoe weight. A shoe that is “lightweight” means exactly what it sounds like: it weighs less than a traditional shoe. They are generally made of durable materials such as reinforced nylon or polyester. These materials offer durability while also being super lightweight and breathable, keeping feet cool and comfortable as the temperatures increase. Read on to discover why and when your kiddo would benefit from wearing lightweight shoes on outdoor adventures.

Why are Lightweight Shoes Important?

“But Moooom! My feet hurt!” cried my son’s trail buddy at a Hike it Baby event early last summer. I was surprised since he was usually the runner of the group. I looked down and noticed he was wearing clunky hiking boots as opposed to his normal hiking shoes. His mom mentioned that he left those shoes at a friend’s house. The clunky boots were his back-up pair. At the end of the hike, he quickly pulled off his boots and sweat-soaked socks, letting out a sigh of relief. It made me realize just how important proper footwear can be on outdoor adventures.

Heavy shoes take more work to walk in. They make it harder to maneuver around obstacles, especially for young explorers testing boundaries by climbing rocks and skipping down trails. Lightweight shoes tend to be more flexible and breathable, preventing little feet from getting overheated. This is important because children’s feet sweat 2-3 times MORE than adult feet! Just keep in mind that not all lightweight shoes are created equal. The slip-on jelly shoes may be lightweight, but wouldn’t do well on a trail. We recommend a shoe that also comes with superior traction and is made with durable upper materials (like ripstop nylon) such as the ultralight Big Kid’s Altalight Low Shoe from Merrell.

When are Lightweight Shoes Important?

While there are a number of situations when a lightweight shoe is important for kiddos, here is a list of our top three:

When you need a transition shoe

Kids tend to have busy schedules these days, regardless of their age. A shoe that goes from school hallways to neighborhood sidewalks to a dirt trail and even a creek crossing is ideal for our little explorers. Lightweight shoes are generally easy to clean, fast to dry, and durable no matter where their feet may take them.

When Traveling

Destination hiking? Heading out for spring break or summer vacations? Bring a packable shoe that can go the distance without weighing you down (and adding extra baggage fees). Better yet, outfit the whole family with lightweight shoes by checking out the adult version of the Altalight Series or the Little Kids Bare Steps Collection.

When Feet Need to be Both Cool and Supported

As temperatures warm up, a breathable shoe that keeps your kiddo’s feet supported without overheating will be essential! Added bonus: It is a proven Hike it Baby fact that comfortable feet reduce the amount of whining heard on a hike… just ask any of our 300+ branches!

What are your favorite lightweight hiking shoes? Let us know in the comments below!

Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers with a shared mission of connecting families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. Learn about Hike it Baby donation-based membership options and join the fun today!

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, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Images courtesy of Deanna Curry.

This post is sponsored by Merrell, however, we would not recommend something that our children do not love. 


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