Monday, November 10, 2014

Footwear for Kids (& Yourself) for Three-Season Hiking, Backpacking and Camping Adventures

Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners.
The fun and excitement takes a backseat to getting warm and comfy once a chill sets in. Cold, wet feet easily chill the body. Hence, my vigilant search for proper footwear. I've finally settled on my three-season ensemble.



Footwear for Hiking, Camping, and Canoeing

Footwear begins with socks. When shopping for hiking socks you’ll find choices enough to make your head spin. My daughter and I wear either Thorlo® or SmartWool®.  Some people swear by liners inside hiking socks to wick the moisture away, leaving their feet dry. I've not had luck with them so it's hiking socks alone for us.

Thorlo® and SmartWool® Hiking Socks.

To avoid bunched up socks, it is also important that socks be properly sized. Too big? They bunch up underfoot, causing blisters and annoyance. Sock types beyond my collection include silk liners, polyester liners, and socks constructed from Merino, NuWool, wool/synthetic blends, DryMax, and polypropylene to name a few. Many quick-dry options exist.

As part of my crusade to keep warm, I like to keep a pair of dry socks in my sleeping bag just for sleeping which can also be used as spares in a pinch. My husband gave me this excellent idea. My feet sweat in boots and shoes, especially if they’re waterproof. Sweaty socks make for cold feet once the footwear comes off. Dry spares are a blessing. Day socks get the opportunity to air out and dry while we sleep.

N.E.O.S. Trekker Overshoes.

As for shoes and boots, walk into a gear store and the plethora of choices can be even more mind boggling than the sock choices. For canoe trips, I wear N.E.O.S. Trekkers (overshoes) over Salomon trail runners. For hiking, I’ve tried various options.

Sneakers and Hiking Boots.

For many years I hiked only in hiking boots. Convinced early on by the experts that my clunky nearly 3 pound set of clodhoppers (a.k.a. hiking boots) were mandatory, it took too long to learn to let go. These days I wear sneakers or my waterproof Salomon XA Comp 7 trail runners if possible. When it’s cool and the ground is wet I’m always glad I chose waterproof. I even wear my Salomons for hiking in the snow when it's a couple inches deep or less, adding gaiters when it's deeper.

I only dislike my waterproof shoes during hot weather. When my feet are drenched with sweat or the shoes get wet, waterproof shoes do not breathe, and the shoes dry slowly. In those cases I wear leather hiking boots or sneakers.
I wear my trusty old ASOLO hiking boots only when I feel I must. This depends upon the terrain, weather, and so on. I like hiking boots when I need a high level of foot and ankle support due to rough terrain, or if there’s a lot of mud on the ground that could work its way over the tops of my shoes. If you require sturdy foot and ankle support, there is nothing better than a good boot.

It’s nice to have dry comfy camp shoes aside from your hiking shoes/boots when your feet hurt or your shoes get soaked. Many strategies for camp shoes exist. Often, I use Teva® Sandals. Sometimes another choice. On backpacking trips my Velcro Teva® straps can be attached to the outside of my pack on water crossing days, for easy availability without having to stop to open my pack.

Sneakers and SmartWool® Hiking Socks.

For my daughter, who insists on sneakers no matter what we try to talk her into, we bring spare old sneakers as backups to the sneakers on her feet. We also bring a pair of sandals that may be worn in water if needed. She scored new N.E.O.S. overshoes for her birthday for keeping her sneakers dry on portages or when it rains.

Shoes Soaked. Wearing Camp Sandals

Clothing Item
Child’s Hiking Socks (SmartWool®)
1.6 oz. / 45 g.
Child’s Sandals
8.7 oz. / 247 g.
Child’s Sneakers
15.5 oz. / 439 g.
Child’s Overshoes (N.E.O.S.)
1 lb. 5.6 oz. / 612 g.
Adult Hiking Socks (Thorlo®)
3.3 oz. / 94 g.
Adult Sandals (Tevas®)
1 lb. 0.66 oz. / 472 g.
Adult Hiking Boots (ASOLO)
2 lb. 13.3 oz. / 1284 g.
Adult Shoes (Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners)
1 lb. 8.5 oz. / 695 g.
Adult Overshoes (N.E.O.S.)
1 lb. 12.1 oz. / 797 g.


Took a January hike in my waterproof Salomon XA Comp 7 Trail Runners and a pair of SmartWool® hiking socks. The temperature was 6°F (-14.4°C). My feet remained warm in my Salomons over a 5 hour hike. With more than a couple inches of snow, I add gaiters. Dry feet and insulation become extremely important when it's cold.

Waterproof trail running shoes with gaiters.

Updated January 2016: On casual winter hikes I have in the past used Yaktrax (shown below) when ice is present. They stretch over both my hiking shoes and my boots. If I had been doing technical mountaineering or even climbing over icy boulders, spiked Crampon type footwear would have been required. Because my Yaktrax broke with less than 100 miles on them and I have recently upgraded to Kahtoola Microspikes. The Microspikes, a more expensive option, provide greater durability and seem to grip the ice better.

Yaktrax with trail runners.

Kahtoola Microspikes.

Final Thoughts

The adult three season footwear ensembles shown here performed well on hiking trips and portaging on rainy canoe trips. I sometimes feel I could do something better in terms of my footwear system for my daughter on hiking trips. Right now it’s sneakers plus a dry backup pair, sandals as a backup to the backup, and N.E.O.S. Trekkers overshoes for keeping feet dry on portages and rainy days. She’s pretty picky about the comfort of her feet, and doesn’t want to wear anything but sneakers. Now that I've given up on my lifelong devotion to hiking boots only, I'm starting to think maybe she's got the right idea.

Any suggestions on footwear? For the kiddo? Please comment below.


I do not receive compensation for products mentioned or reviewed in this post. All products mentioned or reviewed were purchased by me or my husband. All comments made are based on personal use and experience with footwear products.


  1. I just brought my 6 year old with me to camp and he enjoyed it a lot. To make sure his feet is protected, I bought the Hi-Tec Renegade Trail WP for him. It was affordable and provided comfort for him. It also offers superior traction so I don't worry that he would slip or tumble down. I noticed that it is indeed durable and kept up with my active kid. It's even waterproof so he can play on some muddy puddles all he want. For more information on more kids' hiking shoes, see this awesome site:

    1. Hi Sarah, Thank you for the tip! So glad you stopped by. I checked out the link your provided and found it extremely helpful. Looks like really good blog, I will plan to visit again in the future. Happy Hiking! Mama