Hi! We are about to embark on an epic road trip - in a couple of weeks, we will be leaving New Orleans with our sons, ages 6 and 10 for a 2 week tour of National Parks. We will visit Carlsbad Caverns, Petrified Forest, Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, The North Rim of GC, Zion, the hot springs at Ouray, CO, and Great Sand Dunes NP. I am looking for hiking shoes for both of my kids. I would like to find something they can hike in dry or in the water. My main concern is that their feet will be comfortable and they won't get blisters, and something that will last. I'd like them to be quick-drying. I don't think boots are necessary and I'm afraid hiking sandals won't be versatile enough, so I think shoes. I would really like the shoes to be something they could continue to wear everyday to school, as well. I'd like to stay under $60/pair. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
IMHO, the best are trail runners, which have a nice gripping sole (Vibram or similar) and are supportive. However, for kids, you're probably looking at a running-shoe style with a lug sole that will grip the ground (or rocks) instead of sliding. Not necessarily Vibram, but similar. You do not want waterproof shoes (or Goretex-lined), because their feet will sweat, turning waterproof shoes into a sauna. Many of those areas you're visiting are going to be hot. Shoes with really good ventilation will dry faster and allow the feet to breathe, but also let in more dirt.
You should also get several pair of either merino wool or breathable synthetic socks. No cotton, because they will absorb perspiration, become soggy and cause blisters. I personally prefer merino wool, because it feels dry to my feet even if not completely dry, but that's an individual matter, known in hiking circles as Your Mileage May Vary.
Of course, good fit is vitally important!
Whether a $60 pair of shoes will hold up under the stress of hiking and then clean up enough to be suitable for school wear in the fall is another question. They are going to get pretty grubby. After being on a recent shoe shopping trip with my 11-year-old grandson and his mom, it appears that $60 is very low-end if you want the shoes to last. I'd be inclined to get cheap shoes--if you can find somewith lug soles and that fit--and be prepared to toss them after your trip.
Edited by OregonMouse (07/07/1606:10 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I thought trying to stretch them through school might be asking too much, too, Mouse. I just did a quick search at REI for kid's shoes, and got quite a few - mostly Merrell and Keen, and some Hi-Tec, plus assorted other brands. All were in the poster's $60 price range (and some were marked down to $45 because of a sale they're having right now.)
I don't know anything much about durability or comfort of current kid offerings (my kids have age 40 surrounded), but my son used Hi-Tec when he was a Scout, and they wore quite well (his was a hiking and backpacking troop.) I've owned adult Merrells, and been pleased with them (though I prefer Vasque; they just seem to fit better.)
I also second the motion on good socks.
Sounds like a couple of kids are going to have a great summer. Maybe the OP would adopt me for the summer?
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
I think that fit in shoes is very personal and can vary with manufacturer, probably because of the lasts that they build the shoes on. I've always been comfortable in Merrells, but they always seem to discontinue the shoes that I like.
It's probably not the right time of year to look for merino wool socks. Walmart had some inexpensive ones in the sporting goods department that fit and wore quite nicely, but I didn't notice whether they had them in kid's sizes. I have worn acrylic socks for years. The most recent ones were Dickey's steel toe boot socks. Again, I haven't looked in the children's socks, so I don't know what is available. I would look for a blend that is mostly acrylic with some nylon.
Sorry, I should have been more clear: my Vasques fit me better than my Merrells. I didn't intend to imply that Vasques are an inherently better fit for everyone. I fully agree that shoe fit is hugely individual.
I also agree that good socks are as important as a well-fitting shoe. I've used everything from 100% Ragg wool to 100% synthetic, and all the socks have worked well for me. The big factor here is also fit - you want the sock to "cling" (if that's the right word) to your foot; if it moves around and rubs your foot, you'll get blisters. Because Ragg wool wouldn't hold its shape well and cling to my foot, I always wore a pair of thin polypropylene liner socks under them. The liners clung to my feet, and took all the rubbing: no blisters. I've found that the higher amounts of acrylic and spandex I use now (I think my current socks are about 20% wool) cling to my foot without the need for liners.
I agree fit is everything. Make sure they fit your kids fit... not my kids feet. However the difficulty is actually finding various sized shoes in a store.
That said, I bought my kids a pair of New Balance that were very nice and seem to hit your requirements. I think I bought the 610 v 3 or something similar. A quick review of the NB websites... I think 690 is the latest revision.
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
I may not have been quite clear either. I've nothing against Vasque, they make fine shoes and might fit me better if I tried them. I've got a 20 year old pair of Sundowners that fit fine, but they're heavier than I like to wear now. I have a hard enough time finding shoes that I like and that fit me. I would hate to try to find shoes to fit someone else, especially a kid who may not be able to articulate how the shoes fit. I think that my feet may have gone up another half size, since my older shoes are starting to feel tight. I was a 10 as a teenager, but now I'm a 12 maybe 12-1/2. I can imagine what it's like trying to keep shoes on a growing youngster without breaking the bank.
Thanks so much for the replies! Especially the sock info and about not getting waterproof shoes. Also for the thought about the shoes not lasting through school. I think I've actually decided to get them each a pair of amphibious sandals with a toe, which will probably work for 80% of what we are doing on this trip. Then also buy them each a pair of good athletic shoes on sale to use when sandals won't work and to keep for everyday/school use after he trip. And some wool or synthetic socks. You guys have been very helpful!