It can be tricky to know what shoes to pack for toddlers when you go camping. I needed to find the best camping shoes for my three and a half and one and a half year old kids who both like to explore but don’t like to walk for too long. I took some time to research the best camping shoes for toddlers so I decided to share what I found.
So, which camping shoes should you pack for your toddler?
The specific type of shoes you take will depend on how old your kids are but the bare minimum you should pack is:
- a pair of slip-on closed-toe sandals (such as Crocs) for wearing on the campsite
- a pair of supportive but flexible or quick drying waterproof shoes for walking and short hikes
- a pair of water shoes for exploring beaches, rivers, lakes or even the on-site swimming pool
There are literally hundreds of different options for toddler shoes for camping so below I’ve narrowed it down to the ones you’ll most likely want to pack on your next camping trip. I’ve also covered the age appropriateness pf the shoes and the activities the shoes are suitable for.
The best shoes for toddlers to wear on a campsite
Slip-on closed-toe sandals such as Crocs are super easy to get on an off so your toddler can move from the tent to outdoors without you having to faff about tying velcro or laces every time.
These shoes are great campsite shoes for a number of reasons:
- they’re lightweight so easy to pack and comfortable to wear
- they’re easy to clean with soap and water
- they’re waterproof and dry quickly
- they offer toddlers independence as they can slip them on and off themselves
They do have a few downsides though. Although these shoes are waterproof, they aren’t ideal for playing in water as the soles can become slippy when wet so your toddler’s feet may slip out of them. They also shouldn’t be worn for long walks, especially on uneven ground such as in the woods, as they don’t offer enough support or protection.
Children who have only just learned to walk and who have tiny feet may struggle to keep slip on sandals on, so if your baby is one and a half or younger then choose a more structured sandal with velcro straps to secure their feet. My one and a half year old first tried Crocs when he had just started walking (he was around 13 months old) and he kept falling over as despite the shoes being the right size, he wasn’t a confident enough walker to wear something so loose fitting.
The best shoes for toddlers to wear when hiking
I use the term ‘hiking’ very loosely here as not many children under four will hike very far. But it’s important to pack a pair of sturdy, waterproof shoes for them so they can enjoy exploring ‘off road’ in the woods and countryside near your campsite.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on professional hiking shoes for kids as, if they’re anything like mine, they’ll struggle to hike for more than about half a mile max, especially if the ground is slippy, wet or uneven. To get the best value for money choose good quality walking shoes that will double up as comfortable shoes for exploring towns and cities, as well as the countryside.
Look for toddler hiking shoes that:
- Are waterproof or quick drying – even if you don’t intend for your kid to get wet feet, kids are attracted to muddy puddles and playing by water, and even if you’re nowhere near water, a morning dew or a rain shower can soak normal shoes through.
- Have good gripping soles so if you decide to take your kids on a short hike, they’re in less danger of slipping.
- Support the whole foot but are flexible enough to allow kids’ feet to have a full range of movement, being able to move their feet fully will help your kids balance.
- Are lightweight so your kids can be comfortable in them even if they wear them for a long time.
If you’re camping in summer and your kids prefer sandals, then sandals with mesh webbing are a great alternative to walking shoes.
The best shoes for toddlers to wear in water
If your camping near or planning to visit the beach, a lake or river as part of your camping trip then water shoes can protect toddlers delicate feet as they explore the shallows.
Shoes made especially for use in water are very flexible and offer excellent grip so they will give younger children confidence to explore near the water (obviously supervise children at all times when they’re playing in or near water!).
Look for water shoes that have:
- a closed upper to help protect feet from sharp rocks
- uppers made from a quick drying, flexible material, such as spandex, neoprene or EVA
- soles made of rubber with an anti-slip design and drainage holes to help avoid slipping
These shoes are designed specifically for use in water, so they don’t offer much support or breathability when worn for extended periods out of the water. If you’re not camping near water or not planning to visit the beach or a pool, then you won’t need to pack water shoes. Instead, pack a pair of waterproof or quick drying shoes or sandals as these will offer enough water protection if your kids get their feet wet when you’re out and about.
Young walkers may struggle to walk in water shoes as they generally don’t offer much support. If your child is under one and a half or is not a confident walker then put them in closed toe, quick drying sandals when they’re exploring the water. You could also choose quick drying sandals instead of water shoes if you know you’ll only be visiting the beach or water once or twice during your camping holiday.
Wellies are another option if you’re only visiting the water a couple of times but again, they can be clumsy for younger toddlers to walk in as they often come up to their knees, which can make walking tricky. They also take up more space in the car when compared to versatile sandals or shoes that can be worn in or out of the water, or shoes specifically designed to be worn in the water.
What are the best summer shoes for toddlers?
A pair of comfortable, correctly fitting closed toe sandals with a good grip are the best choice for children’s summer shoes. Ideally pick a pair that’s waterproof or is quick drying so they’re versatile enough to be worn across a range of terrain. Look for sandals with adjustable straps so you can get the best fit possible for your kids’ feet.
What are the best pool shoes for toddlers?
If the your campsite has a pool then pack a pair of pool shoes to make sure your kids don’t slip in or by the pool. A good pair of pool shoes should have a flexible and strong grip sole and feature an adjustable hook and loop strap (or straps) to keep the shoe firmly in place and to allow toddlers to put their shoes on and off themselves. Look for shoes made out of lightweight, breathable material to ensure they can dry out as quickly as possible, which can help prevent blisters.