Which Kids' Play Shoes to Choose?
A little sunshine changes everything. As soon as the weather gets nice, the whole family is eager to escape that cooped-up-inside feeling and get out into the fresh air. But before you take your kid to the playground (or just turn the whole world into their playground), you gotta make sure they have the proper footwear.
KEEN Footwear makes a whole bunch of kids’ shoes that are perfect for the blacktop, the monkey bars, or the splash pad. What do all these play shoes have in common? That’s right: a toe bumper! All KEEN kids’ shoes come with a protective toe bumper, since nothing slams the brakes on a fun play session like a nasty stubbed toe. Keep those tootsies safe, that’s what we say!
So which kind of play shoes should you send them out in? Pick the sentence that matches your family best:
“My kid would almost always rather be barefoot. Do you have any shoes they’ll keep on for more than a few minutes?”
Yes! If your kid is notorious for squirming out of shoes, we recommend the Chandler CNX shoe. This play sneaker has a superlight, streamlined, and flexible feel, yet is still plenty durable. The lacing system keeps them securely on little feet, and the mesh upper gives them a comfortably ventilated feel in warm weather. Check out the Chandler CNX for big kids and little kids.
“My boy is ROUGH on his shoes, so I look for a durable shoe. What I love about these is I can easily hose them off or run them through the washing machine, and they come out brand spankin’ new!!“ - Sarah
Also take a look at the Seacamp II CNX shoe. This hybrid water sandal has a low-profile outsole that gives more flexibility and freedom to little feet that just hate being confined in shoes. The Seacamp II CNX is available for both big kids and little kids.
“My kids play hard, and being a Tennessee native, shoes are somehow optional for all seasons and schedules. After months of skinned, scraped, and bloody toes I’d had enough. Your highly breathable while still protective shoes are the answer.” - Greg G.
Pro tip: Whenever you see “CNX” in the name of a KEEN shoe, it means that shoe has an especially lightweight design and a minimal feel.
“My kid is always drawn to water. We definitely need shoes that can get wet and then dry out fast.”
If your kid never met a splash pad they didn’t want to run through, water-friendly shoes are a must. We’ve got a few pairs that are perfect for everything from enjoying slip-and-slides and sprinklers in the front yard to stomping around in those interactive fountains at the park.
The Stingray sandal has a stretchy, quick-drying upper that adapts to their foot like a second skin. These kids’ water shoes go wherever there’s water: the beach, the river, or just a slippery patio. Check out the Stingray for little kids and big kids.
“My daughter loves wearing these shoes to play at her water table, in the sprinkler, and at the beach. She also wears them while riding her scooter. We will use them when we go to the tide pools on the coast.” - Kate S.
The Newport H2 shoe is a KEEN classic, for good reason. These shoes were invented for sailing, and they have a sturdy design that both protects and supports your kids’ feet. The upper is made with durable, quick-dry webbing. Plus, the hook-and-loop strap means kids can take them on and off by themselves. The Newport H2 comes in sizes for big kids and little kids.
“My daughter loves these sandals... these are her third pair. She considers them her "summer sneakers" and wears them to do everything an active kid does. They are very durable..... she grows out of them before they start to wear out. Another bonus: because they are close-toed, they fit the school's rules for being playground-friendly.” - A.H.
“My kid’s a real off-roader. We need shoes with really good traction for some rugged outdoor play.”
Whether you’re heading out for a hike or just have a wild backyard zone for kids to roam in, try the Targhee Sport Vent shoe. This kids' sneaker has a versatile, hiking-inspired design with cushioned support. The high-traction outsole is reliable on all kinds of terrain, and a vented upper keeps their feet comfy when it’s warm out. See the Targhee Sport Vent for big kids and little kids.
“Easy on and off. My son feels like he can do anything in them. Very comfortable. Will last a long time. Great for active boys!” - Tara
Also, take a look at the Hikeport shoe. It’s more rugged and supportive than your average sneaker, and it’s even waterproof (in case the going gets muddy).
The Hikeport comes in both a shoe and a boot with easy elastic laces, and there’s also a lace-free version with hook-and-loop straps (for even easier on-and-off).
“As an outdoorsy dad who took his son on a weeklong camping trip in Arkansas in November, I thought they were ideal for all the wet days and the creeks, waterfalls, and puddles we stomped through.” - M.O.
Playtime can break out anywhere: flying a kite at the park, hunting for snails in the garden, or splashing around in the creek. Whatever opportunities pop up to have a little fun outside, your kid will be prepared with happy, comfy feet.