I was excited about the prospects of getting the eldest girl (now just turned 2) out and walking and tramping with me. I started with heading out on day walks with her in the MacPac Vamoose, but was keen to get her down and walking at least some of the way as soon as she was up from crawling.
However, after our first trip out, I quickly realised she was going to need some better toddler hiking shoes.
There is an intermediate, soft soled shoe designed for kids who are starting to walk. While these are good for kids getting the feel of ‘walking’ I quickly noticed that they had atrocious grip. Walking the little girl walk (and fall) on anything other than an entirely flat gradient, I knew the first port of call on our return to town was the shoe store.
Growing out of shoes
I think a lot of people are hesitant to spend money on shoes for their kids. After all, they are in a state of constant growth – and often you may only see one season of wear before they outgrow them.
In our case, we have another little girl coming through 18 months behind, so we knew we were going to get at least two pairs of feet through them. In addition, I have learnt over the years, that a good pair of shoes can make a hell of a difference to your walking experience. So to me, when a human is learning to walk, having a good pair of toddler hiking shoes supporting that experience can only set them off on the right patch of enjoying getting out and stomping around in the bush.
On the hunt
After doing some (a lot) of research online, we headed into town to see if I could physically locate some of the shoes. Unfortunately, as it seems with many ‘specialist’ kids products, finding a retailer that actually holds stock can be a bit of a challenge.
So after trying about three stores, I was actually a little surprised to find a retailer (Future Feet), that, despite no mention on the website, actually had the exact pair and colourway (not pink) that I was after.
The Keen Chandler CNX
After a quick fitting, which the folks at Future Feet we had our new shoes sorted. Claudia was proudly stumbling around the house in her fancy new shoes, and we were both keen to get outside and try them out.
The shoes are easy to put on and have a simple drawstring style clasp on the elastic laces. With Claudia now starting to figure out how to put her shoes on herself, she can get the shoe mostly on, with just a little help pushing her heel in completely.
As it turned out, we headed out to the same trail the next weekend. It feeds onto a slightly longer loop that I wanted to complete, so we found ourselves heading down the same path that only the week before, the little girl has struggled to get down without slipping and sliding over on the gravel pathway.
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I was pleased to see the new shoes had totally fixed that problem.
The rubber soles are a decent tread pattern on them and the rubber tracks around up over the edges, providing grip and protective durability to the shoes.
We have had the shoes for several months and several trips now. Even when not out tramping, the shoes have become Claudia’s favourite – as she will often pick them out when getting her ready to go out. Despite getting wet and muddy, a quick rinse off and a night in the hot water cupboard and they are ready to go again.
These shoes, however, are not waterproof. It’s a mesh shoe after all – without a waterproof liner in them. So a couple of roams through some puddles and the little girl will have wet feet. However, some decent wool socks ensure that she might have wet feet, but not cold.
I have purchased some gumboots for her as well, but they don’t provide quite the same support and fit as the shoes, so I may be looking into some more waterproof shoes for her in the future. Remember we are only heading out for a couple of hours – so it’s not critical. Besides that, many puddles are still actually more than ankle deep, so the two big holes in the top of any pair of shoes are going to let water in. I just ensure I have a towel and some warm wool booties in the truck for when we get back. As we are heading into Summer now, it’s not an issue – but I would pick once we start looking at the next size up in toddler hiking shoesshoes, something a little more waterproof will likely be investigated.
Great shoes, happy girl!
I mean, it’s obviously hard to get active feedback out of someone who can’t talk yet. But indeed, the little one seems quite happy to be stomping around in her Keen Chandler CNX shoes.
They also get a lot of comments by people we pass by on the trails, super cute. Which, you know, is important for a two-year-old!