Nobody wants to slip and slide on a muddy creek bank or rocky trail. Getting kids hiking should be a super-fun activity, and the right hiking boots provide a firm foundation for a healthy, active lifestyle. When homing in on which boots are perfect for your kid, here are three things to know about the differences between all the choices.

Non-Marking Outsole

This product has a mesh upper for breathability. Merrell

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Low-cut hiking boots are great for general-purpose play in the woods, on bikes, and on tree-climbing expeditions. If you’re headed out for a challenging trail, or if your child will be carrying a pack, go for ankle-cut boots for more support.

Easy On and Off

This product has a tough, abrasion-resistant toe cap to protect feet during active play. Mishansha

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Getting kids dressed for hiking can be a pain. All that squirming! If your children struggle with tying the laces on their everyday shoes, messing with boot laces and knots is definitely something to avoid. For younger kids, especially, look for boots and shoes with hook-and-loop straps instead of laces. Getting boots on quick and easy will make for happier hikers.

Fall Protection

This model has it all: a dense windproof outer fabric and a plush warm liner. JMFCHI

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If your kids hike and play in mud, snow, or other slick conditions, they’ll need boots that will keep their feet firmly planted. Look for aggressive outsole patterns with deep cleats. Some shoes are even made with metal non-slip claws for a solid grip.