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Kids' Backpacking Gear Reviews

Weekly Obsession: This Kids’ Hiking Shoe Will Survive The Playground and the Mountain

The Keen Newport Shoe is durable and versatile.

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We’re big believers in used kids’ apparel in my family—I can count on two hands the number of brand new items I’ve bought for my two children combined. But secondhand shopping has gotten tougher since my older kiddo reached preschool age, particularly in the footwear department. Right around now, I’ve noticed, kids start working their shoes hard; far too many pairs start falling apart before they’re outgrown, which dries up the resale market (not to mention how wasteful it is). 

Except for Keens. Every time the season changes in our mountain town of Missoula, Montana, there’s a secondhand-store feeding frenzy for the kids’ Keens. Why? They actually last long enough to be passed down.

That’s exactly what we found with the Newport Shoe, a cool-weather version of the brand’s popular Newport Sandal. My son wore these for seven months until he grew out of them, across miles of Montana hiking trails and at preschool alike, and they show nary a weak point. The tough upper—a combination of abrasion-resistant nylon mesh under a leather exoskeleton of sorts—stood up to rock scrambling and kept his feet dry on muddy trails. (Caveat: They’re low cut and not waterproof, so they’re not the best shoes for snow or puddles.) 

The burly rubber outsole combined with the extra-thick rubber toe bumper not only protect his feet from underfoot stones, they also reinforce the common failure points on kids’ shoes. The Newports also strike a nice balance between sturdy and grippy enough for hiking Missoula’s super steep Ridge Trail on Mt. Sentinel, but light and nimble enough for sprinting across the playground. We also love how easy they are to get on and off, thanks to a quick-release bungee closure plus a Velcro tab. 

All in all, these are kids’ shoes I’d actually buy new, because I know they’ll be ready for another tour of duty when my daughter grows into them. (And that very fun, very unisex rainbow tie-dye pattern? Just one more reason to love ‘em.)

Buy Now; $60 (Little Kids’) – $65 (Big Kids’)