12 best kids' trainers
Whether they need them for PE lessons or for everyday use, our roundup offers the best trainers for any activity
When it comes to kids’ footwear, trainers are as practical as it gets. So what features should you look out for when buying them?
Functional fastening, an expert tells us, as trainers need to fit kids' feet securely and comfortably. Look for strap closures that make it easy for kids to put their shoes on themselves, provide an element of adjustability and that won’t come undone.
Laces can be a great way to adjust trainers to different food widths, but they’re best used when kids can tie laces themselves and remember not to tie them too tightly or loosely and use a double-knot if possible.
A lot of trainers that kids wear these days are the shrunken version of the shoes their parents wear, an expert warns. They can often look boxy, with a thick, rigid sole and kids tend to walk quite clumsily in them. This is because these trainers aren’t flexible or light enough for kids’ feet to move naturally which can hinder their development.
Parents should look for shoes that are designed especially for kids and they should also check the flexibility and weight of the shoe – you should be able to flex the shoe in your hand.
Also look for quality materials, as kids’ feet sweat twice as much as adults' so they need shoes made from breathable textiles.
Finally, pay close attention to the shape of the shoe, as an expert points out that kids’ feet tend to be much rounder with a square forefoot, depending on their stage of development, so a good trainer will be designed to reflect the unique shape of developing feet.
After considering all these factors while testing a bunch of trainers for kids, we've come up with a roundup of the best.
Bobux Lo Dimension: from £29, Bobux
Bobux have really gone to town with attention to detail on these fabulous trainers that come in five different colours.
Exceptionally lightweight, they have a flexible sole, specially designed toe-cap to protect against scuffs and a leather strap closure so kids can get them on and off in a jiffy.
They’re even lined with merino wool, a fibre known for responding to body temperature so they don’t sweat when you get hot and keep tootsies warm when it’s cold.
They’re available in three slightly different ranges to suit different ages – first walkers (which has a stretch opening instead of Velcro strap), toddlers and kids.
Clarks Sprint Flux: £34, Clarks
These sporty trainers – which come in black/green or navy/green combo – come in masses of sizes, including half-sizes and different widths.
They’re lightweight, easy to get on and off using the bungee lace and handy heel loop, and the sole is designed to rise up around the heel for added stability while also allowing a bit of extra room for growing feet.
They’re comfy, are easy to clean and long-lasting and look as good on girls as boys.
Next Denim Rocket High Top Trainers: from £18, Next
Available in sizes three to nine, these denim high-tops are just the ticket for active youngsters.
With a zip at the side for easy access, they won’t send your little cherub into a full-on toddler tantrum every time you try to put them on or take them off, while the other side is decorated in a colourful shiny rocket, along with some stars and "zoom" sign.
Our little tester assured us they were comfy and the cushioning certainly felt deep enough to us. They’re true to size and have a decent grip.
My k Shoes: from £14, Mothercare
The My k collection – started by Myleene Klass - is all about simple but bold designs, with Mediterranean influence and lots of black and monochrome.
These minimalist black and white lace-up trainers fit right at home in the range and will appeal to kids of all ages – in fact, older siblings might be a bit jealous that they only go up to size 13.
They are well padded, instantly comfortable and true to size. Made to look like a mix of leather and suede, be warned they are actually made from PU, jersey and rubber, but hey, they come in at under fifteen quid.
Boden Suede Trainers: from £40, Boden
Here’s another fab pair of unisex trainers that are available in masses of sizes (although be prepared to have your shoe converter handy as they only list them in European shoe sizes).
There’s a definite retro theme here, with suede navy star against orange leather upper and red suede detailing and Velcro straps.
They’re so soft that there’s absolutely no breaking in needed, yet they’ll stand up against a lot of activity, with a deep lined sole that won’t slip and which lasts and lasts.
Start Rite Charge: from £39.99, Start Rite
These tough trainers are great for more demanding activities – even hiking and climbing - with protection at every point around the shoe and next level durability and grip from the specially designed soles.
This shoe also offers comfort from padded ankles, moulded footbed and comfy linings. Available from a small seven to a large four, and with a whopping four different widths, they might as well be made bespoke for your child (and all the more reason to get your kid’s feet measured before you buy them).
Also available in grey/pink, the Velcro fastening is great for making them as tight as your child needs them.
Nerf Trainers: £13, George
You’ve heard of Nerf guns, well now there’s Nerf trainers, where the novelty factor is being able to store your darts (the bullets used in the guns) in the extra-thick soles.
Might sounds weird to you, but believe us, your kids will love it. You get plenty of comfort, even in hot weather, thanks to the breathable mesh panelling and the elasticated laces and hook and loop fastening means kids can get them on (and off) in a hurry.
Not as durable as some others, and they don’t meet all the criteria listed in our intro, but they are good sturdy pair for a bargain price.
Nike Air Max 270 Jacquard: £84.95, Nike
Rare is the child that wouldn’t kill for a pair of Nike Air Max’s, a style of lightweight trainer first released back in the 80s and which is still popular.
They cost a bomb but feature a large air cushioning unit at the heel for extra comfort – the biggest heel air unit yet, in fact – and a flexible, durable sole.
There plenty of fashion aspects that will appeal to older kids, including a long tongue from the Air Max 180 and other influences from the Air Max 93.
A pair to save up for, but one that will bring ear-to-ear grins and they last well.
Adidas Ultraboost Parley Shoe: £119.95, Adidas
Your older kids will never want to take these trainers off, such is the comfort value from the sock-like upper that adapts to the shape of your feet as you move.
Made from recycled materials found on coastlines, you get to tick the ethical, environmental box as well as winding up with a stunning pair of two-tone trainers that make you feel as though you’re walking on clouds.
New Balance Fresh Foam Lazr Heathered: £50, New Balance
Another exceptionally responsive and flexible pair of trainers, these tick every box mentioned in our intro and feel lovely and lightweight too.
The outsole is particularly durable and has good grip and the grey and pink colour combo looks great, while the bungee cord makes them a doddle to get on and off quickly.
Aimed at older kids, these will make a great pair of hand-me-downs as they’re made to last.
KEEN Terradora Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes: £54.99, KEEN
Brand new for this year, these multi-sport trainers are available in either mid or low cut for a young size five up to a big size five and in various different colours.
The bungee lace system makes for a quick and secure fit, with an additional Velcro strap for the younger kids’ version.
And although they feature some of the best features of the award-winning adult Terradora, these aren’t just a smaller version; instead, they are made with maturing feet in mind and as such are durable, flexible, lightweight and very well cushioned, including extra padding on the tongue.
We also like the fact that they’re waterproof and exceptionally breathable – even in this hot weather.
Clarks Piper Play: £36, Clarks
Another pair from one of the best-known names in children’s footwear, these are the trainers that many little girls will make a beeline for as soon as they enter the shop, while parents can rest assured they’re durable, supple, lightweight and with a secure fit thanks to the double Velcro straps.
They come in lots of sizes, including half-sizes and different widths, and there’s no need for any sweat odour thanks to the special antibacterial linings. A gloriously glittery pair of trainers that are also highly practical.
The Verdict: Best kids' trainers
It’s hard to find anything to fault about the Bobux Lo Dimension. Not only are they highly practical, but they’re made with growing feet in mind and with aesthetics that appeal to children and parents alike.
We were also particularly impressed with Clarks Spring Flux – and if you buy your child’s school shoes from Clarks at the moment, you can get 20 per cent off these (and other children’s trainers).
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