The Best Summer Shoes for Kids in 2019

Kids’ feet may be tiny, but their needs aren’t, especially when it comes to finding them the best summer shoes. Parents know just how much strain an energetic child can put on a pair of footwear. If you want your kid’s shoes to last all summer long, through the stress of waterparks, beach trips and summer sports, you need one of the best summer shoes made for kids.

What should you look for in the sandals, aqua shoes, and lightweight casual summer shoes your little one needs? Our top 10 ranking list factors in all of the considerations that real parents – and real kids – care about the most. These shoes are durable enough that you can expect your kid’s feet to grow out of them before they wear out. They’re made of quality materials and are built to last. Many are waterproof, though some are perfect for summer events on dry land.

Of course, no matter how sturdy a shoe may be, it’s no good if the messes that are an inevitable part of summer vacation render them unusable. The best summer shoes for kids are easy to clean and smell resistant. Instead of worrying about whether or not your child’s shoes will be ruined, you can focus on the family fun and making the memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Kids care just as much about looking cool as grownups do, so we factor in style and variety of colors and patterns, because your kid deserves shoes that make more than just his or her feet happy. Comfort is another important factor. Kids have no patience for uncomfortable shoes, and you don’t have time for blisters and sore feet to slow down your summer. To some degree, comfort is subjective and has to do in part with proper size and fit. However, the more a manufacturer integrates smart, ergonomic design and cutting-edge comfort technology – and the more reviews from real buyers back the company’s claims of comfort – the more credit a shoe deserves in this crucial category.

Finally, cost and value matter. You want the best shoes for the most reasonable price, not a bank-breaking pair of shoes that won’t earn its keep or a cheap but cheaply made shoe that sacrifices quality.

It could take all season to navigate your way through the massive world of kids’ summer footwear, but we’ve made your job easy. Read on to find the perfect pair of summer shoes for your little ones, no matter the occasion.

1. KEEN Unisex Kid Newport H2 Sandal

KEEN Unisex Kid Newport H2 Sandals

These water-resistant sandals top our list of the best summer shoes for kids, but we’re not the only ones impressed by KEEN’s Unisex Kid Newport H2 Sandal. With well over 4,000 favorable reviews on Amazon, it’s safe to say this bestseller lives up to the hype. These sandals may not look like water shoes, but their combination of quick-dry webbing, odor control technology and water-resistant leather makes them suitable for summer camp, waterparks, the beach – and even the washing machine. There’s no shortage of color combinations, so you’re sure to find one that fits your kid’s style and personality perfectly.

As for comfort, KEEN’s H2 sandal goes the extra mile with a foamy ethel vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole atop the durable rubber outsole. The vented upper is breathable enough to keep feet comfortable even in hot temperatures. Kids love the barefoot feel these molded shoes provide, and parents love the protection the durable, multi-surface slip-resistant shoe offers for tender little feet. Classed as a performance hiking sandal, this is one water shoe that will stand up to whatever your kid puts it through, all summer long, and look cool all the while.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A toe guard that protects your little one’s feet from sharp shells, stones and other debris
  • KEEN’s environmentally conscious efforts include using a proprietary eco anti-odor technology called Cleansport NXT for natural, chemical-free odor control and PFC-free water-repelling technology that’s better for the environment and for your child
  • 100 percent polyester quick-dry webbing that keeps the shoes from getting soggy
  • Breathable mesh lining and vented design that prevents overheating
  • Slip-resistant rubber outsole
  • Molded EVA foam removable footbed that keeps feet cushioned and comfortable
  • Machine-washable for easy and thorough cleaning
  • 60+ color combinations perfect for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Decorative bungee lacing that adds a cool touch to the sandal’s style
  • Adjustable hook and loop strap combined with elastic cord lace allow for a better, more customized fit
  • Intended for use in water, with a water-resistant leather upper shoe
  • Removable footbed for comfort and easy cleaning
  • Non-marking sole
  • More than 4,000 positive customer reviews
  • Easy-on, easy-off design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as some other water sandals
  • Despite the odor-control features, some complaints of odor after use
  • Among the priciest shoes on our list, though the value is on par with the cost
  • Although most buyers were impressed with how well the shoes hold up, there are some complaints about the durability of the hook-and-loop strap.

Score

Durability:  100/100

Cleanability: 100/100

Style: 100/100

Comfort: 100/100

Cost: 70/100

Overall Score: 94

2. UMmaid Kids Beach Shoes Water Socks for Swimming Running Yoga

UMmaid Kids Beach Shoes Water Socks for Swimming Running Yoga

KEEN’s heavy-duty water sandals are great for the stress and strain kids put on summer footwear at camp, but what about those laid-back days at the beach? For a great shoe that’s simpler, more lightweight and more affordable, try these fun and flexible beach shoes from UMmaid. Part barely-there sock, part non-slip protective rubber sole, these flat shoes are ideal for swimming, walking (or running) along the shoreline and whatever else your little one gets into on the beach. These quick-dry water shoes are lightweight and flexible enough for crouching in the sand to build a castle with a bottom that’s thick and durable enough to prevent scratches and cuts from stepping on sharp objects in the ocean.

If you’ve ever worn water shoes so uncomfortable that you couldn’t wait to get out of them and ended up ditching them on the beach blanket, these shoes will surprise you. The fabric is a diving material that remains comfortable even as it clings tight to your kid’s feet, and its smooth-neck design prevents blisters. UMmaid’s water socks also have a fun and stylish upgrade compared to old-school aqua shoes parents remember wearing, with fun patterns and prints kids will be excited to wear (and that means no more fights and tears over wearing shoes!).

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight for a near-barefoot feel
  • Intended for water use, with quick-dry polyester and spandex diving fabric that wicks away moisture and keeps feet from feeling waterlogged
  • Non-slip, thick rubber outsole with honeycomb pattern protects feet from hot sand and sharp shells and debris
  • 23 brightly colored and adorable designs ranging from ocean themes to unicorns, elephants and dinosaurs perfect for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • The smooth-neck opening minimizes the rubbing and chafing that can lead to blisters on sensitive little feet
  • More than 100 positive customer reviews
  • Clean up well, with some buyers reporting success with machine washing the shoes
  • Easy-on, easy-off slip-on design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and limited big kid sizes
  • One of the lowest-priced shoes to land a spot on our list

Cons

  • The skin-tight fit may bother some kids, especially those with sensory issues
  • Despite a removable insole, these shoes don’t have much arch support
  • Since there’s no strap to tighten the top of the shoe, it could be knocked off with the tide if the size is too large
  • Some complaints about the shoe running small
  • These lightweight shoes are best for light use and not as durable as hard-wearing performance water shoes like KEEN’s

Score

Durability:  70/100

Cleanability: 100/100

Style: 100/100

Comfort: 100/100

Cost: 90/100

Overall Score: 92

3. Crocs Kid’s Boys and Girls Crocband II Sandal | Pre School

Crocs Kid's Boys and Girls Crocband II Sandal

Crocs are an almost guaranteed contender for any list of summer shoes. The very first of the popular foam clog shoes were boat shoes, but now the company’s offerings are nearly endless. Our pick for the very best Crocs shoe for kids is the bestselling Crocband sandal. Combining the comfort of the Classic Croc with design more similar to a traditional sandal, your child gets the best of both worlds when rocking these fun and lightweight Crocs.

Like Classic Crocs, these shoes are made of synthetic and proprietary Croslite foam for a lightweight and comfortable design. With no fabric to absorb water, these sandals can be easily hand-washed and dried in no time. The sandal style is somewhat sportier than the Classic Crocs look, and the single-strap adjustable closure allows for a more secure fit to prevent accidental slip-offs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lightweight and flexible
  • The synthetic propriety foam material used in both the upper and sole of the shoe is meant for “360-degree” comfort
  • Intended for use in water and won’t absorb moisture
  • Adjustable strap that keeps shoe on and allows for a more customized fit
  • Color options are appropriate for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • More than 400 positive customer reviews
  • Easily cleaned by hand washing with soap
  • Offered in toddler and little kid sizes

Cons

  • No big kid sizes suitable for children over 8 of this particular Crocs shoe
  • With just 6 colors available, there’s less variety of this shoe than other Crocs shoes or other shoes on our list
  • Some complaints of odd fits and blisters
  • Not ideal for running
  • The plastic-foam material can shrink or warp if left out in the sun or heat for an extended time
  • The look of Crocs shoes has always been polarizing, and just as some parents and kids will love the Crocs style, others will feel that the aesthetics of these Crocs sandals leave something to be desired.

Score

Durability:  90/100

Cleanability: 100/100

Style: 80/100

Comfort: 85/100

Cost: 85/100

Overall Score: 88

4. BODATU Boys’ and Girls’ Summer Outdoor Beach Sports Closed-Toe Sandals (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid)

BODATU Boys' and Girls' Summer Outdoor Beach Sports Closed-Toe Sandals

These closed-toed beach sandals are reasonably priced and chock-full of great features sure to please kids and parents alike. The waterproof construction includes breathable mesh, waterproof fabric and a synthetic sole. The closed-toe design features a rubber toe bumper to prevent painful stubbing and bruising.

You won’t have to worry about slips even on wet terrain with the skid-resistant sole that integrates shock absorption technology for better comfort all day long. Every parent knows that a comfortable kid is a happy kid, and this comfort plus the stylish design and variety of colors keeps toddlers, little kids and big kids happy.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Closed-toe construction includes a rubber toe bumper for extra protection
  • Lightweight and durable shock-absorbing sole is made to last and topped with a soft footbed for comfort
  • Intended for use in water with breathable mesh and easy-clean synthetic fabric materials
  • Flexible enough to be folded in half and retain its shape when unfolded
  • Anti-slip skid-resistant sole keeps kids safer
  • Comes in 10 vibrant colors perfect for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Decorative bungee lacing that adds a cool touch to the sandal’s style
  • An adjustable hook and loop strap allows for a more customized, secure fit
  • Easy-on, easy-off design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Close to 200 positive customer reviews
  • Among the more budget-friendly shoes on our list
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Some complaints about durability, specifically of the Velcro strap
  • The more open sandal design offers less coverage for little feet – so don’t forget the sunscreen!
  • Some complaints of a rubber smell
  • A bit bulkier than some other summer shoe options

Score

Durability:  70/100

Cleanability: 90/100

Style: 90/100

Comfort: 85/100

Cost: 95/100

Overall Score: 86

5. ikiki Squeaky Shoes for Toddlers with on/off Squeaker Switch

ikiki Squeaky Shoes

Unless you spend every day at the beach or pool, your child will need more than water shoes to get through the summer. These ikiki Squeaky Shoes are a fun twist on classic canvas shoes  made especially for toddlers and little kids. True to the name, these shoes include a squeaker that’s fun for new walkers and little ones – and, for parents’ sakes, can be switched on and off with ease. The other selling point that makes these shoes such as hit with kids is the array of fun designs available. It’s hard to resist the 16 adorable designs modeled after dogs, cats, giraffes, pandas, hippos and other kid-favorite creatures.

Looks aren’t everything, and fortunately, there’s substance beneath the style of ikiki’s Squeaky Shoes. Made with a soft, breathable fabric and soft rubber soles, these shoes are especially comfortable during the hot summer months, when heavier materials may make kids’ feet feel too hot. These sturdy shoes cater to new walkers with comfortable high-top ankle support to encourage proper walking posture and a flexible anti-slip rubber sole to minimize falls. The single-strap closure design works well whether kids have narrow or wide feet. In the mid-price point range, these shoes are a nice little splurge for a gift or special occasion but not so pricy that they break the bank.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 16 fun animal-themed designs sure to make kids smile, with options for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Fun squeaker is securely fixed in the shoe so it can’t be removed and pose a choking hazard and can be silenced with an easy-to-use switch
  • Made with soft and breathable materials for comfort and coolness
  • High-top support without hugging the ankle too much, ideal for teaching correct heel-to-toe walking without discomfort
  • Soles are soft on the inside to keep kids comfortable but grippy and non-marking on the outside for slip-resistance
  • Different color soles to help kids learn which shoe goes on which foot
  • More than 860 positive customer reviews
  • Easy-on, easy-off design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Adjustable strap that keeps shoe on and allows for a more customized fit
  • Offered primarily in toddler and little kid sizes

Cons

  • Not waterproof or intended for use in the water
  • Difficult to clean due to canvas material
  • Some complaints of “clunkiness” and not as lightweight as other summer shoes
  • Occasional complaints about durability
  • Very limited big kid sizing
  • Some parents found the shoes too tight for children with wide feet

Score

Durability:  90/100

Cleanability: 65/100

Style: 100/100

Comfort: 90/100

Cost: 75/100

Overall Score: 84

6. Stride Rite Made2Play Phibian Sneaker Sandal

Stride Rite Made 2 Play Phibian Sneaker Sandal Water Shoe

Stride Rite has been a trusted maker of children’s shoes since 1919 and remains a popular choice for babies’ first walking shoes today. It’s no wonder parents trust the century-old company with their kids’ summer shoe needs. One thing is for sure: the technology and features used in shoes like Stride Rite’s Made2Play Phibian Sneaker Sandal are much different than they were 100 years ago. The breathable 100 percent EVA foam upper is lightweight and dries quickly, with perforations throughout for better draining. They’re so easy to clean that you can hose them down in the backyard or throw them in the washing machine. A special antimicrobial lining resists the saltwater, chlorine and other not-so-appealing smells that follow a day at the beach or pool. It’s so durable that the manufacturer describes the upper portion of the shoe as “indestructible.”

Although the material is comparable to other shoes on our list – like Crocs sandals and Native’s slip-on sneakers – lacing details and ombre color options add a touch of extra style. Many parents report that these compare favorably to the comfort and performance of Crocs. A slip-resistant rubber and EVA outsole sole prevents falls on pool decks, waterparks and other wet, slippery surfaces. It’s easy to see why Stride Rite calls these popular water shoes “sneaker sandals,” because they offer the best of both worlds for the kid who’s always on the go.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Intended for use in water and won’t absorb moisture with a quick-drain 100 percent EVA upper
  • Lightweight and breathable construction with scuff-proof design
  • Proprietary Aegis and Biome lining resists odors
  • Amazon offers 19 color options for toddlers and big kids, while the manufacturer’s website sells the shoe in seven colors for little kids and big kids
  • Decorative bungee lacing that adds a cool touch to the sandal’s style
  • An adjustable hook and loop strap allows for a more customized, secure fit that keeps shoes on
  • Easy-on, easy-off slip-on design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Durable rubber sole provides excellent traction for navigating wet terrain
  • Easy to clean by hosing off or machine-wash
  • More than 1,100 positive customer reviews on Amazon and nearly 150 on the manufacturer’s website
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Some complaints of blisters
  • Occasional complaints of the EVA upper portion of the shoe being tight, especially until it has been broken in
  • Some kids preferred to wear these shoes with socks, which isn’t ideal if you’re purchasing them as water shoes
  • Such a hot seller that retailers have trouble keeping all sizes and colors in stock – which means certain choices are unavailable or very expensive, despite a reasonable regular price

Score

Durability:  95/100

Cleanability: 100/100

Style: 80/100

Comfort: 75/100

Cost: 70/100

Overall Score: 81

7. Native Unisex Kids Jefferson Slip on Sneaker

Native Unisex Kid's Jefferson Slip-On Sneakers

Native’s Jefferson slip-on shoe is the perfect blend of classic sneaker style and waterproof foam construction. With dozens of color options including iridescent and marbled shades, it’s hard to imagine a child who wouldn’t be enamored with these unique water shoes. The 100 percent EVA construction molds to your child’s feet with wear for the ultimate comfort, with a shock-absorbent rubber sole.

There’s just as much for parents to love. The lightweight material is odor-resistant and easy to hand wash with a quick-dry design that won’t hold water. These slip-on sneakers protect kids’ feet with slip-resistant traction outsoles and a rubber toe for better foot protection.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Intended for use in water, with all-over perforations for easy draining and quick drying
  • Comfortable and easy-dry, easy-clean EVA foam construction
  • 55 color options perfect for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Sneaker style includes a contrast toe cap
  • Easy-on, easy-off slip-on design ideal for active little ones
  • Rubber sole and toe absorb shock, resist odor and provide superior traction even in wet environments
  • Special EVA foam molds to the wearer’s feet for better comfort
  • More than 2,300 positive customer reviews
  • PETA-approved vegan and cruelty-free
  • Responsibly made through a process that results in low energy emissions and zero waste products
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Some reports of scraping, chafing or blisters at the ankles or heel
  • The upper portion of the shoe is too low for some feet, which can cause the shoe to rub
  • The shoes sometimes run large, but parents report that the style and construction doesn’t fit kids with either very wide or very narrow feet particularly well
  • Scuffs easily, though the marks can be washed off easily by hand
  • The plastic-foam material can shrink or warp if left out in the sun or heat for an extended time
  • Such a hot seller that retailers have trouble keeping all sizes and colors in stock – which means certain choices are unavailable or very expensive, despite a reasonable regular price

Score

Durability:  90/100

Cleanability: 95/100

Style: 85/100

Comfort: 75/100

Cost: 60/100

Overall Score: 81

8. TOMS Kids Classics (Infant/Toddler/Little Kid)

TOMS Kids Classics

Another adorable shoe for a day out not at the pool or beach, TOMS Kids Classics are junior-sized versions of the stylish canvas slip-on alpargata shoes so popular with adults. The thin and lightweight feel makes these shoes ideal for summer weather – and in the case of sweaty feet on those hot and humid days, the shoes feature a bacteria-fighting sock liner.

Designed to fit well with or without socks, TOMS Classics are a comfortable choice for when your kid needs to complete a dressed-up summer look but can also pair well with casual clothes. Parents praise the shoes for being sturdy and well-made. The comfy slip-on shoes are made with an elastic “V” plus an adjustable strap for easy-on, easy-off wear and a secure fit. TOMS aren’t cheap, even in miniature sizes, but the style adults know and love from the brand along with the company’s ongoing focus on social responsibility make it a worthwhile buy for families who are comfortable at this somewhat higher price point.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The kid-sized version of popular adult alpargatas, these shoes exude style and simplicity and can pair with dressy or casual clothes
  • 17 colors and styles available on Amazon and more than two dozen options, including TOMS Exclusive styles, available from the manufacturer
  • The array of styles means there’s a TOMS Classic shoe perfect for both boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • A durable rubber sole and bacteria-resistant liner complete the 100 percent canvas upper of the shoe
  • Thin and lightweight construction makes full-coverage shoes comfortable even on the warmest days
  • Easy-on, easy-off slip-on design with ideal for active little ones
  • Adjustable strap that keeps shoe on and allows for a more customized fit
  • Can be worn with or without socks according to your kid’s preference
  • More than 80 positive customer reviews
  • Offered in infant, toddler and little kid sizes, with coordinating big kid sizes offered without the adjustable strap

Cons

  • Not waterproof or intended for use in the water
  • Difficult to clean due to canvas material
  • Some complaints about fit, especially getting kids’ heels into the shoe or heel slipping
  • Some colors and size are pricy, though others are more reasonable

Score

Durability:  80/100

Cleanability: 65/100

Style: 100/100

Comfort: 85/100

Cost: 70/100

Overall Score: 80

9. Speedo Kid’s & Toddler’s Water Shoes – Surf Knit

Speedo Water Shoes-Surf Knit

For a brand whose name is synonymous with swimwear, branching out into water shoes is only the next natural step. These surf-knit water shoes from Speedo have a 100 percent textile upper, a welcome change for kids or parents who aren’t fans of the look or feel of plastic-like foam shoes.

You might expect a fabric water shoe to get soggier and retain moisture longer than its EVA counterparts, but Speedo uses special Surf Knit Technology. The mesh textile shoes drain and dry fast, with plenty of breathability. The water-dispersing sole prevents them from taking on extra water in the first place. Between the all-day-long comfort and the stabilizing, supportive protection of the durable rubber sole, what’s not to love?

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • 100 percent fabric upper made of quick-drying Speedo Surf Knit mesh for ideal comfort and breathability
  • A supportive insole and flexible, slip-resistant rubber outsole provide plenty of traction, stability and arch support while dispersing water
  • 10 colors available on Amazon, with colors appropriate for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Easy-on, easy-off slip-on design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • More than 80 positive customer reviews
  • Offered in little and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Some complaints of the ankle cuff rubbing uncomfortable, especially if shoes are too large
  • Occasional complaints of poor durability
  • Shoes run large and wide, so checking the size chart and possibly ordering a size smaller than usual is recommended.
  • Some colors and size are pricy, though others are more reasonable

Score

Durability:  80/100

Cleanability: 80/100

Style: 70/100

Comfort: 85/100

Cost: 75/100

Overall Score: 78

10. Merrell Hydro Water Sandal

Merrell Hydro Water Sandal

Merrell’s stylish waterproof sandal is another performance shoe ready to stand up to more stress than your typical aqua shoe can survive. A vented upper made of waterproof leather and textile, combined with a durable, slip-resistant outsole, adds up to a shoe that your child will want to wear for all their summer adventures, wet or dry. Kids will feel like they’re barefoot, with a cushioned EVA foam footbed and a close-to-the-ground design, but their little feet will have the protection of a rounded rubber toe and an outsole made with M Select GRIP technology for superior traction.

What ranks Merrell’s Hydro Water Sandal 10th on our list? Despite having many of the same features as KEEN, including an odor-resistant lining and stylish bungee lacing, real buyers were somewhat less impressed with the fit and performance of this shoe compared to its similarly priced competitor. That said, Merrell – a Stride Rite brand – still has hundreds of satisfied customers. For kids with narrow feet who aren’t prone to blisters, Merrell’s relatively wide fit and upper design may be exactly what parents are looking for – and the cool design and assortment of fun colors will be a hit with little and big kids alike.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Durable, flexible rubber sole with M Select Grip for slip resistance on any environment, wet or dry
  • Protective wrap-up toe guard defends your little one’s feet from sharp shells, stones and other debris
  • Vented upper with quick-dry textile and waterproof leather
  • M-Select Fresh Lining for odor resistance
  • 8 fun color combinations perfect for boys and girls as well as gender-neutral style options
  • Decorative bungee lacing that adds a cool touch to the sandal’s style
  • Adjustable hook and loop strap combined with elastic cord lace allow for a better, more customized secure fit
  • Intended for use in water
  • Non-marking sole
  • Almost 350 positive customer reviews
  • Close-to-the-ground design and EVA footbed feels like going barefoot in all the best ways
  • Easy-on, easy-off design with heel pull ideal for active little ones
  • Offered in toddler, little kid and big kid sizes

Cons

  • Some complaints of blisters
  • Buyers report that their kids’ feet slip in these shoes, and the single strap isn’t sufficient to tighten the shoe enough to prevent slipping.
  • While many buyers were impressed with the durability, some had complaints, particularly about the shoe’s performance in activities on dry land as opposed to in the water.
  • Machine wash not recommended
  • Among the priciest shoes on our list, Merrill’s sandals price point is on par with KEEN but boasts less popularity, less positive feedback and lower performance in key areas.

Score

Durability:  85/100

Cleanability: 60/100

Style: 90/100

Comfort: 80/100

Cost: 60/100

Overall Score: 75

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