The best kids' running shoes

kids running shoes
15 of the best kids' running shoesHearst Owned

As every runner-parent knows, the joy of watching your child develop a passion for running is hard to beat. And whether they’re tearing up the mud in a school cross country race or joining you on their first junior parkrun, there’s a lot to love about them catching the running bug.

Besides the mental health benefits, such as decreased anxiety and improved self-esteem, studies show that running as a child improves cardiovascular health and reduces the chance of weight-related problems, such as type 2 diabetes. Plus, it’s been shown to improve bone density in later life.

Shop the best kids' running shoes now

Here are our top recommendations, at a glance. Keep scrolling for our full reviews.

What to look for in a pair of children's running shoes

With a budding runner on your hands, choosing the right kids’ footwear is key. With growing feet to accommodate, active kids need a pair of well-fitting kids’ running shoes to help maintain their foot health into adulthood, prevent blisters and keep them charging around in comfort.

So what to look for? Kids’ running shoes should feel lightweight and flexible and include cushioning for comfort and impact absorption.

Breathable uppers help prevent hot and sweaty feet, while durable outsole materials ensure their shoes stand up to everything your active child throws at them.

With more brands dedicating lines to kids’ running shoes, there’s plenty to choose from. If in doubt, look out for ‘mini me’ versions of your favourite adult performance running shoes, which come complete with trickle-down tech. Above all, though, when it comes to kids’ running shoes, comfort is king. As every parent knows, a comfortable kid is (generally) a happy one!

So, without further ado, here’s our pick of the best kids’ running shoes – from Nike and Asics kids’ running shoes to kids' trail running shoes from the likes of Adidas and Merrell.

NB: All of the below models are unisex unless otherwise stated.

The best kids' running shoes

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40 Kids’ Running Shoe

Sizes: UK 13.5K to UK 6

Looking for a kids’ running shoe with a solid athletic pedigree? Here it is. Packed with all the Pegasus tech you’d expect from Nike’s iconic running shoe, including springy React foam and a bouncy Zoom Air unit, this kids’ version is uber-comfy, plush and responsive. Whether they’re chasing a PB or leading a mammoth game of tig, your child can charge around in comfort thanks to the lightweight and breathable engineered mesh upper. A rubber sole with waffle-inspired pattern provides traction and durability too.

Nike Huarache Run for Older Kids

Sizes: UK 3 to UK 6

If you’re trying to coax your tween into running with you, a good-looking shoe with street cred helps. Enter the Nike Huarache Run for Older Kids. Its chunky style might not scream ‘running shoe’, but, being Nike, it boasts running friendly specs, including a caged heel for support and stability and soft underfoot foam for lightweight cushioning. The stretchy fabric upper hugs the foot, and the snug inner neoprene bootie-like design feels comfy and secure. One for style-conscious occasional runners, it also doubles as an everyday shoe.

Also available Nike Huarache Run for Younger Kids, sizes UK 10K to UK 2.5

Saucony Big Kid’s Ride 15 Running Shoe

Sizes: UK 9.5 to UK 6

Your mini-me will love this kids’ version of Saucony’s flagship neutral adult running shoe. Ideal for budding athletes who clock up several runs a week, its bouncy EVA midsole cushions growing bones from impact and offers a comfy, responsive ride. The one-piece upper is lightweight, breathable and completely seamless, reducing the chance of blisters and rubbing.

Junior running shoes should be flexible, and this one includes a grippy Tri-Flex rubber outsole which flexes with the foot for smooth transitions. There’s a reinforced toe cap for durability, and parents everywhere will appreciate Saucony’s ‘anti-stink’ shoe lining.

Under Armour Grade School UA Charged Rogue 3 Kids’ Running Shoe



Sizes: UK 3 to UK 6

Boasting the most trickle-down tech from Under Armour’s adult performance shoes, the Charged Rogue 3 is ideal for speedy road runs and after-school sports. UA’s Charged Cushioning midsole gets the thumbs up for comfort and impact absorption while offering snappy responsiveness that young runners will appreciate. The plush sockliner provides a comfy fit and includes anti-odour technology, and there’s an external heel counter to keep young feet stable. It’s also a safe bet for durability with a solid rubber sole and strategically placed pods in high-abrasion areas.

Skechers GoRun 400 V2- Krozor

Sizes: UK 12K to UK 4

Although not a running shoe per se, the GoRun Krozor’s comfy Air-Cooled Memory Foam insole and lightweight, well-cushioned midsole make it a solid choice for active young kids. Versatile and comfy, it’s ideal for PE, school sports and junior parkruns. The engineered mesh upper is breathable, and the slip-on style with Velcro closure is simple for kids to get on and off. Plus, the shoe is machine washable, which is always a bonus.

Adidas Ultraboost Light Junior Kids’ Running Shoes

Sizes: UK 3 to UK 6.5

OK, these kicks are pricey. But given they’re loaded with much of the same tech as their adult counterpart, they’re worth considering, should your wallet allow it. Energetic Boost cushioning in the midsole is primed to keep young runners comfy over longer distances, plus there’s a firmer LEP torsion system to boost the shoe’s responsiveness. The comfy Primeknit upper includes foam around the heel for blister prevention and contains at least 50% recycled Parley Ocean Plastic. With a grippy Continental outsole, you won’t be worried about young feet staying sure-footed – the shoe promises excellent tarmac traction, whether wet or dry.

Asics Pre-Noosa Tri 13 PS (Pre School) Junior Running shoes

Sizes: UK 10K to UK 2 (PS shoe) and UK 13K to UK 6 (GS shoe)

If your budding triathlete loves a bright shoe, it doesn’t get more colourful than this. Inspired by Asics' adult triathlon shoe, the Pre-Noosa Tri 13 PS boasts an eye-catching design and several multi-sports features. The pull-on tab and Velcro fastening make bike-to-run transitions easy, and there’s plenty of (injection EVA foam) cushioning in the midsole for a comfy ride and impact protection. Toe stitching and a rubber outsole compound lend the shoe durability, while the breathable mesh upper helps prevent overheating. Handily, it’s available in older kids’ sizes too, without the Velcro.

Decathlon Kalenji At 500 Kiprun Fast Kids Athletics Shoes

Sizes: UK 13K to UK 6.5

Decathlon is every parent’s go-to for great value sports kit, so it’s no surprise that it’s come up trumps with the Kalenji At 500 Kiprun, a versatile, comfy shoe for active kids who dabble in a range of after-school sports. Its lightweight design is made for athletics, has a kid-specific fit and includes a seamless forefoot construction for added comfort (no blister-related incidents). Ideal for PE, track and road running, the cushioned foam absorbs impact forces from running and jumping, while the non-marking rubber half-sole provides grip even on the wet track.

ASICS GT 1000 11 GS (Grade School) Kids’ Support Running Shoe

Sizes: UK 13K to UK 6 (Grade-school shoe) and UK 9K to UK 2 (Pre-school shoe)

Asics is the master of stability running shoes, so if your child has low arches or flat feet and a propensity for overpronating, you’re in safe hands. The Litetruss support system in the midsole helps keep young feet stable through their stride, while overlays in the mid-foot add structure and support. Built on a kid-specific last, it includes a combo of EVA cushioning and Gel technology for a lightweight, flexible and soft ride during pavement (and playground) pounding. Made to last, it includes a solid rubber sole and toe rubber stitching for durability.

Got a bigger budget? The ASICS GT-2000 11 is the brand’s plusher, premium kids’ support shoe, offering improved stability and arch development support.

Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Junior Kids’ Running Shoe

Sizes: UK 1 to UK 6

Mizuno’s Wave Rider shoe first debuted in 1997 and is still going strong. This junior version borrows key specs from its adult counterpart to offer budding runners a smooth and springy run experience. A heel wedge of Mizuno’s signature Enerzy material adds bounce and softness, while Mizuno’s Wave foam midsole delivers stability. Up top, breathable mesh keeps the shoe airy and comfy when hot. Ideal for longer distances and regular wear, the outsole features X10, a very hard-wearing carbon rubber that adds durability to high-impact areas.

Best Kids' Trail Running Shoes

Adidas Terrex Agravic Boa Trail Running Shoes

Sizes: UK 10K to UK 6.5

Designed for the trail, but equally at home in the playground, these kicks shares some tech with the brand’s race-winning adult performance trail shoes (worn by its roster of top-tier mountain athletes). The Traxion outsole offers a multidirectional grip for excellent traction off-road, and the EVA midsole provides comfy cushioning over rugged terrain. There’s also an Ortholite sockliner for added comfort, but it’s the Boa fit system that’s sure to appeal to parents. Turn the lace wheel to tighten (no lace tying!) for a customisable fit that’s easy as pie for young kids to use.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7 Kids’ Trail Running Shoe

Sizes: UK 3 to 6.5 – also available in a wider width

This junior take on the Fresh Foam X Hierro borrows a lot of features from its adult counterpart, including an off-road application of the brand’s best running technology. Alongside the ultra-cushioned, lightweight ride from the Fresh Foam midsole, there’s an aggressive-lugged Vibram Megagrip outsole which makes light work of uneven terrain, roots and wet ground. Clumsy, root-tripping kids will remain unscathed thanks to the all-important Toe Protection technology, which also aids durability, and there’s a lightweight, no-sew upper to help keep their feet cool and fresh.

Kiprun Grip Kids’ Running and Athletics Shoes

Sizes: UK 13K to UK 5.5

Kids’ trail running shoes needn’t break the bank, as this off-road shoe from Decathlon proves. Designed for running on slippery and rocky surfaces, its multi-directional lugs are ideal for orienteering, cross country and muddy parkruns. Crucially, it’s got comfy cushioning too, with Kalensole foam in the midsole and Decathlon’s shock absorbing CS technology in the heel. The upper fabric is water repellent (no more embedded mud!), easy to clean, and includes numerous reinforcements for maximum durability. All yours for under £30.

Merrell Big Kid’s Trail Glove 7 A/C Shoe

Sizes: UK 10K – UK 6

If your child favours minimalist footwear, this one from Merrell, which is based on their adult minimalist shoe, is almost as close to barefoot as you’ll get, offering a zero heel-to-toe drop. Its outsole is grippy enough for off-road adventures, family hikes and rock scrambling, and the easy Velcro closure suits kids of all ages. Sweaty young feet will benefit from the lightweight, breathable mesh and synthetic upper, and the recycled PET lining with anti-odour properties helps keep the shoe pong-free. Choose the smart-looking black colourway, and they could even double as a school shoe.

Salomon Junior Speedcross Climasalomon Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

Sizes: Euro 31-39

When only top-tier traction will do, Salomon’s legendary Speedcross delivers. This tech-packed kids’ trail running shoe is fully waterproof and nimbly navigates off-road terrain with its aggressive 4mm lugs, making it ideal for junior fell races, cross country and orienteering. Salomon’s Sensifit tech offers a snug, comfy fit with superb ground feel, while the faff-free Quicklace system is a doddle for youngsters to use. To keep young feet cushioned over rough ground, there’s a moulded and injected EVA midsole and comfy EVA sockliner, too.

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