We hope that you love our articles and find them useful and informative! In full transparency, we may collect a small commission (at no cost to you!) when you click on some of the links in this post. These funds allow us to keep the site up and continue to write great articles. Click here to learn about our review process and affiliate structure.

The Best Running Shoes for Kids in 2022

 

You wouldn’t go running in any old pair of shoes – neither should your kids.

Although kids seem to have the energy and temperament to run in pretty much anything, the right shoe makes a huge difference in performance and comfort during training runs.

While the best running shoes for kids aren’t as focused on technology and features as adult shoes, there are still large gaps between quality and comfort in kids shoes. The shoes we like find the right balance between comfort and durability. In fact, experts agree that comfort should be your top priority when buying shoes for your kids.

Most of the running shoes listed are neutral shoes, meaning there is no corrective support placed in the shoes. We feel that unless your child has very flat feet, or has been recommended to wear a stability shoe by a doctor, it’s better to use a neutral, non-corrective shoe.

A child’s body is still growing and developing. By using a neutral shoe, it allows their feet to grow and develop naturally without artificially changing their running gait.

So let’s get started and check out the best running shoes for kids available now.

How We Chose These Shoes

Kids are hard on shoes. So one main factor we looked at was durability. If you are going to buy your child good running shoes, you want them to last. We made sure the shoes we picked were from reputable brands with good reviews.

We also feel that kids shouldn’t have too much structure in their shoes – it’s better to have a more natural feel and let their feet grow. We most chose shoes that didn’t have tons of support or stability (unless your child has foot problems and needs it).

Finally, kids feet grow fast. And sometimes they outgrow a shoe before the shoe is worn out. We chose shoes that are a good value.

 

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Nike Zoom Pegasus 38

 

  • Plenty of cushion
  • Plenty of colors to choose from
  • Suitable for running and cross-training
CHECK BOY’S PRICECHECK GIRL’S PRICE

 

New Balance Arishi v2

 

  • Lightweight shoe
  • Super comfortable
  • Promotes natural running style
CHECK PRICE

 

New Balance 990 v5

 

  • Underfoot support
  • Supports wide and narrow feet
  • Quality materials
CHECK BOY’S PRICECHECK GIRL’S PRICE

Best Overall

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Junior has the same stylish design as the adults’ shoe, but with some youngster-specific design changes.

What We Like

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is a comfortable and high-performance trainer for kids. It has a stretchy upper that conforms to the foot and allows for excellent breathability, as well as having a spacious toe box to allow the forefoot space to play.

The Zoom Air unit in the forefoot is designed with a specific air pressure that’s excellent for shock absorption for kids.

The rest of the midsole is made from React foam, which is both protectively cushioned and responsive enough for your kid to bounce around.

Rubber covers the high-wear sections of the outsole, providing a good grip on a number of different surfaces.

Why We Like It

We like the Nike Pegasus 38 for all the same reasons we like it for adults! It offers the ideal mix of comfort and protection, while being a good-looking athletic shoe.

What to Consider

If your kid is hard on shoes, the outsole of this shoe may wear out faster than other shoes.

PROS:

  • Stretchy, breathable upper keeps feet dry and reduces friction
  • Zoom Air unit in the forefoot provides soft forefoot cushioning
  • Wider forefoot to allow plenty of wiggle room for the toes
  • Durable rubber outsole protects the feet from shock impact

CONS:

  • The outsole may be slightly less durable than others
 

Top Value

2. New Balance Arishi v2

New Balance shoes are comfortable and fit slightly wide, making these a good choice for almost all kids.

What We Like

The mesh upper of these shoes is lightweight and molds to the foot for a good lockdown. Tie-up laces are excellent for kids who are learning to tie their shoes, while also giving the option to lace them in such a way that the shoe becomes a slip-on.

An IMEVA Fresh Foam midsole offers enough cushioning to protect your child’s joints from shock, while still being lightweight.

The full rubber outsole offers excellent durability and also provides safe traction on multiple surfaces.

You can get these shoes in regular and wide widths and they come in a large range of colors, which kids will love!

Why We Like It

The Arishi v2 is lightweight, comfortable, and comes in a variety of cool colors that kids will love.

What to Consider

The sizing can be a little confusing and you have to make sure to choose ‘Big Kid’ or ‘Little Kid’ in order to find the appropriate sizing for your child.

PROS:

  • Breathable mesh upper molds to the shape of the foot
  • Fresh Foam cushioning provides all day comfort and support
  • Hard-wearing rubber outsole provides excellent grip
  • Available in regular or wide widths

CONS:

  • The “Big Kid/Little Kid” sizing can be confusing
 

Best For Wide Feet

3. New Balance 990 V5

The New Balance 990v5 is a supportive shoe that offers a variety of widths including extra wide for kids who need more space.

What We Like

The suede and mesh upper is breathable but more durable than full mesh uppers. A rounded toe offers plenty of space for the forefoot, and the shoe is wide—and comes in multiple widths—so there’s something for every foot.

ENCAP midsole technology provides protection from the ground and offers shock absorption to protect little joints.

The strong arch support rectifies flat feet and keeps kids’ feet properly aligned. This is essential from a young age to prevent stress on the joints.

A lacekeeper helps to prevent wayward laces that could be tripped over or loosened. It also helps to keep the tongue firmly in place, which is part of the support this shoe offers.

Why We Like It

This shoe is supportive and an excellent choice for kids who overpronate or those who have unusually wide feet. It comes in extra wide sizes and offers excellent stability.

What to Consider

It’s a stability shoe and kids with neutral feet may find it to be slightly uncomfortable and stiff.

PROS:

  • Good option for kids who overpronate
  • Hard-wearing suede and mesh upper
  • Lightweight, midsole cushioning provides underfoot protection
  • Available in extra wide to accommodate kids with very wide feet

CONS:

  • May feel stiff for children who don’t overpronate
 

Top Lightweight Shoe

4. Saucony Kinvara 12

Just like the adult’s version of the Kinvara 12, this shoe is unusually light for the amount of support and cushioning it provides.

What We Like

The Saucony Kinvara is a lightweight shoe that remains quite durable for its weight. They’re suitable for both training or competitive running.

The lightweight nature of the upper makes it breathable while it still hugs the foot providing structure and support.

There’s plenty of reinforcement around the toe, so you can expect the shoe to be durable and resist bumps as your child is active.

A PWRRUN foam midsole offers light cushioning and good responsiveness, so your kid will have a spring in their step.

There’s also a FORM2U memory foam footbed for supporting the arch, which adapts to the child’s foot as they run to provide the right kind of support.

Strategically-placed rubber on the outsole helps to extend the lifespan of the shoes, and also provide safe grip on a number of different surfaces to keep your child safe on their feet.

You can also get these shoes with either laces or hook-and-loop Velcro straps for younger kids.

Why We Like It

The Saucony Kinvara 12 is a light shoe with a low stack height, allowing for a more natural feeling. It’s also wide enough to provide extra space for toes to wiggle comfortably.

What to Consider

The traction may be somewhat ineffective on slippery surfaces, so take care if your child runs on wet or slick conditions.

PROS:

  • Lightweight, comfortable upper that hugs the foot
  • PWRRUN midsole foam is responsive and cushions every step
  • Memory foam foot bed cradles and supports the foot
  • High-traction rubber outsole for grip

CONS:

  • The grip may not be great on slippery surfaces
 

Best Barefoot-Style Shoe

5. Altra Youth Kōkiri

Kids who don’t need a lot of cushion and like a lightweight feeling will enjoy wearing the Altra Youth Kōkiri. However, it won’t be suitable for kids who overpronate.

What We Like

Kids love running barefoot, so a barefoot-style shoe could be the best choice for them. The Altra Youth Kōkiri has a zero-drop platform which keeps the heel and the ball of the foot at the same height.

This means that there’s low impact on the joints and it encourages a natural stride.

The Altra FootShape toe box provides more than enough space for your child’s toes to spread and support them naturally.

A suede upper makes it quite durable and mesh sections allow for breathability throughout the shoe.

There’s an EVA midsole that still offers good shock absorption, giving even more protection to the feet and joints.

For growing feet, the 3 mm sockliner can be removed to make extra space in the shoe.

The full-length, one-piece outsole is sticky and grips well to a variety of different surfaces, keeping your kid safe as they run.

Why We Like It

This shoe is a zero-drop, low-cushion model that helps to align kids’ feet from a young age. It’s also very lightweight.

What to Consider

The bright colors may bleed dye if they get wet, so be careful to keep them away from other clothing or items that could get stained.

PROS:

  • Balanced cushioning encourages a natural stride
  • Round, roomy toe box lets the toes move naturally
  • Removable insole to accommodate growing feet
  • Grippy rubber outsole provides sure footing on varying surfaces

CONS:

  • The bright colors may bleed dye if they get wet
  • This shoe won’t be suitable for kids who overpronate
 

Top Stability Shoe

6. Asics GT-1000 10 GS

Some children overpronate from a young age. It’s essential to fix this early on to prevent your child developing foot problems or injuries as a result.

The ASICS GT-1000 10 is a stability shoe that prevents your child’s feet from falling inwards as they run.

What We Like

The ASICS GT-1000 10 GS looks just like the adults’ shoe, and has the same supportive features that prevent overpronation.

It’s designed to be child-specific, to provide the best possible fit and support for growing feet.

There’s a light layer of cushioning—Flytefoam—which allows for a good ground feel, as well as Gel cushioning in the heel for extra shock absorption.

For structure and overpronation support, there’s a LiteTruss support system in the midsole which keeps the foot aligned and helps to prevent injury.

The shoe is designed for children from the ages of 4 and up.

Why We Like It

This shoe offers excellent stability for children who overpronate. It’s comfortable and supportive as well as coming in multiple bright colors which kids will love.

What to Consider

They may be a little less durable than the adult version of the shoe.

PROS:

  • LiteTruss support system guides the foot and reduces overpronation
  • EVA foam cushioning provides all-day comfort
  • Gel technology in the heel dampens impact
  • Suitable for children from the ages of four and up

CONS:

  • These shoes may be less durable than the adults’ shoes
 

Best With Quick-Lacing System

7. New Balance FuelCore Reveal BOA

Whether your kid needs something that’s easier to lace or wants a fun lacing system on a colorful shoe, the New Balance FuelCore Reveal BOA is a good choice.

What We Like

The BOA Fit System is a fun way for your kids to lace their shoes without having to spend time tying them.

It works with a midfoot support overlay to create a custom fit around the foot, while also providing excellent support.

New Balance’s REVlite foam in the midsole gives your child good support underfoot while staying light enough to be comfortable and allow your child to run freely. It’s supportive enough for medium to high arches.

To increase the lifespan of this shoe, there’s also an abrasion-resistant toe cap that protects both the shoe and your kid’s toes.

Why We Like It

These shoes are cute and very fun for a kid who doesn’t like to use traditional laces. They’re easy to get on and off as long as your child has enough hand strength to turn the dial.

What to Consider

Kids who don’t have good motor skills yet or have weaker hand strength may struggle to dial these shoes in enough to get a comfortable and tight fit.

PROS:

  • BOA Fit System allows for quick, easy adjustments for a perfect fit
  • Lightweight cushioning is soft and responsive
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Abrasion-resistant toe cap

CONS:

  • May not be suitable for kids without good motor skills or hand strength
 

Top Saucony Shoe

8. Saucony Ride 14

Saucony makes excellent shoes with a slightly wider toe box and a wide, stable platform.

What We Like

This shoe is comfortable and good-looking, featuring a seamless, one-piece upper that moves with the foot and allows for excellent breathability.

It also has a reinforced toe cap to protect both the shoe and your child’s toes from being damaged.

The FORMFIT performance footbed offers good support for medium to high arches. It also has an antimicrobial lining, which reduces odor, a handy addition for kids!

Kids can use these shoes both indoors and outdoors, thanks to the compound on the sole. It’s both grippy enough to keep them stable on their feet and non-marking so it won’t leave black marks on the floors of the home.

Why We Like It

This kids’ Saucony shoe offers all the good things that the adult shoe does—a wide platform, plenty of toe space, support for medium to high arches, and a non-marking rubber sole to keep the floors clean.

What to Consider

The upper is quite thin, which may not be as durable as other shoes.

PROS:

  • Breathable, seamless one-piece upper for enhanced comfort
  • Antimicrobial lining prevents stinky feet
  • Non-marking rubber outsole for indoor and outdoor use
  • Great option for kids with medium to high arches

CONS:

  • The thin upper may not be as durable as some others
 

Best ASICS Shoe

9. ASICS GEL-Excite 8 GS

The ASICS kids’ GEL-Excite is excellent for providing your young runner with a comfortable cushioning underfoot.

What We Like

The upper of these shoes is soft on your child’s feet, but hard-wearing on the outside to protect them from the elements.

They’re plush and comfortable and your child will enjoy wearing them, not only for the multiple colorways, but also for the pillow-like comfort.

A thick EVA midsole offers excellent cushioning and Gel padding in the heel increases the shoes’ shock absorption.

The durable rubber on the outsole also helps your kid to keep their footing on many different surfaces, and the flexible forefoot means they can move naturally and easily.

Why We Like It

This shoe is a classic ASICS style and provides excellent cushioning. It comes in a range of colorways so your child can choose something they like the look of.

What to Consider

You should not expect the same level of durability that you would find in the adults’ shoes, as these are made to last a shorter period of time as your kid grows out of them.

PROS:

  • Hard-wearing upper with excellent breathability
  • Plush EVA midsole provides underfoot protection for a variety of activities
  • Rearfoot Gel cushioning absorbs shock
  • Flexible forefoot encourages natural movement of the foot

CONS:

  • They’re not as durable as the adult ASICS shoes
 

Top for Moderate Support

10. Saucony Guide 14

The Saucony Guide 14 is a light stability shoe that’s ideal for kids who need moderate support when walking or running.

What We Like

The Saucony Guide 14 has a wide platform with a spacious toe box, which creates a stable platform for children who overpronate.

This is helped by a medial post in the CMEVA midsole, which helps to support the arch and prevent that rolling of the foot that’s common with overpronators.

While encouraging a natural stride, the shoe also provides comfort in the form of a seamless mesh upper that contours to the foot, a FORMFIT molded footbed for added support, and a plush ankle collar.

Tri-flex technology on the outsole provides flexibility that encourages the foot to move naturally from heel to toe.

The outsole is also non-marking for outdoor and indoor use.

Why We Like It

The Saucony Guide 14 is a moderate stability shoe that provides a comfortable and stable platform for kids who overpronate lightly.

What to Consider

The upper is very thin and may wear out faster if it’s subjected to abrasion.

PROS:

  • Spacious, round toe box lets the toes spread naturally
  • Medial post reduces overpronation and encourages a natural stride
  • FORMFIT contoured footbed cradles the foot
  • Provides all-day comfort straight out of the box

CONS:

  • The thin upper may wear out quickly
 

Buyer’s Guide – Running Shoes for Kids

Most parents understand that kids can do a number on a pair of shoes. Maybe we adults can get away with wearing the same pair of shoes for years and years. But kids can go through shoes in months – sometimes even weeks!

Durability

So it’s no surprise that durability should be the main concern. While this varies from model to model, generally speaking, known running shoe brands like Nike, New Balance, Asics, and Saucony produce high-quality, durable shoes.

And like adult shoes, it pays to spend a bit more on running shoes. You may be tempted to buy the cheapest pair since they wear so fast. But spending a bit more means your child will get more use out of each pair.

Sizing

The other big factor to consider is size.

Also not a surprise, but kids feet grow. And sometimes they grow really fast!

We recommend buying shoes big enough to allow for a thumbs-width gap between the toe and the front of the shoe. This allows for kids to grow into the shoes. But it’s also not so big that they’ll be tripping over them.

As for shoe size, keep in mind that unlike adult shoes, boys and girls use the same sizing. But it’s still a bit confusing.

For toddlers, sizing usually starts around a 10 and ends at 13.5. Then, it jumps to kid sizing which begins at 1 and usually ends at 7.

Toddler = 10 to 13.5

Kids = 1 to 7

One other factor to consider is that the Kids size follows adult men’s sizing. So a kids 7 is the same as a men’s 7. Most adult men’s sizing starts at a 7, so for young adults, they could wear a kids shoe sized 7 or men’s shoe sized 7.

Now one more thing that gets confusing… So women’s sizing is 1.5 sizes smaller than men’s. So a women’s size 9 is the same as a men’s size 7.5. So for older girls who wear a kids size 3.5. This is the same as a women’s 5 – which is where most women’s adult shoe sizes start.

Other Factors

For most kids, a cushioned neutral shoe works best. This protects their feet but still allows for their feet to grow naturally.

For kids under the age of 12, you probably don’t need to get them fitted for shoes at a running store. Buying a quality running shoe is often enough. Because kids are still growing and developing, there isn’t a need to manipulate their gait with heavy stability shoes as we do for adults.

We think it’s better to let them grow naturally. If they have pain or extremely flat feet, then it might be worth getting a more structured pair of shoes. But otherwise, a neutral running shoe should be fine.

FAQs

What Are Good Brands for Kids Running Shoes?

Any of the running shoe companies that make kids shoes are good brands. This includes some brands from our list like Nike, Saucony, New Balance, and Asics. But Salomon (for trail), Under Armour, and adidas also make good running shoes for kids.

Why Doesn’t Brooks Make Kids Running Shoes?

Brooks used to make kids running shoes. But they stopped several years ago. You may be able to find a pair here or there online. 

But why did they stop making kids running shoes?

Brooks is a very smart company. They are a numbers-oriented business and they keep their running shoe line very tight with only the most essential models. Kids shoes probably didn’t sell well enough for Brooks to justify continuing to manufacture them.

How Much Bigger Should I Buy My Child’s Shoes?

You should order your kid’s shoes a ½ size larger than their normal running shoes. If it feels slightly big in the beginning, they can wear thicker socks.

The extra space will allow room for their feet to grow and still fit into the shoes, so they can continue wearing the shoes until they wear out and need to be replaced.

What Is the Difference Between Toddler and Kid Shoe Sizes?

Shoes for toddlers are usually labeled with a “T”, and come in sizes from 4 to 7. They fit an average-sized toddler from one to 4 years old.

The next size up—for kids aged 4 to 8—is usually called “Little Kids” and runs from size 8 to size 13.

When your kid is in grade school, they usually start with a size 1 and go up to a size 6. Full men’s sizes start at size 7—the smallest full-sized men’s shoe.

Do Barefoot Shoes Establish a Good Posture?

Barefoot shoes are minimalist shoes that have a flat sole, unlike most shoes which have a difference of between 4 and 12 mm in height from the forefoot to the heel.

In a barefoot shoe, the ball of the foot and the heel are at the same height. This means that the body weight is evenly distributed across the sole.

However, it depends on the child’s gait as to whether or not this creates a good posture for them.

For some, these types of shoes don’t offer enough support—especially for kids who overpronate or underpronate.

Why Trust Us

Ben Drew has a 10 year old son named Dylan who is constantly on his feet. Together, they’ve tested dozens of shoes to find the ones that are durable and offer great value. Ben also used to own a running store that sold kids running shoes. He saw which shoes were popular and which lasted the longest. With this information, Ben has able to select and review the kids running shoes on this list. To learn more about our review process, check out this article.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner
Logo