The North Face Jr Hedgehog is a major contender for the best all-around kids hiker. It delivers great comfort and stability for mixed terrain and long days on the trail.

  • Non-waterproof option allows for much greater breathability
  • Reinforced toe caps resist against abrasion and improve durability
  • Sturdy midsole provides good stability and underfoot protection
  • Grippy outsole delivers excellent traction
  • Quick laces fray easily and may need to be replaced periodically.
  • Excessive stitching on the exterior is prone to fail

The Jr Hedgehog by North Face offers up one of the best all-around kids hiking shoe on the market. They’re light, sturdy, and durable. Better yet, they come in a non-waterproof version for greater breathability. My 10-year-old put these shoes to the test in difficult terrain and here are the results:

Comfort

The Hedgehog strikes a good balance between comfort and stability—it has the feel of a trail running shoe with the stability of a mid-weight hiker. The compression-molded EVA midsole delivers great cushion while the outsole provides decent underfoot protection from rocks and debris.  

The cushioned interior provides all-day comfort with no pesky seams that cause blisters. The forefoot is roomy and the heel cup hugs the achilles for support.

I’m a huge fan of quick-laces. For one, I don’t have to stop constantly in the middle of the trail to ties laces. Two, they are easy to adjust for comfort when conditions change or feet swell. However, I’m not terribly impressed with the quality of these particular laces, which have a tendency to fray after minimal use. Fortunately, these laces are easy to replace. I’d recommend these laces from Nathan, they’re quick and easy to change.

Stability

The Hedgehog’s grippy outsole provides excellent traction in a range of trail conditions so your kiddos won’t be slipping around on rock or compact dirt. My son put these shoes to the ultimate test in Canyonlands National Park and was walking down steep sections of slickrock with confidence. When he transitioned to dirt, the Hedgehog performed well allowing sufficient toe-off for moving quickly.

The width of the forefoot provides great stability when moving quickly in technical terrain and helps resist ankle roll-overs. If additional ankle support is needed, the Hedgehog comes in a mid-height for better stability.

Weight

Kids hiking boots are notoriously overbuilt and heavy, which translates into tired legs. The Hedgehog weighed 20 ounces on my scale, which makes them one of the lightest kids hiking shoes on the market.

Durability

Whether dragging their feet behind a bicycle or kicking rocks, kids shoes wear fastest in the toes. The reinforced toe cap on the Hedgehog provides extra protection for better overall durability.

The grippy outsole and aggressive lug pattern is great for clinging to rock and provides solid traction on dirt and rooted-up trails. However, after a few trips, the softer outsole is showing wear along the toe and outside edge. I prefer a softer outsole for better traction, but it’s always a trade-off for durability.

The upper is a combination of nubuck leather and nylon with an excessive number of seams. All that stitching is prone to failure, especially in rocky or technical terrain. There are several places on both sides of the shoe where the stitching has failed. Tip! I’d recommend sealing the stitches upon unboxing with a seam grip. It’ll help the fabric to last longer and prevent the fabric from delaminating.

Value

The non-waterproof Hedgehog retails for $50, which puts these shoes at the lower-end of the scale in this category. The GORE-TEX version sells for $60 with your choice of two colors; a blue and gray (boys) or gray and lilac (girls). Either way, you’re getting great value with the Hedgehog.

Conclusions

Sand, dirt, rock..it didn’t matter what we threw at ‘em, the Hedgehog performed better than most shoes we’ve owned. The ultimate test of a hiking shoe is whether you can go two or three days and not think about your feet. There’s been absolutely no complaints from my son and he won’t take them off. Believe me, that’s a ringing endorsement. Would I buy them again? Absolutely.

I purchased the North Face Jr Hedgehog Hiker at full retail price for my 10-year-old son. These shoes have been used exclusively for hiking and backpacking. The review is based solely on my own personal experience and no other people or companies influenced the outcome of this review.

Mark Fitterer

Family Basecamp

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