The best kids' trainers to buy in 2021
26 May 2021
Trying to track down the best kids' trainers? We’ve gathered the best of the best in practical, goes-with-everything kids footwear to help you choose.
Life with kids can be hectic. From toddlers to tweens, they’re constantly on the move and don’t want to be held back, so their shoes need to be able to keep up.
Trainers are an essential part of any child’s wardrobe. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a trip to the shops or an afternoon at nursery, you’re likely to find most kids in trainers.
As Mumsnetters know all too well, children’s feet grow at a rate of knots, so finding the right brand and style you can keep coming back to for everyday trainers will save you time, money and mental energy.
It’s also important to make sure your kids’ growing feet are well looked after in supportive, breathable and well-fitting shoes. Most trainers are padded inside, meaning your child’s feet are comfy and well-protected for whatever they’re getting up to.
Never ones to skimp on style, we’ve found kids’ trainers to suit every taste (and budget), whether you’re looking for ultra-practical, super cute or achingly cool pairs.
Here are the best kids’ trainers to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall kids’ trainers: Mountain Warehouse Supersonic Kids Waterproof Trainers
Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon
“I like Mountain Warehouse for its children's footwear – very few styles specified as 'girls', mostly just 'kids' in a range of colours” – ErrolTheDragon
These Supersonic trainers from Mountain Warehouse are great all-rounders and come in light blue and pink or petrol blue and green.
Their waterproof Isodry material means they’ll keep mud out and your kids’ feet will stay dry when it’s damp outside. The cushioned insole, grippy sole and reinforced toe and heel mean they’re comfy and durable too.
While they might be a little bulky and practical-looking for some tastes, their bright design and elastic laces make them really kid-friendly.
- Size range: Infant 11 – 3
- Material: Synthetic upper, thermoplastic rubber sole
2. Best budget kids’ trainers: H&M Mesh Trainers
Price: £13 | Buy now from H&M
For a no-frills, chuck-in-the-washing-machine pair of trainers, try H&M. This mesh style features a breathable polyester fabric upper and a thermoplastic sole. They come in navy, grey and pink as well as classic black and white.
It can be a challenge to find a pair of trainers that are both good value and hard-wearing enough to withstand being worn by kids. The sole is pretty chunky which can make them a bit unwieldy for some, but they’re good quality, comfy and easy for kids to get on and off themselves, making them an absolute bargain at £12.99.
- Size range: Infant 7 – 6
- Material: Polyester upper, thermoplastic sole
3. Best cool kids’ trainers: Vans Atwood
Price: From £19 | Buy now from Amazon
“My son has had a few pairs of Vans in the past (luckily they were in a sale; we bought a few pairs in different sizes all in one go). They last for ages and there is definitely £42 worth of wear in them” – MillyR
For style-conscious kids, nothing beats a pair of cool, understated Vans low-tops. Available from a teeny child’s size one right up to an adult size three (not to mention the identical adult version) these are a staple at literally any age.
They offer little in terms of foot support or protection against the elements, but if you’re looking for a timeless, simple plimsoll that’ll go with the entirety of your child’s wardrobe, these are the ones.
- Size range: Infant 1 – 3
- Material: Canvas upper, rubber sole
4. Best trainers for toddlers: Bobux Grass Court Trainers
Price: From £35 | Buy now from Amazon
“I’ve had the same style of Bobux trainers for three shoe sizes now as I love them! I just mix up the colour. They are fantastic quality!“ – Bol87
Bobux is a favourite among Mumsnetters, and we love the butter-soft leather, bright colours and distinctive speckled soles on these Grass Court trainers. Easy to get on and off, and well padded inside, these are perfect for toddlers on a mission. The cute leaf-shaped ventilation holes will keep their feet cool too.
While they’re more expensive than most other younger kids’ trainers, you really do get what you pay for. These are great on design and practicality as well as quality.
- Size range: Infant 3 – 2
- Material: Leather outer, synthetic inner, rubber sole
5. Best velcro trainers: Clarks City Vibe Low-Tops
Price: From £21 | Buy now from Amazon
“Clarks seconds shops are great. I would skimp on clothing to buy decent shoes” – Sendingasurprise
A real playground staple, Clarks City Vibes come in a huge range of colours and can be professionally fitted in-store so you can be confident you’ve got the right size for your child’s feet.
We love the classic unisex style, and although City Vibes look simple, they’re also super comfy, long-lasting and engineered to support children’s feet.
While they don’t offer any protection against mud or puddles, Mumsnetters say they can be chucked in the washing machine as often as necessary.
- Size range: Infant 1 – 2.5
- Material: Textile upper, rubber sole
6. Best trainers for sport: Adidas Runfalcon
Price: From £20 | Buy now from Amazon
For active kids, the Adidas Runfalcon is a wise choice. Sporting elastic laces and a Velcro fastening to keep them well-fitting and secure, they also have a specially-designed rubber outsole giving them great grip without bulk.
Super lightweight and available in a range of colours to suit most tastes, they’re a great option for PE trainers or for everyday wear. The fabric is quite thin for things like climbing trees, but if you’re looking for something sporty, simple and stylish, these are a good bet.
- Size range: Infant 10 – 2.5
- Material: Mesh/textile upper, rubber sole
7. Best trainers for tweens: Skechers Girls Glimmer Kicks
Price: From £15 | Buy now from Amazon
“Skechers – not cheap, but have done daily wear since September and no leaks.
They do need to be left to dry out from sweaty feet though” – toomanycremeeggs
With their cool, sporty look and eye-catching lights, Skechers Glimmer Kicks are great for tweens or style-conscious younger kids. They come in a good range of colours, from plain black or white to periwinkle blue.
Mumsnetters like Skechers for their comfort and durability, and the lights on these ones can be turned off and on using a button on the Velcro fastening. They’re pretty watertight too, although this means they’re less breathable than other styles, so can make your kids’ feet a bit sweaty.
- Size range: Infant 1 – 2.5
- Material: Synthetic upper, rubber sole
8. Best black trainers: Adidas Superstars
Price: From £18 | Buy now from Amazon
“I work in a secondary school. If trainers are allowed then all black Adidas Superstars are popular” – KimKsButt
Perfect for a fussy teen, Adidas Superstars have been a style staple since the 80s and show no signs of going out of fashion. If your kids’ school allows black trainers, these are some of the best school trainers out there.
The rubber toe means they’re extra-durable, and the leather upper provides a comfortable fit. The profiled rubber outsole gives Superstars extra grip and the subtle perforations between the icon three-stripe logo will keep kids’ feet cool.
- Size range: Infant 1 – 13.5
- Material: Leather outer, textile inner, rubber sole
9. Best white trainers: M&S Light as Air
Price: £21 | Buy now from Marks & Spencer
In need of a pair of plain white trainers that won’t turn grey after five minutes of wear? Look no further than M&S’s Light as Air range. Crucially, they’re machine washable and boast a non-marking upper and sole, so your little one can give them hell.
Available in younger and older kids’ versions (as well as a range of other colours), there are elasticated laces for up to a child’s size 12, and laces for older ones.
As the name suggests, they’re ultra-lightweight and comfortable thanks to a foam insole and flexible sole, and if that’s not enough to convince you, they’re also suitable for vegans.
- Size range: Infant 5 – 7
- Material: Synthetic
10. Best kids’ trainers for comfort: Geox INEK
Price: From £27 | Buy now from Amazon
“Geox last forever, whatever DCs put them through” – Heated
Geox is a favourite brand among Mumsnetters for its high quality shoes that have the ability to withstand whatever kids can throw at them. The INEK style is loved by kids for the light up sole and comfy fit.
Some Mumsnetters find Geox a bit rigid, so it’s worth bearing that in mind. Geox shoes have an antibacterial, removable chrome-free leather insole that means your little one’s feet are kept cool and supported, whatever they get up to.
- Size range: Infant 7 – 4
- Material: Synthetic
How to choose the best kids’ trainers
If you can, try the trainers on before buying (or pick an online shop with easy returns and order in a few sizes and styles). Check for reinforced toes and heels to withstand everything the little monsters can throw at them. It’s also worth thinking about how they fasten – avoid laces unless your child is ready to learn or has already, otherwise you’ll be constantly tying and re-tying them. Velcro is usually a better choice as it means your kids can get used to putting on and taking off their own shoes.
What’s the best material for kids’ trainers?
It depends on the activity – if you’re looking for trainers that will withstand a tree-climbing session or an unexpected downpour, go for waterproof synthetics. If you’re looking for something basic, that they can wear anywhere and will keep their feet cool, canvas is the way to go.
How much should you spend on a pair of kids’ trainers?
It’s worth spending more to get trainers that will last. As kids’ feet grow fast it’s hard to strike a balance, but cheaper everyday trainers may fall apart before they’re grown out of so look to buy the best quality brand you can find within your budget.
What are the best kids’ trainers to buy?
The Mountain Warehouse Supersonic Waterproof trainers tick all the boxes when it comes to what’s important. They keep out the rain, they’re durable, look good and will keep your kids’ feet comfy whatever they get up to.
How we chose our recommendations
Because we know that there’s nothing like a real recommendation from a real parent, we first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which trainers discerning Mumsnet users had bought for their children. We compiled a list of the trainers they recommended for being durable, stylish and great value for money, as well as comfortable.
We then did some research across the wider web, looking at which kids’ trainers had won accolades or been featured in ‘best buy’ lists across websites and print media, and what customers’ reviews said about them.
Having collated all that information, we picked the trainers we thought would make the best buys in several age and interest categories.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.