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16 Durable, Sturdy Sneakers For Kids That Will Survive The School Year

Tough enough for recess, P.E., and playdates.

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It’s not about the characters. It’s not about the colors. No, for parents, the key feature of kids’ sneakers is this: toughness. Finding sturdy shoes for kids that will last through the school year (or at least most of it, please) is the number one priority for parents. So, while you’re shopping for back-to-school outfits and supplies, or just replacing a beloved pair they’ve outgrown or worn down, here are some durable shoes for kids you might even get to pass down to a younger sibling. And don’t worry, your kid doesn’t even have to know how to tie shoes to wear most of them.

What is it about kids and shoes? It’s like they stick their feet in a new pair of sneakers and they start falling apart immediately. Maybe it’s the miles they run around in them every day — oh, to have that kind of energy. It could be the hardcore play sessions every day during P.E. class and recess. Coming home and riding bikes, doing parkour to freak Mom out... OK, it makes sense why the shoes sometimes disintegrate right off their feet.

Below you’ll find some of the best sturdy shoe options for kids. They’re highly rated with lots of good reviews from fellow parents. You’re sure to find a pair that’ll satisfy your desire to not buy more shoes for a long time, and your kid’s wishes to look extra cool at school.


Sturdy slip-ons that’ll withstand anything

Good luck wearing out a pair of Vans in any style, including the Kids’ Classic Slip-Ons. The thick soles and canvas fabric hold up to the most rough-and-tumble play, while providing plenty of grip and cushion.


Washable kids’ sneakers

Sure, you can toss most sneakers in the washing machine and let them rattle around in the dryer, but they never quite go back to the right shape after that. But the Rothy’s Kids’ Strap Sneakers are designed to be laundered and come out as good as new. The ability to get them truly clean will help them last so much longer.


Breathable sneakers for junior athletes

If your kids want the look of high-end basketball shoes, the Santiro Kids Breathable Knit Athletic Running Sneakers get pretty darn close. This review from a mom of two says they last well and hold up to weekly laundering:

“True to size, very well made. They are definitely durable enough for my son who is HARD on everything! Bought for my son and daughter (they are 6 yrs and 8 years old). They have been wearing them Continuously for four months. I have probably washed all 4 pairs at least once a week, in the washing machine. I just leave them on the dryer over night to dry. They wash well, are holding up fantastically! They run true to size, are very easy to slip off and on because they do not actually tie. They look sporty and ‘not cheap’ I’m ordering more in the next size. Great value for the price!!”


Durable velcro sneakers

Same durability as the slip-ons, but with a little extra security from the velcro straps to keep them on your kid’s feet. The Vans Kids Old Skools are also available with laces once your little one is confident in tying their own shoes (and that style has more color options).


A classic & sturdy sneaker

The ST Runner v3 NL Little Kids’ Shoes boast that old school Puma design and the quality to make them last through the school year. They’re lightweight with a comfortable, moulded insole, and grippy outsole. Best of all, they’re a perfect blend of style and sturdiness so kids and parents can both be happy about the sneaker situation.


Durable sneakers for little kids

The Cat & Jack Toddler Parker Sneakers from Target don’t have big kid sizes, but for a little one heading to daycare or preschool, they hold up well to all that playtime. They’re made with 100% cotton so they’re breathable and machine washable, and the thermoplastic rubber covering the whole toe keeps scuffs and snags to a minimum.


Sneakers with a flexible, lightweight sole

Want the athletic shoe look for less? TOEDNNQI’s Kids’ Lightweight Breathable Strap Athletic Running Shoes have a lightweight, nonslip rubber sole, breathable fabric design, and faux laces for quickly slipping feet in when you’re running out the door. With more than 12,000 reviews and a 4.4-star rating, they’re a slam dunk for kids and parents.


Sneakers with elastic laces

These Simple Joys by Carter’s Unisex Kids and Toddlers' Jordynn Knitted Athletic Sneakers have a 4.5-star rating, so you should be happy with the purchase. They have elastic faux laces so the fit is more flexible than your average shoe and perfect for younger kids who don’t know how to tie their shoes yet. Bonus points: Reviewers say they’re easy to clean in the washing machine.


Sturdy yet sparkly sneakers for fashion-forward kids

Just because they’re tough doesn’t mean they can’t be cute. The Harvest Land Glitter Fashion Running Shoes come in nine colors to match any kid’s personality. They have a carbon fiber insole for maximum comfort and support for active kids’ joints, and the EVA soles are anti-slip, lightweight, and super strong.


Slip-on sneakers made with breathable material

If your child isn’t yet tying their shoes, or simply doesn’t take the time to on their way out the door, slip-on sneakers may be in order. Check out this review from a mom who loves the Apawwa Lightweight Slip On Running Shoes:

“Love these shoes for my son! This is the 2nd pair I've ordered. They are lightweight but great for all activities. Looks great with pants or shorts, fits well, easy to slip on, durable, affordable and my son prefers them over all his other shoes so I know he is comfortable in them. I will keep buying new pairs as he grows!”


Kids’ sneakers with a cute pop of color

The nerteo Toddler/Little Kid Sports Sneakers come in 11 color combos; this navy pair will match any outfit but still features a cute color pull-on tab on the heel. More importantly, they have a 4.5-star rating and more than 16,000 glowing reviews saying they’re easy to put on, sturdy as heck, and comfortable.


Colorful sneakers with thick, sturdy soles

The MAYZERO Kids Tennis Shoes have a super cool retro look to them, but include all the best shoe features of a sturdy tennis shoe (like a wear-resistant rubber sole). This review from a real parent says it all:

“Good fit, stylish, durable, and comfortable. These shoes are spot on size wise. Stylish, lightweight, excellent padding. They seem well made. He is pretty rough on shoes, a lot of rock and sand kicking and they haven't shown any signs of wear. The velcro strap is sturdy doesn't come unattached easily. Overall the durability and comfort are leaps ahead of Walmart and target brand shoes. I will be buying more from this maker.”


Kids sneakers with throwback vibes

Does your kid want a classic look? The Adidas Unisex-Child Grand Court Tennis Shoe has it, along with almost 25,000 reviews from parents saying these things are capital S sturdy. The large opening and ankle strap make them easy for kids of all ages to put on, the rubber sole is designed to withstand tons of wear, and the leather-like material is easy to wipe clean.

One note: there are so many colors and sizes available, that the price on these shoes can vary widely, from $29.97 to $79.89, so click around to get an accurate price on the pair you want.


A waterproof sneaker you can wipe clean

Footwear like the Native Shoes Kids Lightweight Sneaker have been hugely popular the last few years, and for good reason. They’re breathable, comfortable, lightweight, waterproof (so they won’t get stinky), and super simple to wash. They have almost 18,000 reviews, a 4.8-star rating, and 32 colors to choose from. Browse the reviews and you’ll see lots of parents agree: The material is comfy, yet incredibly sturdy.


Lightweight kids sneakers that might actually make them faster

Under Armour’s Pre School Assert 9 Running Shoes are designed with active kids in mind. They are lightweight with a cushioned midsole to add some extra oomph to their running and jumping, and they have durable overlays to protect the shoe’s fabric. A classic rubber sole provides grip and should carry your child through many a game of tag.


Sneakers with cushioned insoles and shock-absorbing soles

The KUBUA Kids Sneakers just look like they’ll make you faster, so they should be a hit with little ones trying to win kickball in P.E. or races at recess. Check out this review from a satisfied parent:

“Love these sneakers. They look great and are very durable. I was constantly buying new sneakers for my 6 year old. Turns out I should have been investing in more durable shoes. These fit the bill perfectly and I've decided to get at least one more pair.”

No one can stop your child’s feet from outgrowing their shoes, but if you do a little research and buy durable sneaker styles, at least there’s a chance they’ll wear them through the entire school year.

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