Summer is coming up and you better believe Dad Likes Gear is going to help you cover all of your bases. That means tackling some of the toughest questions out there and giving you our honest thoughts. With warmer weather comes plenty of outdoor time, whether that means hiking, chilling by the pool, or digging in the sand at the beach. No matter what you need to keep your kids’ feet in tip top shape. It doesn’t hurt if you bring along some style at the same time!

I said I’m going to tackle some hard questions and here is the first one. Should I buy my kids Crocs, Natives, or something else entirely for a summer of fun and relaxation? Do Crocs reign supreme for your all-purpose rubber footwear, or do Natives take home the prize? I’m going to be completely honest up front, for the past few summers, we’ve just bought both because Crocs and Natives have their own pros and cons. That being said, what if you just wanted to pick one? How do you even choose between the two? Well, let’s see if I can help out!

To Croc or Not to Croc. That is the question.


What started out as a gardening shoe for people looking for a comfortable and practical shoe that could easily be hosed down at the end of the day is now somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. I’ll be up front, I do not get it. Yes, they are super comfortable, but they are clunky and as an adult, I cannot picture myself leaving the house wearing a pair. But then again, I’m just an old out of touch millennial. But for kids, I think they look okay and some of their features outweigh any of my negative views on style.

So let’s start out with why Crocs are excellent summer shoes for kids.

  1. They are super fast to get on and off. Whether you have them in 4 wheel drive mode (I.e. strap down) or not, they slide on and off very easily, regardless of whether your kid’s feet are wet. This is crucial when you just want to get out the door and get to the pool.
  2. Crocs are super comfortable shoes. They are grippy on the inside when your kids have wet feet and offer a decent amount of support.
  3. Crocs come in a wide variety of colors, your kid can rep their favorite super hero or sports team, and further personalize their crocs with JibbitzTM. Not only do the Jibbitz help your kid show off some of their interests or hobbies, it helps you distinguish their crocs from the other crocs lying around at the pool or beach.
  4. The ventilation holes in Crocs makes them easy to clean, air out, and keep your kid’s feet a little cooler.

With so many good qualities, what makes Crocs a poor choice?

  1. Some parents have complained that over time, the porous rubber traps in odor. I have not noticed this (just took a deep whiff of my son’s Crocs and did not notice even a hint of a bad smell).
  2. While the holes help with ventilation and Jibbitz placement, your kids’ feet will get absolutely filthy if playing in the yard/woods. This is no bueno for us, so we usually just throw on sneakers when heading out to the back yard.
  3. Crocs are not great for running. The strap on the back helps a bit, but I’ve seen my kids’ Crocs fall off like Forest Gump’s leg braces.
  4. Although rare, tiny toes can get stuck in the holes, which can be painful. I can’t remember which of my kids this happened to, but it didn’t end up being a huge deal.
My daughter’s well loved Crocs.


Natives are also a great choice for summer activities. Personally, I think they just look much better. Kind of like Converse shoes, but entirely made of rubber with ventilation holes. Overall they have a nice classic look and can dress up nicely for a summer photo shoot but are also perfect for the pool or beach.

What makes Natives shoes good summer shoes for kids?

  1. I’ll say it again, but they just look really good. I think aesthetically, the Natives are much more pleasing to look at than Crocs.
  2. Natives are also very comfortable shoes to wear in the summertime.
  3. Natives come in a wide variety of colors, some matte colored and some sparkly colors. I think there is a pretty good selection, but not nearly as diverse as Crocs. The holes are too small to fit Jibbitz in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried making similar charms for Natives shoes. I just haven’t seen them.
  4. Natives fit much more securely on the foot, making them much better for running around.
  5. Natives also have ventilation holes and are easy to clean and maintain.

Do Natives have any downsides at all? I think so:

  1. I think they can be extremely difficult to get on if your kids’ feet are sweaty or wet. Granted, you could buy a size up, but then that makes them more likely to slip off during activities.
  2. Similarly to the Crocs, your kids will come inside with dirty feet if they are playing out in the yard. The holes are great for ventilation and cleaning, but it makes it easy for dirt and grime to cover every last square inch of their feet.
  3. I feel like they are slightly less grippy on the soles when compared to Crocs.

The winner?

Both pairs do not have the most grip possible, but I feel like the Croc edges out the Natives ever so slightly.

I asked my oldest daughter which one she would prefer if she could only choose one. After telling me, “oh boy, that’s a tough one,” she finally said Crocs because of how easy they are to get on and off. Jason’s son also did not hesitate in choosing Crocs when asked his preference.

As a parent, I also find it tough to come up with a definitive answer, which is why we own a freaking boatload of both Crocs and Natives. Just look at them in all their glory. I honestly do not think you can go wrong with either one. Both have well over 4.5/5 ratings on, Zappos, and anywhere else you can find kids shoes.

So. Many. Rubber. Shoes.

But if I had to absolutely choose one, I would choose Crocs for their ease and simplicity. If my kid is going to be running around outside a lot, I’m just going to put them in a pair of closed toe sneakers and call it a day. If we want to go out for a quick walk or jump in the car to head to the pool, I’m going to have them look for their Crocs so that we can Croc’N’Roll.

Do you have a dog in this fight? Natives vs. Crocs? Which one wins out for you? Sound off in the comments.