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Be Lenka Play Kids – Review

And here is Play – first barefoot shoe for kids from BeLenka. This ankle-high kids shoe for wide feet is available in many fun colours, which I’m sure kids will be tempted to have.

BeLenka is a well-known brand for adult barefoot shoes suitable for wide feet. This year they surprised us with many new styles and it was just a matter of time when their first kids model will be available for purchase too.

Play is their first model for kids and now when I’m writing this review their new winter model Penguin for kids is available for pre-order too.

My daughter was instantly attracted with the colours they have. Such fun, sparkly colours for girls are so limited on the barefoot market, so this was a real excitement for her.

Disclaimer: I bought these shoes myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. I’m also a BeLenka affiliate and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase on BeLenka website through the links on my website.

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1. General

  • Brand: Be Lenka Barefoot
  • Model: Play
  • Colour: Azure and Twinkle
  • Tested on: boy (feet: 16 cm long and 6,9 cm wide), girl (feet: 19,3 cm long and 7,4 cm wide) – see my how to measure guide and foot type

|Made in EU|Kids|Leather|Ship Worldwide|

2. Material characteristics

2.1 Upper

BeLenka Play Kids shoes are made from leather and are available in several wonderful and fun colours for kids. My daughter instantly fell in love with this rainbow star pattern. Well, for my son I was the one who chose the colour for him and this bright blue colour called Azure was something that catched my eye.

Shoes have a velcro closure, so kids can easily put them on by themselves. At the end of the velcro, there is prepared stitching if the velcro would be too long for your child and you will decide to shorten it.

The collar is padded for more comfort and is made from a mesh fabric.

At the heel part there are pull loops, which are just big enough for kids to easily put their finger inside and put on the shoe by themselves.

The sole is curved up all around the shoes and at the heel part it gets even higher. This makes them sturdier and active kids can play and explore in nature without destroying the shoe too fast.

2.2 Lining

Shoes are lined with mesh textile material which didn’t cause any discomfort to my kids while wearing them.

There is also included a thin, removable insole. The insole doesn’t move when it is inside the shoe, but I noticed that my kids sometimes pull out the insole when they take off their shoes, which is a little bit disturbing.

2.3 Sole

The sole is 6 mm thick with a profile for better traction. We tested them for hiking with my son too and they provide him a decent grip there too.

Shoes can be rolled together, but you need slightly more force to do this.

Over time the sole definitely softens, so you need less force to bend it than at the beginning, but it is still more than what I’m used to with some other brands.

I also find the sole slightly heavier than similar shoes from other brands are. But I try to understand that it is hard to find a ideal balance between durability and flexibility of the sole.

Also check my video for the close-up.


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3. Sizing information

3.1 Length

BeLenka Play shoes are available in sizes 25-35. This means two of my kids can fit in them regarding the length.

BeLenka has a very detailed size chart on their website and you can find the internal lengths and widths of Play shoes there.

©BeLenka Barefoot

My son’s feet are 16 cm long and I got him size 27 with the internal length 17.2 cm (measured with Plus12 17.5 cm). My daughter’s feet measure 19.3 cm and I got her size 32 with 20.5 cm of internal length.

So, the length of my son’s shoes don’t perfectly match the Belenka size chart, but my daughter’s do.

My son has 15 mm and my daughter 12 mm space inside the shoes. I usually buy my kids shoes with up to 15 mm space, here was slightly less as I didn’t expect a lot of growth for Autumn and they could start wearing them immediately as I didn’t want to order them too fast.

See my post How much space do we need in shoes if you want to know more about that.

You will also find their size chart printed in the shoebox, with a bonus of a template on which your kid can step on. I would only use the template for approximate determination of the shape of the shoe and approximate length. For actual length always measure your kids feet and compare it to the size chart.

For the accurate length, use the size chart and choose shoes that are 12-15 mm longer than your kids feet. BeLenka recommends adding 0.5-1 cm, but this is not enough according to different studies from the link mentioned above.

In the shoebox you can also see how the foot should be measured. For more detailed instructions check my Guide for measuring feet and shoes.

3.2. Toebox shape & width

Shoes are suitable for wide, fin-shaped feet. Narrow heels, wide front part. They work well for the feet with the longest first or the second toe.

More about different foot types you can read in my post What is my Foot Type?

For my two kids the shoes are pretty wide and they don’t actually need so much space inside the shoe. Also take in mind that the insole is here narrower than the shoe width is.

My daughter’s feet are 7.4 cm wide and the shoe width is 8.1 cm and my son’s feet and 6.9 cm wide and the shoe width is 7.4 cm. So, both have a lot of extra width.

My kids have a good foot shape for the shoes, but they could definitely be fine in narrower shoes. So, those shoes really work well for kids with wide feet.

3.3. Fit around the instep, heel and ankle

We had some problems with adjusting the velcro strap around the ankles as well. My both kids have skinny ankles and the shoes don’t fit them perfectly snug around the ankles. My daughter couldn’t adjust them well without some modifications.

I added some extra self-adhesive velcro straps so my daughter can close it properly. But I could also take them to the shoemaker and he could shorten the strap.

My son didn’t need so many adjustments. I can close the velcro well, although he still has some space left around his ankles, but shoes are secure on his feet. The problem with skinny ankles emphasizes in bigger sizes.

In the midfoot, where the front velcro strap is located they are not very suitable for high volume midfoot. There my kids have a very good fit. So I wouldn’t recommend Play shoes for high volume feet as they could be too tight there.

4. Comfort

Although we had some difficulties with adjusting the velcro strap, my kids actually like to wear them. Even though the shoes are quite wide for their feet, this doesn’t seem to cause them any difficulties while walking.

5. How and when to wear them?

BeLenka Play Kids shoes are appropriate for everyday kids activities. My kids wear them for everything that kids love to do. For playing on the playground, climbing, driving a bike etc.

6. Durability

Belenka states that “shoes are not designed to do sports. Especially cycling, rock climbing, and other strenuous activities can damage the sole.”

This is written for preventative reasons and this means that if the sole is damaged while doing sport activities, this is not the reason for reclamation.

My kids will still use the shoes for all their play as this is what kids are supposed to do, but of course if the sole damage, I wouldn’t request my money back if the damage was caused while doing this.

I still hope that this more sturdier sole will hold up well for my kids. It has some downsides, but they wanted to make them more durable too. As it is also curved up all around the shoes, this protects the sides of the shoes too.

I did find that the star pattern on my daughter’s shoes started to fade away very fast in the front part where the shoe is the most exposed. I would still wish that it would last longer.

7. Price & where to buy

You can buy BeLenka Play shoes at their official website, but you can also find them at different retailers. A lot of them can be found on my list here.

The price for the Play model is 59 € up to size 30 and for sizes 31-35 the price is 65 €.

8. Shipping info

BeLenka ships worldwide and the shipping is really fast. Shipping costs depend on the shipping country. For the shipping cost of retailers check their websites.

9. Where are they made?

BeLenka shoes are made in Czech Republic and Slovakia, EU.

10. To sum up

BeLenka Play shoes are a good option for kids with wider, fin-shaped feet in cool and fun colours which kids love. There could be some minor improvements which would make them perfect, but BeLenka told me that they already made some improvements in their new winter models, which is great to hear.

BeLenka definitely made the right decision with launching kids shoes. Such fun and attractive colours (especially for girls) are hard to find and this was something that my kids were really excited about. Kids just love colours. And when you combine attractive design and foot-shaped shoes you get a perfect shoe for your kid.

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