Recently, Merrell sent Peri the Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr toddler shoes, and we’re excited to share that they are fantastic hybrid toddler shoes – perfect for gentle hiking and just about everything else too!
We have put in considerable time and effort learning about how to choose a toddler hiking shoe.
We’re confident when we say if you’re looking for a toddler shoe that’s great for:
- gentle hiking
- just about everything in between
These are well worth considering!
Briefly, we like the Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr because they are:
- versatile (good for easy trails, playgrounds, and daily use)
- built to last
- lined with anti-bacterial fabric
- made with environmentally friendly materials
Questions Or Comments About The Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr?
If at any point, you have any questions or comments about:
- these particular toddler shoes
- kids footwear in general
- anything related to choosing the best shoe for your little one
Feel free to leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you just as soon as we can!
How They Perform – Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr
Merrell designed the Bare Steps Ridge Jr to be that all-in-one shoe that your toddler can use on just about any of their little adventures.
The Bare Steps Ridge Jr are all about versatility and comfort.
As we mentioned in our Merrell Trail Quest Jr shoe review (which is a dedicated hiking shoe), our bottom line for comfort is the feedback Peri gives us.
With the Bare Steps Ridge Jr, Peri has not complained once of discomfort. To us, that’s a good sign.
In part, we think Peri finds these comfortable because the Bare Steps Ridge Jr has an extra-wide toe box as well as rounded edges that gently wrap around the natural shape of his foot.
Also, since the shoes weigh a total of 126 grams (~4.4 ounces) they are super lightweight, and thus aren’t burdensome for him to wear.
We’ve learned that it’s important that Peri’s shoes aren’t too hard to put on or too easy for him to take off.
The Bare Steps Ridge Jr fit him snugly yet are easy to put on/take off.
This is thanks to the fact that Merrell built them with both an adjustable velcro closure and elastic cords that further help the shoes grip Peri’s feet.
Given that the Bare Steps Ridge Jr are a hybrid toddler shoe, not a dedicated toddler hiking shoe, we think these have ample support.
Our guide on how to choose a toddler hiking shoe goes into full detail on how to test the supportiveness of a shoe, so check that out if you’d like to learn yourself.
These are plenty supportive for easy hiking trails, playgrounds, and daily use.
Peri has used his Bare Steps Ridge Jr all over the place, and he’s not yet slipped on anything.
This goes for both wet and dry conditions.
The outsole has flexible grooves, and consequently, they give Peri a barefooted feeling.
Being able to feel the ground under his feet, yet having his foot protected by the shoe, is yet another reason why these have great traction.
Frankly, the outsoles feel super grippy to the touch, and indeed they are!
Since Peri uses his Bare Steps Ridge Jr more or less anywhere, it’s a big plus that the upper material is water-resistant.
And while it may surprise you…
We find water-resistance to be preferable to waterproofness, at least in regards to a toddler shoe.
The main reason is that waterproofness and breathability are (usually) inversely related.
Or in other words:
The more waterproof a shoe is, the less breathable it is, and therefore the more sweaty your feet will get.
The Bare Steps Ridge Jr have not yet left Peri with unusually sweaty feet, thus we are pleased with how breathable they are.
The high breathability factor is good for a couple of reasons.
First, no one likes sweaty feet – they’re simply uncomfortable.
Second, if your feet are wet/overly sweaty, you’re more likely to develop blisters. Again, not very comfortable.
Since the Bare Steps Ridge Jr are water-resistant it makes them a bit slower to dry than a shoe that is not water-resistant, such as the Merrell Trail Quest Jr.
Nevertheless, they don’t take too long to dry.
We’ve set them on a sunny windowsill and then left them overnight.
The next morning, they were still a tiny bit damp, but we felt comfortable with Peri wearing them.
Tip: If you don’t have the ability to put your shoes into a dryer, you can speed up the drying time by cramming them full of balled-up old newspapers.
It may sound weird, but the newspaper will help draw out the moisture from the shoe, and thus reduce the drying time!
If you do have access to a dryer, tumble dry these with no-heat.
How They’re Made – Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr
After holding these shoes for only a few moments, we could feel that they are well made.
We expect Peri will grow out of them long before they reach the end of their useful life.
Merrell has clearly put in a lot of time and effort to make a highly durable hybrid toddler shoe.
Merrell puts as much care, consideration, and quality into their toddler shoes as they do into their adult shoes.
Consequently, the Bare Steps Ridge Jr are super durable and have been built to last.
While Peri has only worn his pair a few times, they still look brand new and have almost no visible signs of wear and tear.
The stitching all over the shoe is robust, the fabrics are really strong, the outsole is firmly attached to the upper, and there is even a rubber cupsole for extra durability.
These definitely pass the “hand-me-down test.”
The upper material is a water-resistant combination of leather and nylon.
The toe area is reinforced to keep Peri’s little pigs extra safe and sound.
Since Merrell has thought of nearly everything with these hybrid toddler shoes, they lined the upper material with a fabric that has anti-bacterial properties.
So now, Peri’s little pigs won’t stink!
To put it simply, the outsole of the Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr is a super grippy rubber material.
In a bit more technical terms…
The outsole is an M Select GRIP®, Merrell’s proprietary outsole. It’s flexible, non-marking, and gives Peri high-traction just about everywhere he adventures!
How They’ll Look Over Time – Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr
Peri has used his Bare Steps Ridge Jr about half a dozen times, and so far, they still look nearly new!
We don’t expect these shoes to look aged very quickly!
The Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr come in three different colors:
If your kids are anything like Peri, everything about them gets dirty quickly!
Fortunately, Peri’s Bare Steps Ridge Jr are machine washable.
We put them in with our other laundries, use a normal detergent, and we’re golden!
We air dry them on a sunny windowsill, but if you want to put them in a dryer just make sure you use the no-heat setting.
Money For Value – Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr
As of the time of writing the Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr cost between US$40 and US$55.
For a toddler shoe that can actually serve as both a toddler hiking shoe as well as a general everyday toddler sneaker, we think the Bare Steps Ridge Jr offer great money for value.
They are kind of like a two-in-one deal!
And, to stretch your dollars even a bit further, buy these a half or whole size bigger, and you’ll get even more bang for your buck.
Peri Loves The Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr
The long and the short of it is:
Peri loves his Merrell Bare Steps Ridge Jr shoes. We love them too, and we think if you are in the market for a versatile, durable, and comfortable hybrid toddler shoe, you’ll also come to love these lovely shoes!
If you have any questions or comments about these shoes, toddler hiking shoes, or just about anything else related to toddler footwear, leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!