Merrell Ridgepass Review: Best shoes for a hike?

by Purposeful Footwear - Last Updated: April 10, 2018

With a reputation as one of the most reliable outdoor and hiking footwear brands, Merrell enjoys a lofty seat over other brands in the same industry. And the Merrell Ridgepass is proof that they definitely deserve the high praise and tireless patronage they receive.

Even two years after it first set foot into the market, the Merrell Ridgepass remains to be something of a golden standard when it comes to hiking shoes. So I went out of my way to learn more about the design and exactly what about it makes it a good shoe for those demanding hikes on dangerous trails.

I sifted through hundreds of reviews, read up all the product information I could find, and dug through all the different resources I could find to come up with a complete review on the Merrell Ridgepass. So can I recommend the design for avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts? Without a doubt, the Ridgepass definitely makes a great footwear option given its purpose.

What about it makes it a suitable investment? Find out with this comprehensive review.

A Robust Aesthetic Telling of Its Durability

Initial impressions of the Ridgepass kind of give away its durability, which we’ll talk about later. First, it’s worth discussing the shoe’s signature Merrell aesthetic. The uppers use a combination of mesh and suede which creates a breathable and durable construction that’s designed to withstand the toughest of conditions.

Around the toe box is a reinforced area of synthetic material, giving your toes ample protection for when you need to dig your feet into cliff sides, rocks, and dirt for stable footing. The soles of the shoes are particularly dense, which is easily apparent at a glance. This helps protect your feet from dangers like rocks, shards, and sticks that could potentially pierce through thinner material.

In terms of construction, it’s easy to see that the shoe uses some of the best in the business. The different parts of the uppers, the soles, and the interior are all put together with the best craftsmanship which is readily apparent even just by looking at the design. Holding the shoe in your hand, it has quite a bit of weight to it which tells you a lot of the make and material. And at 2.1 pounds per pair, it really does come across as a reliable hiking footwear choice.

Specifically Built for Dirt and Damp

If you’ve ever been hiking before, you know that your shoes of choice won’t look, smell, or even feel too pleasant after just your first adventure. That’s because the onslaught of a hike can expose your shoes to moisture, mud, and dirt. And with the harsh combination of sweat and soil, you can expect your shoes to develop foul odors and bacteria that can make them close to unusable the second time around.

To help combat that, the Merrell Ridgepass shoes are manufactured with Aegis treatment which fights of odors and bacteria build-up. This keeps your shoes smelling clean and fresh even after a lengthy hiking adventure. What’s more, the footwear uses an easy-to-clean design that allows users to wash of mud, filth, and other stains with nothing more than a good hose down.

The soles’ treads are more than just for traction – they resist mud from caking by using material that naturally allows moist soil to slough off. In case any mud does stick to your soles, you can just stomp them off and your treads will be as good as new.

Killer Construction Gives Unwavering Durability

Challenging trails, uneven paths, and even the need to climb a rock wall here and there means your hiking shoes need to be the best quality and durability to prevent damage during your outdoor adventure. Choose the wrong shoes and you risk ending up barefoot before you even make it to the peak.

In true Merrell fashion, the Ridgepass shoes are designed to resist damage even during the most difficult of situations. The superb construction keeps all the different parts of the footwear securely together and the materials themselves are handpicked to be some of the longest lasting in the industry.

What you get is an ultra hardy design that’s made to see you through the most difficult, challenging, and demanding trails without a scuff or a scratch. Lots of those who have purchased the Merrell Ridgepass call the design some of the most hard wearing shoes they’ve owned, lasting several years of use and abuse without so much as a single sign of wear, tear, or damage.

Dependable Outsoles for a Variety of Terrain

Hiking injuries are all too common, and often, a hiker’s shoes are to blame. Poorly designed sole treads leave room for slip and fall accidents, and when you’re trying to traverse a mountain side, losing your footing can be a deadly mistake.

With an aggressive outsole pattern that extends around the edges of the sides of the soles, the Ridgepass minimizes the chances of accidents and injuries that could result from poor traction. The aggressive pattern features a combination of zigzags and ovals that etch deeply into the Merrelll Sticky-Rubber Outsoles. This makes the design work almost like a cleat, digging into the ground and giving you unwavering traction over a variety of different terrain.

The material of the soles itself is something to behold. The signature Sticky-Rubber Merrelll Outsoles give extra cling, preventing your feet from slipping even on moist surfaces.

Not Necessarily the Best Comfort in the Market

The only downside I discovered with the Merrelll Ridgepass is comfort. On the inside, the linings and material are smooth, soft, and seamless. So there’s very little chance of developing blisters or skin irritation. The real issue lies with the insoles which leave a lot to be desired.

The poorly contoured design makes the shoe uncomfortable after some time of use. Ultimately, the specific problem is that it lacks arch support even for individuals who don’t necessarily have high or low arches. Fortunately, the insoles are removable, allowing you to replace them with inserts of your choice. So resolving the problem is possible with no more than a few dollar’s worth of insole replacements.

Another thing about comfort is that the shoe runs a size large in terms of width. That is, the length is true to size, but then the widthtends to be too spacious for standard foot sizes. This is especially true around the toe box.

Some users have complained that this makes it difficult to stabilize your foot inside the shoe. It may even cause your feet to slip around the interior. The ultimate solution would simply be to tighten the laces and wear a pair of dense socks to help fill out the unoccupied width.

Take a Safe Step with Superb Support

Another factor that plays a role in your overall safety on dangerous trails is the support that your footwear offers. The Ridgepass – although featuring a semi-low profile shaft – provides just the right ankle support by cradling the bony prominence of the angle. This gives a little physical restraint to injurious movements, and provides a whole lot of psychological restraint to help you correct your step and prevent injury.

Inside the soles, the footwear incorporates a subtle yet very effective Air Cushion. It’s this that gives just the right responsiveness for climbing and hiking. The cushion also prevents shock from travelling up your leg during a hard fall or a jump. So you can effectively curb joint injuries while on your hike.

Again, I will say that the insoles don’t give that much support in terms of the arches. In fact, many users switch out the removable insoles with inserts of their choice. This is because they can become really uncomfortable with some use. Other than that though, the shoes do give some pretty substantial support for the joints.

Pros of the Merrelll Ridgepass Shoes

  • A hard wearing design that uses superb materials guarantees a long lasting, reliable, and durable shoe.
  • Impressive construction prevents damage, wear, and tear even on the most challenging terrain.
  • Outsoles are especially dependable, giving you excellent grip on a variety of surfaces that you might encounter during a hike.
  • Easy to clean and maintain, allowing you to enjoy the same brand-new quality with regular cleaning.
  • Provides great joint support to prevent injuries and accidents.

Cons of the Merrelll Ridgepass Shoes

  • Arch support isn’t as impressive, possibly requiring you to replace the insoles with your own inserts of choice.
  • Pretty heavy at 1.05 pounds per shoe, which can be tiring to use for smaller frames.

The Verdict

Do I recommend the Merrelll Ridgepass shoes for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts? The answer would be a definite yes. These shoes are some of the most hard-wearing you’re likely to find. Offering superb ankle support, reliable traction, and construction that very well might last you a lifetime, the shoes are nothing short of an investment for both occasional and avid hikers.

Of course, the insoles aren’t necessarily as great as the rest of the shoe. But when you consider all the features it offers and factor in its price tag, it becomes a lot easier to let that minor design flaw slide.

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