Merrell Chameleon 8 Leather Mid Gore-tex Review
In a strange twist of fate, the latest generation of Merrell's successful Chameleon range of walking boots arrived for us to try out just before the UK was placed under lockdown, due to the Coronavirus. It was like finding a golden ticket, only to discover that Willy Wonka had furloughed his Oompah Loompahs and closed the factory gates.
Nevertheless, as we are lucky enough to have a network of footpaths passing by our home, we've been able to test out the boots whilst respecting the social distancing requirements and following government advice. So, whilst we're all required to stay at home currently, the hills and valleys will be waiting for us when things get back to normal. This could be a great time to treat those feet to a new pair of boots in anticipation of hitting the trails again.
Merrell have been making hiking footwear since 1981 and the popular Chameleon range has now reached its eighth generation. The Chameleon 8 Leather Mid Gore-Tex claims to be as adaptable as the reptile it's inspired by, featuring protection, stability and ultra-lightweight construction.
The Chameleons feature a nubuck leather upper which is waterproof and soft to the touch. In our experience, these boots did not need any breaking in and they were comfortable from day one. The Gore-tex membrane provides exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. We've crossed streams in these boots and our feet have remained perfectly dry. The tongue is thick and padded, as well as being bellowed, which prevents stones and debris from getting inside the shoe.
There is also a protective rubber rand and toe cap, as well as external rear sling locks in the heel.
The exceptional comfort straight out of the box is helped by the Kinetic Fit BASE removable contoured insole, which provides welcome support. There is also an air cushion in the heel to absorb shock and to add stability.
Underfoot, there is a great design to add comfort and rigidity, provided by the EVA foam midsole and the lightweight Flex Plate technology.
The grip is consistent across different surfaces and is reassuring, provided by the Vibram XS Trek Evo sole, with a 5mm lug depth. Although the weather has been pretty dry lately, we've had the opportunity to try these on wet surfaces and the grip still performs really well.
These boots are categorised as mid height, so they don't reach as high as other full height boots, but they still provide good ankle support which gives confidence on rough surfaces. For comparison, the picture below shows the range of height between various footwear. The boots feel very light too. My size 10 (UK) Chameleon weighs 576g, compared to the 701g of the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.
So, Merrell have produced a boot which is supportive, robust, grippy and waterproof, whilst also being flexible, light and super comfortable. Definitely a winner in our eyes.
And, although Merrell sent us the Chameleons to test, we liked them so much that we've already bought a second pair.
Now, we just need the lockdown to lift so we can head out further...
Stay safe everybody.