So I've had these for a while now and finally did a review. I figured I'd post it in case anyone was looking at these. Since my current Favorites where the Keen Targhee's, allot of the review compares the two...
OUT OF THE BOX:
When the Chameleon's arrived at my house and I took them out of the box, immediately my wife says, "those are good looking boots"; so we were off to a good start. I immediately slipped them on, snugged them up and went for a walk around my block. Fortunately my block is almost a half mile around so I got a good test walk in. These boots felt good, the heel area was nice and comfortable and they didn't seem hot which is a big thing in S TX. The tread was aggressive like I prefer and they looked good, so says the wife. Allot of this review will be a comparision to the Keen Targhee's since I wore them so long and liked them.
Initially, the Merrell Chameleon's weren't quite as comfortable as the Keen Targhee's out of the box but they were not uncomfortable either. Arch support felt very good; a little better than the Targhee's (if you have issues with Plantar fasciitis that's important). Both the Keen's and the Merrell's snug down nicely with no hot spots. The Keen's felt much more cushioned in the uppers and both had good cushioning in the heels. The Merrell's are easier to put on but nothing significant over the Targhee's. Both the Keen's and Merrell's use a system interwoven into their laces that snugs the boot up around your heel when tightening up your laces. Keen uses one of the actual straps that your laces weave through. Merrell uses a long piece of polymer attached to the heel area that is attached to webbing which is ultimately attached to the laces. Both systems work fine and I don't prefer one over the other. After putting over a hundred miles on the Merrell Chameleon's they have broken in nicely but I still give the comfort edge in overall comfort to the Keen Targhee's.
Both the Merrell's and the Keens came with sufficiently long laces. The laces on the Keen Targhees were thicker and seemed a little "lumpy" which is something I've noticed with my higher end running shoes. The "lumpyness" seems to prevent them from becoming untied as much and on the Keen's it prevents them from coming out of the top cinch/hook (they hold the laces in place even if they come untied). The laces when tied all the way to the top hooks on the Merrell's ride nicely with no over ride issues. The Keen's laces will work their way over the top of the tongue if you do not run them through the provided tongue loop. The laces on the Keen Targhee's did start to fray a bit after about 200+ miles but nothing bad. The laces on the Merrell Chameleon's where thinner but have not shown any wear issues. The Merrell's come with the standard hooks at the top of their uppers which work great. After over 100 miles, they still show no fraying. Overall, I prefer the laces on the Keen's.
I like the Vibram lug patterns on the Merrell Chameleon's . They are more than aggressive enough for just about all terrains. I am happy to report that they grip very well on just about all surfaces. They perform better than the Keen Targhee's on wet rocks. Mud is more difficult to clean off of the Merrell Chameleon's lug pattern than the Keen Targhee's . So in short, there is a trade off; you get better traction with the Merrell Chameleon's but the Keen's clean easier...You have to choose your preference. I like them both. I'd give the overall edge to the Merrell's for traction.
Compared to the Keen Targhee's - Merrell's on top
One of the reasons I chose the Merrell Chameleon's is for the Gore-Tex liner. For me Gore-Tex has proven pretty reliable for being water proof and thus far the Gore-Tex on the Merrell Chameleons have not disappointed. My Keen Targhee's started leaking at about 70-80 miles and progressively got worse. Given, the Keen Targhee's did not have Gor-Tex, they used their own membrane for water proofing their boots. I gave the Keens a pass because the area's that I hike, walk and do my wildlife photography is plagued with thorns from hell. Everything in South Texas has thorns; heck even some of the animals have thorns. Some how despite the plethora of thorns, the Merrell's have retained their water proof claim. Well done, Merrell (and Gore-Tex).
and snow in the Lincoln National Forest
The Merrell Chameleon's have a hard rubber bumper over the toes for protection and it works well. Keen's trademark is their "Keen Protect" toe guards and the toe guard areas are a little thicker on the Keens. Both work great but I'd have to give a small edge to the Keen Targhee's since they saved my toes from a rattlesnake bite. Both provide great protection so other than the Keen's saving my toes from the snake bite once, I can't really pick on or the other as for being "better".
If I had to venture a guess, I'd bet I have about 200 to 240 hard hiking miles on the Merrell Chameleons and probably 20-30 regular "around town" walking. Thus far they have held up very well and I see lots of miles to go on these. One thing that I have a habit of doing that I probably shouldn't is that I use the toes of my boots to flip smaller rocks when looking for photography subjects such as spiders, scorpions, snakes, lizards and the like. The toes on these boots have held up very well. I've washed the Merrells with the water hose and two trips through the washer/dryer. I have observed no glue separation at any juncture, very little fraying and they still look good after a good wash.
The Merrell Chameleon 4 Mid Ventilator Gor-Tex (man that's a long name) boots are very nice hiking boots. They are very comfortable but I give a slight edge to the Keen Targhee's in that department. The Merrell Chameleons have retained their waterproof-ness (is that a word) after some hellish hikes through the south Texas brush. I hiked recently through the snow covered mountains in se New Mexico for three days and had zero issues with wet toes. I've crossed many central Texas rivers with them and the Gore-Tex liners held back water great. My longest hike to date with the Merrell Chameleons was about 19 miles and I can happily report no blister issues nor notable hot spots. The best aspect of the Merrell Chameleon's to me is their grippy nature. They seem to cling to everything and they are a joy to hike in. I have had no issues with thorns coming through the sole or the sides. They breath very well in the hellish S. Texas heat and have had very few issues of them coming untied. Now the question remains, do I prefer the Keen Targhee's or the Merrell Chameleon 4 Mid's? Personally, as I get older, comfort becomes more and more important so in this aspect, I prefer the Keen Targhee's. This is not to say the Merrell Chameleons are uncomfortable; in fact, I find them very comfortable. They are just not AS comfortable as the Keen's. If you constantly walk in wet environments, then you'll probably prefer the Merrell's with their Gor-Tex liner. Both are fine boots and both are made in China. While I'd definitely prefer American made, you'd be hard pressed to find good, mid priced hiking boots made in the United States. Heck even my Danner GTX's are made in China now (EXCELLENT boots by the way). In fact, my favorite hiking boots that I own is made in Germany, the Lowa Ranger GTX . I bought them used but I'm waiting on a good deal on a new pair.
All in all, I like them..
Specs on the boots in case anyone is interested:
UPPER / LINING
• Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Pig suede leather and mesh upper
• Bellows tongue keeps debris out
• External heel and instep stability arm
• GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort footwear lining protects feet and keeps them dry
• Lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution eliminates odor
MIDSOLE / OUTSOLE
• 20% recycled EVA dual density footbed provides comfort and support
• 2mm EVA inSole for comfort and shock absorption
• Merrell In-Board™ Compression Molded EVA footframe provides cushioning
• Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• 5 mm Sole lug depth
• Vibram® Chameleon4 Sole/TC5+Rubber
Original review: http://centavogear.blogspot.com/2012...ator-gore.html