MERRELL CHAMELEON EVO BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
INITIAL REPORT - May 08, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 10, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 12, 2009
6' 1" (1.85 m)
190 lb (86.20 kg)
Backpacking Background: I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay around Mount Hood, Columbia Gorge, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, and the Olympic Peninsula. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 15 lb (7 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack. My sleeping pad is a Therm-a-Rest air mattress.
May 8, 2009
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Wolverine World Wide Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.merrell.com
Listed Weight: 34 oz (964 g)
Measured Weight: 46 oz (1300 g)
Shoe size: 12 US
The Merrell Chameleon EVO boots (referred to as "the boots" below) are lightweight, mid height, waterproof boots:
The uppers are made of leather with mesh holes for ventilation. There is rubber on the bottom 1 inch up all the way around. I counted 7 different pieces of leather, 8 pieces of rubber, and maybe just 1 piece of mesh that are all sown and glued together:
The soles are rubber Vibram soles. The lugs are 5 mm (1/4 inch):
There's a loop at the top at the heel end to help pull the boots onto the feet, but I have found that when I do this, it makes the socks wrinkle so I never use this. Maybe this would be good for hanging the boot to dry.
At the top of the boots, at the ankle, inside, is a thicker foam material, about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, to keep stuff from getting into the boots.
I almost always wear gaiters which keeps stuff out of my boots, and helps keep the boots dry at the top.
Inside the boots, is a black fabric covering light foam padding and medium thickness orange insoles.
The boots are made waterproof with a Gore-Tex membrane.
My feet are about 3/4 inch (2 cm) above the ground at the mid sole, and 1 1/2 inch (4 cm) at the heel. The boot tops are about 6 inches (15 cm) above the ground.
The laces are tubular synthetic (nylon?) which are fairly rough in texture so the knot shouldn't slip. There are nylon webbing loops for the laces on the bottom. On the top are 4 plastic clips for the laces to make it easy to unlace at the top when the boots are removed. I don't use the top 2 clips because it makes it uncomfortable around my ankles. I remove the lace from the bottom 2 clips and pull out the tongue a little when I remove my boots.
The boots seem to be well made. All the seams and pieces are uniform. There are two rows of stitching at most of the places.
I have the "dark earth" color. The different colored pieces of the boot look good together.
TRYING IT OUT
I did a quick day hike of 5 miles (8 km) and 2 hours. It was raining. I walked through wet grass and several streams that came up over my toes and halfway up the heel. The boots were totally wet, but my socks stayed dry. The boots weighed 49 oz (1389 g) when wet. They weighed 46 oz (1300 g) when dry. This was a pretty good test of waterproofness, except it will be better when I test them for a longer period of time to see if they stay dry.
I walked through a lot of slippery mud and the Vibram soles were pretty good at keeping traction.
The soles are fairly stiff. This should be good when walking on rough ground and rocks to distribute the load over the entire foot, rather than poking one place.
The shoes fit pretty well for my short hike. The boots are size 12 US which is my normal shoe size.
So far so good.
I look forward to testing these over the next 4 months. I'll be doing day trips and several day backpacks in wet weather, and in hot weather.
Field Report to follow in about 2 months.
Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Merrell for letting me test these.
July 10, 2009
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
5 mile (8 km) day hike in Portland Oregon. It was 45 F (7 C) and raining. Boots got totally wet from puddles half way up boot and wet brush. Socks were totally dry.
4 day car camp at beach near Newport Oregon. Total of 30 miles (48 km) of day hiking. The first 24 hours were totally wet from rain and puddles. The socks stayed dry. The boots dried out pretty good the second day.
5 night backpack up Herman Creek in Columbia gorge. Total of 25 miles (40 km). 4000 feet (1200 m) elevation gain. 40 to 72 F (4 to 22 C). 2 days of walking on snow, outside of boots got wet but socks stayed dry. On the last day the socks got a bit damp from sweat. Did some off trail and bouldering. The somewhat stiff sole worked well. The lug sole worked well on snow and mud.
7 miles (11 km) day hike on Oregon coast. Gravel, off trail and steep at places.
5 night backpack on Devil's Peak and at Ramona Falls in Northwest Oregon. Total of 25 miles (40 km), 5500 feet (1700 m) elevation gain. Very wet brush and snow the first two days. I forgot my gaiters, so the boots got totally wet inside, water getting in over the top of the boots.
5 miles day hike on Boulder Ridge near Mount Hood in Oregon. 1000 feet (300 m) elevation gain.
5 night car camp on the Metolius River in central Oregon. Total of 33 miles (53 km) of day hiking. It was dry and 55 to 85 F (13 to 29 C).
Total 130 miles (210 km).
Lots of good snow to test the Merrells:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
These boots had excellent water proofness. No matter what I could throw at them, they stayed dry inside.
When water got in over the top of the boots, they stayed as comfortable as possible for being totally wet, and they stayed comfortable as they dried out.
Good ventilation. When it got really warm (85 F in shade) they got damp inside, but I don't think I've had boots that were much better.
Very good - at the end of my first long test, it was a little sore on the inside of my right heel. Otherwise no blisters or soreness. The hike up and down Devil's peak was a good test because of the steepness - 3 miles and 3000 feet. I also did a lot of off trail and bouldering with no soreness.
Traction on rough ground
The soles have a fairly aggressive lug sole - good traction on snow and mud. Good off trail and on boulders.
The soles are fairly stiff so they were fairly comfortable walking on the edges of boulders.
There are a couple gouges from rocks, otherwise little sign of wear.
So far, I am very happy with these boots.
Waterproofness is excellent. Comfort is very good - no significant soreness or blisters. The soles are very good for snow and off-trail. Durability is good, but the length of this test will not be sufficient to test very well.
The only negative is that my feet get damp in hot weather, but this is the same as every boot/shoe I have ever used.
Thanks to Merrell and Backpackgeartest.org for letting me test these.
Stay tuned for the Long Term Report in about 2 months.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
For the long term test, I did 16 nights of backpacking and car camping and a couple of day hikes - 132 total miles (213 km):
4 night car camp on the Washington South coast. I did 22 miles (35 km), about half on sandy beach and the rest on paved and dirt trails. I got a small blister on my left little toe, put bandage on and continued without problem. My feet got damp from sweat. 55 to 70 F (13 to 21 C).
4 night backpack was on Mount Hood in Northern Oregon. I did 29 miles (47 km) and 6500 feet (2000 m) elevation gain. 50 to 85 F (10 to 29 C). Most of the mileage was on dirt trail, rocky at places. I also did some cross country over rocky area. The socks got a bit damp from sweat on longer warmer days. I got a blister on my left heel, put on a bandage and continued trip without problem, although I might have gone a little further if I had no blister.
I did a 5 mile (8 km) 500 foot (150 m) elevation gain day hike on an old logging road on the Oregon coast.
I did a 6 mile (10 km) 2000 foot (600 m) elevation gain day hike on dirt/rocky trail on Mount Hood Boulder Ridge.
I did a 35 mile (56 km) 4500 foot (1400 m) elevation gain 4 night backpack around the Three Sisters in central Oregon. 40 to 80 F (4 to 27 C). I got a small blister on my left heel but didn't do anything first aid wise and it didn't limit my trip. My socks got somewhat damp from sweat on warm days.
Merrell boot at Camp Lake on Three Sisters. Notice the gaiter, which I wore for all my testing:
I did a 35 mile (56 km) 4500 foot (1400 m) elevation gain 4 night backpack in the Goat Rocks and Mount Adams in central Washington. 40 to 80 F (4 to 27 C). I got small blisters on both heels but it didn't bother me at all. The socks got slightly damp from sweat. On the last day my boots got wet from rain, mostly around the toe area, but stayed dry inside:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I used the Merrell Chameleons for a total of 262 miles (422 km) for the field report and long term report, over a varied set of conditions.
The soles show a little wear. The leather outer surface is scuffed a bit which is just cosmetic.
The place where boots wear out for me, is on the sides, near the sole, about 4 inches (10 cm) back from the toe end, where the toe flexes. I don't see any wear yet on the Merrells.
The soles are somewhat stiff which makes the boots comfortable on rough surfaces when I step on the sharp edge of a rock. This was good for rocky trails and off trail.
The lug soles are aggressive enough to provide traction on many surfaces including snow and mud.
The boots have been very waterproof. I took them out in rain, wet brush, and snow and they stayed dry inside. The last day of my test was another good waterproofness test and they still stayed dry inside.
The one time the boots got wet inside was when I forgot my gaiters and walked through wet brush, which got water on my socks, which then went in over the tops of the boots. I have had boots before that when they got very wet inside they never were very comfortable again, but the Merrells were fine.
The Merrells had okay ventilation when the weather got hot. My socks got damp from sweat. Every shoe and boot I have had has had a similar problem, or worse, so I won't hold this against the Merrells.
I got a few blisters - little left toe, side of both heels, and bottom of the left heel. They were pretty minor and didn't significantly impact my trips.
I never tested the Merrells in really cold weather, but I expect they would be fairly warm because they have several layers including the inside Gore-Tex layer. During the field test it was a little cold and they kept my feet warm.
Overall, I am quite satisfied with the Merrell Chameleon boots.
The best thing about them is their waterproofness.
Also, they were good on typical mountain rough trails and off trails.
They were fairly comfortable over extended distances but I did get a few small blisters which didn't significantly impact any of my plans.
The boots showed little wear, which is what I would expect from a pair of boots with the amount of use I did.
I will continue to use these boots until I wear them out unless I test another pair of boots.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Merrell and backpackgeartesters.org for letting me test these.
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Read more gear reviews by jerry adams