Merrell Chameleon4 Mid Waterproof walking/hiking boots
Merrell Chameleon 4 mid hiking boots.
For the Glen Tanar meet a couple of weeks ago I got to put my new Merrell boots through their paces. My old pair of walking boots had just given up the ghost and the Merrell's came just in time to take with me. I have in the past learned the hard way that a good pair of boots can save your feet from all sorts of problems so I knew what I wanted from them.
The criteria I had was simple. They had to be Comfortable, waterproof, durable, have plenty of support, and have a decent grip on them.
Details:( From Merrell website)
• Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Nubuck leather upper
• Bellows tongue keeps debris out
• External heel and instep stability arm
• Waterproof membrane treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution provides impermeable but breathable barrier
• 20% recycled EVA dual density footbed provides comfort and support
• 2mm EVA insole for comfort and shock absorption
• Merrell In-Board™ Compression Moulded 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.
Cost: £ 130
They weigh in at 1 lb 6.5 oz per boot, which I personally find is a good light weight.
Unfortunately I did not have time to break them in properly before I went to Glen Tanar. I managed to wear them around the house for a few hours and get out for a 45 min walk but nothing more than that . I was a bit concerned that I my feet were going to ache after a few miles. I didn’t have any problems however.They were comfortable from the off and my feet didn't feel pinched or strained in any way. They are obviously more comfortable now that they are broken in but for using them for the first time without any problems, I was impressed.
The boots have a Nubuck leather upper which give it a lovely soft suede feeling. They are made with a Strobel construction, which I have found out is where the layers of fabric are added by stitching or gluing them together . This gives more flexibility to the boot.
Compared to some of my previous boots I certainly felt more flex and suppleness in them especially when scrabbling over rocks or moving up and down steep inclines. I found that having this extra movement makes it more comfortable on longer walks also.
The boots have a 10,000/10,000mm waterproof membrane sewn in that make them impermeable to water but it also allows them to breathe. They have been certainly tested on this point as the first two days at the meet were very wet with the amount of rain we had and walking through the grass and the woods got everything soaked. Since then I have been out walking nearly every day and there is always a point when I have to go through shallow water of some form or another.
They have held up excellent, I haven’t yet had any water seeping through. Although I haven’t done so yet I will give them a coat of waterproofer just to be on the safe side.
The tongue is a good size and curves around the ankle well giving a little bit extra support when the laces are done up. It is sturdy but not so stiff that there is no movement when I walk. It opens up nice and wide which helps no end when putting the boots on and taking them off.. It stays in place good and I haven’t had any trouble with it rubbing or migrating down as I walk.
It has a good sized gusset that keeps the dirt and grit etc out very well, although personally I think it has enough room to be half an inch or so longer.
The laces are secured with tabs sewn between the layers of the boot. There are 12 tabs all together with the laces passing through 9 of them then back through a webbing tab sewn on to the tongue. They then pass through the last 2 tabs which are secured by the support arms . There are a pair of hooks on either side of the boot which are securely riveted on. The laces go over these then tied.
This is the first pair of boots I have had where the laces are held by material tabs and not metal ones or grommets so I am a bit apprehensive on how long they will last over the years. They do seem to be stitched very securely however and there are no signs of any loose stitches, so as long as they stay like that they should be fine.
I have had a few pairs with the speed hooks. Some have been good and others very poor. These hooks seem to be of good quality. The metal is quite thick and has a coating protecting it. The rivets seem good and substantial.
I like the speed hooks on a boot as they save a lot of hassle when putting of and taking off, so that’s another plus for me.
The front of the boot has a good sized rubber strip covering the toe area. This is a nice little feature to have as it gives you a little bit of protection from falling objects and also stops the front area from becoming scuffed and scratched.
Welt: The boot has a cement welt that is fairly thick and of a good size. It is bonded nice and tight and there has been no trouble with it peeling back.
External heel and side arms:
On the back of that boot at the heel there is a moulded plastic heel cup. This has two arms that extend out on either side to roughly the halfway point. The purpose of this is to give the support structure of a full boot even though they are mid-size in a lower profile. You can definitely notice the difference on the heel. It extends high up and is solid but not so that its uncomfortable giving plenty of support to the back of the foot. Although you can still feel the aid of the side arms, it isn’t to the same degree as the heel. I think if they were a bit wider, they would be much better.
Aegis Antimicrobial solution:
The waterproof membrane has been treated with the Aegis antimicrobial solution. It works slightly different to other solutions. It is a positively charged polymer that has been bonded chemically to the membrane. It helps to protect against odours, staining, and deterioration that is caused by microorganisms. When the microorganisms touch the treated surface they are shocked. The treatment does not lose any strength, as the charge is not passed to the dead cells of the bacteria.
This is a great feature on any boot and on the Chameleons the tab is strong and large enough for me to get two fingers through. This helps no end when pulling the boots on. The stitching seems to be very secure. It goes through the heel plate and stitched down the back of the boot.
The chameleon boots have a duel density footbed/insole. This is made from EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) with 20% recycled materials and is a shaped pad that tapers in thickness from back to front. Having it shaped so that the edges come higher up instead of flat like a lot of insoles make it much better as the cushion further up the side of the foot preventing rubbing. Combine this with the thickness of the foam pad and you get a very soft and comfortable insole. As the foam is quite thick there is plenty of cushioning over the whole area of the foot.
The inboard foot frame is a compression moulded midsole again made from EVA. Its job is to provide they more cushioning to the foot while being lightweight at the same time. Adding this layer certainly add to the comfort factor.
The heel has a built in air cushion to help absorb shock and to help stabilize the foot when walking. This definitely helped me when going over broken ground. In addition, I have found that climbing over rocks can put a lot of impact on my heels and having that cushioned barrier not only makes it easier on the foot but safer as well.
The sole is a Vibram sole/ TCS+ rubber made especially for the Merrell boots. Made with anti-shock rubber it has been designed to give better support and safety for going over level, sloping and rough ground. It has very large lugs, which measure in at 5 mm, which enable the boots to have a very high traction in wet and dry conditions.
One of the first things I noticed about the boot was how good the grip was and I purposely set out to test them by climbing up and down the steepest most slippery looking slope next to our camp. I found them great for all types of wet surfaces and had no slipping at all. The tread is hardwearing and easy to clean, although for the most part they take care of themselves and up to now there are no signs of cracking or splitting.
With the lined inners and the thick sole the boots are comfortably warm. I have been out netting a few times in them now and anybody who has done this knows how cold your feet can get waiting. I had normal walking socks on and my feet didn’t get cold at all. On the other hand even though they are warm when stationary I have found that when setting a good pace they do not retain excess heat which can lead to sweaty uncomfortable feet.
I am very pleased with these boots as they have met all the points I wanted from them. They are waterproof, comfortable, have a high level of support and have the grip I was after and then some. I feel I can go that little bit further in these boots compared to some of my old pairs and I reckon my natural pace has increased slightly just because the grip is excellent and my feet are more comfortable in them for longer periods of time.
There are a lot of boots on the market these days and I would say the Merrell’s are definitely among the best out of those I have had. With all the thought and design put into them and at a reasonable price, you can’t go wrong with these boots as they are very reliable.
There is one last test to do, that is their longevity, that however will take a number of years, and I am confident they will still be going strong.
Does the walker choose the path or the path the walker