Gear Review: Merrell Chameleon 3 Ventilator Hiking Boot
This light hiker is practically abrasion resistant thanks to the thick pig suede upper.
“No worse for the wear after 75 miles of rough desert hiking in Arizona,” reports one tester. The 1.6-mm-thick pig suede upper is less prone to abrasion and tearing than nubuck of the same weight. (Pig skin cells overlap in a crisscrossed pattern that makes it tougher and stiffer than the vertically stacked cells of cow hide.) And tightly woven mesh panels kept out grit and buffered against cactus spines. “I was shocked to look down and see a cholla ball stuck to the mesh of my shoe—I didn’t even feel it!” he says. The crew reported good support and stability with up to 50-pound loads, thanks to the stiff, full-length nylon shank and dense, thin layer of compression-molded EVA.
Despite all of this support, the Chameleon isn’t clunky, thanks to the integrated midsole/upper design; the upper wraps around the midsole and is fused beneath it to create a more streamlined, responsive package. Durability bonus: This construction tucks the perimeter of the EVA layer inside the shoe, which protects it from gouging and potential delamination. “It also has great scrambling traction and agility,” says one tester who wore them while leading clients into a cave with a steep, scree-filled entrance.
Hollowed-out, low-profile oval lugs shed mud quickly, improving grip when testers transitioned from one surface to the next. Gripes: Several testers wished for more cushioning, and despite the name, the Ventilator is among the least breathable in the group (because of the tight weave of the mesh). Fit favors low- to medium-volume feet.
Weight 2 lbs. 5 oz.
Sizes men’s only 7-12