First impressions last, and that’s certainly true of Merrell’s Chameleon II Flux (850g). From first fitting to the end of a long walk, the comfort and overall performance remain unchanged.
They accommodate most foot volumes and open wide and easy for unfussy entry, then cinch up securely for excellent forefoot hold, reducing forward movement and heel lift inside the shoe.
The nicely rigid and stable midsole make them excellent for on-the-toes climbing and on rocks, yet the moulded nylon shank isn’t so stiff that ground-feel is lost on uneven or varied terrain.
The Vibram outsole is designed to grip in most conditions and on most angles, with well-placed lugs on the toe, instep and heel for excellent traction and confidence over roots and rocks, or when things become edgy on a steep slope.
In mud, the Chameleon finds its Achilles heel. The deep and bevelled lugs clog readily, making slippery slopes even more so. However, once back on rocks or a formed trail they begin shedding again.
Robust shoe offering excellent protection
Due to their 10mm heel-to-toe drop, the Chameleon’s footfall is flattish and can clomp slightly on formed trails. Although this can reduce strain on injury-prone calves, it did, at times, force me to walk off my heels. That said, the heel is nicely cupped, and although its cushioning initially felt hard, it softened to unnoticeable during the day.
The shoe does offer a decent arch, and with Merrell’s much-improved EVA insole, the foot is comfortably supported.
The synthetic uppers overlay breathable mesh panels, and are strong with excellent protection around heel and toe, and include a lightweight protective pattern applied around the toebox. The bellows tongue keeps out trail debris.
As an all-rounder, the Chameleon would be my shoe of choice for all light hiking where water resistance isn’t a priority.
– Paul King