I love to hike. I also love to try out new hiking kit. I’ve had these new Merrell Chameleon Shift Mid Gore-Tex boots since they came out earlier in the summer, and have already had some fantastic adventures with them on my feet.
These boots were given to me by Merrell as my Lyke Wake Walk boots. They arrived about four/five weeks before we were due to do the trek so I set about breaking them in in the only way I know how; by wearing them everywhere. I wore them around the house to work to the shops out for dinner, just everywhere. I did look ridiculous sitting on the grass bank in the grounds of Lincoln Castle in my work clothes and my big hiking boots in the heat of the sun, but never mind, I knew what I was doing!
Merrell have designed these boots as a fast and lightweight backpacking boot. Perfect for serious hiking. It is a mid-height boot but I would say it’s a bit higher than other mid boots, and for me that’s great as it therefore provides extra ankle support. The boots are full of technology, including Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, Stratafuse exoskeleton to keep things lightweight, M Select FRESH to keep the boots sweet smelling, In-Board™ Compression moulded EVA footframe for cushioning, air cushioning in the heel to absorb shock, Vibram outsole and lots more besides. I never realised how technical a shoe could be until I started writing Splodz Blogz!
I have to say I think the black and light green colour scheme is spot on (sorry, black and “adventurine” – who knew adventure had a colour?!). No pink here, and no boring brown either. I recommend going up a size to give you space for a pair of decent hiking socks and for your feet to get larger in the heat – when you first put these on your toes shouldn’t touch the ends.
Hiking around Kinder Scout, taken by fellow outdoor blogger Mark.
Going back to the all important wearing, to be fair the boots didn’t take much breaking in, but it’s always wise to make sure your boots are the comfiest thing you could possibly put on your feet if you’re going to walk further than you’ve ever walked before in them. They do have part-leather (nubuck) uppers which needed a little softening. The first long hike I did in these boots was the Outdoor Bloggers hike up and around Kinder Scout. This was to be a good test of terrain and distance for my new boots and excellent practice for my feet and legs. I had high expectations, I have been hiking in Merrell boots for many years, my Chameleon Arc 2 Rivals helped me complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (and go extreme tromboning!), and my Moab Mids have been my go-to pair for a little while.
I was very pleased that these new Chameleons performed excellently. They were light enough on my feet, felt strong, laced up easily, fitted well, gave great ankle support, looked great with my hiking trousers, and provided excellent grip on the different types of terrain we walked on. It was a warm day and I found the boots were as breathable as I needed them to be, allowing my feet to stay at a happy temperature. Thankfully the boots also lived up to their waterproof claim, and in fact proved to be peat bog proof, which was a good job when I ended up knee deep in the stuff. They looked awful covered in sticky black peat, but once we were out of the boggy section (having walked along a stream to clean them off), I stopped to change my socks and confirmed my feet were completely dry and it was only the top of my sock poking out of my boots that was wet and muddy. Perfect. My new favourite boots.
Clumsy and heavy footed!
As you know I haven’t actually done the Lyke Wake Walk because the weather was terrible the weekend we planned. We have rescheduled for October when we anticipate doing the hike over the whole weekend rather than in one 24 hour period, but more of that another time. These Merrells will definitely be the boots I wear for that hike, and hopefully for lots and lots of other hikes too. Well, unless Merrell come up with something better next season and allow me to try those out too. I might be gushing a bit, but I honestly cannot praise these boots enough, Merrell have incorporated everything I expect from a good hiker, and I think they are great.
Looking out from Kinder Downfall. Taken by fellow outdoor blogger Jenni.
If you are looking for a pair of hiking boots for decent length hikes on all kinds of terrain you should consider these. Please remember to buy boots suitable for the type of walking you are doing; while these are great all-rounder boots for low and high-level trails, they are not mountain boots, and if you are always on flat hard surfaces I would recommend a much lighter pair.
I think they are the best Merrell hikers I have ever worn. I love it when my shoes make me smile.
You can buy the Merrell Chameleon Shift Mid Gore-Tex boots direct from Merrell or in plenty of other outdoor footwear suppliers and even at Amazon.co.uk. They are priced at £140.
Thanks very much to Merrell for giving me these boots. I’ll use them for their intended purpose in the Autumn!
UPDATE October 2015
I did indeed wear these for the Lyke Wake Walk and found them to be excellent over that long distance multi day hike. Although I did take them off for the particularly boggy section… I will keep these a little longer and write a “long test” on them sometime, so you can see how they do over the next few months. Read about my Lyke Wake Walk experience here.
On the Lyke Wake Walk in October 2015.