About a year ago, I bought a pair of Merrell Chameleon 3 Stretch hiking shoes. I purchased these shoes because I really liked the Chameleon 2 Stretch hiking shoes. The Chameleon 2’s were comfortable on- and off-trail. I used them as my daily use shoes as well. They were the most comfortable and durable shoes I had ever purchased. The shoes were not broken down when I purchased the Chameleon 3’s. The only reason I decided I needed new shoes was because the Chameleon 2’s were starting to look a little ratty. The Chameleon 2’s had a few problems that Merrell fixed in the Chameleon 3’s. First, the topline fabric was prone to tearing, so I ended up having to sew the fabric back down as you can see in the picture. The other problem was that the toe cap became disconnected over time and looked bad. Neither of these things affected the functionality of the shoe.
Merrell remedied these two problems in the Chameleon 3’s by removing the cushy foam that made up the topline and widening the toe cap so that it covered the entire front of the shoe. The thing is, the topline changes and whatever other changes they made altered the way the shoe feels. The Chameleon 3’s are not nearly as comfortable as the Chameleon 2’s. The Chameleon 3’s are also not as practical for hiking. It is very difficult to get them tight on your feet, so they are constantly sliding around and creating blisters. I have not been able to get them tight enough on my feet to prevent this from happening. This did not occur in the Chameleon 2’s. I did a 10 mile hike in the Chameleon 3’s and was left with sore feet and blisters. The Chameleon 2’s were always solid shoes and never did this to me. The shoes are still great and comfortable for everyday use, but I cannot use them for hiking. Another problem I ran into with the Chameleon 3′s is that the elastic cord used for tightening the shoe on your foot quickly wore out and snapped. This was a problem because these things are not easy to replace. You can’t just go to the local shoe store and pick one up, so I had to tie the broken ends together. The Chameleon 2 bungees did not start wearing until late in their life and they never have snapped. I’m sure I could have sent the shoes to Merrell to have the bungees replaced, but they are my daily wear shoes and that would have been a bit of a pain. Overall the Chameleon 3′s just don’t measure up to the Chameleon 2′s.
Chameleon 3 Stretch Rating (1-10; 10 being the best)
Everyday Comfort: 8
Trail Comfort: 4
Hiking Usefulness: 5
Overall Rating (average): 6.5
For this review, I am using shoe terminology that can be found at this website.