Merrell Chameleon3 Ventilator GTX
Although this boot is not considered a backpacking…
Use: AT backpacking
Break-in Period: short
Price Paid: $150
Although this boot is not considered a backpacking boot, other people are backpacking on trail runners so these are a step up from them. i got only 300+ mi from my last pair before a lug ripped off the heal putting them out of commission. however, they changed the game for me comfort wise.
They breathe well for a goretex boot. this along with changing socks mid-day alowed me to hike blister free for the first time ever. they are very stiff under foot but do bend at the ball of your foot. therfore, i suffered no foot fatigue at the end of the day carrying 30-40lbs over 12-18mi days on the AT in MA, VT and NH. a small amount of moisture did penetrate on the sole seam at the flex point beneath the toebox when contions were very wet or muddy.
My main problem is with the 2010 model. for whatever reason, they made the tongue smaller and took out part of the material connecting the top of the tongue to the boot. this made them uncomfortable in the ankle bone and created blister issues there. the only way to relieve the pressure was to loosen the top of the boot so much that i might as well have been wearing trail runners. this only happened with the right boot so it might just be a lemon.
I am going to return them and give a new pair a try before i give up on them.