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Merrell Chameleon 3 Stretch

rated 2.5 of 5 stars
photo: Merrell Chameleon 3 Stretch trail shoe

Really comfortable shoe, but not very durable. I would not recommend this model of Chameleons. I have tried other types of Merrell Chameleons that are almost as comfortable and more durable.


  • Comfort
  • Breathable
  • Effective lacing system
  • Neoprene like fabric reduces blisters on heels


  • Not durable
  • Poor traction in wet conditions

This is one of the more comfortable pairs of hiking shoes that I have owned; however, these shoes are poorly designed and fall apart quickly even under moderate use. For the price I paid, I would have hoped that they would have held up longer.

The fit on these shoes seems pretty consistent with other hiking shoes that I have owned. I usually wear size 8.5 in Keen and Teva brand shoes and the sizing on these 8.5 Merrell Chameleon seemed consistent with these brands. The lacing system, which consists of an elastic cord, is very adjustable and can be tightened effectively for a snug fit.

The primary reason for buying these shoes was that they were very comfortable. They required no break-in and they have remained very comfortable after about two years of moderate use. The arch support in these shoes was sufficient.  There is just the right amount of cushion in the soles of these shoes; enough to provide protection from rocks without having a large and cumbersome outsole.  

One feature I really liked about these shoes was the neoprene like fabric that was used on the inside heel of these shoes. This fabric really reduced the amount of friction that is generated by the heel rubbing against inside of the shoe, thus reducing the possibility of developing blisters. On the couple of backpacking trips where I wore these shoes, I don't think I developed a single blister on my heels.

These shoes are not waterproof. I have not tried to waterproof these boots and I doubt that doing so would be very effective given the numerous mesh vents on the shoe. Even if waterproofing the fabric of these shoes would work, the fact that parts of the outsole of this shoe become detached from rest of the shoe means that steeping in even a shallow puddle is sure to get your feet wet.

These shoes have good traction in dry conditions. This shoe makes it ideal for scrambling up rocks and step terrain. However, traction in wet conditions is not very good. This decrease in traction in wet conditions is to be expected with any shoe, but I have had other hiking shoes that have much better traction in wet conditions, such as the traction provided by the spider rubber on the Teva Sear eVent.

The construction and durability of these shoes is the major drawback. Within a month of moderate use the soles on both shoes began to separate from the mesh and leather upper fabric on the shoe. This separation problem is especially prominent where the outsole of the shoe wraps around the toe area. This separation appears to be the result of only using a thin band of adhesive to connect most of edge of the sole to the rest of the shoe.

I was hoping to use these shoes for longer backpacking trips, but the lack of durability makes me hesitant to take them on any extended trips for fear that I will end up having to duct tape the soles back onto the shoes mid trip. Consequently, these shoes have been used primarily for day hikes and weekend backpacking trips.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100

These hikers are comfortable right out of the box. I love the bungee lacing system, the Vibram soles, and the GoreTex waterproofing but they're heavy for a light hiker.


  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable
  • Vibram soles great for traction
  • Easy to get on and off


  • Bungee lace lock slips
  • Hot
  • Heavy
  • Insoles sqeak

First and foremost, these are incredibly comfortable hikers in spite of the fact that they're both hot and heavy.  I love the bungee lacing system but the lock has a tendency to slip and the laces tighten on me during the course of the day.

The one thing that drives me nuts with this pair of Chameleons that I didn't have with my previous pair is that the insoles squeak as I walk. I haven't tried a pair of after-market insoles yet because these are just so damn comfortable, but a pair of Superfeet might solve the problem.

As most reviewers will tell you about anything GoreTex, it's hot and doesn't breathe nearly as well as the manufacturer claims it does. What it does do is keep your feet dry as long as you wear the right socks and don't allow water over the top of the shoe.

Being low-rises, I wouldn't suggest them for long hikes with heavy loads due to lack of ankle support. They're great for day hikers and ultralight/light backpackers covering rough terrain (serious ultralighters would probably say they're way too heavy).

Finally, I love Vibram soles on just about anything. I've seen some reviews that say these soles are slippery on wet rocks but that's been the case with every sole I've had, Vibram or not. I think these soles provide excellent traction in just about any terrain.

To sum everything up, I'd buy them again...and again...and again!


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $90 USD on sale

I bought these shoes to take on a 2 month long trip hiking England, Scotland, and Wales. Before I left the USA I had already exchanged one pair of these because the toe caps were falling away from the shoes. I have had the new shoes for just over a year and a half and they are absolutely trashed.


  • Terrible quality


  • Comfortable

The elastic laces broke on both shoes, the leather sides are split and cracking allowing copious amounts of water in, and the Vibram soles, which i usually stand behind, utterly are worn to nubs. The antimicrobial soles are worn through.

Overall, I stand behind all of Merrell's outdoor gear, but I will never be buying any more merchandise from this company due to the terrible longevity of these shoes. If i spend $120 on a pair of boots or shoes I want them to last at least 2-3 years before I have to consider replacing.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120

Just scored a pair and off the rack they fit perfectly. Light and airy-waiting to see if the micro biotic inner really works. Great grip as I went for a trail run straight away.

First pair of Merrells and I'll be back for more. Love the easy on/easy off slip on. No need to adjust the tie cord once a good fit is found.

I would go a 1/2 size larger if you wear thicker socks.

Price Paid: $115

Actually, this is my first pair of Merrells, and I think I really like them, comfy right away. I walked a few miles NO problems. They grip well and have just enough support for a light pack or for fast packing.

I swapped out the elastic strechy cord for plain old laces, but the neoprene sock liner works great, no tongue to bind either... nice!

Price Paid: $55

I'm the biggest fan of Merrell, ever since I bought my first pair 10 years ago. Since then all I buy is Merrell for walking, hiking, working outside, I have multiple pairs around the house. They never rub, I never get blisters, they don't require any break in. I can buy a pair and walk for miles the same day.

That was until the Chameleon stretch III. This model differs from previous models in that the heel has a solid piece of plastic/inflexible rubber molded up from the sole all the way to the back of the ankle. This then curves around and digs in the back of the ankle with minimal cushioning.

Not sure why they did this as there seems to no use for it, it cannot be broken in. I don't see this feature and consequently the Chameleon III being around for too long. I'm hobbling around with huge sores on the back of my ankles because of the design change.

Price Paid: $99

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Price MSRP: $120.00
Historic Range: $69.95-$120.00
Reviewers Paid: $55.00-$120.00
Weight 2 lb 1 oz
Sizes 7 - 12 (Half Sizes) 13, 14, 15
Materials Nubuck leather, Mesh upper, Lycra® / Neoprene stretch collar
Product Details from Merrell »

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