Low mesh on sides makes it not suitable for puddle
Lowest ankle proves poor ankle support
Narrow sole allows roll-over potential
The Merrell Chameleon 7s boots feature a shorter upper than any other boots in the test which highlights their best application to less technical terrain and more straightforward trails. The Merrell Chameleon 7s is a reliable backpacking boot for most trips.
Support & Stability
The Chameleons have five rows of closed grommets along the top of the foot and a single row of open grommets along the top of the ankle, giving a wearer looking for more ankle support with few options but tightening way down on that top grommet. It’s the lowest ankle of the test set, which comes with the least ankle support. The flex-plate in the sole gives stable mounting to the rest of the sole, adding stability. The Vibram sole is a knobby layout with a medium level of aggression. There are circle grips at the toe for scrambling, but not enough edges for more technical rock.
Quality & Construction
These Merrell’s are made of black suede leather, with mesh making up much of the upper. The tongue is a bit thicker than many of the other boots we looked at in this test, and that tongue is connected at the lower ankle, which gives good access for the foot, considering how few open grommets there are. The closed grommets on the top of the boot are threaded, while the one row of open grommets at the top of the ankle is fastened to the leather, rather than riveted, like all the other open grommets on all the other boots in the test set.
The Chameleons offer good breathability, making them suitable for hikers with sweaty feet. The toe box has enough, but not an excess, of space, and the interior could use a touch more volume. The removable insole is basic, and you may, in fact, want to exchange it with something, just make sure it’s not going to restrict the boot’s volume too much. This insole is on the narrow end of the spectrum, which means the ankle may roll outwards.
The Merrell Chameleon 7s come in at 2.1 pounds, well below our average of 2.5 pounds. They are the second lightest boots that we looked at. It’s a good weight considering they’re well adapted to the trail, particularly for thru-hikes.
The flexplate in the midsole helps the tread, by giving it a stable, secure platform to the outsole. It also gives an extra layer of stability while still having a bit of flex. There is some meshed ventilation on either side which is pretty low, meaning that these boots may leak in puddles or during rock-hop stream crossings. Not for sopping wet conditions. The toe cap is knobby and tough, giving some good grip on the trail or easy off-trail conditions.
Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment.