Sandals: Merrell Chameleon Cargo Sandal
I love flip-flops – they are cool in both senses of the word and are great for wandering to the beach or around a campsite. The trouble with flip-flops is that they become a liability as you scramble over rocks to reach that summer sun climbing venue or marching around a ruined temple absorbing a culture long past. So the next logical step is to consider the open toed sports sandal, which is better for scrambling than your average flip-flop but you are still prone to stubbed toes!
Over the last few years the sports sandal manufacturers have been trying to blend the sandal with the approach shoe to create a closed toe sandal that are in their element scrambling and for longer walks in hot places. The Merrell Chameleon Cargo is exactly that, a hybrid version of the popular Chameleon approach shoe and a sports sandal and in my mind it does a good job of it.
• Quick elastic lacing means that they are very easy to slip on and off – I found once tightened to my foot I didn’t need to touch the lacing again.
• Comfortable heal support prevented blisters which is often a common problem with sandals
• It is possible to completely remove the heal support and turn the sandals into clogs which is a nice feature.
• Surprisingly lightweight.
• Excellent protection offered for the toes.
• Secure fit and cushioning foot-bed provided by Ortholite® means that I found that I could run in them comfortably for short periods without that flat footed feel you get with a traditional sports sandal (though they are clearly not designed to be a running shoe).
• The mid sole also has the right combination of stiffness and flex which means they are also comfortable for walking over longer distances as I discovered when walking in North Wales.
• The Vibram® sole gives excellent traction in dry conditions.
• Tan (Merrell call it Kangaroo) leather look was a little to ‘sandal’ for my tastes.
• Sizing, the UK 8 (Euro 42) that I tested felt slightly short and they are definitely designed for a wider foot than mine.
• I found that they were hotter and clammier than a traditional sports sandal.
• The leather upper and cushioning foot-bed means that they don’t dry that quickly.
• Slightly disappointing traction on wet rocks.
Merrell also offer a Sport version (see photo) of the Chameleon Cargo sandal with exactly the same specifications except that the Nubuck Leather Upper is replaced with a Synthetic Leather Upper creating a sporty look and feel. The synthetic uppers may also mean that they dry quicker than the leather ones that I tested.
Merrell also offer a women’s specific range - the Chameleon Arc and the Chameleon Arc Sport.
With the tan leather (Kangaroo) look of the Chameleon Cargo they is clearly aimed at the adventure travel market, a market in which I feel they will sell very well. For the backpacker travelling light to a hot destination this could feasibly be the only footwear they take. Personally however, I would recommend the sport version.
What Merrell say about the Chameleon Cargo sandal:
Colour - Kangaroo/Boa
• Slip Lasted Construction
• Nubuck Leather Upper
• Molded Rubber Toe Cap
• Lycra®/Neoprene Padded Lining
• Removable Neoprene Padded Rear Strap
• Injection Molded TPU Instep Stability Arm
• Adjustable Elastic Cord Lacing System
• Injection Molded Speed Lace Hooks
• Friction Cordlock
• 4.5mm Anatomical Ortholite® Footbed
• Nylon 6.6 Injection Molded Arch Shank
• Exposed In-Board™ Compression Molded EVA Footframe
• Air Cushion® Midsole
• 4mm Sole Lug Depth
• Vibram® Chameleon Speed™ Sole/TC5+ Rubber
Reviewed by Dan Webber on behalf of planetFear