Merrell Chameleon 7 Stretch

8.1
8.1 score
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Merrell Chameleon 7 Stretch Review Facts
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The original Chameleon first came out 16 years ago. Since then, Merrell has made 7 iterations of the shoes in response to its overwhelming popularity. The newest version of the shoe takes all of the loved features of the previous models but lightens up the design to create a lightweight, powerful trail hiking shoe. This shoe prides itself on its ability to tackle any terrain at any pace in any location. Since it is lightweight, it is perfect for traveling, and trail runners who are looking to PR during a race or runners who are looking for a sturdy companion on long hike agree that this is a great trail shoe. From the upper to the outsole, runners will appreciate the high-quality workmanship that can only come from a top brand with years of experience under its belt. The price is more than reasonable and the color options provide runners the choice to choose between a more rugged style or a look that is similar to a road running shoe.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Superior grip
  • Durable
  • Great for speed or endurance
  • Comfortable 
Cons
  • Not suited for road running
  • Only offered in muted colors
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

Trail runners know that a good trail shoe is built from the outsole up. Merrell is a veteran when it comes to creating quality outdoor gear, and they understand how to design a high-quality trail shoe. This shoe is designed to be able to tackle any terrain in a wide variety of conditions. Merrell uses Vibram TC5 outsole material on this shoe. The outsole is lined with a unique lightweight rubber pod design that acts as a rugged lug system but is lighter, more flexible, and thus, more versatile. This pod system creates unbeatable grip and keeps runners safe and upright regardless of the terrain.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole of this shoe is designed to provide lightweight, flexible stability. Merrell included their patented Tuned Flexplate in the midsole. This provides a stable ride for runners that will ensure that their feet and ankles are protected against harmful inward rolling that can lead to injury. However, unlike many stability shoes, this trail shoe is also flexible and provides runners with a high level of responsiveness to enable them to feel the trail below them and make safe, efficient changes to speed and direction. This shoe also comes with a removable EVA insole that mold to the unique shape of the foot. These insoles are designed to be removed if runners need to replace them with an orthopedic insert. To keep the runner safe from the harmful shock of each footfall, Merrell included air cushioning in the heel to absorb the shock of each footfall.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of this shoe provides the perfect blend of breathability and protection. It is constructed using a combination of mesh and nubuck leather. The leather overlays add durability to the shoe and keep the runner protected from trail debris. The collar of the shoe is stretchy and makes for easy on and off. The lacing system is an elastic cord and lock system that eliminated the risk of the laces coming untied and tripping the runner. The upper of this shoe also features a rubber toe guard to protect the runner from roots, rocks and other surprising trail elements.
Weight
Weight

Weight

For a trail running shoe, runners were pleased with how lightweight the 7th edition of the Chameleon is. This is the lightest addition to the shoe, but Merrell made sure that they didn’t sacrifice support or protection to create a lightweight shoe. This shoe weighs in at 1 pound and 13 ounces. By road running standards, this is a heavy shoe, but since this shoe is specifically designed to tackle tough terrain and is designed with additional materials in the outsole, this is relatively lightweight for a trail running shoe.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The upper of the shoe is designed using a combination of breathable mesh and nubuck leather overlays. The breathable mesh is lightweight and flexible. It provides the runner with ventilation to ensure that air can flow freely to the foot. This helps to regulate the temperature inside of the shoe, and runners reported that this helped to keep their feet cool and dry, even on long hikes.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Runners responded positively to this shoe in terms of the comfort that it provides. Runners found that combination of stability and flexibility to create the perfect trail running experience. The stability features keep the runner’s feet and ankles from rolling inward on uneven terrain and the flexibility allows runners to respond to changes in terrain. Additionally, the breathable mesh of the upper helps to keep the runner’s foot cool and comfortable during runs. These shoes feature an easy on and off fit so runners can easily and quickly get in and out of the shoes.
Style
Style

Style

The Chameleon 7 stretch has a rugged, fashionable look. This hiking shoe is a part racing shoe and part hiking boot, and the look reflects its versatility. Although this shoe features added material on the outsole and thickness in the upper, runners reported that it has a streamlined design that looks sleek and stylish. It is featured in muted colors and is not the best options for runners who are looking for bright and vibrant colors or styles.
Durability
Durability

Durability

One of the keys to creating a good hiking shoe is to include details that can hold up to against the abusive elements of the trail. These shoes include details in the upper and outsole that create a long-lasting shoe that maintains a newer look for much longer than its competitors. The upper is covered in durable leather overlays. These overlays help to protect the upper of the shoe and ensure that debris from the trail won’t infiltrate the shoe. Additionally, this overlay system maintains a new look for an extended around of time. The outsole is made of thick, durable rubber. Vibram TC5 outsole is designed to hold up against difficult terrains and extensive mileage.

Protection
Protection

Protection

The outsole design of this shoe is designed to protect runners in a variety of ways. For one, the thicker outsole is designed to be puncture proof and help protect the runner from sharp debris that can come up on the trail. Additionally, the rabbeted pod design helps keep runners upright even on slippery terrain. The upper of the shoe also has protective elements. The leather overlays are designed to keep debris out of the shoe and reduce annoyances and distractions while running. The toe of the shoe also features a protective rubberized toe guard.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Even though the outsole of this shoe is made with a thicker outsole, runner found this shoe to be very responsive. The high level of responsiveness can be attributed to the EVA midsole that is designed to absorb shock and return the energy to the runner. This full-length midsole provides a stable yet flexible ride that allows runners to respond to changes in terrain and speed and direction.

Support
Support

Support

The Chameleon 7 is designed to help keep the runner's foot in place to reduce the risk of twisted ankles and other unwanted injuries that can be caused by an unsupportive trail shoe. The upper features leather overlays that work to keep the foot in place.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

This shoe can take the runner on any off-road adventure that they can think of. It is uniquely designed to run on a wide variety of trails and run in different weather conditions. The underfoot is designed to provide superior traction and grip for the runner. This shoe is lighter than other trail running shoes which makes it a good choice for racing as well as long, leisurely hikes through nature.

Price
Price

Price

This shoe is reasonably priced. It is similar in price to the average trail running shoe on today’s market. Runners found this shoe to be a great value due to its long-lasting durability. When runners broke down the price into dollars per mile, they found this shoe to be more than worth the already reasonable price tag.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The underfoot of this shoe features a unique rubberize pod design. This creates a highly grippy fit and is perfect for slippery terrain or steep up or down hill climbs. The outsole uses Vibram TCS outsole which is known to provide superior traction. Runners reported that even while running in the rain, they felt secure and protected.

Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

A unique feature of this shoe is that although it provides a high level of stability, the full-length EVA midsole is still able to provide a flexible feeling to the runner. This shoe supports the runner's gait but doesn’t create a restrictive, boxed in feel. Many runners commented that this shoe felt very natural to run and hike in.
Stability
Stability

Stability

This shoe features Merrell’s tuned stability flex plate along the midsole. This technology provides a stable base for runners. It supports them through their gait cycles and works to ensure that runners will not roll their ankles or feel inwards. This reduces the risk of injury during runs, especially long runs when runners can begin to feel fatigued. Additionally, for runners who are need of extra stability control, the EVA insole can be removed and replaced with a medical orthopedic to create a customizable fit to adhere to all of the runner’s individual needs.
Drop
Drop

Drop

This shoe features a traditional heel drop. Runners who are looking for assistance in their forward motion will appreciate the tradition drop. Although this drop keeps the runners from running flush with the ground below them the high level of responsiveness and the shock absorption that is created through the air cushioning in the heel helps runners stay connected to the trail and enables them to make smart, efficient changes to adapt to the trail.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- 1 pound 13 ounces
- Full length EVA midsole foam
- Air cushioning in heel
- Vibram TC 5 outsole
- EVA midsole insert can be removed and replace with an orthopedic
- Nubuck leather and Mesh upper
- Tuned flexplate for added stability
- Rubberized toe guard
- Elastic cord and lock lacing system
- Stretch collar for an easy on and off fit
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Merrell uses all of this knowledge and expertise from the last 6 iterations fo the Chameleon stretch to create high quality, versatile trail hiking and running shoe. This shoe is perfect for the runner who is looking for a long distance companion to take them across some of the toughest terrains. The Tuned Flexplate along the midsole provides the runner with stability and support while the Air Cushioning in the heel works to absorb shock and return energy to the runner. This shoe features a perfect blend of stability and flexibility. Runners where pleased with the high level of responsiveness and commented that they felt safe and secure running on a wide variety of terrains in a wide variety of conditions. Although this shoe is only offered in two muted colors, runners liked the sleek, fashionable look provided by these hikers. The price is an average price for a pair of high-quality trail running and hiking shoes on today’s market.