I don’t normally buy Merrell brand shoes, but I made an exception because there was a need in my daily life I was trying to fulfill and I found these shoes in the color “Kelp” in my size on the REI Outlet site and decided I’d bite the bullet and give them a try. They are the Merrell Chameleon Stretch Low Hiking Shoes in a size 8 Mens US, which I carefully checked to make sure were size 41.5 EU so that they would fit well. So let’s review my experience with these thus far.
First, I’ll explain the need that I was trying to meet with these shoes. I have PTSD with anxiety and depression. The Depression is sometimes exactly that – depression with a capital “D”, meaning clinical, serious, and potentially deadly if I don’t climb. To go climbing, though, I have to conquer the monumental task of putting on my socks and then my shoes to go out the door and drive to either the boulder field or the climbing gym. When I say this task is monumental, anyone who has experienced Depression knows what I’m talking about. Something as “simple” and “easy” as even the idea of putting on your socks or tying your shoes can stop you from getting out of bed to go do what you need to do to save your life! My mission while searching online, then, was to find a way to make this duo of tasks less daunting and streamline it so that it wasn’t as difficult in some way. I couldn’t really do anything as far as putting on my socks goes. That’s kind of a set task that requires some attention to where the seams are in the toes no matter what kind of socks you choose, and I’ve already minimized my task load with the sock issue by buying the Darn Tough merino wool hiking crew socks that are simply comfortable once you get them on. It had to be the shoes, then. I decided I needed a pair of shoes that were hardy enough to handle me – not your average slip-on, because those last about two weeks with me – and that were more easily donned than my mid-height, lace-up hiking boots, which are sometimes a pain when I’m not depressed, much less when I am. So, my original idea was to find something that had the bungee laces that you just pull tight and cinch down. Let’s go from there with this shoe review.
The Merrell Chameleon Stretch Low Hikers are first “Low”, meaning that there wouldn’t be any extensive lacing to them, and second, have the bungee laces, which I was originally searching for. Third, and very cozy, comfortable, and absolutely brilliant, are the stretchy, sock-like openings to these shoes. What does that mean for me? That means that, because they are a good fit for my feet (it turns out), I can slip my feet into these shoes and not even touch the bungee laces. I just leave them alone. I’ve never had to cinch them, tighten them, or touch them! The sock-like openings are phenomenal! This completely eliminates the need to tie my shoes and streamlines the process of actually going places and doing things! The tread is also awesome. It’s easy to clean, made of Vibram rubber, and is just a dream. The footbed is comfortable – so comfortable that I’d rather wear my shoes around the house than go barefoot. The great part about these shoes, too, is that taking them off is as easy as putting them on. I just pop them off and set them aside. These are a five-star shoe in my book! I don’t suffer any foot pain from wearing them, they don’t rub, they’re rugged, and they’re easy to handle. Love these shoes! Oh, and by the way, “Kelp” ended up being a really rad color!