The Mt. Ugo Charity Climb was my breaking-in climb for my new Merrell Chameleon 4 Stretch, which I am eyeing as a replacement for my favorite Teva Forge Pro eVent, which I am retiring soon after it has joined me in so many climbs.
There are two things I like about it. First, it has a lycra/neoprene stretch collar for easy on and off, and an elastic cord and lock lacing system for quick secure fit. Like the Sandugo Helikon, it does away with the need (and hassle) of having to time your shoelaces along the trail.
The second thing I like about the Chameleon Stretch is its great grip. This is perhaps due to its EVA dual density footbed provides comfort and support as well as the familiar Merrell technologies of Vibram and AirCushion. I can say that its soil traction is the best so far, among the Merrell shoes I have tried and reviewed.
The Chameleon Stretch is not Gore-Tex, nor is it waterproof, but in the tropical setting of the Philippines where rain will inevitably seep down to your feet, probably the best way of waterproofing is just to get wet, provided that your shoes won’t stink afterwards. The Chameleon Stretch addresses this with its Aegis Antimicrobial solution. It is a great improvement – lighter, more comfortable, and more stable than my previous Merrell, the Chameleon Ventilator.
Indeed, when we were in Mt. Ugo, the Chameleon 4 Stretch performed very well. Because of the rain, and the desire to follow the itinerary, we hardly stopped in our treks across the villages, and it was a 31 kilometer trail at that, yet for a breaking-in climb, the Chameleon 4 Stretch performed very well, beating my expectations. Even in the slippery parts near Lusod, I was descending with delight.
So it looks like I’ve found a new multi-day trekking shoe!