Homer's Travels: The Shoes Make The Hiker

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Shoes Make The Hiker

A couple years back the wife convinced me to buy some Merrells. They were called Satellite Mocs. When I first put them on, I had my doubts. This particular shoe has a neoprene collar that hugs the ankle tightly. The shoe fit like a glove and didn't shift as you walked. The result is a comfortable, stable shoe. Add to this a boot-like sole that gripped like a monster - I almost tripped a few times because the sole did not slip, gripping instead. The upper was an attractive nubuck that fit most casual social situations. I wore these shoes to Peru where we walked all over the place and I never got a blister and never felt under dressed. I started hiking this year wearing my Satellites and they performed remarkably.

Alas, the time arrived that the tread started to wear down on the ol' Merrells and it was time to replace the old boys. I went to the Merrell site and looked at what they had to offer. They had some shoes that appeared to be similar to the now discontinued Satellites. They were described for light Winter hiking. This concerned me because I didn't what a sweaty foot. I decided to purchase the Chameleon II Stretch instead. The one thing that gave me pause was that the Chameleon has stretch speed laces that cinch the shoe tight. I bought them at a nearby outlet mall and I tried one on with my old Satellite on the other foot - they felt identical - a good thing.

Piedra Blanca Hike was my first outing with the new shoes. If you recall, I got a blister on that hike. I don't think it was the shoes fault. I didn't cinch the shoe tight enough. Proof of this is that after I cinched the shoe tight, the torn blister on my heal did not hurt at all. I was expecting pain on the way back to the trailhead and, the shoes hugging by feet tightly, I felt no pain at all. Saturday's hike to Long Canyon confirmed this - 9.03 miles and my feet felt fine. My only criticism, again not the shoe's fault, is that after walking for a long distance my feet tend to swell and, since the shoe is so hugging, the shoe feels too tight.

Other then that, I really love this shoe and this brand. The wife thinks they look cool - a big plus in my book. They won't work in all social situations like my Satellites but their main function now is hiking - not a social situation. If you need a shoe for light hiking, Merrell Chameleon II Stretch are a great choice.


  1. Those are some bitchin' lookin' kicks!

    Where did you get them?

    I'm knocking around in a pair of Solomon X-Mountain shoes that I got on clearance at Real Cheap Sports. I did a little rock climbing this weekend and was satisfied with the grip.

    I've had a couple pair of Timberlands in the past and always felt the soles were too slippery--especially on wet or icy rocks.

  2. Phil,

    I found them at the Hush Puppies Outlet store in the Camarillo Outlet Mall. Warning - they aren't cheap. The grip is pretty good. I had no problems on the rock at Piedra Blanca. Not sure how they would do on wet or icy rocks.