So, down to the preliminary review of the contents of Package 2 - a pair of Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams from Fitness Footwear Ltd..
I'd opted for the Army Green and Black version, on the basis that it would be a fairly neutral colour-scheme, nothing too flash. I mean, this is the first pair of trainer-type shoes that I'd acquired during the last 30 years (aside from some "trendy" toe-tectors), so I didn't want to overdo it (I must admit to being tempted by the Charcoal and Red version, though). The first image below shows the things in general, but the colour is better-represented in the second pic:
With some trepidation I pulled them on over a pair of thin trainer-socks and was pleasantly surprised by the fit, as I'm usually hard to please when it comes to this sort of thing. The arch-support is just right, and that's important to me as I have "flexible flatfoot" - a condition that's never a problem unless I'm barefoot or in flat-soled footwear. The best thing about the fit, though, is the security - with significant padding around the heels and below the ankles these things grip onto my feet perfectly, there's no slipping and sliding around inside, it's almost as if they're glued on. The soles flex in just the right place and don't have excessive torsion, and at the moment they have impressive grip on all sorts of surfaces. My only minor gripe is the sizing - I've been a size 8 for a few decades now, but these feel more like a 7.5 - there wasn't as much space beyond the toes compared to the other 8s that I own. That said, I reckon that 9s would have been too big and I guess that I'm just between sizes for this brand/model.
Within the hour they were being used on another trip up and around Croft Hill in scorching weather (more on that later). OK, it's not a major expedition, but there's some variation of terrain and plenty of steep grass to contend with. After a few hours and a few miles, all still felt good - no sweatiness, nice and cool, and very comfy. I kept them on for the rest of that day, and wore them non-stop all the next day, and there's been no soreness or rubbing.
So, what would I use them for? I reckon I'd use them on long low walks in good-to-reasonable conditions, but I'd need to build up more confidence in them before committing to wearing them up on the higher and/or rougher Lakeland Fells. It's just that I'm used to proper boots rather than what some other folk would call "Jessiehikers". Maybe I need to make that leap of faith and just do it. Regarding how they fit into my collection of outdoors footwear, they neatly fill the gap between my Keen Newports and my AKU Croda GTXs (all of which reminds me that I need to update my gear page).
I do like them, in just a few days they've become the footwear of choice for the school-walk, trips to the shops and just general dossing. I'll give them a decent work-out over the summer and report back in due course.
If you're interested in laying your hands on some Merrells, have a look at the sale items here.