I have two of the 260 gallon size. They are very flimsy, the zipper sucks, and the fabric is difficult to see through. They are also difficult to figure out how to deal with drainage. But it would cost a fortune to buy/make an aluminum cage that size...
Reptarium are my enclosure of choice, and I have more enclosures than most here on the forums. Many of my reptariums are nearly a decade old now, some even older- dozens still in use after all that time.
Here are what I see as the pros and cons-
lightweight- easy to store
zipper doors are absolutely bug-proof - keeps bugs in or out depending on what you want (reason I started using reptariums in the first place- for some reason had fireflies crawling into my bearded dragon cages and killing bearded dragons, later I appreciated their roach proof factor, keeping feeder roaches in).
Heavy mesh provides a little tiny extra shelter/shade from the sun. It isn't going to make much of a big difference, but the cool part of the enclosures are probably a little more moderate as a result (I heard someone on the forums once claim the heavy mesh traps heat in when used in sunlight- don't you believe it- that is total nonsense in my experience.)
Outer cover is economical to replace if something happens.
*Some cons and what to do about them-
-zipper door- for some reason people are a bit skeptical of this great idea. Stories abound of zippers failing. Out of a hundred or so reptariums I have used over the years, I've only had a couple of zippers fail, and those were on new reptariums, not old ones. Manufacturing defect.
After a few years, the zippers will sometimes stick or bind a little - especially if you have been using them outdoors all summer like I do. The cure is very simple- run a little vaseline along the zipper and it will work super smooth and better than new in a few seconds time, and will last that way for many months before another vaseline treatment is needed again.
-The other thing people don't like is actually having to work the zippers. This one is a real mystery to me- I'd much rather have a bug proof door that I can easily open with one hand, and open any where along the door frame that I want and open it all the way or just enough to get my hand in or anything in between if I want than opening a door on a hinge and having he door open all along the frame- I guess this is more from a non-chameleon standpoint say with geckos or something that might skitter out the door. But I still consider it nice with the chameleons to just open a top corner for feeding instead of having a whole wall swing open.
-The "rickity" frame. That's more of a problem with the larger sizes (say 175 which is mostly what I use) than with the smaller. Personally, I only move my cages 2x per year (outdoors in the spring and indoors in the fall) and they are empty when moved, so it isn't as much of a problem. I keep the cages on rustic tables made of 2x4's and these tables outdoors look like ladders horizontally on legs - two rungs are spaced exactly right for placing a potted plant on. Cages are tied down to the tables so they don't blow over in our sometimes rather dramatically windy summer thunderstorms. zip-ties hold climbing vines to the frames. In this setup and indoors where they sit on tables made for misting system drainage, I find them plenty sturdy.
-Poorly manufactured frames. This has been a problem the past few years. When putting them together the first time, often the joints crack the pipes that go between because the joints are a little too large or the pipes a little too small, not sure which. This has become for me a super irritant- I put together a dozen or so 175s last summer, I think I only had 1 frame that didn't crack somewhere during assembly because the stinking joints and pipes didn't fit properly. The worst example cracked at 3 joints! A single cracked joint isn't a big deal- the cover actually keeps everything together and snug and firm even with a cracked joint. But more than that and it starts to become structurally weak. My solution last summer was to add a bottom (a wall panel made for restrooms- 100 water proof- available at lowes) zip tied to the frame which secured all the weak breaks and held them together. But only because I decided to use that cage for bearded dragons. I don't want bottoms in my chameleon cages and if I had purchased it and only had a chameleon I would have been in trouble.
-In recent years, it seem the covers also suffer sometimes from poor manufacturing. Again those I got last summer have poorly woven mesh covers in a couple of cases. Not a huge deal for chameleons, other lizards like bearded dragons that are kind of hard on them anyway would go through them much faster.
-Mesh is not cricket proof. Crickets will chew through the mesh eventually at the corners. I solved this by simply using a food dish and not offering many crickets at a time. And by using lots of roaches which do not chew through the mesh.
-Visibility- I recently was out in my lizard building and it was late in the evening and I didn't bother turning the room lights on as I only ran in quickly to fetch something. I stopped, stunned at the great visibility of the lizards when the room was dark and the enclosures were lighted. All these years and I never bothered turning out the room lights. Now, that's a favorite part of my day because I can actually view the lizards much better. Unfortunately Indoors or outdoors usually the lighting in the room is bright enough that it limits visibility into the reptariums. I find myself constantly unzipping doors to get a better look at the lizards inside. Which probably means what I am likely to observe clearly is only the lizard and not the lizard doing normal lizard behavior. I can see the behavior clearly or the lizard clearly- I have to take my pick. In fairness, although screen cages are better in this respect, I'd probably not be satisfied even there. Years ago before reptariums I made some screen enclosures on a wood frame with a plexiglass door- Indoors the door was placed for observation. Outdoors I simply oriented the cages so the doors were on the north side of the cage- clear visibility and still outdoor friendly. Those were my favorite, but weren't bug proof or rot proof.
-I forgot to mention another possibility with the framing. My original 175 reptariums that I've had for so long have frames that I built from scratch with 1" pvc piping. I needed a lot and was on a budget (50 reptariums), so I saved about 30% by simply buying the replacement covers (I think they were a little less than $30 for 175s at that time) and quickly making my own frames for them. It was very easy to do, but I had to order the corner joints from a plumbing supply- not something anyplace normally stocks. These homemade frames are many many times sturdier and stronger. I can put heavy rocks and sand in these reptariums and still stack them indoors- gives you an idea of their strength. Smaller reptariums it probably isn't worth the bother and probably can't be done cheaper than you can buy them on sale for as a kit. But for larger sizes it does save a lot of money and the result is a better stronger enclosure. For really big enclosures (5' long x 4' high x 30" wide) two 175 reptarium covers can have a side cut out and then be sewn together with fishing line and a custom pvc frame fitted and you have a nice and large enclosure for about $100.
couple other points since they were brought up-
drainage- outdoors I use the "ladder"-like tables so water just goes straight out the bottom of the cages into the lawn. Indoors I place the tables on cinderblocks so they are tilted and on top of the tables I put currigated roofing panels (the kind you sometimes see over old carports or greenhouses- made of pvc I think). These allow the pots support while also allowing water to exit all around and beneath the pots and drain into catch tubs (rubbermaid storage tubs) at the low end of the tables. I just dump these tubs every couple of days.
Also I forgot to mention that I do patch my bearded dragon reptariums- a little aluminum screening and some fishing line can quickly patch a worn cage. Cham cages don't need it though. Bearded dragons scratch at the sides to get over to the girl/guy in the next enclosure and their claws wear the sides when they climb on them. Chams do not. Also patching cricket holes in the corners is the same if husbandry ever makes it necessary. I bought some from a forum member last year that had holes of this nature in the corners so for cheap I was able to patch them and have more nice enclosures.
Also when talking about zippers failing I didn't think of 2 other cages I have where 1 zipper failed at some point, but the other still works, so the cage is still in use but I have to unzip from a single zipper. Still, 2 failing and two others sort of partial failing but still fully usable isn't bad out of perhaps 100 or so.
My reptairum worked great for raising my little cham, then I built a nice big one. I'm planning on buying the largest reptarium and would like to thank flux, I was going to buy the bottom buy after reading your post ill just make a short table that i can slide a tub under. Also try graphite powder to lube the zippers. Sounds weird i know but it works better on plastics and such than a petroleum based lube. You can get it at an auto parts store usually.
I like them. I have one that I've been using for 9 years now. To fix the drainage problem, I just bought some acrylic sheeting, cut out a piece that would fit at the bottom of the cage, and drilled a few holes in the center. Then you can just raise it up like you would with an aluminum one.
I think the thick mesh helps the animals feel more comfortable. It also helps a little with the humidity.
these are certainly the best cages out there. the only down fall i find, at all, is the crickets chewing through it, which is fixed with cup feedings, and the mesh/light blockage. the mesh blocks out a lot of light that your trying to get into the cage, not out. which is another greatly easy fix. take some window screen and use it on the top where you place your lights. then fasten it to the top by either sewing it in or using an adhessive
oh yes and lastly! LASTLY i find that if you turn your stove top on and twirl the ends of said tubes over the flame for a mere second it allows the molecules to move. this makes it capable of the molecules to form around the joint instead of the joint fracturing the imobilized molecules.
I just got my third this week. Was very happy with the first two, but this one not so much. Cracked 3-4 tubes just putting it together. Even worse, I had one extra 4 way connector,and one too few 3 ways. I went all the way to Home Depo to get a replacement and they did not have one. Had to take a hacksaw to the 4 way to create a 3 way. Manufactoring quality has definitely gone down hill.