Outdoor Research Sparkplug Gaiters
1.2 oz / 34 g
86% nylon, 14% spandex
Lightweight, super breathable, minimalist gaiters…
Source: bought it new
Lightweight, super breathable, minimalist gaiters that keep your feet and socks in good condition.
- Keep debris out
- Only one pair velcro patch included
- Sag a bit
The Outdoor Research Spark Plug Gaiters are minimalist gaiters that prevent debris from entering your shoe. This means less emptying out of shoes, longer usage out of your socks, and happy hiking or running.
I have a size L/XL gaiter, over my EU46, JP29.5, US11.5 sized Salomon X Ultra Mids. I think the fit is perfect. I can reach all the way to the front most lace with the hook, or back off if I would have a higher volume shoe. My L/XL Spark Plugs weigh in at 33gram (1.16oz).
The Spark Plug Gaiters are very similar to the Dirty Girl Gaiters. I do find these to have some small, albeit useful changes — at least for me. The volume of the Spark Plugs is a bit bigger. That means that for the same length, the Spark Plugs are a bit roomier, so they accommodate both low-cut trail runners as well as mid-cut hiking shoe/trail runners well.
Although the front closure system on the Dirty Girls worked fine, on the Spark Plugs it works just a bit better. It is slightly more robust, and the hook just latches on to my laces a bit easier.
The Spark Plugs breath well and do what they need to do, keep debris out of your shoes. They are not intended to be waterproof (which is why they breath so well). Even if it is very hot out, you will hardly notice they are there. They fit very nice around my ankles, not too tight, which I prefer for long days on the trail. The back velcro though small, stays put like it should.
Some people find the top tends to slide down a bit, which I have had happen as well. To counter this Outdoor Research has added to small loops on the inside that you can run a thin shock cord through (though this cord is not included). I haven't found the need myself, because at least in my case, when the gaiters sag, they still cover my shoes - keeping out the debris. So I just let them rest where they do.
Soaked (GTX-lined) shoes, socks, and gaiters. Notice sagging on the right. Keep in mind that this photo is taken during heavy rain - everything is soaked and covered with some mud and sand. During dry conditions the gaiters would ride down somewhat, but stay above my socks.
During a long day in continuous sustained rain I would find some debris end up in my shoes, but the trail was such a mess it is hard to imagine other gaiters perform better, or that some of it didn't just plain enter through the shoes themselves.
Outdoor Research has only included one velcro pair with these. I think that is a bit cheap. Of course it is easily remedied by getting your own velcro, but out of the box you should be able to use these immediately with at least two different pair of shoes. A lot of people rotate shoes, or use different shoes for different runs or hikes.
I think they could have also added two bits of shock cord, to add to the little loops on the inside.
I'm very happy with the performance of the Spark Plug Gaiters. They're easy to put on and off, breath well, and keep my feet happy. Even in heavy continuous rain they work well to keep my shoe system in the best condition they can. If you are looking for very breathable, minimal gaiters, these or the Dirty Girls will do a great job.