Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters
Lightweight fairly minimalist low gaiters, work OK…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: US$40+
Lightweight fairly minimalist low gaiters, work OK to keep debris out of low-cut trail shoes. Fit is not superb on low shoes, but it works well enough.
- Well built
- Breathe well
- No zipper to break, no velcro to foul up as it's slip-on style — but see Cons :-)
- Top opening is a bit tight for fat (er... "muscular") calves
- Need to take shoes off to don or doff the gaiters — but see Pros :-)
- Velcro tabs are supposed to be glued on the shoes, to hook on the bottom of the gaiter to keep them from riding up. I didn't bother when i first used the gaiters, and it's worked OK without them for hiking with my low hiking shoes, the rubbery grips inside at the rear works well enough to keep them in place — might be more problematic if energetically trail-running with those shoes, though. Does not work on minimalist Merrell barefoot running shoes, the gaiters ride up right away. That's why the velcro tabs are there, but I suspect (albeit with no proof since I don't want to try) that a) the tabs would fall off soon enough from shoes, b) not very convenient since i use a number of different pairs of shoes depending on what i'm doing.
- Simple laces are used to go under the shoe sole to keep the gaiters in place. Just like I did for the velcro tabs, i didn't bother put them on yet, and it's worked OK as-is for my low trail hiking shoes, so I usually don't bother. The laces appear to be just plain regular low-cost laces, and i don't see them lasting very long when used on rocky terrain.
- The front has a semi-rigid tube sewn inside the front seam, right where the front hooks are riveted. I found that although they are somewhat moldable, they do not bend or stay bent enough to conform correctly to the front of the shoes. Pretty useless on barefoot-style shoes for sure, they leave a gaping gap on both sides, and even a bit wide on my Salomon low hiking shoes. See photo.
Not a huge deal, as I'm mostly looking to keep debris from sliding down the top of the shoe, and most likely will be much improved if you used the under-arch laces. But as-is it will let dust in and will more readily catch on "things" as I walk through grass or low brush.
- One last con for some people will be that the top opening is a bit tight for my big calves. It fits ok when crushed down towards the top of the shoe, but if i pull them up when my calf starts bulging, the opening is quite tight. Good to keep scree out, but it does leave a bit of a mark, specially when wearing thick hiking socks. As you see in the picture above, I keep them low, which leaves a bit of sock exposed, which means the socks will get wet if walking through wet grass, or if it rains. My calves are not spectacularly developed, but no chicken legs here either, so the gaiters will fit well a more slender leg, and do their job of keeping stuff out of your shoes, but no He-man Mountain Gorilla need apply.
- Outside is "water-resistant". Indeed, it did quickly leak when hiking in the rain (sigh... welcome to the joys of the Great NorthWet Outdoors...), but it works very well keeping things dry when going through wet grass, brushes, etc. The fabric dries in a jiffy when wet.
- Lightweight, small, lycra makes them hug your ankle and shoe, you hardly know they're there.
- Packs extremely small.
- Well-built, fabric seems strong (I've only used them for 1/2 dozen hikes, but did rub through rocks, brushes, sand, took them off and put them back on in a hurry, and they still look as new.
- They breathe well enough: I haven't hiked or run in the desert, but they were fine in 85F+ with mid-weight wool or synthetic socks.
- Fairly stylish... If you're into that type of style.
- Brushed inside fabric, very pleasant on bare skin when using barefoot-style shoes or very low socks.
- Reflective accents on the back & side
Overall, those are not the perfect minimalist gaiters I was hoping for, but they're good enough for me to wait till they get destroyed, before looking for a better pair. They keep debris out of my low-cut trail shoes while being light-weight and unnoticeable on my feet, and are rugged enough to resist rough treatment, which is what I was looking for.
Size L fits my Size 44 euro, 10 1/2 US low cut trail shoes & 43 / 10 barefoot style shoes.