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Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiter

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiter gaiter

A well-made, tough gaiter, but too low on the calf for comfortable, all-day, all-around use.

Pros

  • Built to last with top grade materials

Cons

  • Too short, tends to pull down over the calf
  • Lace hook could be longer

My wife gave these to me as a Christmas present a couple years ago to replace my ca. 30-year-old OR Crocodile gaiters, which I have repaired more times and ways than I can count, including full Velcro replacement at least once.

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On Scarpa Charmoz mountaineeering boots

I had an ‘aha’ moment when I went to look at the specs for these gaiters on the BD website and found out that they are specifically targeted for ice climbing. But I’ll note that I’m not the only one to (try to) adopt them for more pedestrian uses like backcountry skiing and hiking on muddy trails—most of the reviews on BD’s website indicate those other kinds of uses.

After a lot of trying, I have found the Frontpoint gaiters unwearable for the simple reason that they are way too short and are constantly pulling down over the bulge in my calf so that they always feel like they are falling down, and sometimes they do just that. I’m tall and have long legs (34" inseam) but this is the first in the many pairs of over-the-calf gaiters that I have owned and worn out that don’t actually make it up over the calf. Mine are size XL, so they don’t come any longer.

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Falling down

I have used them for all-day hikes and backcountry ski trips over two or three different pairs of hiking boots and two different pairs of leather ski boots, one with and one without a plastic ankle cuff. The result has always been the same: no matter how much I yank them up and tighten the shock cord on the calf, they always feel like they are falling down.

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Over the Alfa Free backcountry ski boot

They are cut quite slim overall, including around the ankle, so that they are too tight on my plastic-ankle ski boots but OK on the pair without cuffs. I have a rarely-used pair of Scarpa Charmoz mountaineering boots which are cut more like ice climbing boots and there the fit around the ankle is good but they still feel too low on the calf. With light- and mid-weight hikers, which they are admittedly not made for, I have to shorten the arch strap to make sure the cover the ankle cuff, and then they are way too low on calf. Maybe they’d work OK for winter hiking in Sorels, but that’s not my thing and for the money you might find something that fits a little better.

They might stay up a bit better with a strap rather than stretchy shock cord around the calf (like the Crocodiles), but they’d still be too short. The loose end of the shock cord has to be tucked into the top of the gaiter and can sometimes pull out—annoying. They are also shorter on the forefoot than other shaped gaiters I have owned, notably the OR Crocodiles, and so hook higher up on the boot laces. With the Velcro closed, the short toe hook just barely extends over the end of the gaiter so they can be hard to hook on the laces, but then they are secure enough. I’d prefer a slightly longer hook. On my pair there is no snap at the front to prevent the Velcro from peeling, but BD has added these on the current model.

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On the plus side the Frontpoint gaiters are well-made, with taped Gore-Tex uppers and ballistic nylon lowers and a tough plastic arch strap. I would expect them to hold up well on a user that is happy with the fit, but I am not that user. To cut BD some slack, they may be a good choice for short-legged ice climbers, but I can’t recommend them for anyone else. Looking at BD’s lineup, I might have been better off with their Alpine gaiter, but it’s cut to hook in at the bend of the ankle rather than fitted over the forefoot, so I’d want to check them out carefully. Or, for the money I could invest in a pair of tried-and-true Crocodiles and hope to get another 30 years out of them—if I live that long.

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Experience

I have been using high gaiters of one description or another for over 50 years, for hiking in snow and mud, backcountry skiing, high mountain traverses, and some mountaineering. I've been trying, and failing, to get to like the Frontpoint gaiters for about two years.

Source: received it as a personal gift

About the Author

Rick Strimbeck is an American transplanted to Norway where he says he'll "never run out of mountains." He is a veteran backpacker and expert nordic and backcountry skier and in summer runs, hikes, kayaks, and canoes in Norway's mountains and fjords and elsewhere in Europe and the U.S. When he's not outside, he does research on Norway's trees and alpine plants and teaches as a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

First hike in 12-inch snow with the gaiters. Kept snow out of boots, pants legs dry, and never knew I had them on. In all, comfortable.

Pros

  • Seem to be well made
  • Add additional warmth
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • A bit of a wrestle to get on properly
  • The front clip seems to move around during use

 

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 Ok, so this was my first hike with these gaiters And despite a bit of a wrestle to get them fitted properly, once on they were comfortable. The picture shows a size large fitted on a pair of LOWA LL boots. 

I wore them for a three-hour hike in deep snow with temps hovering around 30°f-33°f. I had no snow entering my boot and no slush got my pants wet. They fit well, even around a pair of Western Mountaineering puffy pants.

I might have given the gaiters a higher rating, but with only a few hours test run, I need more time on the trail. 

Experience

I have used gaiters before, never these however.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $50

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Specs

Price MSRP: $79.95
Current Retail: $79.95
Historic Range: $29.94-$79.95
Reviewers Paid: $50.00
Weight Per Pair 251 g / 8.9 oz (size medium)
Materials Seam-taped, two-layer GORE-TEX upper and Ballistic nylon lower
Product Details from Black Diamond »

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