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Zpacks Challenger Rain Gaiters

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Zpacks Challenger Rain Gaiters gaiter
Version reviewed: Calf Height

Lightweight, simple, and tough enough.


  • Very lightweight
  • Waterproof as breathable gets
  • No cumbersome straps
  • Easy to take on and off


  • A little expensive

ZPacks Cuben Fiber eVent Challenger Rain Gaiters are great lightweight insurance against wet, cold, muck and wind. At 2.2 ounces, calf height waterproof gaiters don't come much lighter. They slip on easily over shoes or boots. I carry them with ZPacks Challenger rain mitts in a portion-sized ziploc to reduce abrasion in the pack. Rolled up the mitts and gaiters are about the same size as an average candy bar.

Instead of a thick strap holding the gaiters to the bottom of the shoe the Challengers use 2.2 mm Dyneema cord with an adjustable line lock to hold the gaiter snug. Cord has the advantage of less abrasion and breakage from ground contact, and if they did break you could easily replace the cord with similar size cordage from tent guy outs or whatnot.  

Mitten hooks attach to the front of the shoe laces. A waterproof zipper closes the front of the ensemble, and an adjustable cinched shock cord closes tight around the top of the calf. Here they are with Frogg Toggs tucked in on a wet fall hike:

Whatever is underneath them has never wetted out, even after hiking all day in the rain, so I would say they are about as waterproof as a breathable material gets.

They're very comfortable to wear. I can't remember ever having to adjust them after putting them on, with many different types of pants, layers, sock and shoe combos, which is more than can say for other popular brands of gaiters I've worn.

These gaiters are basically heat neutral though they do block wind well. I haven't worn them in the summer but they seem slick and durable enough that they might be good to protect the calves from brush and muck without being too hot. Like all of my ZPacks products quality is first rate.

If you're just looking for something to keep debris out of your shoes they are probably overkill. Choice of color is olive or black. I've had them about six months and they go with me everywhere, though I generally only wear them for extended precipitation or muddy conditions.

They were $75 when I bought them. Cuben Fiber is more expensive since the manufacturer was bought out, and the price listed is now $85 for the calf height variety, $75 for the ankle height. No way I would wear fleece pants without these in wet, cold conditions:

If you have the coin to spare I highly recommend them, as well as the ZPacks Challenger rain mitts.

Edit 6/12/2016: Tried to hike with these and shorts this past weekend for poison ivy and brush protection. They would not stay up on my bare legs like the fellow in the photo. They stay up great with pants, though.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75 US

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