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Ultralight Gaiters: State of the Market Report 2013
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Ultralight Gaiters: State of the Market Report 2013 on 06/25/2013 18:33:55 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Ultralight Gaiters: State of the Market Report 2013

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
How about with boots? on 06/26/2013 12:03:25 MDT Print View

Perfect timing, as I'm feeling the need for light gaiters to keep trail debris out of my boots. Some of the gaiters, like the Dirty Girl gaiters, claim to be designed to only work with shoes, not boots. I wear Inov-8 Roclite 335 GTX boots. I assume that most of the manufacturers, like Montbell and Outdoor Research, their gaiters should work with a boot style as well?

Maxine Weyant
(Maxine) - MLife
Gaiter breathability on 06/26/2013 12:09:23 MDT Print View

Hi Will,

It's always nice to read your reviews. While it's good to have a gaiter that perform well in all conditions, I have a difficult time finding one that works well in hot, dry weather. I hike the PCT in 3 week sections each summer and mostly need something to keep grit and chunks out of my shoes. I find that most gaiters make my ankles and feet too hot, and then I'm more likely to get blisters on my heel and mid foot. (I hike in breathable trail-runners.)

The last few years, I've used Dirty Girl gaiters, but I always scuff holes in the medial ankles and they still make my ankles sweat. If they get wet in the rain, they get really soppy and it takes a long time to dry out. You're right about the different patterns having different weights, and I think they also have different breathability and drying times. I think the owner just buys bulk lycra in different patterns, that may have different thicknesses. I like to support her quirky cottage industry, but her gaiters are mostly made for people who run on trails. I do wish she'd offer a cordura patch on the inner ankle.

So, have you come across a gaiter that breathes really well and dries really fast?


Anthony Huhn
(anthonyjhuhn) - F - MLife

Locale: Mid West
potholing on 06/26/2013 12:13:19 MDT Print View

Do you mean "post holing in snow"?

Also the Rab Gaiter pictures are swapped :)

Edited by anthonyjhuhn on 06/26/2013 12:17:27 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Ultralight Gaiters: State of the Market Report 2013 on 06/26/2013 13:39:12 MDT Print View

Good article

I make my own gaiters. Wear them all the time. Keeps dirt and rocks out. If it's raining or there's wet brush, the water tends to run down the gaiter material rather than get inside boot. I use lightweight breathable nylon. Boots work better than shoes because they're higher, with shoes sometimes the gaiters raise up a little so bottom of gaiter is above top of shoe.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
scree tops on 06/26/2013 14:22:25 MDT Print View

FWIW, the tops of the MH Screes are NOT loose if you have larger calves. If your legs are very large you might find them too tight, as the cuff has a limited amount of stretch.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Confused... on 06/26/2013 16:41:59 MDT Print View

Hi Will, great article as always. I think though, there is an error in one of the gaiters in this review. The yellowish-orange gaiter appears to be the Integral Designs Event Shortie Gaiter, and the grey is the Rab Scree gaiter - those photos are swapped in the descriptions. To my knowledge, Rab's event gaiter is the Latok mid gaiter and weighs more than would be allowed for your stated UL gaiter weight. I don't believe that yellowish gaiter is made by Rab, or am I wrong here/is this a new development? Just wanted to see if that was a mistake, or if this was in fact a new product that will be released from Rab? They look great and I think I'd like to pick up a pair myself... seems like they are still for sale as ID gaiters online?

Edited by klags on 06/26/2013 16:46:56 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: I"m not Confused... on 06/26/2013 17:06:59 MDT Print View

Dirty Girls for me.

And although I don't do much brush busting, I find them excellent for alpine cross country as well as trail use.

Plus, it's usually obvious when you see another pair of Dirty Girls on the trail, and usually good for grins.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Thanks on 06/26/2013 17:13:36 MDT Print View

Really good survey Will, thanks.

Heavy plas tubing underfoot - must try that. I have only use light heat-shrink tubing, which was a bit too light.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Thanks on 06/26/2013 17:23:05 MDT Print View

I never have anything underneath, just let gaiters hang loose.

If you're postholing through snow or something it wouldn't be so good, which was the original use for gaiters.

If you're walking through a stream, the water will flow through regardless.

Andy Jarman

Locale: Edge of the World
Sand on 06/26/2013 19:24:41 MDT Print View

I find the arguments for using gaiters a bit confusing. I find the coarse gauze fabric on the tops of most trail running shoes lets through a huge amount of dust and sand. Even with gaiters my socks get filthy and even worse, when walking on dunes the sand fills the toe box within a few minutes of walking and I have to repeatedly empty the shoes.

In an attempt to overcome this problem with the sand and to reduce the incursion of dust I have tried "Protect Fit" gaiters from French outfit Raidlight. These cover the shoe entirely with eVent fabric. Unfortunately these gaiters are designed for Raidlight's special trail runners which have hooks around the perimeter of the sole. I rigged up some corrosion resistant wire from a local yacht chandlers to go between the huge lugs on the soles of my Inov-8 Roclites. This appears to be holding up, they have lasted a few trips, I doubled up the wire to enable broken wires to be re-used.

I found there were protruding pads of spandex covered foam between my ankles in the design of the gaiters which lasted only a few trips before wearing through, had to patch them with duct tape. These gaiters do stop the sand and dust, however I find I am better off choosing shoes without the fine open gauze uppers and go for tight weave textile when I can - Columbia and Inov-8 are a couple of manufacturers who persist in using tight woven textiles. I have ditched all gaiters, for spinifex/prickly scrub I stick duct tape to the front of my trousers (inside of course...). I have learnt new knots for my shoe laces.

Since my foray into gaiters I notice that Raidlight now have a number of alternatives, including a dedicated sand gaiter and lightweight crampon type devices for snow/ice and a tough replaceable under-sole strap.

You might also be interested in their innovations area on their blog take a look at this pack

If only the French were not so obsessed with looks!

Edited by AndyJarman on 06/26/2013 19:29:47 MDT.

John Reid
(walrusman) - MLife
new gaiter feature on 06/27/2013 10:57:02 MDT Print View

I have been looking for a place to publicize a personal innovation: My instep cord runs through the instep grommets and immediately enters cord tunnels running forward to re-emurge and tie at the front.

The snugging all occurs forward of the grommets and pulls tight the gater back--no elastic to ride up.

For rocky terrain hold-down is not needed and the instep cord can be flipped up past the toes to rest against the ankle front and still provide snugging. In this mode lace hooks (on the tie cords) (otherwise unneeded) prevent gaiter rotation.

The grommets must pierce both sides of the tunnel--otherwise the tension will cause the tunnel to roll down and the grommet will bend and fail.

These gators are easy to make--just tubes with cord tunnels top and bottom. I put elastic in the top tunnel but hardly ever tie it. Just a melted hole works at both ends of the tunnels. For the tie I use a cord lock secured by a slip knot.

Edited by walrusman on 06/27/2013 12:53:36 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: new gaiter feature on 06/27/2013 11:21:55 MDT Print View

I've always wondered why tail runner makers dont just make a lateral hole through the shoe for the gaiter string to feed through.

A little string with a loop on each end, then the gaiter could be pulled down and hooked to the loop. Yeah, there would be two little loops on either side of your foot when you weren't wearing the gaiters, but there's plenty other silly looking stuff in the UL world (Daryl! LOL)

I've got the OR Ultra Trail gaiters. I like em but they are for dryer conditions. Gotta put em on before your shoe though. They stay put and are nice and breathable. But they wet out in snow and soak your socks.

Also I have the OR Wrapid Gaiter. Only used them once so far. Easy on/ off due to giant velcro patch. Tougher, and more waterproof than the Ultra Trails. They have a rubber protected grosgrain or something underfoot. May be a little hot in the summer.

Dan S

Locale: Southern California
size down on 06/27/2013 14:41:05 MDT Print View

Agree on the sizing down on the Dirty Girls, got mine per the website sizing, and they are a little loose.

Kevin Garrison
(kgarrison) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area
Dirty Girl Disappointment on 06/28/2013 09:36:50 MDT Print View

I agree with your assessment of the Dirty Girl gaiters. They are not very durable. I recently finished an 11 day JMT thru-hike where I used the Dirty Girls. They lasted 2 days before the sides shredded. I met quite a few PCT hikers who said they started their hike with Dirty Girls but they were gone now. Just could not hold up.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Dirty Girl Disappointment on 06/28/2013 10:09:08 MDT Print View

Don't you guys know you're not suppossed to talk bad about cottage manufacturers???



Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Dirty Girl Disappointment on 06/28/2013 11:42:30 MDT Print View

My Dirty Girls have been pretty durable. They've outlasted a pair of shoes at least. But the thing I don't like about them is the velcro. I've had a hard time keeping anything stuck to my shoes. I've used up the little strip that came with them, bought new self-adhesive velco, and attached regular velcro with epoxy. Invariable the velcro comes off my shoe after a trip or two. Usually part way through the first trip. I'll admit that sometimes my shoes don't have a perfectly flat spot to attach the velcro. Most recently I tried some epoxy. I put it on a week before my trip and part way through, while I was walking back and forth across a creek helping folks get across, the velcro came off one of the shoes. Maybe a week wasn't long enough for the epoxy to cure? Luckily they stay down by themselves ok if you aren't post-holing in snow but it would be great if I can just get the velcro to stick to the shoes permanently. It seems like people have had luck with super glue, I'll have to try that next time.

Even with all the frustration of the velcro, I like my Dirty Girl's. They breathe a lot better than my OR gaiters, keep rocks from getting in my shoes, and the colors are fun.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
trail gaiter velcro on 06/28/2013 13:31:42 MDT Print View

One way to enhance the postholability of any trail gaiter is to replace the stock velcro with a 2 inch square patch. Not infallible, but pretty good.

Applying the velcro to the shoe requires the right glue technique and a very clean shoe. It's nice to do this with brand new shoes, but even then several scrubbings with a solvent like nail polish remover is a good idea. Adhesives like Shoe Goo and Seam Grip only cure in the presence of air. To use them for shoe velcro, apply a thin coating to each surface, and let dry just past the point of tackiness, then clamp together vigorously. Usually (but not always) this lasts for the life of the shoe. These glues will not stick to leather.

If your trail runners let in sand through the toe box, you need better shoes.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Design for gaiters on 06/29/2013 10:49:07 MDT Print View

Here is an idea. Instead of a tunnel through the shoe sole for the undershoe cord to go. What about just a small loop or wire or thin tough cord on each side of the show protruding out from where the sole attaches to the upper. Small attachment points that a gaiter can then hook into (with or without an extension line). I would make a simple drawing, but given the probably of a shoe manufacture listening right now, I won't bother.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Design for gaiters -- screws, hot glue on 06/29/2013 12:06:33 MDT Print View

There is an easy way to get something to hold down the gaiter at the instep: Screws.

Screw as attachment knob

The screws I used are no. 6 x 3/4" panhead sheet metal. Works great.

Regarding velcro attachment, try hot glue. Very strong, very sticky. Fast.

Edited by JimSubzero on 06/29/2013 12:08:11 MDT.