In our project on Lightweight Footwear Systems for Snow Travel (to be published soon), we were looking for the lightest gaiter we could find that also performed well over snowshoeing and snow hiking footwear. We found the lightest one in the Montbell Stretch Gaiter, but its fit depends on the shoe type and size.
The Montbell Stretch Gaiter is made of Schoeller Dynamic Extreme fabric and weighs only 1.3 ounces/pair for size Medium, shown over women’s size 6.5 trail runners.
The Montbell Stretch Gaiter, as the name implies, is very stretchy. Its Schoeller Dynamic Extreme fabric has a two-way stretch, but much more vertical stretch than horizontal. This stretch-woven fabric is durable, water-repellent, and very breathable.
These gaiters are designed to minimize weight and maximize functionality. There is no Velcro opening so they must be pulled on before putting on shoes. They have a metal lace hook attached to a webbing pinch loop to grab it. And they have a clever tightener (consisting of a simple Hypalon tab) on the underfoot shock cord stirrup. The shock cord even has a knob on it to grab for tightening.
Each gaiter has a clever tensioning system consisting of a simple Hypalon tab that the elastic cord runs through. Simply pull on the cord to tighten it. There is also a pinch loop on the lace hook to make it easier to grab.
We tested the gaiters over snowshoeing and snow hiking footwear. The size Medium gaiter fit over all of Janet’s footwear (size 6.5), easily covering the tops of her trail running shoes and taller boots (above photos). For Janet, the Montbell Stretch Gaiter was an easy choice for her favorite.
On Will, the Montbell Stretch Gaiter in size Large was a full stretch to cover the tops of his size 12 trail running shoes. They fit over Montrail Hurricane Ridge XCR shoes, but tended to slip off the heel of New Balance 872 shoes (inset photo). They fit well over taller boots, but again it was a full stretch.
Although the season wasn’t quite right for hiking in shorts, we tried the Montbell Gaiters on over trail runners with summer weight socks and bare legs. The fit over our shoes was just fine, and the top binding was not too tight on our legs.
We found the gaiters to be very water-resistant. After each snow hike we weighed the gaiters and found they absorbed only 0.2 to 0.3 ounce of water, mostly in the top and bottom bindings.
Overall, the Montbell Stretch Gaiters are an excellent choice for ultralight hiking. They are exceptionally well designed and made of a high quality fabric. However, there appears to be a need for one more size a little larger to bit bigger shoes.
Specifications and Features
- Manufacturer: Montbell (www.montbell.com)
- Product: Stretch Gaiter
- Sizes Available: M., L
- Height: Size M is 6.5 in (16.5 cm) high, size L is 7 in (18 cm) high
- Fabric: Schoeller Dynamic Extreme
- Features: Lace hook with pinch loop, underfoot elastic cord with tightener
- Weight: Measured weight size M 1.3 oz/pair (37 g), size L 1.5 oz/pair (43 g); manufacturer specification size L 1.5 oz/pair (43 g)
- MSRP: $30 US