Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters SPOTLITE REVIEW

Lightweight, durable, breathable, water-resistant, and stretch to fit a variety of footwear – but we had a couple of problems with the snaps and sizing.

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by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl | 2006-07-12 03:00:00-06

Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters SPOTLITE REVIEW

Overview

The OR Flex-Tex Gaiters are made of a stretch Cordura nylon fabric that is abrasion-resistant, wind-resistant, breathable, and water-repellent. We especially liked their stretchiness which allowed them to cover the tops of a wide variety of shoes and boots. They are definitely one of the most versatile and durable lightweight gaiters around, but we did have a couple of issues with them, which we will cover later in the review.

The Flex-Tex Gaiters have a Velcro and snap closure on the front, plus an underfoot nylon cord and lace hook. Once you adjust the underfoot cord to length, the gaiters are basically a step-in - simply position the underfoot cord in front of the heel, attach the Velcro and snaps, and anchor the front of the gaiter on a shoelace near the front of your boot.

For warmer weather trail hiking, we wore them over trail running shoes on-trail and over mid-height boots off-trail, and found them to be lightweight, breathable, and very durable. We had no problem wearing them all day in warmer weather, and found them to be tough enough for bushwhacking.

At 3.2 ounces/pair for size S/M and 3.8 ounces for size L/XL (measured weight), the Flex-Tex gaiters are lightweight. However, they are not as light as Montbell’s stretch gaiters at 1.5 ounces/pair or Simblissity’s stretchy LevaGaiter at 1.8 ounces/pair. The primary advantages of the OR Flex-Tex gaiters are their front closure, extremely stretchy fabric, and durability.

We had two issues with the Flex-Tex gaiters:

  • The two metal snaps on the front of each gaiter were very tight and difficult to snap and unsnap. On one gaiter, both snaps broke as a result of being too tight. The snaps are overkill and we recommend eliminating them to save a little weight.
  • The Flex-Tex Gaiters fit best over taller boots and insulated boots, but fit loosely over trail runners. We found this to be true for both sizes we tested. An intermediate size is missing. We recommend adding a third size and making the fit range for each a little narrower to get a better fit, especially for trail runners.

Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
The Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters have a front Velcro closure with two snaps (left). The snaps were very tight, and we ended up breaking both on the gaiter pictured. Although the Flex-Tex Gaiters fit taller boots very well, they fit loosely over trail runners (right). We found we could use the gaiter without the underfoot cord on taller boots, but it was necessary on trail runners to hold them down.

Winter Use

We used the Flex-Tex Gaiters on a variety of footwear for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow hiking, and found them to be very versatile. For active snow hiking or snowshoeing, the gaiters covered the tops of lightweight low-cut Gore-Tex XCR shoes, but fit loosely. The same size gaiters fit well over taller insulated boots and pack-type boots, stretching to fit the latter.

For hiking in slop (very wet snow and mud), the Flex-Tex gaiters in combination with a mid-height waterproof hiking boot and wool sock worked very well. We found that we could use the gaiters without the underfoot cords to avoid ice and frozen mud buildup on the cords. With low-cut waterproof shoes, the gaiters fit loosely and it was necessary to tighten the underfoot cords to hold the gaiters down.

For traveling in deep snow and snow camping, we found that the Flex-Tex gaiters adequately kept the snow out of our boots and added a degree of warmth, but they are not in the same league as taller gaiters which do the job much better and add a degree of warmth.

The stretch Cordura fabric has a DWR treatment to make them water-resistant. In all of our snow travels we did not have any problems at all with the gaiters absorbing water, or water soaking through the gaiters and dampening our socks.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: Outdoor Research (www.orgear.com)
  • Product: Flex-Tex Gaiter
  • Sizes Available: S/M fits 5-9, L/XL fits 8-12
  • Height: Size S/M is 8 in (20 cm) high, size L/XL is 9.5 in (24 cm) high
  • Fabric: Stretch Cordura nylon with DWR
  • Features: Fabric stretches to fit a variety of footwear, front Velcro and snap closure, replaceable nylon underfoot cord
  • Weight: Measured weight size S/M 3.2 oz/pair (91 g), size L/XL 3.8 oz/pair (108 g); manufacturer specification size L/XL 4.2 oz (118 g)
  • MSRP: $29


Citation

"Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/outdoor_research_flex_tex_gaiters_spotlite_review.html, 2006-07-12 03:00:00-06.

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