Rating: 4 / 5
When traveling off-trail in the pursuit of a summit or maneuvering from a trail in one drainage to another I often encounter steep slopes covered loose scree. When taking in step in this scree my foot sinks in and the gravel-sized scree flows downhill like water, covering my foot. This slowly fills my shoes with pebbles and rocks.
In order to combat this I've started using a short gaiter by the Inov-8 company. I use their trail shoes and it was a logical next-step to consider their gaiters.
The gaiters are designed well in most regards. The top is a woven sock which grips your lower leg nicely and effectively seals against rocks and sand from entering. Stitched below that is a stretchy synthetic section treated with a waterproofing solution covering the ankle area. It holds-fast to your shoe via a mechanism typical to gaiters which hooks to your shoelace near the toe and a rubber-like cord which wraps underneath the shoe.
The fabric materials from which the gaiter is manufactured breathe nicely and I don't feel extra heat even when hiking an eleven hour day in 80 deg F (27 deg C) plus heat. The sock-top fit loosely over the socks I was wearing inside the shoe.
The other materials used to manufacture the gaiter are the metal hook and the rubber-like cord. The hook, being made of metal functioned flawlessly never coming undone and showing no signs of wear. The rubber-like cord however is in grave need of re-thinking. One cord broke and was lost on the trail after only twenty miles (32km) of walking (albeit on rough, rocky trail). The design of the gaiter is such that this cord can be purchased separately and replaced easily but considering this is the sort of item I would bring on a thru-hike that would mean carrying one replacement for each day of hiking - not a worthwhile option.
I rate the Inov-8 Debrisgatier a 4/5 for it's excellent performance, excellent manufacturing, and near-excellent materials.