Owner Review: OR Rocky Mtn Low Gaiters
- Happy New Year, everyone :)
Since I live in the Desert SW, and don't play in the snow much, here is an owner review for one of my favorite products.
Owner Review: Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters
Personal Biographical Info:
Name: Stephanie Martin
Height: 5'5" (1.65 meters)
Weight: 145 lbs. (65 kg)
Email Address: syoong "at" alum "dot" mit "dot" edu
Location: Phoenix, AZ USA
Date: January 3, 2003
Background: I've always enjoyed spending time outdoors since I was a kid. Since 1996, I've been actively playing outside starting in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed day hiking excursions in the Columbia River Gorge area, followed by some backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail. I moved to the desert southwest in 1997 and have been actively day hiking most weekends (anywhere from low desert to mountain territory (7000+ ft (2100+ meters))). In addition to day hikes, my husband and I generally take a couple week long trips to the Grand Canyon annually, in addition to short weekend backpacking trips. Our backpacking philosophy has been rapidly moving towards ultra-light gear, with target base pack weight of 10 lbs (4.5 kg). We have also been participating in canyoneering since 1997. In general, we average 12 to 15 miles (20 to 24 km) per day. See http://www.ToddsHikingGuide.com for trip reports and a better sense of our hiking style.
Other gaiters used: None
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research [http://www.outdoorresearch.com]
Year of Manufacture: 1996
Listed Weight: 5 ounces (142 g)
Weight as Delivered: 4.4 ounces (124.7 g)
Listed Height: 8 inches (20.3 cm)
Measured Height: 8 inches (20.3 cm)
Size: One Size Fits All
Style of Product: Ankle height, non-coated gaiters
Field and Test Information:
Location(s) of test: Many many miles generally in desert southwest - mostly in Arizona and Utah, but these gaiters have also been with me on miles of the PCT in Oregon and on top of Half Dome.
Terrain: Varied - gravel and sand washes, packed desert, slickrock and mountain.
Weather Conditions: Varied - sun, rain, snow...you name it!
Description of Experience and Comments on Product Performance:
Billed as a gaiter to keep twigs, scree or snow out of the top of your boot, this low gaiter certainly does the trick. Considering they've been with me on just about every hike I've done from 1996 to the present, it is fair to say they've gone hundreds, if not thousands of miles and while they do look a little tired, they are in no danger of having to be replaced any time soon.
Construction: These low gaiters are made out of uncoated 8-ounce packcloth (for breathability) with a one-inch Velcro front closure and snaps at top and bottom (for easy on-and-off), elastic top and bottom edges (for a close fit), bootlace hook and grommets to hold an instep strap (both of which are to keep the gaiters in place). They do come with a nylon instep lace, however, I have never used it.
Experience: There is nothing worse than having to stop every ten minutes along the trail to take off ones boots to dump out stuff that has been stabbing you in the foot or ankle. These ankle-high gaiters have saved me the hassle of frequent fussing especially in desert terrain where scrub oak leaves, sand and gravel are all intent on hitching a ride in my boot.
Before going too far along with the praises on functionality, let me comment on the fit of these gaiters - after all, without good fit, I'm sure I wouldn't be so pleased. As I mentioned before, these gaiters have been my constant hiking companions since 1996 - I've worn them with traditional backpacking boots (like the Salomon X-Adv 7 or the Vasque Sundowner), mid height hiking boots and shoes (like the Salomon exit-Mid or even Converse All-Stars), and low shoes (like the Salomon exit-Low) - pretty much any style of hiking shoe or boot with laces, and have had no problems with them staying in place, doing their function. I should mention that my ankle girth (or more precisely, the circumference around my calf where the top of the gaiters rest) with hiking socks on is about 9.5 inches (24 cm). This seems to be at the low end of the fit for these gaiters as when they were new, there was no gap between the gaiters and my leg, though with time, the elastic has become a bit more relaxed, and there is now a small amount of play. While this hasn't caused any decrease in functionality, if the gap gets much larger, I'll probably take a needle and thread after my gaiters and 'adjust' them. In addition, as I also mentioned above, I have never used the instep lace function of these gaiters, and I've had few problems, if any, with them staying in place with use of the bootlace hook and the elastic - I hook the bootlace hook as far forward on the shoe as possible, and pull the elastic cuff down to within an inch or so (a couple of centimeters or so) of the bottom of the boot. Sometimes, if I am going down a steep scree-covered slope where my feet sink in quite a bit, the gaiters slowly get pushed upwards, though I have never had them ride high enough to allow sand and dirt to come cascading into my boot during such a descent.
Fit taken care of, lets continue on about functionality. Needless to say, since I've had the same gaiters since 1996, it should be obvious that I'm very pleased with this product. They have proven true, in my case anyway, to their one-size-fits all claim - at least with their ability to adjust to various different shoe types. While others are busy pouring sand out of their boots or picking out rocks, twigs, leaves or other miscellaneous matter, I have been happy to stand and observe or to continue on down the trail - all thanks to my gaiters. These gaiters have been comfortable to wear, not squeezing too tightly around my ankles, and don't seem to trap any additional heat - definitely important when hiking in the heat of the desert. They seem to dry fairly quickly when I do get them wet (splashing across a stream or getting rained on), and they were able to keep snow out of my ankles the one time I did wear them in snow. After 6 years of service, my gaiters are showing few signs of age - the fabric is a bit faded in color, and a less perky - as I imagine we all would be after covering many many miles. While there are a couple of pinholes from wear, there are no tears in the gaiters. The Velcro continues to hold up, and the bootlace hook and grommets are still in good shape and are rust free. The snaps, while still functional, can be a bit stubborn (sometimes refusing to unsnap at all), so I have taken to not using the snaps and Velcro any longer and have taken to pulling on my gaiters like socks. (Footwear donning order is as follows: socks, gaiters, boots (tie laces now) then pull gaiters back down, attach bootlace hook, and adjust gaiter height.) While the Velcro and snaps certainly make for easy and quick access, if you don't use the instep lace, the Velcro and snaps aren't really necessary and could be eliminated to save weight (along with the grommets).
Conclusion: An excellent and highly recommended product, well made and durable, the Rocky Mountain Low gaiters have provided me with excellent service in keeping sand, gravel, twigs and other hitchhikers out of my boots while pounding out trail miles in various terrains.