INITIAL REPORT for OR Gaiters - Roger Caffin
- Over to you guys. (They are working well in the field too.)
Html version under Test/test.
Initial Report - OR Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Manufacturer URL: <a href="http://www.orgear.com/">www.orgear.com/</a>
Year of manufacture: assumed 2003
Country of manufacture: China
Listed weight (dry): 7 oz (199 g)
Actual weight (dry): 6.4 oz (182 g)
Listed Dimensions: suit shoe size 39 - 42.5
Actual Dimensions:17" x 8" (440 x 200 mm)
These are lightweight synthetic full-length gaiters designed for use
below the snowline. The swingtag which came with the gaiters claims
the following features, with the bolding as in the manufacturer's
text. There is a heavy emphasis on the 'lightweight' aspect although
the material is quite strong. The are some minor differences between
the swingtag and the OR web site with the swingtag being correct.
Intended for those who require full protection, but prefer a lighter
Ideal for those who mostly enjoy dry-weather outings, whether hot or
Light enough to be carried "just in case", yet fully featured for top
In addition the finer print on the back of the swingtag lists the
following materials and their (claimed) special attributes. I have
summarised the claims and put them in some perspective.
1" wide Velcro front closure
They claim Velcro gives easy opening, won't jam like a zip, and make
them easy to put on. There is a single press-stud at the bottom of
the Velcro, and a hook to attach to the shoe laces. This is an
arrangement in wide use by other manufacturers of gaiters in
Uncoated packcloth leg section
Increased ventilation is claimed, but with a Durable Water Repellent
(DWR) treatment to keep your legs dry.
Coated packcloth foot section
It is claimed that this "offers maximum protection to keep your boots
as dry as possible in rain, snow and morning dew." Of course, some
times some things are not possible.
Strap and cam buckle top closure
Claimed to be easy to operate under difficult conditions and won't
slip or dig in.
Elastic bottom edge
Creates a tight seal over a wide range of footwear.
Finally, the web site added some more general information as follows:
The weight was listed as 7 oz (199 g), but it was not clear to which
size this weight applied. It is more than the measured weight of 6.4
oz (182 g), so perhaps it is for the Large size.
The packcloth fabric is 8 oz or 400 denier nylon, not Cordura. This
is of some significance as Cordura has a reputation for being tougher
than ordinary nylon.
The loop under the boot is shown as a strap with a buckle on the web
site, but it turned out to be a length of nylon cord through some
large eyelets. In fact, the diagram for this packcloth version is
exactly the same as the diagram for the Gore-Tex version, although
they two diagrams had different file names. One is left to wonder
whether OR had made a small mistake with the diagrams.
The parcel arrived just after we had finished packing for a trip. The
immediate impression on opening the parcel was that these gaiters are
very light in weight, soft and flexible, and despite being dark blue
and black, fairly bright in colour. A snap judgement had to be made:
were they good enough to take on the impending trip? We took the risk
and threw them in, replacing some heavier canvas gaiters (which were
getting a little old, it musty be admitted).
The very lightness of these gaiters means they may offer less
protection against really rough scrub in the Australian bush than the
heavy canvas gaiters they are to replace. Of course, the advertising
did specify that they are light weight: light enough to be
carried "just in case". Against that is the idea that the nylon may
be tougher or more abrasion-resistant than the cotton canvas.
Certainly, the material seems quite slippery compared to canvas, and
this may help.
A major difference between our older canvas gaiters and these ones
lies in the design of the lower section around the shoe. Our canvas
gaiters have a really heavy multi-layer lower section and a stiff
lower edge. This combination is stiff enough to make the shaped lower
edge stay down with nothing tied under the shoe, even in very rough
country. The OR gaiters have a single layer of light (400 d)
packcloth for the lower section and an elasticised lower edge. The
elastic is meant to make a seal around the shoe. By itself the tight
elastic causes the lower edge to ride up above the shoe; to keep it
down (and the mud and gravel out) it seems essential to use the cord
under the shoe.
While we have had no trouble with the use of a cord or similar under
the shoe in snow country when on skis, it would seem that walking
over the harsh rocky terrain we frequent will be a severe test for
the nylon cord. It may well fray through in a day or two. If this
happens we will have to replace it at once as the design does not
work without that pull down.
The lower edge of the gaiters has a band of fairly conventional
elastic ribbon on the inside. This is much more porous than the nylon
cloth, and may pick up dirt easily. If it does this dirt could cause
abrasion to the elastic fibres inside, and the elastic could fail
fairly early. Such a failure might make the lower seal around the
The top edge of the gaiters is shut with a over-centre cam-clip on
some webbing. The operation of such a clip is critically dependent on
tolerances in the cam and the thickness of the webbing. We have met
this particular design before on the very similar OR Gore-Tex gaiters
we use for ski touring. The clip works well enough there and the
design keeps the light gaiters up, but the load on the clip in the
snow is perhaps less than will be met in the bush. The use of webbing
rather than string has proven comfortable, although other gaiters
with string around the top have not been uncomfortable. It could be
noted of course that stiffer gaiters sometimes stay up by themselves.
Also included with the gaiters were some window stickers (ho hum),
but otherwise there was minimal packaging. We liked the minimal
Testing will be simple: we (my wife and I) will take these gaiters on
our next few trips and see how they survive. In doing so we will bear
in mind that they are meant to be lightweight units.
These gaiters will be replacing some heavy canvas gaiters (380 g,
13.4 oz, twice the weight) which not only keep out mud and gravel but
also (we think) provide some protection against the thorny scrub,
spiky grasses and whacks across the shins we encounter during our off-
track explorations. We will see if we get more injuries from spikes
and whacks: whether they assist with our survival.
It will be interesting to see how the lighter fabric itself survives:
whether it develop abrasion holes at the same speed as do the older
canvas material does. In all honesty, it would not be realistic to
expect these gaiters to last as long as our canvas ones, but the
weight reduction is attractive.
Just how well the elasticised bottom edges survive will be monitored:
how muddy the elastic gets and how long it lasts. The elastic in our
OR Gore-Tex ski gaiters have lasted quite well, but they do not get
The flat nylon cord under the shoe is critical to the functioning of
the design, and its lifetime in our bush will be carefully monitored.
The design of the underside of the shoe may have some impact on this
life, and the sort of terrain traversed will too. We wear joggers and
even lighter footwear all the time, rather than boots, but our
terrain is harsh. Of equal interest will be whether the length of
cord supplied is adequate, both to hold the gaiter down the right
distance and to allow a reliable knot to be tied.
A minor point, but one which could be significant in practice, is the
position of the eyelets down the sides of the gaiters and the quality
of the eyelets themselves. If the eyelets are too far forward (or too
far backwards) the gaiters will not 'fit' over the shoes properly. If
the eyelets have been put in poorly they may tear out. It's a rough
environment down there near the ground.
The life of the cam-clips at the top is open to question. Gaiters do
not go off and on very often during the day, but a poor match of cam
action to webbing thickness or a high rate of wear on the cam will
mean the lightweight fabric may be collapsing around our ankles. It
is also possible the clip may get easily knocked open while we are
The front closure uses 1" (25 mm) Velcro. In our experience this is
rather narrow relative to other gaiters. Our experience is also that
the stitching down the front of the gaiter holding the Velcro on the
inside is the first area to suffer abrasion, so the Velcro starts to
fall off after a while. When this happens the Velcro tends to get
damaged down the exposed side. As the Velcro used on these gaiters is
narrower than most of our other gaiters it would have less ability to
cope with the loss of some width. We will monitor this.
Canvas gaiters 'breathe', but not very much. We usually have hot calf
muscles, although that is not a bad thing in itself. It will be
interesting to see whether any temperature difference is noticeable.
The swingtag claims these gaiters are ideal for dry-weather outings.
It is likely they will also be used on river walks where part of the
trip is spent walking in the river. It will be interesting to see how
the fabric and the DWR survive this treatment; we do not expect to
stay dry of course.
Email address:r dot caffin at acm dot org
City, State, Country:Sydney, NSW, Australia
I started bushwalking (the Australian term) when I was about 14 yrs
old, took up rock climbing and remote exploration walking at
University with the girl who became my wife, and later on we took up
ski touring and canyoning. These days my wife and I do all our trips
together, very often by ourselves. Our preferred walking trips in
Australia are long ones: up to about a week in the general Blue Mts
(east coast of Australia) and Snowy Mts (alpine region), and up to
two months long in Europe and the UK. Ski touring trips would also
typically last up to a week. We favour fairly hard trips of some
length and prefer to travel fast and light. Many of our trips are
explorations in wild country which sees few other walkers. In between
these long trips we do some day walks, often exploring the start of
longer trips. On average, we would spend at least two days per week
walking or ski touring. Over the last year or two we have become
converted to the concept of ultra-lightweight walking, and have been
cutting our combined pack weight down from 36 kg (80 lb) total to
about 25 kg (55 lb) for week-long trips. We have also been designing
and making our own ultralightweight gear for our own use.