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INITIAL REPORT for OR Gaiters - Roger Caffin

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  • rcaffin
    Over to you guys. (They are working well in the field too.) Html version under Test/test. ... Initial Report - OR Rocky Mountain High Gaiters Roger Caffin
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2003
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      Over to you guys. (They are working well in the field too.)
      Html version under Test/test.
      -----------
      Initial Report - OR Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
      Roger Caffin

      Product Information
      <table>
      Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
      Manufacturer URL: <a href="http://www.orgear.com/">www.orgear.com/</a>
      Year of manufacture: assumed 2003
      Country of manufacture: China
      Size: Medium
      Colour: Blue/Black
      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)
      MSRP:US$35
      Review Date:6-Jan-2004
      </table>


      Product Claims
      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
      weight
      Ideal for those who mostly enjoy dry-weather outings, whether hot or
      really cold
      Light enough to be carried "just in case", yet fully featured for top
      performance

      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
      Australia.
      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.



      Initial Impression
      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
      shoe ineffective.
      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
      packaging.


      Planned Testing
      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
      muddy.
      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
      walking.
      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.


      Reviewer Details
      <table>
      Reviewer:Roger Caffin
      Age:57
      Gender:M
      Email address:r dot caffin at acm dot org
      City, State, Country:Sydney, NSW, Australia
      </table>
      Backpacking Background

      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.
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