Altra Trail Gaiter Review
Cons: Not waterproof, requires velcro on shoes
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Altra Trail Gaiter
|Price||Check Price at REI||$41.37 at Backcountry||$45 List|
$31.39 at REI
|$20.00 List||Check Price at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Super lightweight, easy to attach, flexible||Light, instep strap can be replaced, comfortable, good breathability||Durable, secure, waterproof||Lightweight, secure, inexpensive||Easy on and off, instep cord is replaceable|
|Cons||Not waterproof, requires velcro on shoes||No insulation, thin material isn't as durable||Heavy for length, chunky-looking||Not waterproof, requires velcro installation on shoes||Not versatile, instep cord wears quickly|
|Bottom Line||An ultralight pair of gaiters that are made for trail running and UL backpacking||A full-length yet lightweight gaiter that feels good and is great in the shoulder seasons||A pair of mid-length rugged gaiters with the versatility for multiple seasons||A lightweight and comfortable pair of gaiters that are meant for the long haul||A simple, old school gaiter that is easy to put on and take off|
|Rating Categories||Altra Trail Gaiter||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op Backpacke...||Dirty Girl Gaiter||Black Diamond Talus|
|Comfort and Breathability (25%)|
|Debris Protection (25%)|
|Ease of Attachment (15%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Altra Trail Gaiter||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op Backpacke...||Dirty Girl Gaiter||Black Diamond Talus|
|Weight (each)||0.5 oz||2.6 oz||3.5 oz||0.7 oz||1.8 oz|
|Length||6.5 in||17 in||10 in||7 in||7 in|
|Material||Nylon||Nylon||Nylon||Polyester||Soft Shell/Hard Shell|
|Water Resistant?||No||Yes||Yes, 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric||No||No|
|Attachment||Hook and loop, velcro heel||Hook and loop, hypalon instep strap, elastic back heel, reinforced boot lace hooks||Hook and loop, instep strap||Hook and loop, velcro heel||Nylon cord instep strap, lace hook, velcro, snap|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The 82%/18% nylon/spandex blend gave us the flexibility that we were looking for while running.
Comfort & Breathability
These gaiters are so light that they barely feel like they are there. As far as gaiters go, they are very comfortable. The super stretchy and thin fabric moves with you. We found that even if we took off our shoes to air out our feet, we never had the same urgency to remove the gaiters.
The fabric is dark, so it definitely absorbs some heat, but it is also thin and breathable. This pair scores highly here as one of the most 'invisible' gaiters we have ever tested.
We got about what we needed from this pair but had a few moments where we wished they could have held up a little better. As discussed more below, these gaiters are designed for and work best with Altra brand footwear. We found that they provide similar protection with other trail running shoes, too. That is, they will keep out most debris but also discovered that, because there is no instep strap, the sides can sometimes ride up, leaving a small section of the ankle exposed to the elements.
They can also get a little bit saggy at the top. The fabric is very stretchy, but the smallest circumference of the top opening is not meant for especially skinny ankles. That is, there might be a small but noticeable gap at the top between the gaiter and your skin, allowing sweat and dirt to drip downward.
On the plus side, these gaiters are very simple and straightforward so there aren't a lot of parts that can break. The area around the lace hook is well-reinforced to shore up a high-tension area.
On the downside, the majority of the gaiter is a very thin nylon/spandex blend. Even among just low-ankle trail-running models, this is among the sheerest fabric of them all, which means that the regular wear and tear that comes with bump-ups against rocks and roots, and even just consistent sun exposure, will likely wear them faster than average.
Ease of Attachment
If you have a pair of trail shoes that already have a gaiter trap in the back, then these are no-fuss from the get-go. The gaiters slide on over your socks and attach at the front with an underhand lace hook. A patch of velcro secures them at the back.
The caveat is if you are wearing something other than Altra's trail runners, then you either need to have a pair that already has a heel gaiter trap or be prepared to adhere the included extra velcro to the heel of your footwear, which sometimes does not go as smoothly as you might hope. The bottom line is that they work best with Altra shoes, work totally fine with other trail runners that have a velcro gaiter trap, and might not be awesome with regular running shoes.
The short version is that the Trail Gaiter is not waterproof. It absorbs water almost immediately, so they aren't going to keep your feet dry necessarily. However, in all likelihood, neither would the footwear that they are meant to be paired with so you at least aren't left worse off than if you didn't have them at all.
The benefit though of having such thin gaiters is that if you do find yourself trying to jog your way out of an unexpected storm, these gaiters will also dry quickly once you find the sunshine on the other side.
At half an ounce each, they are well worth the added weight. In our experience, we didn't feel a noticeable difference whether we were wearing them or not, so the downside to having them with you is almost non-existent.
In terms of weight, these should be an ultralight hiker's dream and are about as light as a pair of gaiters can get.
These gaiters are priced comparably to their closest competition. We think that they don't perform quite as well as other low models that are also meant for trail running, so there is better value elsewhere. However, they are inexpensive enough that if you already happen to own a pair of Altra footwear, it would make sense to have these on hand.
The Altra Trail Gaiter is a lightweight model that is ideal for long-distance hiking or trail running. Though they are designed specifically for Altra footwear, they are adaptable to other trail shoe brands.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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