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Altra Trail Gaiter Review

An ultralight pair of gaiters that are made for trail running and UL backpacking
Altra Trail Gaiter
Photo: Altra
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Price:  $20 List | $19.95 at REI
Pros:  Super lightweight, easy to attach, flexible
Cons:  Not waterproof, requires velcro on shoes
Manufacturer:   Altra
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 9, 2021
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Comfort and Breathability - 25% 9
  • Debris Protection - 25% 4
  • Durability - 15% 3
  • Ease of Attachment - 15% 8
  • Water Resistance - 10% 3
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Altra Trail Gaiter is a lightweight, warm-weather gaiter that is great for moving fast and far. This ankle-high model protects your feet from the inconvenience of a pebble or pine needle working its way into your shoe at just the wrong moment. The super-stretchy fabric moves with you and they barely feel like they are there. These gaiters are for the hiker or trail runner that wants to stay moving without being hampered by swirling debris. Though they aren't waterproof, they pack down small enough that it is always worth tucking them in your pocket, just in case.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Altra Trail Gaiter
This Product
Altra Trail Gaiter
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $19.95 at REI$79.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$44.95 at REI$40 List
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$20 List
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Pros Super lightweight, easy to attach, flexibleComfortable, lightweight for the size, replaceable instep, excellent protectionDurable, secure, waterproofEasy on and off, instep cord is replaceableLightweight, secure, inexpensive
Cons Not waterproof, requires velcro on shoesThinner material for a full length, challenging lace hookHeavy for length, chunky-lookingNot versatile, instep cord wears quicklyNot waterproof, requires velcro installation on shoes
Bottom Line An ultralight pair of gaiters that are made for trail running and UL backpackingAn adjustable, lightweight full-length gaiter for sloppy mud, rain, and winter snowA pair of mid-length rugged gaiters with the versatility for multiple seasonsA simple, old school gaiter that is easy to put on and take offA lightweight and comfortable pair of gaiters that are meant for the long haul
Rating Categories Altra Trail Gaiter Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Comfort And Breathability (25%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Debris Protection (25%)
4.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Durability (15%)
3.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Attachment (15%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (10%)
3.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Altra Trail Gaiter Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Weight for one (oz) 0.5 oz 3.8 oz 3.5 oz 1.8 oz 0.7 oz
Length (in) 6.50 in 16.5 in 10.0 in 7.0 in 7.0 in
Material Nylon 300D nylon, PU coating Nylon Soft Shell/Hard Shell Polyester
Water resistant? No Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric No No
Attachment Hook and loop, velcro heel TPU underfoot strap Hook and loop, instep strap Nylon cord instep strap, lace hook, velcro, snap Hook and loop, velcro heel

Our Analysis and Test Results

The 82%/18% nylon/spandex blend gave us the flexibility that we were looking for while running.

Performance Comparison


Compact and lightweight, these gaiters are meant to pair with...
Compact and lightweight, these gaiters are meant to pair with trail-running shoes.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

They are low-profile, feel soft against the skin, and don't inhibit...
They are low-profile, feel soft against the skin, and don't inhibit flexibility.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

Debris Protection


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, on occasion, ride up and leave a small spot exposed for...
They can, on occasion, ride up and leave a small spot exposed for debris to find its way in.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

Durability


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.

The reinforced fabric around the lace hook ensures this high-tension...
The reinforced fabric around the lace hook ensures this high-tension area won't bust.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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 underhand lace hook has a large opening and is easy to attach.
The underhand lace hook has a large opening and is easy to attach.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

Water Resistance


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.

After splashing through a stream, it became clear that these gaiters...
After splashing through a stream, it became clear that these gaiters actually just absorb any water that touches them. However, they do dry quickly.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

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.

Weight


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.

The pair is small enough that it can easily fit in your hand (or...
The pair is small enough that it can easily fit in your hand (or, more practically, a pocket).
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

In terms of weight, these should be an ultralight hiker's dream and are about as light as a pair of gaiters can get.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

This pair of gaiters is good on trail-runs.
This pair of gaiters is good on trail-runs.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch