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Black Diamond Apex GTX Review

A heavy-duty, full-length gaiter with an ultra-durable lower panel for winter adventures
Black Diamond Apex GTX
Photo: Black Diamond
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable, easy-to-attach lace hook, waterproof
Cons:  Disappointing instep strap, somewhat restrictive
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 9, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Comfort and Breathability - 25% 6
  • Debris Protection - 25% 9
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Ease of Attachment - 15% 4
  • Water Resistance - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Apex GTX is great for the cold. With a super hefty lower half, this durable gaiter can resist abrasions from snow, ice, and even crampons. It has a classic, easy-to-use lace hook and secures at the top with webbing and buckle. This model is meant for anyone who is primarily looking for a winter weather gaiter for snowshoeing, hiking, or even more serious mountaineering. Though we found them to be a little bit stiff, they certainly kept us protected.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $79.95 at Amazon$79.95 at Backcountry
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$44.95 at REI$40 List
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$20 List
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Pros Durable, easy-to-attach lace hook, waterproofComfortable, lightweight for the size, replaceable instep, excellent protectionDurable, secure, waterproofEasy on and off, instep cord is replaceableLightweight, secure, inexpensive
Cons Disappointing instep strap, somewhat restrictiveThinner 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 A heavy-duty, full-length gaiter with an ultra-durable lower panel for winter adventuresAn 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 Black Diamond Apex GTX Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Comfort And Breathability (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Debris Protection (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Durability (15%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Attachment (15%)
4.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Black Diamond Apex GTX Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Weight for one (oz) 4.0 oz 3.8 oz 3.5 oz 1.8 oz 0.7 oz
Length (in) 13.0 in 16.5 in 10.0 in 7.0 in 7.0 in
Material Gore-Tex 3-Layer 300D nylon, PU coating Nylon Soft Shell/Hard Shell Polyester
Water resistant? Gore-Tex 3-Layer Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric No No
Attachment hook and loop, webbing, slide release buckle 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

At 16 inches high, these triple-layer Gore-Tex gaiters are durable.

Performance Comparison


This full-length gaiter is for cold weather and snow.
This full-length gaiter is for cold weather and snow.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort & Breathability


For everything that this pair offers, they are not exceptionally comfortable. Here it is a tradeoff between mobility and durability and these gaiters opted to lean into the latter. The lower portion is especially stiff and feels like an extension of a winter boot further up the leg. The webbing that secures the gaiter at the top is definitely noticeable and the feeling of having it tightened around our legs never really went away as it did with many other models that use stretchier elastic in that area.

They get a little bunchy if the webbing at the top closure isn't...
They get a little bunchy if the webbing at the top closure isn't tight enough.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Debris Protection


The length of this gaiter alone means that it easily repels dirt, dust, snow, and ice with ease. Our feet never suffered for it, but the stiffness of the lower section somewhat prevented the gaiter from conforming closely to our boots, allowing some snow to get lodged in the space in between.

Even knee-deep in snow, almost none of it ended up down our legs.
Even knee-deep in snow, almost none of it ended up down our legs.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

One note is that the top closure is webbing, instead of elastic. In most cases, this isn't an issue since winter pants fill the extra space, but if you have skinny legs and/or find yourself wanting to wear these gaiters with shorts, you will discover that you can't always tighten the top strap as much as you'd like.

Durability


There is no doubt that the Apex is a durable gaiter. There are a few different types of fabric that come together to make this pair what it is. The thinner Gore-Tex upper and the canvas-feeling outer lower portions are both already more substantial than a lot of gaiters. Then there is the 600D interior portion which feels like kevlar. It is highly resistant to abrasion and punctures.

The lower portion is super thick and feels like kevlar. It protects...
The lower portion is super thick and feels like kevlar. It protects against microspikes and crampons.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

As is the case with most gaiters, if we had to predict the first part to go, we would expect it to be the instep strap. It is well-secured to the gaiter itself, but both the neoprene-coated nylon that it is made from as well as its buckle don't match up to the longevity of the rest of the gaiter.

Ease of Attachment


As with most gaiters, the most challenging part of attaching them is getting the front velcro halves to line up properly. With an instep strap, underhand metal lace hook, velcro, snap, and top buckle setup, there are a lot of pieces to securing this pair.

The large underhand lace hook is super easy to attach and stays...
The large underhand lace hook is super easy to attach and stays securely in place.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

It's a little unwieldy to adjust the instep strap before the first wear, but once you do, hopefully you won't have to return to it for a long time. The lace hook is one of our favorite designs. It is oriented in an underhand direction (that is, the hook faces up) and it is wide, with a large opening. This makes it easy to attach, and all of the other components keep it in place. Once you get the velcro in place, the top buckle clips and tightens easily.

Water Resistance


The Apex is meant for heavy use in snow, so precipitation is no problem for it either. Melted snow and rain bead up well and roll off.

The multi-layer Gore-Tex is impermeable. Legs stay dry throughout...
The multi-layer Gore-Tex is impermeable. Legs stay dry throughout our snowy romps.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Because of their length, your legs and feet will stay dry through water crossings that flow below your knee. Even if you found yourself in a swift-moving stream that rose above the height of the gaiter, it would still take some time for water to work its way down in a catastrophic way.

Weight


At four ounces per gaiter, these are heavier than some other full-length models but still relatively light. We suspect that the extra weight comes mostly as a result of the extra thick fabric, so the tradeoff is the added durability.

Three different styles of fabric come together in this gaiter. They...
Three different styles of fabric come together in this gaiter. They are all thick and durable, thus adding (albeit marginally) to the overall weight.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Because of their stiffness, they don't pack down quite so small, but if you are considering these gaiters anyway, it should be because you are headed into an environment where you know you are going to need to be wearing them.

Value


These gaiters have good value for the right type of user. The instep strap notwithstanding, they are one of the more durable full-length models that we have tested, meaning that those looking for protection from harsher weather will benefit the most from them. However, for most folks who need a more versatile full-length gaiter, there are higher-value options out there.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond Apex GTX is a full-length, winter weather gaiter. Its nylon shell is super durable and is meant to take on the full force of rocks, debris, and precipitation.

This gaiter can be worn with winter boots or hiking boots and will...
This gaiter can be worn with winter boots or hiking boots and will protect your legs from snow, water, and wind.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Ben Applebaum-Bauch