Black Diamond Apex GTX Review
Cons: Disappointing instep strap, somewhat restrictive
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Black Diamond Apex GTX
|Price||$79.95 at Amazon||$79.95 at Backcountry|
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|$44.95 at REI||$84.95 at Amazon|
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|$39.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Durable, easy-to-attach lace hook, waterproof||Comfortable, lightweight for the size, replaceable instep, excellent protection||Durable, secure, waterproof||Heavy-duty and durable, waterproof, warm||Easy on and off, instep cord is replaceable|
|Cons||Disappointing instep strap, somewhat restrictive||Thinner material for a full length, challenging lace hook||Heavy for length, chunky-looking||Expensive, not breathable, heavy||Not versatile, instep cord wears quickly|
|Bottom Line||Full-length gaiters that are meant for the rigors of wet and snowy weather||A comfortable, full-length gaiter that keeps out snow, mud, and rain||Durable gaiters that can handle many different types of nasty weather||These gaiters are a hearty option for big, cold climbs||An old school gaiter meant for high-ankle footwear|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Apex GTX||Rab Muztag GTX||REI Co-op Backpacker Low||Outdoor Research Crocodile||Black Diamond Talus|
|Comfort And Breathability (25%)|
|Debris Protection (25%)|
|Ease Of Attachment (15%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Apex...||Rab Muztag GTX||REI Co-op...||Outdoor Research...||Black Diamond Talus|
|Weight for one (oz)||4.0 oz||3.8 oz||3.5 oz||5.0 oz||1.8 oz|
|Length (in)||13.0 in||16.5 in||10.0 in||17.5 in||7.0 in|
|Material||Gore-Tex 3-Layer||300D nylon, PU coating||Nylon||Gore-Tex leg panel, Cordura Nylon foot panel||Soft Shell/Hard Shell|
|Water resistant?||Gore-Tex 3-Layer||Gore-Tex Pro||3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric||Yes||No|
|Attachment||hook and loop, webbing, slide release buckle||TPU underfoot strap||Hook and loop, instep strap||BioThane webbing instep with metal buckle, boot lace hook||Nylon cord instep strap, lace hook, velcro, snap|
Our Analysis and Test Results
At 16 inches high, these triple-layer Gore-Tex gaiters are durable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch