Black Diamond Talus Review
Cons: Not versatile, instep cord wears quickly
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
To be honest, we weren't blown away by the Talus the first time we saw this pair, but testing is believing. They don't appear to be anything special; in fact, they reminded us a lot of some gaiters we would have owned 15 years ago, but once we looped and hooked them on and hit the trail, we were sold. We took them on day hikes and overnight adventures, through snowpack, snowmelt, sleet, and rain. Gaiters tend to be highly specialized, but this model is the one that we feel the most people are most likely to say, "yes, this is a gaiter that I can and will use".
Comfort and Breathability
The same stretchability that enables this gaiter's universal fit also means that it works with a variety of clothing options as well. It's snug around bare ankles, wool socks, light hiking pants, and jeans alike while still allowing for a full range of motion without slipping down. This model is designed with a bubble shape- more material in the middle- allowing it to fit easily over chunkier hiking boots.
Half of each gaiter is made of a breathable softshell. It can get a little sweaty under the Talus on hot days, but this fabric goes a long way towards minimizing the issue.
When worn with the right footwear, the Talus will repel debris with ease. Combined with an instep strap and lace hook, the foot, and ankle elastics both hold securely. There are also two interior rubber stripes that run around the bottom circumference of the gaiter which also assist in keeping it in place on a boot. Their 7-inch height puts them right in the middle of the pack.
The unfortunate reality of this model is that it does not perform well with every type of footwear. With low-cut shoes, there's not quite enough material for the gaiter to grip, leaving an opening for pebbles and dirt to find their way in. We tried adjusting the instep strap, but they still need just another fraction of an inch more fabric at the back to really stay down.
The main body of the Talus is solid. Mid and high gaiters often use two different kinds of materials: a thicker, more durable bottom, combined with a lighter, more breathable top. This model is different in that it splits its two fabrics between the inside portion of the foot and the outside. What this means in terms of performance is that it will resist a hit from a microspike while also maintaining a higher degree of breathability.
Our only issue with this model is that the instep strap will need to be replaced at some point in the life of the gaiter. We noted some visible wear on the original cord during testing and it is only a matter of time before it goes. Parachute cord or sturdy rope would do the trick (that's essentially what it comes with).
Ease of Attachment
These gaiters are easy to attach. The lace hook is massive, which makes them simple to put on, even with mid-weight gloves on. They are also a one-size-fits-all model, which proved to be adequate for our testers; the top and bottom elastics accommodate a wide range of foot and ankle sizes.
We did sometimes have to redo the velcro strip to get that perfect alignment, but it was well worth the extra few seconds to get it just right.
These gaiters will keep out splashing water and light rain. You can't get away with an extended river crossing, but for stone stepping and stomping through saturated earth, this model will get the job done. In our testing, the more breathable material yielded to the wet before the sturdier nylon did, but it didn't matter too much; the heftier fabric was where most of the splashing happened anyway. We also found that they dried out pretty quickly. A few minutes in the sun and they were good to go.
Sliding in under 2 oz. per gaiter, this pair is lightweight relative to the protection that it offers. We are quite happy with how these things carry both on our feet and in our bags. They easily fit in the side pocket or brain of a pack without adding any noticeable bulk to the load.
We think this gaiter is a good value for the average hiker or for anyone who spends a good bit of time outdoors. Their durability will ensure that you get your money's worth. We are a little bummed that there is an added cost of replacing the instep strap every so often. It seems a little counterintuitive, but that seems to be the price you pay for the ability to replace it at all, as opposed to a sturdier, but nonreplaceable version found on the many models like the Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap. On the plus side, parachute cord can usually be had for pretty cheap.
The Black Diamond Talus is a lightweight, easy-to-attach gaiter. At first blush, it looks like a pretty simple, cheesy model, but once it's out on the trail, it proves itself worthy of your ankle protection. It has some subtle, but thoughtful features, like the multi-fabric design, which balances durability and breathability, as well as a reflective logo, which adds just a little extra visibility in the dark. We do caution that it is not meant for every type of footwear, but with hiking boots, this gaiter is on its game. It earns a Best Buy award for its consistency across the scoreboard and — we say this without any irony - for being perfectly average.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch