The Dirty Girl Gaiter is a lightweight, reliable gaiter that is meant to pair with trail running shoes. They are great for long-distance hikes or trail runs where minimizing weight is a top priority. They are easy to put on and stay secure all day. They are more durable than we expected, especially considering how light they are, and the reinforced stitching around the lace hook is especially sturdy. They aren't waterproof, but we found that they got the job done, keeping out the dust and debris that otherwise would have slowed us down. All in all, we love these gaiters and we think ultralight long-distance hikers will too.
Dirty Girl Gaiter Review
Cons: Not waterproof, requires velcro installation on shoes
Manufacturer: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Compare to Similar Products
Dirty Girl Gaiter
|Price||$20.00 List||$41.37 at Backcountry||$45 List|
$44.95 at REI
Check Price at Backcountry
|Check Price at REI|
|Pros||Lightweight, secure, inexpensive||Light, instep strap can be replaced, comfortable, good breathability||Durable, secure, waterproof||Easy on and off, instep cord is replaceable||Super lightweight, easy to attach, flexible|
|Cons||Not waterproof, requires velcro installation on shoes||No insulation, thin material isn't as durable||Heavy for length, chunky-looking||Not versatile, instep cord wears quickly||Not waterproof, requires velcro on shoes|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight and comfortable pair of gaiters that are meant for the long haul||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 simple, old school gaiter that is easy to put on and take off||An ultralight pair of gaiters that are made for trail running and UL backpacking|
|Rating Categories||Dirty Girl Gaiter||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op Backpacke...||Black Diamond Talus||Altra Trail Gaiter|
|Comfort and Breathability (25%)|
|Debris Protection (25%)|
|Ease of Attachment (15%)|
|Water Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Dirty Girl Gaiter||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op Backpacke...||Black Diamond Talus||Altra Trail Gaiter|
|Weight (each)||0.7 oz||2.6 oz||3.5 oz||1.8 oz||0.5 oz|
|Length||7 in||17 in||10 in||7 in||6.5 in|
|Material||Polyester||Nylon||Nylon||Soft Shell/Hard Shell||Nylon|
|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||Nylon cord instep strap, lace hook, velcro, snap||Hook and loop, velcro heel|
Our Analysis and Test Results
These gaiters offer just the right amount of protection. At 7 inches long and just over half an ounce each, we would take these almost anywhere on a warm-weather hike or trail run.
Comfort & Breathability
These gaiters feel like they are barely there. The 83% polyester, 17% lycra blend is super stretchy. This pair doesn't include any elastic cord so other than the ankle hole itself, there is nothing restrictive about it.
They are so innocuous that it is easy to forget that you are wearing them, and it is also perfectly comfortable to 'store' them around your ankles, even if you don't intend to hook them to your laces. Having said that, if we were to find something critical, it is that the fabric is noticeably thicker than other lightweight trail-running models in this review. Consequently, they are less breathable and in hot weather, make for some sweaty ankles. We noticed some sweat accumulation, especially right around the ankle seam but it never caused any chafing or irritation.
The fabric of this pair is a comparatively tight weave. With that in mind, we found that they repelled even fine dust well. In fact, the holes in the mesh of our shoes allowed more dirt to pass through than the Dirty Girls. The company emphasizes the importance of correct sizing. In practice, we found that the circumference of the top opening accommodates a fairly wide range of ankle sizes, meaning that there is no gap for dirt to works its way in, even on skinny legs. It depends slightly on the type of footwear that you wear them with, but we found these gaiters cover about 2 extra inches of skin above the ankle bone — enough to keep the gunk out, but not necessarily stop the thorns or bugs from getting at our legs.
It is worth noting that there is no instep strap, which means the sides of the gaiter are not attached to the shoe at all. Consequently, one thing that we experienced very rarely was a stick wedging itself between the gaiter and our shoes if we stepped on it in just the right way.
Durability is relative, but given what these gaiters are meant to do, we are pleased with what they offer. The polyester is thicker than the average trail running gaiter. We noticed that it does get nicked up by thorns and bramble, but it ultimately protected us well and we didn't find any serious holes after hiking in them for over a month. The polyester also stretches in two planes (up/down and side/side). We did notice that they stretched out slightly throughout multi-day hikes, but as with most synthetic clothing, they sprung right back into shape after we (hand) washed them.
We are especially impressed with the reinforced lace hook. This particular portion of the gaiter often bears the most stress and Dirty Girl has gone out of its way to double down with a small piece of canvas-like fabric in this spot to prevent the hook from fraying or ripping out.
Ease of Attachment
The Dirty Girl model is super simple to put on. They go on before your footwear and attach with an underhand-oriented lace hook at the front and velcro at the heel. The hook is pretty tight and there is a protective flap of fabric that covers it so it takes a little practice to get it on smoothly.
We also found that this model pairs best with shoes that already have a gaiter trap built-in. If your shoes don't already have this pre-installed velcro patch, the gaiters do come with additional velcro that you can adhere yourself, but this necessitates that the shoes have a sufficiently smooth, clean spot to attach them to. This is a one-time process but when you change out your shoes, you will have to attach a fresh piece of velcro to them as well.
The bottom line is that the Dirty Girl is not a waterproof gaiter. It's not even especially water-resistant. These are warm-weather gaiters, primarily meant to keep grit out of your shoes. They will keep your ankles and socks from saturation in light rain, but they soak through on water crossings.
Though they absorb precipitation fairly easily, they also dry just as quickly. Similar to their dirt and debris protection, their water resistance is almost certainly at least as good as that of the shoes you are pairing them with. From our perspective, our trail-running shoes aren't waterproof either, so we weren't bothered by the wet gaiters. They are great for keeping out the small stuff you kick up during the typical day, but if you are an early bird, you should certainly still expect to get kissed by the dewy ferns if you find yourself on an overgrown trail.
Each gaiter weighs just 0.65 ounces. That makes this pair an excellent option for lightweight and fast travel. Even if you don't want to wear them attached to your shoes, they aren't really noticeable if you just keep them flipped up on your ankles. They are also small enough though that they roll up compactly to fit in a shorts pocket or water bottle holder on a backpack.
Though they aren't the lightest trail running gaiter out there, what they offer in protection and convenience outweigh the fractions of an extra ounce difference. We wouldn't hesitate to take these with us on our next weekend trip, even if we weren't sure that we were going to need them.
These gaiters are an excellent value. They are inexpensive and their durability supports their long-term value as well. If you are planning a thru-hike or just want a reliable pair of gaiters to keep the small stuff out, these ones are well worth the investment.
The Dirty Girl Gaiter is a super lightweight and convenient gaiter to bring on long-distance summer hiking trips when the most important thing is to keep the dust out of your shoes and to keep moving.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
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