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Hands-on Gear Review
Mountain Hardwear Ascent Review
Cons: Fragile, not waterproof, not breathable.
The Mountain Hardwear Ascent gaiter seems to have been made with close attention to all details, except the instep strap buckle, which broke the first time we put them on. We were a little bummed, as this rendered the gaiters mostly useless, and the piece is pretty much impossible to replace. A quick perusal of online reviews showed us that we were not the first to experience this issue. In addition, these gaiters are heavy and not very breathable, making it hard for us to recommend them for any application. For a durable pair of gaiters that might outlive you climbing career, check out the Outdoor Research Crocodile. Or, for supreme breathability in the mountains, our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Latok Alpine, is hard to beat.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Aside from temporarily derailing a climb, the Mountain Hardwear Ascent worked pretty much like any other gaiter we've used. It kept snow out of the boot that the remaining gaiter still covered, and maybe kept that foot a little warmer. There were no further disappointments, and it shed water effectively. But, we can't say that we found the survivor that impressive either. The re-threaded cinch at the top was a pain to use with gloves on, and if it wasn't re-threaded it would loosen after a few steps. This gaiter is very high volume, which is ideal for larger sized double boots, but on single mountaineering boots the fit was poor at best. Each gaiter weighs 6 ounces, and have a 17.5 inch rise.
While the 420D pack cloth fabric that makes up most of the body of the gaiter performed well in our water tests and shed water without wetting through, the breathable stretch panel at the back of the gaiter is as water resistant as a fishnet stocking. That panel extends down to the top of the boot line, and while it feels nice on and adds some breathbility, it seriously compromises the overall water resistance.
This gaiter is very high volume and proved to be a sloppy fit with all of our boot options including a size 11 Spantik double synthetic. This additional space was problematic and we found it necessary to remove snow buildup from the bottom of the gaiter. The top cinch is annoying to use, but worked well, preventing snow and debris from entering the gaiter from above.
We had to give this gaiter the lowest score of all the models that we tested, as it was the only one that broke during our review period. We could have almost overlooked it too if it wasn't for the fact that we were not the only ones to experience this issue (multiple reviews stated the same issue across several websites, including Mountain Hardwear's). If they are aware of this problem, why keep making a defective gaiter? As for the rest of the gaiter, the 420D pack cloth is doubled up around the foot, providing extra protection from crampon spikes, and all the other components seem beefy and well-made.
Comfort & Breathability
Once you have this gaiter on it has a similar feel and comfort to the OR Crocodiles, but is even less breathable, as the upper is mostly pack cloth while the Crocodile uses a lighter and more breathable Gore-Tex instead. As a result we experienced moisture build up even in fairly dry conditions while using it.
Ease of Attachment
The re-threading cinch at the top is a serious design flaw that is hard to use in ideal conditions and virtually impossible to use with gloves on or cold hands. The instep strap does not have a buckle closure and tends to loosen as you walk, requiring it to be readjusted often.
These were the heaviest full length gaiter that we tested at 6 ounces each. The much beefier Outdoor Research Crocodile manages to shave an ounce off these gaiters and is more durable - go figure.
Even though this gaiter fits best over larger double boots, we would not recommend taking it on an expedition due to its fragility. Day trips and other short excursions would be an appropriate use for it.
These gaiters aren't as expensive as the Rab Latok Alpine or Outdoor Research Crocodile, but don't perform nearly as well either.
Overall this gaiter is a bit of a disappointment. While gaiters themselves are used less and less often, and are probably not a huge seller for most companies, it would be nice for the ones still on the market to be high-quality and well-though out.
— Thomas Greene
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