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Outdoor Research Crocodile Review

For the big mountain grind, this gaiter is hard to beat
Outdoor Research Crocodile
Photo: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $89 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Heavy-duty and durable, waterproof, warm
Cons:  Expensive, not breathable, heavy
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2019
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Comfort and Breathability - 25% 3
  • Debris Protection - 25% 9
  • Durability - 15% 10
  • Ease of Attachment - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 10
  • Weight - 10% 4

Our Verdict

Tried, true, and mysteriously named after an aquatic reptile, the Outdoor Research Crocodile is a classic gaiter with some modern tech. Made for cold weather and to fit over mountaineering boots, these gaiters are commensurately beefy and heavy. Though they are very stiff out of the store, after ten or so years you'll have a well-worn in pair of gaiters that will keep snow out of your boots and your pants from getting torn for seasons to come. More at home on the slog-aneering peaks than on technical terrain, this isn't the right gaiter for every adventure.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
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$79.95 at Backcountry
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$44.95 at REICheck Price at Backcountry
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$20.00 List
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Pros Heavy-duty and durable, waterproof, warmComfortable, lightweight for the size, replaceable instep, excellent protectionDurable, secure, waterproofEasy on and off, instep cord is replaceableLightweight, secure, inexpensive
Cons Expensive, not breathable, heavyThinner 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 For the big mountain grind, this gaiter is hard to beatAn 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 Outdoor Research Cr... Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Comfort And Breathability (25%)
3.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Debris Protection (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Durability (15%)
10.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Attachment (15%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (10%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (10%)
4.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
Specs Outdoor Research Cr... Rab Muztag GTX REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter
Weight for one (oz) 5.0 oz 3.8 oz 3.5 oz 1.8 oz 0.7 oz
Length (in) 17.5 in 16.5 in 10.0 in 7.0 in 7.0 in
Material Gore-Tex leg panel, Cordura Nylon foot panel 300D nylon, PU coating Nylon Soft Shell/Hard Shell Polyester
Water resistant? Yes Gore-Tex Pro 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric No No
Attachment BioThane webbing instep with metal buckle, boot lace hook 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

The Outdoor Research Crocodile is a single-minded model. They're a little heavy and stiff, but they do their one job incredibly well. They are ultra-durable, waterproof, fit over your clunky double mountaineering boots, and are stiff enough to keep themselves from sliding down the back of your calves every other step. For everything else, they are a little too bulky, too spacious and too heavy. At a solid 10.2 ounces a pair, these gaiters weigh a lot.

Performance Comparison


Starting the descent of the cleaver Mt. Rainier. Crocodile gaiters...
Starting the descent of the cleaver Mt. Rainier. Crocodile gaiters in their element.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Comfort & Breathability


Out of the plastic, these gaiters are stiff and a little clunky, and they stay that way for quite a while. The long break-in period is a little annoying but won't cause too much discomfort. The real downside to all the beefiness and durability is the loss of breathability of the fabric. A perfect recipe for super wet and miserable feet is a combination of warmish weather, double plastic boots, thick pants, and these gaiters.

The old-school Crocodiles (left) vs the (now discontinued) Rab Latok...
The old-school Crocodiles (left) vs the (now discontinued) Rab Latok Alpine (right). The Latok is lighter weight, more breathable, and sleeker, but not as durable. It's up to you to pick which attributes you value more.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Debris Protection


The gaiters work well at keeping debris out of your boots, but you have to be using them for the right thing. They are meant to go over bigger boots, which doesn't necessarily mean doubles, but using them with smaller shoes leaves a gap that debris can penetrate. They do not fit as well over hiking boots and do not really work at all with approach or running shoes. They are stiff enough to support themselves and keep from sliding down your calves and have a cinch at the top that holds fast and keeps the snow out from above if you are on foot and it's really that deep (seriously, get some skis). They hold snugly in place with a clip for the laces at the front and the great adjustability of the underfoot strap.

If you get the right fit, nothing is getting past these gaiters.
If you get the right fit, nothing is getting past these gaiters.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Durability


These gaiters held up in our side-by-side testing like a champ. After a big trip in the mountains, everything you take with you will look more than a little worn (including yourself). We used these gaiters while guiding on Denali, and after walking down the Kahiltna glacier with our Crocodiles intact, they still looked brand new after a quick wash. These things are as close to indestructible as can be. The 1000D foot panel will resist even the most errant crampon spikes, and the foot buckles are triple bar-tacked and made with a solid piece of metal. It'd be hard to find a mountaineer in the country who hasn't owned a pair of these (and probably still do), and the one universally agreed-upon statement about them is that they last.

Steep deep snow in the Sierra! It happens and the Outdoor Research...
Steep deep snow in the Sierra! It happens and the Outdoor Research Crocodile thrives in these conditions.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Ease of Attachment


The folks at OR have this pretty dialed and made it easy to use this product in almost any conditions. Once you have the instep strap adjusted, they Velcro in place and have a cam buckle top closure. While you can adjust the cam buckle with gloves on, you'll need to take your gloves off to adjust the instep strap, which is another area where this pair loses just a little bit of ground. Also, the bootlace hook is on the top of the gaiter, which means you need to close them first and then finagle the hook down.

These gaiters are relatively easy to attach once you have the fit...
These gaiters are relatively easy to attach once you have the fit dialed in, but you'll need to take you gloves off to adjust the instep strap.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Water Resistance


Just like its namesake, the Outdoor Research Crocodile thrives in the wet. They are about as close to waterproof as a gaiter can get, keeping in mind that if you are wading through an ankle-high stream, water can still creep up the inside of the gaiter and wet your feet that way. With a three-layer Gore-Tex upper and 1000 denier foot panel, this gaiter is virtually impenetrable from the outside. It continuously shed water in our dousing test, and no part of the gaiter wetted through even after a prolonged soaking. Keep in mind, though, that the real trick with this gaiter is keeping your feet dry from the inside on warmer days when you still need to wear them. Poor breathability makes this model a less than ideal choice for warmer weather mountaineering. Even the coldest climbs can become sweltering in the heat of the day or on the descent. While there will never be a perfect solution, being able to adapt is still the easiest way to keep yourself comfortable and healthy.

Both the 1000D foot panel (bottom) and Gore-Tex upper (top) shed...
Both the 1000D foot panel (bottom) and Gore-Tex upper (top) shed water effectively and will keep your feet dry all day long, on the outside at least.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Weight


These gaiters are solid and weigh 5 ounces each. They are not the lightest gaiters in this review, but considering the coverage they provide, they aren't the worst either. In addition, in terms of their durability relative to their weight, they are A+ when it comes to keeping you protected.

Value


You'll only have to buy these gaiters once or twice in your climbing career, and that's assuming your climbing career lasts long enough to get through the first pair. That's a pretty good deal.

NW uniform, these climbers got the memo on the gaiters to wear on...
NW uniform, these climbers got the memo on the gaiters to wear on Rainier.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Conclusion


These gaiters have a specialized niche — you won't want to wear them on a warm day hike, but they are hard to beat in their cold, icy element, and will last as long as you in the backcountry.

Summit of Mt. Olympus. The Crocs find themselves in many high...
Summit of Mt. Olympus. The Crocs find themselves in many high places, even when you have to climb a little rock to get there.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Thomas Greene