Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap Review
Cons: Not very versatile, not water resistant
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort and Breathability
Whether they are over a pair of socks or directly against bare skin, these gaiters almost feel like nothing. We did a couple of comparison runs with the Overdrive Wrap on one ankle with other trail runners on the other ankle at various points and the Overdrive Wrap did the best job of 'fading into the background'. Their adjustability allows them to fit over light hiking pants and their stretch allows the wearer to maintain a full range of motion without feeling like the gaiter is sliding down or pulling on skin or clothing.
They are not water-resistant, but the porousness of the 86%/14% nylon/elastane blend means that they are very breathable. Another subtle, but important feature is that while they are very dark, they are not quite pure black, so they don't heat up quite as much as some of the other contenders. They come in sizes S/M and L/XL, fit by shoe size.
This is where the Overdrive Wrap really shines. We found that these gaiters fit like a glove, thus keeping out debris both from above and below. They are designed to be worn with low-cut, low volume sneakers or trail shoes. We wore them over hiking boots just to see how they did; we wouldn't recommend them for it, but they still managed to keep a decent seal.
We found the durability of this model to be decent for a low cut gaiter. They have a slightly thinner and narrower instep strap, but it didn't show any signs of wear during testing. The main body material itself is not meant to take an aggressive beating through scree fields, but these gaiters hug footwear so well that they almost never get caught on anything.
We would opt for a different model if we knew there was going to be a lot of scrambling involved, but the thing that ended up wearing them the most was their own velcro snagging the fabric when they were tucked in a pack. It's also worth noting that though the Hypalon instep strap is very durable, it is stitched directly into the gaiter so once it wears through, it can't be replaced.
Ease of Attachment
These gaiters are a snap to put on. They have an instep strap, lace hook, and two velcro pads. With all of these points of attachment, they stay secure on footwear for the duration. Another advantage of the velcro configuration is that the top and bottom of the gaiter can be adjusted independently, which accommodates a wider range of foot and ankle shapes; it can be tighter on top and looser on the bottom or vice versa. The lace hook conceals neatly underneath the gaiter; it's fairly small, but given the type of footwear that it is meant to attach to, it is more than adequate.
Like other trail running and lightweight thru-hiking gaiters, the Overdrive Wrap is not designed for any serious protection from precipitation. Stomping through puddles or even just running on a saturated forest floor will get them wet. We found that they dried out quickly in the sun, but if you do most of your running under a forest canopy, once they are wet, they hold on to moisture.
On the other hand, we found that walking or hiking at a reasonable pace did not create enough splashback to be really problematic. This is to say, if water resistance is a primary consideration in your purchase, look elsewhere, perhaps to a heartier mid-length gaiter. However, if you're not planning to splash in the rain or go dashing through the snow, these are a distance hiker's dream.
Each of these gaiters weighs less than an ounce. They are compact enough to fit easily in a jacket pocket, but if you're going to be out on the trail, you may as well have them on to begin with.
Outdoor Research seems to be underselling how lightweight they are. The pair is advertised at 4.2 oz. total. Our multiple measurements on different scales put them at less than half that weight.
With this model, it is also the little things that count. For example, the OR logo is reflective; while we certainly wouldn't count on them as a primary safety signal on a nighttime jog, this feature is an example of the attention to detail in the design of a seemingly simple product.
This pair is a value purchase for someone who makes a habit out of tromping through the duff. We think that trail gaiters, in general, tend to be a little overpriced, but this pair fit our testers so well that they would be happy to dish out the dollars for them.
The Overdrive Wrap is our Editors' Choice for moving fast and light. It has a simple but thoughtful design and the weight of the pair means there is no reason not to wear them! If you have had to stop your run to dump out pine needles from your shoes one too many times, this is the gaiter that will keep your feet happy while keeping you on the move.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch