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Hands-on Gear Review
Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low Review
Cons: Lacks versatility.
The Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low is a little old school, but we're not knocking old school. We had the exact same gaiter (maybe OR, maybe a different brand) in the early 90's when we rocked jeans, a cotton hoody and a nylon windbreaker up Mt. Katahdin in the rain and missed becoming Donn Fendler by inches. They worked great then and they still do now, though we may have become a bit harder to impress, and the competition has not been resting on their laurels. This gaiter provides a good fit over hiking boots and, though not waterproof, they will keep your feet adequately dry in most conditions. But the flared out design make them a poor choice for mountaineering or any type of use with crampons. We're not saying it can't be done, but if you plan on using crampons, you'd be better off with an alpine specific gaiter, like our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Latok Alpine.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Likely nostalgia played some part in our fondness for the Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low, which brought back memories of being 13 years old, saturated and in a near hypothermic state at the top of a mountain. The classic design of this gaiter is proof that some things can't be improved. That being said, given our current professions and choice of outdoor recreation, we probably wouldn't buy it for ourselves. As climbers and guides, having something that is appropriate for use with crampons is critical. We also wear gaiters because of wet conditions, and this gaiter is better suited to dryer conditions. It's doubly unfortunate that this gaiter isn't very waterproof nor designed to be worn with crampons because it has the best fit with our Nepal Evo boots of any gaiter we tested in this review. The elasticated bottom of the gaiter created a near perfect seal over our boots. Bottom line, if you get this gaiter for your drier weather hiking adventures you'll be happy, and you won't have to spend a lot of money on them either. They weigh 2.5 ounces each and have about a 9 inch rise. They come in Black only, and S/M or L/XL sizes.
The nylon fabric of these gaiters sheds water really well, particularly if you get a good taut fit over your boots and clothing. They are good for splashes across streams and the occasional brush up against some wet vegetation, but they eventually soak through if used in wet conditions for an extended duration. Use them for cold weather dry snow or drier hikes, or check out the full length Outdoor Research Crocodile, which had our highest rating for Water Resistance.
Both the bottom and top of the gaiter is elasticated, and though not adjustable, they can provide a super tight fit over your boots if sized correctly. They tend to fit best over hiking boots as opposed to approach shoes or light hikers, so keep that in mind if you prefer the latter over the former. This gaiter works very well in vegetation and rocky terrain that is generally dry. They won't work as well in very wet conditions but will be fine for muddy conditions and for rock hopping across streams.
The 420D 100% nylon material is durable and light. Though the shape of the gaiter is flared, it didn't snag on vegetation like the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail. The instep strap is wide, and as long as you use these with boots with an arch they should last a long time.
Comfort & Breathability
These gaiters were fairly average in terms of comfort and breathability. The baggy fit felt a little annoying at times, though it does allow them to fit over fairly large boots. The elasticated top and bottom are not adjustable and require a good fit over your boots and legs to work. For us, the opening at the top was too large for use with bare legs but they fit well over pants. If you're looking for a lighter and more breathable hiking gaiter, check out our Top Pick, the Rab Scree.
Ease of Attachment
This gaiter goes on and off fairly quickly. You won't mind carrying them with just in case you need a pair of gaiters, though they take a bit longer to adjust than the Outdoor Research Wrapid. The boot instep is easy to adjust and it's worth taking a few minutes to get a perfect fit. Note that the front hook is on the top overlapping piece of material, which means you need to close the front Velcro up before hooking your shoelaces or gaiter ring. After using newer styles that have the hook on the bottom, we find we get a better fit up front by latching the hook first and then attaching the Velcro. Both the Wrapid and the Rab Latok Alpine use this hook placement instead.
This gaiter is fairly light at 2.5 ounces each, but they are a no-frills model.
These gaiters work best in dry terrain hiking situations, or for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in cold weather and dry snow conditions.
This gaiter is inexpensive, durable, and light. It is not the most versatile gaiter, but it will serve multiple purposes for you if your hobbies line up with it recommend uses, terrain, and conditions.
This classic design still works relatively well, and OR seems to be going along with the "if it ain't broke" line of thinking. If you only need gaiters occasionally or don't want to spend a ton of money on two small flaps of fabric, then the Rocky Mt. Low is a great addition to your hiking gear.
— Thomas Greene
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