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Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low Review

A mid-height durable and easy-to-attach gaiter
Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low
Photo: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $39 List | $38.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, durable
Cons:  Lacks versatility, baggy
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Comfort and Breathability - 25% 5
  • Debris Protection - 25% 4
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Ease of Attachment - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 5
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low is a little old school, but that's not a bad thing. They worked back in the day and they still do now, though we may have become a bit harder to impress (and the competition has not been resting on its laurels). This gaiter provides a good fit over hiking boots. Though they are 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. They work best in dry terrain hiking situations, or for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in cold weather and dry snow conditions. 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.

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Price $38.95 at Amazon
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Pros Inexpensive, durableDurable, secure, waterproofEasy on and off, instep cord is replaceableLightweight, secure, inexpensiveSuper lightweight, easy to attach, flexible
Cons Lacks versatility, baggyHeavy for length, chunky-lookingNot versatile, instep cord wears quicklyNot waterproof, requires velcro installation on shoesNot waterproof, requires velcro on shoes
Bottom Line A mid-height durable and easy-to-attach gaiterA 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 haulAn ultralight pair of gaiters that are made for trail running and UL backpacking
Rating Categories Rocky Mt. Low REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter Altra Trail Gaiter
Comfort And Breathability (25%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
Debris Protection (25%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Durability (15%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
Ease Of Attachment (15%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Water Resistance (10%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Rocky Mt. Low REI Co-op Backpacke... Black Diamond Talus Dirty Girl Gaiter Altra Trail Gaiter
Weight for one (oz) 2.5 oz 3.5 oz 1.8 oz 0.7 oz 0.5 oz
Length (in) 9.0 in 10.0 in 7.0 in 7.0 in 6.50 in
Material Nylon Nylon Soft Shell/Hard Shell Polyester Nylon
Water resistant? Yes 3-layer waterproof/breathable fabric No No No
Attachment Hypalon instep strap with metal buckle, boot lace hook Hook and loop, instep strap Nylon cord instep strap, lace hook, velcro, snap Hook and loop, velcro heel Hook and loop, velcro heel

Our Analysis and Test Results

The classic design of this gaiter is proof that some things stand the test of time. Having said that, there is a specific time and place for each piece of equipment and this one is pretty narrow. 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. The elastic bottom of the gaiter creates 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.

Performance Comparison


Climbing the grooved out trail on the upper portion of Mt. Rainier...
Climbing the grooved out trail on the upper portion of Mt. Rainier. This gaiter worked in these conditions relatively well, though they are better suited for drier hiking conditions without the use of crampons.
Photo: Thomas Green

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.

The baggy fit wasn't quite as comfortable as some of the more form...
The baggy fit wasn't quite as comfortable as some of the more form fitting models, and we occasionally felt stuffy in them on warm days.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Debris Protection


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.

These gaiters fit a little baggy over our light hikers, but thanks...
These gaiters fit a little baggy over our light hikers, but thanks to the bottom strap they stayed in place enough to keep most debris out.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Durability


The 420D 100% nylon material is durable and light. Though the shape of the gaiter is flared, it didn't snag on vegetation like some models are liable to do. The instep strap is wide, and as long as you use these with boots with an arch they should last a long time.

The critical Durability point for most gaiters; this pair's buckle...
The critical Durability point for most gaiters; this pair's buckle is solidly attached and the strap is wide, but if you use them on shoes without a significant arch they'll wear out eventually.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

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. 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 upfront by latching the hook first and then attaching the Velcro.

These gaiters are fairly simple to step into and do up.
These gaiters are fairly simple to step into and do up.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Water Resistance


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.

Water beads up and rolls off the nylon fairly well, though after a...
Water beads up and rolls off the nylon fairly well, though after a long day in the snow the material does wet through.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Weight


This gaiter is fairly light at 2.5 ounces each, but they are a no-frills model.

These gaiters won't weigh you down, and will offer extra protection...
These gaiters won't weigh you down, and will offer extra protection against the elements.
Photo: Scott Ring

Value


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.

Ok, we admit it. You can wear this gaiter with crampons.
Ok, we admit it. You can wear this gaiter with crampons.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Conclusion


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.

This probably wasn't the first pair of OR gaiters to reach the...
This probably wasn't the first pair of OR gaiters to reach the crater rim of Rainier.
Photo: Thomas Greene

Thomas Greene