Outdoor Research Surge Review
Cons: Rides up, not water resistant, material stretches out over time
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
We went for some sloppy trail runs with the early spring snowmelt. With the Surge, we ran into some wardrobe malfunctions along the way. They are super simple to put on, so we kept them around our ankles, regardless of whether or not we secured them to our footwear- it just wasn't going to be worth it to get them on if we changed our minds halfway through a hike. Once we had made the commitment though, we found that these gaiters didn't always love us back. They faired well early on, but as the miles passed, so did the security of the Surge. They fit over a wider variety of footwear than we expected, but they slipped and bunched up quite a bit with shoes that they were seemingly designed to pair with.
These gaiters are just a notch or two above cheesecloth in terms of their water resistance. You can see through them when they are held up to the light, so they do dry out quickly in the sun. However, they are not designed to withstand anything beyond the humidity in the air or maybe a gentle mist.
The Surge has its moments early on in an adventure, but ultimately it's not too hard to reach the protective limits of this model. It's not that the fabric can't repel debris, but this gaiter is held in place by a lace hook at the front and a rubberized strip in the back. It has a sewn-in elastic cord that runs around the front half of the gaiter, which helps keep tension, but with consistent, moderate-impact sports like running, the back strip is going to slip. This causes the gaiter to ride up, creating a gap at the side or back.
The more we tested, the more we realized these gaiters may not be able to go the distance. There is very little material that can get damaged; no instep strap, no buckles, no velcro. To the Surge's credit, it's not the 91%/9% nylon/elastane blend itself that wore, but the hemstitching at the top and bottom that began to unravel. It still had a way to wear after testing, but if the bottom back thread were to come completely undone, the rubberized strip at the back would be inverted and become useless.
Comfort and Breathability
These gaiters are the most comfortable and breathable of all the models we tested. Once we had them on, we typically forgot they were there. In fact, more than once, we started putting on another pair of gaiters over them unintentionally and sometimes didn't remember we had them on until we pulled off our socks at the end of the day.
We were rocking the black version, but they also come in hot sauce (red) and lemongrass (yellow-green).
Ease of Attachment
Getting these on is just about as easy as putting on a sock. The only thing keeping them from a 10 in this metric is that they do have to go on before footwear. That combined with their lightweight and breathability meant that if we were taking them with us, we never saw a reason not to just wear them from the get-go.
Once they are over your ankle, just fasten the lace hook and stretch them over your footwear. They are longer than the Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap and Salomon Trail, but we were still surprised by how they fit over different types of shoes.
The Surge is a featherweight in the gaiter world. At just a nudge over an ounce for the pair, if you were ever wondering what to stash in that little pocket on the upper arm of your jacket or fleece, it could be this pair of gaiters.
This gaiter could thrive with lower impact sports like cycling. It did ok with trail running and we found that if they were secured with microspikes at the back, they actually performed quite well (but if you need spikes, you probably also need water resistance).
At $28, this pair is not too much cheaper than the Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap. If lightweight and easy attachment are your primary consideration, then this could be your gaiter, but if you are looking for a sturdier, more reliable trail running model, we would look elsewhere.
These gaiters kept out the debris… until they didn't. We love how lightweight and simple they are, but they have their limits. They would benefit from a sturdier alternative mechanism to keep them secured around the heel, and they just aren't meant for the long haul. If you want a casual pair, this could be it, but if you want a sturdier trail running option, check out the Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More