Packing a bag for a light and fast mission often involves leaving behind a bunch of things that you typically pack "just in case." One of the things that commonly makes the discard pile is your gaiters. Very often you don't know whether or not you'll need them until you're already on the trail, and more often than not it seems like you ended up carrying them for nothing. But, the days you do need them and don't have them are the experiences that inspire you to never leave home without them. A very sweet compromise between having to carry gaiters and maybe not using them is the Outdoor Research Wrapid. These lightweight gaiters will hardly be noticed in your pack, but will be indispensable on your feet if you need them. They are quick and easy to put on (hence the name), fit around all kinds of different shoes and boots, and can be used in a variety of situations. They aren't the most inexpensive gaiter out there, but you get a lot of versatility with this pair, and for that we've given it our Best Buy award.
Outdoor Research Wrapid Review
Cons: Not fully waterproof.
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Outdoor Research Wrapid gaiter was designed for the approach rather than the climb, but we found ourselves using it for both. Fitting equally well over tennis shoes, hiking boots, and low volume mountaineering boots, the unique wrap around design lets you dial in an excellent fit on a variety of footwear. The Biothane instep allows you to further adjust the fit of this gaiter until it works just about as well as a full-length gaiter. The instep is also removable, letting you wear this gaiter with flat soled approach and running shoes without the fear of shredding the strap. Though not fully waterproof, they are resistant enough for quick splashes across puddles and streams, and will keep your feet dry on glaciers when the snow isn't too deep. This gaiter can be put on in seconds, so you won't hesitate to throw them on if you think you'll need them. They are perfect for shoulder seasons or summer time outings when it's hard to know what conditions you'll encounter.
These gaiters are made with a soft-shell nylon/polyester/spandex blend, with double front hooks and anti-slip silicone pads around the bottom of the gaiter. They are available in both Men's and Women's models in sizes S/M and L/XL. The Men's are available in Black/Lemongrass colors and the Women's in Orchid/Crocus.
OR doesn't claim that this gaiter is waterproof, and they're not; however, they are remarkably water resistant and shed snow like a champ. Compared to the other softshell gaiter in this review, the Rab Scree, this gaiter functions almost as well as a hard-shell full-length gaiter, and offers more coverage as well. This is the gaiter we want to take with us just in case we need to cross a wet snow patch on the approach or climb. If you know that you will likely encounter deep snow or other sustained wet conditions, you'd be better served with another gaiter such as the Rab Latok Alpine or the Outdoor Research Crocodile.
This gaiter does just about as well and maybe better than most gaiters at keeping debris out of your shoes and boots. Because you can adjust the fit of the gaiter so precisely, they perform remarkably well in nearly all conditions. In heavy vegetation they tended to collect seeds and leaves under the closure flap, which required cleaning before putting them away. Other than that single drawback, they are remarkably effective gaiters.
There isn't a lot to break on this gaiter and that's a serious plus in our books. We were a little concerned with the removable Biothane instep when we first started the testing process, but there was no breakage after months of use. The strap itself is coated in plastic, and the material it latches into is sturdy, but if it ever catches on something and you jerk your leg up quickly, you might pop out one of those rungs.
The softshell fabric doesn't snag easily, and even resists crampon catches. This gaiter doesn't have reinforced crampon patches, though you can wrap it tightly around your leg to minimize that issue, unlike the Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low. The Velcro closure does require a little attention to keep clean so that it continues to work properly. We found that hand washing them with a little dish soap was better than throwing them in the washing machine to get the sand and mud out and help keep the Velcro free of lint.
Comfort & Breathability
The Outdoor Research Wrapid gaiter is barely noticeable when you're wearing them, even on bare skin. It does require a little attention to line up the Velcro so it overlaps completely, otherwise the Velcro can irritate bare skin. Best to wear them over long socks or pants. They are a great hot season compromise when your heavy gaiters are sure to induce swamp foot but you still need a gaiter to keep out debris, water or snow. The upper, a blend of polyester, nylon and spandex, moves well with you and doesn't bunch up or impede the range of movement of the ankle when climbing.
Ease of Attachment
Putting this gaiter on is a cinch. It pulls over shoes and boots with equal ease, and closes securely. We expected some issues with the Velcro over time, but so far it has performed perfectly. We also like that the front hooks are on the bottom flap, so that you can hook the gaiter first and then wrap them tight. It's hard to adjust the instep strap once it's on, so you might want to play around with it first and get the sizing right. Alternatively, you can use the gaiter without the strap if you like. They don't stay quite as securely attached though, and we're not sure that the silicone pads do much to keep the gaiter in place. The front hooks are also supposed to pivot, but that wasn't the case with the pair we had.
These gaiters are not full-sized and will not perform like a standard knee-high gaiter in terms of protection. They are very light and compressible though, and you won't mind carting them around even if you end up not using them. At a lean 2 ounces each, they aren't the lightest gaiter we tested but it is the lightest gaiter with a Velcro closure system. And compared to how difficult it was to put the MH Scree gaiters on, we'll take those extra ounces any day for easier entry. While other short and lightweight gaiters require you to take your shoes off when it's time to put them on, with these ones you just step in, wrap and go. Additionally, the removable Biothane instep is heavier than the elasticated or fabric insteps used on other lightweight gaiters, but is also significantly more durable.
This gaiter was made for your light and fast missions where you may or may not need a gaiter. They are equally at home on desert strolls and High Sierra rambles as they are in the New England mud or on a Washington glacier. We used them on any shoe and boot they would fit over and were happy with their performance anywhere we went.
While they aren't giving this gaiter away, OR certainly hasn't overpriced it either. For $48 you get a very functional and high performing gaiter that is useful in a variety of situations. We tested some less expensive gaiters, but they just didn't measure up to this one in terms of performance and versatility, and for this we've given it our Best Buy award.
The Outdoor Research Wrapid is one of the new "modern" style gaiters that make us wonder while older options, like the Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low, are still in production. Lightweight, water resistant fabric combined with an easy attachment system make this a great product that will save your feet again and again.
The Outdoor Research Endurance Gaiter is a beefier version of this model, with abrasion-resistant panels to protect against crampon spikes.
— Thomas Greene