The Rab Latok Alpine is about as exciting as gaiters get (and we don't say that ironically). A well thought out design offers a low profile gaiter that is supremely easy to adjust. This model stays in place thanks to a drawcord adjustment at the top and a flexible polymer strip that holds the gaiter in place at the back. It's designed to fit low volume hiking or mountaineering boots, and it has a sleek look, particularly when compared with the old-school models. If you need a pair of high gaiters that offer reliable protection from the elements in the mountains, then these Editors' Choice Award winners are the superior choice.
New Version Available
Rab released an updated version of this gaiter called the Muztag Gore-Tex Pro. This new gaiter's main fabric is 40D Gore-Tex Pro, featuring 300D nylon reinforcements and a PU coating. We've purchased the Muztag GTX Pro for testing and will report on our findings when testing is complete.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Latok Alpine gaiter sports some impressive material technology. It has an eVent waterproof outer, a Stretch Watergate fabric rear panel, and Robic nylon around the ankle for added durability. However, its true strength lies in a functional design stripped of distracting, impractical, and hard to use features. We took them on wet snow slogs up Mt. Olympus in Washington state and kept them on for the short 5.fun pitch at the top without fear of them getting in the way or getting torn up. They kept our feet dry in spite of putting our legs in what seemed like every crevasse on Mt. Baker after a fresh layer of wind-driven snow covered over the cracks that a sweltering summer had exposed. We managed a ton of climbs in a variety of conditions and barely noticed that these gaiters were there, but we were grateful that they were. They are light, supremely functional and won't require taking a hammer to your piggy bank to afford. Keep in mind that they are designed for single mountaineering boots and hiking boots, and won't fit over double mountaineering boots. Each gaiter weighs 4 ounces and has a 15.5-inch rise.
Comfort & Breathability
Once the instep strap is properly adjusted, you can put the gaiter on and forget about it. We found ourselves throwing them on at the trailhead to save a little space in our packs because we weren't worried about our feet getting soaked with sweat or having to constantly tend to and readjust them.
The eVent fabric is so remarkably breathable that even on the hottest days of a very drought-plagued and smokey summer we were able to wear this gaiter without discomfort. The material is supple enough not to restrict motion yet maintains its position over your calf without the need for over-tightening.
With a low volume design meant for single mountaineering or hiking boots, this gaiter has a snug fit that prevents debris from accumulating at the bottom. The drawcord adjustment point at the top helps keep the gaiter sealed high and tight over your calf.
This model was one of the best performers in this regard of all the gaiters we tested and we didn't experience any major debris seepage that hindered our adventures. It even edges out the much more burly models when it comes to keeping the crud at bay.
This gaiter is remarkably waterproof and supremely breathable. However, if you're not careful, you'll kick a hole in them with your crampons on your first day out. This gaiter will not be as forgiving of clumsy footwork as other high models so practicing your technical stepping will keep them looking good for longer (and just might save your life). For most other purposes they will withstand all the normal wear and tear that gaiters could be expected to encounter.
We particularly liked the beefy rubber instep strap, which uses a velcro closure as opposed to a buckle system. One less thing to break, which does happen surprisingly often with other models.
Ease of Attachment
This gaiter is a low maintenance piece of our kit. Once you have properly adjusted the velcro instep strap on the inside of the gaiter, you close the main flap and give the adjustable cinch at the top a little tug. We also like that the bootlace hook is on the lower panel of fabric-- that lets you hook your laces first, then close them up, ensuring a close fit every time.
These gaiters were designed to go over lower volume single mountaineering boots, so make sure you size them appropriately and realize that you aren't likely to get as good a fit over hiking boots.
This gaiter is as close to waterproof as gaiters come. In side-by-side testing where we sprayed water on the gaiters, the eVent fabric worked similarly to a high-end hardshell jacket. Water beaded up and rolled off immediately. Even after prolonged dousing, it did not saturate through. The Stretch Watergate fabric and Robic nylon proved to be less water-resistant but still held up well in testing.
Like any gaiter, this will never be a watertight system-- don't expect to have dry feet after a river crossing. Instead, you can quietly marvel (or at a minimum nod appreciatively) at how dry your pant legs and boot tops are at the end of a long slog through the snow, wet bush, or in a rainstorm.
At 4 ounces each, this model is the lightest of the high length mountaineering/expedition gaiters that we tested. That's something you will appreciate after a few miles.
If you are new to climbing or wearing crampons, a heavier, thicker model may just be a better choice, if only because they will be able to withstand an errant crampon spike more effectively, but if you are a technical wizard that wants to slim down their kit, the Latok Alpine is a fabulous lightweight option.
Considering all of the high-end materials used in this gaiter, it's actually quite affordable. If you don't hesitate to spend a lot of money on your hardshell jacket, then you shouldn't think twice about purchasing something similar for your feet. We noted the durability concerns above, but with typical care, you should get plenty of good use from these gaiters.
The Rab Latok Alpine is a supremely well-crafted and well-designed gaiter. This is the type of accessory that feels like it is designed by people who actually use it. It's one of the most waterproof and breathable gaiters that we tested, and if you've been leaning towards the I-don't-wear-gaiters-anymore camp lately, these might just bring you back into the fold.
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