The Rab Scree is a high ankle-length gaiter that is perfect for dirty approaches up talus (aka scree) fields or covering miles through sandy trails. If you've ever taken a break while backpacking to dump the debris out of your shoes, having a small gaiter like this one would save the day. The pair weighs just a couple ounces; this model attaches easily and securely to footwear and is one of the most comfortable and breathable options that we tested. It's certainly not meant for mountaineering or keeping your feet dry in a high river during spring melt, but for light and fast hiking or trail running, the Scree is a solid choice. It earns our Top Pick for its combination of low weight and breathability.
Rab Scree Review
Cons: Not waterproof, no ankle adjustment (may not fit larger ankles), Instep strap wears out
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We love this gaiter for its utility in a variety of hiking and climbing environments. It fits very snugly so it keeps debris out of footwear. Rab's Matrix DWS (double weave stretch) fabric is highly breathable, which means it sacrifices some water resistance, but as with any ankle-length gaiter, they are not going to keep you protected from high water crossings anyway. The Scree lacks some adjustability though, and if you have wide ankles these might feel a little too tight. They tend to fit best on lower volume hiking boots and approach shoes.
Comfort & Breathability
The softshell fabric on this gaiter is lightweight and fairly breathable. Surprisingly, we didn't notice any increase in sweatiness even when wearing them on a hot desert trail run. They are more comfortable with a high sock - we didn't particularly like the feel of the elastic band against bare skin, but then again we don't particularly like the feel of any gaiter on our legs. We are also pleased that they stayed up on our ankles, which was a problem we had with other models.
This model is an ankle-length low volume gaiter. It was designed to be worn with light hiking boots or low-cut footwear. As such, these gaiters provide good coverage with those types of shoes. However, when we tried them with a pair of mountaineering boots they covered the top but not the lower laces. When used with the appropriate footwear, they did a great job of keeping sand, silt, and small pebbles out. They were such a good fit that we would often have a clean, dry strip where the top of our shoes and the bottom of our pants met. Our one word of caution is that the elastic top fits fairly tightly, and you might not be able to get it over a heavier pair of pants without feeling a little constricted. The bottom instep bungee cord also locks down tightly. All in all, for a short gaiter, it did a great job of keeping our shoes and socks clean.
We are pleased with the body durability, and a little disappointed with the instep strap. Gaiters usually become worn or damaged in a couple specific ways: they either get caught on objects such as vegetation or crampons, rub against each other as the wearer walks, or wear at the instep strap from repeated contact with the ground.
Because these gaiters have such a narrow profile and tight fit, there's not a huge opportunity for them to snag on objects or for interfering with your gait. We wore them for two weeks while trekking through the future Patagonia National Park, and they looked virtually brand new by the end.
The instep strap is a different matter. On that adventure, it was slightly frayed but not broken. However, as we continued to use this pair, the cord eventually gave out. Because the cord runs through a grommet on each side, it can be easily replaced and Rab supplies spare cord and toggles, so we got by ok the first time it happened, then it happened again, and we were a little less forgiving. From there, we had to find our own replacement cord. We also found it a little challenging to rethread the toggle without damaging it.
Ease of Attachment
If you're wearing them from the get-go, they are pretty straightforward to get on. However, they are designed to be slid on before putting on footwear, which means that if you find yourself needing them mid-hike, it'll take a few minutes. Because of their comfort and breathability, it wasn't an issue for us to just put them on at the trailhead. The bungee cord instep strap also makes them easier to put on.
The lace hook attaches very securely, but the flip side is that it also takes a little more dexterity to lock in which can be challenging with cold fingers.
Admittedly, these gaiters can only take a light splash; the Matrix DWS fabric is not quite as water-resistant as the eVent fabric used on the Latok Alpine model, but it does do a fairly good job at repelling a light rain or some wet snow. Moisture will eventually soak through the fabric, but not nearly as quickly as its ankle-height competition.
As long as you are not caught in a torrential downpour, it will do the job through muddy trails or wet vegetation. If you know you'll encounter some ankle-deep river crossings, then you'll want something with higher leg coverage.
At 1.5 ounces each, these gaiters are lightweight. They are marginally heavier than some other options, but the difference is nearly inconsequential in practice. They are a great choice for any fast and light pursuits in the mountains, or for stashing in the lid of your daypack or climbing bag. You never know when an approach can turn ugly, and we can think of many situations where we wish we had these in our packs.
You get decent value from the Rab Scree. We appreciated the stretchy, but durable fabric. These gaiters come with extra instep cord and toggles, but we wish we didn't need the replacements in the first place.
This is a decent gaiter that will keep your feet comfortable and debris free in a variety of situations. We ran into some hiccups with the sturdiness of the instep strap, but other than that, this pair is low-profile and low maintenance. If you only need a short gaiter for hiking or approach situations, then this Top Pick product is a great choice.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch