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Rab Scree Review
Cons: Not waterproof, no ankle sizing (may not fit larger ankles)
The Rab Scree is an ankle-length gaiter that is perfect for dirty approaches up talus (aka "scree") fields and or sandy trails. If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you had to stop every five minutes to empty the debris out of your shoes, this is where having a small gaiter like this one in your pack would have seriously saved the day. They weigh next to nothing, attach easily and securely, and were one of the most comfortable and breathable models that we tested. They are not meant for mountaineering, and your feet will soak through if you try to cross a river in them, but for light and fast hiking or trail running situations, our Top Pick for Lightweight and Breathability is hard to beat.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
We loved this gaiter for its utility in a variety of hiking and climbing environments. It's highly breathable, which is often a bigger plus than being completely waterproof for an ankle length gaiter (any significant water is going to top your gaiters anyways), and sheds snow and debris like a trampoline. They lack adjustability though, and if you have wide ankles these might fit tight on you. They tend to fit best on lower volume hiking boots and approach shoes, so if you are looking for something to fit over your mountaineering boots, the Rab Latok Alpine is a better option. These gaiters are made with Rab's Matrix DWS (double weave stretch) fabric, and each one weighs 1.5 ounces. They have a 7.5 inch rise, elasticized ankle cuff, and an adjustable bungee cord instep strap.
The softshell Matrix DWS fabric used on this gaiter is not quite as water resistant as the eVent fabric used on their Latok Alpine model, but it does do a fairly good job at repelling a light rain or some wet snow. Eventually the fabric will wet through, but not nearly as quickly as the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail. So for situations we're you expect to encounter muddy trails or wet vegetation, this gaiter will do just fine. If you're expecting heavier rain, or some ankle deep river crossings, then a gaiter that provides more coverage is probably in order, like the Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low.
This model is a low volume gaiter without a lot of length to it, and was designed to be worn with light hiking boots or low-cut footwear. As such, they provide good coverage with those shoes, but when we tried them with a pair of mountaineering boots they covered the top but not the lower laces. When used with the appropriate foot wear, they did a great job of keeping sand, silt and small pebbles out of our shoes. 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. Keep in mind though, that the elastic top fits fairly tightly, and you might not be able to get it over a heavier pair of pants or pants and socks without feeling a little constricted there.
The bottom instep bungee cord is also easily adjustable, which lets you lock the gaiter down quickly and easily, unlike some other short gaiters that we tested like the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail (more on that in the Ease of Adjustability category). All in all, for a short gaiter they did a great job of keeping the inside of our shoes clean.
We must say that it was hard to test how durable the material actually was because it virtually never came in contact with anything that could have damaged it. Gaiters usually become worn or damaged in pretty particular ways, either by being caught on objects such as vegetation or crampons, or by rubbing against each other as the wearer walks. Because these gaiters have such a narrow profile and tight fit, there's minimal capacity for snagging on objects or for interfering with your gait. We wore them for two weeks while traipsing around the future Patagonia National Park, and they looked virtually brand new by the end. The only damage we noticed was on the instep strap, which was slightly frayed but not broken or worn through, which is impressive considering how many miles it was stomped on. The manufacturer also supplies a spare bungee cord and toggle from the get go, so if and when it doe eventually wear out, or you lose a toggle, you already have the spare parts to replace them. It's this kind of attention to detail and customer service that really helps make this gaiter stand out from the pack of shortie gaiters that we tested.
Comfort & Breathability
When it comes to wearing gaiters on a hot, dusty trail, staying comfortable and dry on the inside is a key consideration. If your gaiters start chafing your legs, or your feet become a sweaty mess with them on, that more than defeats the purpose of wearing them. The softshell fabric on this gaiter is lightweight and highly breathable, and we didn't notice any increase in foot temp or 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 our bare skin, but then again we didn't particularly like the feel of any gaiter against our bare legs! Also, they stayed up our legs just fine, which was a problem we had with the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail. No one wants a baggy gaiter sagging around their ankles, and we never had that issue with the Scree.
Ease of Attachment
Due to the design of this gaiter, you need to put them on before putting on your shoes, which is honestly kind of a pain if you find yourself needing them mid-hike and hadn't thought to put them on at the start of the day. Because they were so breathable and comfortable, it wasn't an issue for us to put them on at the trailhead when we weren't sure if they were necessary. Although you have to put them on first and then your shoes, because the instep strap is made of bungee cord, these were the easier to put than the Outdoor Research Ultra Trail. Once you have the gaiter in place, you can just loop the bungee underneath your foot and tighten the toggle, as opposed to dealing with tying knots in shoelace cord or aligning Velcro tabs. However, if you want a truly easy to use gaiter for whipping on and off at whim, then the Outdoor Research Wrapid is the way to go. It has a full-length front Velcro, so you can just step in, wrap, and go when needed.
These gaiters are lightweight and weigh only 1.5 ounces each. They are slightly heavier than some other options, but considering how much easy this one is to put on, we'll take that extra weight. This makes them 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 would have had these as opposed to having to stop multiple times on a trail to empty dirt or rocks out of our approach shoes.
These gaiters are useful in a variety of hiking situations where you want some extra coverage but don't need a full-length gaiter. Whether that is hot desert hikes, sandy trail runs, or even for tick protection, these gaiters will do the trick and not leave your feet all hot and blister prone. They aren't meant for full-on snow or alpine conditions, and if you're climbing big mountains then you'll need a big gaiter like the Rab Latok Alpine or Outdoor Research Crocodile. But for many other applications, our Top Pick for Lightweight and Breathability can't be beat.
For $45 you get a lot of value from a few scraps of material. We particularly appreciated the stretchy fabric, and the extra cord and toggles that were included.
The Rab Scree is a sweet little gaiter that will keep your feet dry (on the inside) and debris free in a variety of situations. If you only need a short gaiter for hiking or approach situations, then this little fella is a great choice.
— OutdoorGearLab Review Team
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