Hands-on Gear Review

REI Alpine Light Review

Price:  $55 List
Pros:  Durable, adjustable, versatile.
Cons:  Baggy fit, too many adjustment points.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight for one (oz):  3.5
Length (in):  10
Material:  Upper Nylon, lower Cordura Nylon
Manufacturer:   REI

Our Verdict

The Alpine Light from REI is No Longer Available as of February, 2017
If you are looking for a heavy duty gaiter without the over-the-calf height, the REI Alpine Light gaiter is a good choice. This solidly built gaiter will keep your feet dry and debris-free, without the extra coverage and constriction of a full length model. It comes with both a lower and upper bungee cord to dial in the fit, and the bottom instep strap is well-made and showed no signs of damage or wear during our testing period. While this gaiter is shorter, it's still a little heavy and not as breathable as some lighter weight models. If you're looking for something small to stash in your pack for that unexpected scree field or a hot day hike, our Top Pick for Lightweight and Breathability, the Rab Scree, is a better option. And if you're gunning for a high snow filled peak or some ice climbing, then our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Latok Alpine, can't be beat. But there are still a lot of uses for this model, from winter snowshoe excursions to cold weather hikes, where you'll appreciated the extra coverage and solid construction over a smaller gaiter.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
OutdoorGearLab Review Team

Last Updated:
Monday
May 9, 2016

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The REI Alpine Light gaiter has a 10-inch rise and weighs 3.5 ounces each. The lower end is made of a two-ply Cordura Nylon, and the upper is a lighter weight single-ply Nylon. The bottom strap is 5/8th of an inch wide and has an adjustable buckle closure. The center Velcro patch is 1.5 inches wide and has a snap closure at the top along with a cinch cord. These gaiters come in S/M and L/XL sizes based on your shoe size, and in Black only.

Performance Comparison


These gaiters are a shorter version of the traditional knee-high gaiter. They offer good coverage over hiking boots  are water resistant and durably made.
These gaiters are a shorter version of the traditional knee-high gaiter. They offer good coverage over hiking boots, are water resistant and durably made.

Water Resistance


The upper section of this gaiter uses a breathable laminate material (think high end rain coat), and it effectively shed water during testing without getting saturated. However, the lower Cordura Nylon did eventually wet through, though it is doubled up and would take a lot of rain or wet vegetation to have any moisture coming through the other side. Since this gaiter has less overall coverage, it doesn't provide the same water resistance as the Outdoor Research Crocodile or the Rab Latok Alpine, and the bellowed out fit can also provide surfaces for water to sit on and penetrate if you're wearing them with an approach shoe of hiking boot rather than a full mountaineering boot. But on the whole, these provide a decent amount of protection from the wet stuff.

The upper Nylon material works well at shedding moisture  but the lower Cordura panel absorbs it and eventually saturates through.
The upper Nylon material works well at shedding moisture, but the lower Cordura panel absorbs it and eventually saturates through.

Debris Protection


The high volume design of this gaiter means it fits well over full hiking or mountaineering boots and provides good coverage from small rocks and sand, but the loose fit didn't work well over smaller hiking shoes and approach shoes. There is a lower adjustable cinch that is designed to pull the gaiter tight over the top of your shoe, but it didn't seem to affect the fit much.

If you're looking to keep out sand and small rocks  these gaiters will do the trick.
If you're looking to keep out sand and small rocks, these gaiters will do the trick.

Durability


The materials used in the construction of this gaiter are mostly robust and showed little wear over the course of use. The area most likely to see a lot of use, the hypalon instep strap, showed no signs of fraying or damage during testing. While not as beefy overall as the Outdoor Research Crocodile, these gaiters should still be able to take a beating and the overall quality of construction is evident.

The wide hypalon instep strap held up to repeated use. While anything you walk on will eventually wear out  this strap will last a lot longer than the shoelace attachments found on scree-style gaiters.
The wide hypalon instep strap held up to repeated use. While anything you walk on will eventually wear out, this strap will last a lot longer than the shoelace attachments found on scree-style gaiters.

Comfort & Breathability


Overall this gaiter fits a little baggy. The lower Cordura panel is heavy and not at all breathable, but the upper thin Nylon is. If you're looking for something for summer hikes or hot approaches, then a smaller gaiter like our Top Pick for Breathability, the Rab Scree, is a better choice.

This gaiter is a little too much for warm weather hiking  and with the baggy fit you are always aware that you have something extra around your ankles.
This gaiter is a little too much for warm weather hiking, and with the baggy fit you are always aware that you have something extra around your ankles.

Ease of Attachment


With a design that doesn't look that different than 90% of the full-length gaiters on the market, we expected that putting them on would be a pretty basic process. But, with the extra cinch cords and snaps, there are a few extra steps involved in dialing the fit. If you're looking for something fast and easy to step in and out of, the Outdoor Research Wrapid can't be beat on that front.

While these step-in gaiters are fairly easy to put on  the extra adjustments take a while to figure out.
While these step-in gaiters are fairly easy to put on, the extra adjustments take a while to figure out.

Weight


This gaiter is pretty aptly named, at 3.5 ounces per. Considering all of the features that come on them, it's probably worth the extra ounce over the Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low.

Best Applications


If you mostly wear full hiking boots or winter boots and are looking for extra coverage on your trail hikes or winter snowshoe excursions, then these gaiters are a great option.

These gaiters are a great choice for snowshoeing or other activities where you want the coverage over your boots and ankles but don't necessarily need it all the way up to your knees.
These gaiters are a great choice for snowshoeing or other activities where you want the coverage over your boots and ankles but don't necessarily need it all the way up to your knees.

Value


For $55, the gaiters are a fairly good value as they are versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.

Conclusion


If you don't like the feel of over the calf gaiters but still want decent coverage, then this gaiter is a great choice. They are solidly built, provide ample protection, and won't weight you down.

Snowshoeing on a stormy day - these gaiters kept the snow out of our boots and added a bit of extra warmth and protection.
Snowshoeing on a stormy day - these gaiters kept the snow out of our boots and added a bit of extra warmth and protection.

Other Versions


REI also makes the Alpine Gaiter, a full-length version of this gaiter which is 18 inches long.
OutdoorGearLab Review Team

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Most recent review: May 9, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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