REI Alpine Light Review
Cons: Baggy fit, too many adjustment points.
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For $55, the gaiters are a fairly good value as they are versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.
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.
REI also makes the Alpine Gaiter, a full-length version of this gaiter which is 18 inches long.
— Chris McNamara