With my pack weight dwindling down further and further, I planned to make the transition from hiking boots to trail runners…at least for my warmer hiking trips. With this in mind I decided to pick up a pair of low-cut gaiters that I could use with both my trail runners as well as my hiking boots. My reason? I simply wanted to keep debris out of my shoes.
I looked at a few different pairs, but it seems that many of the lighter, low-cut gaiters are designed for trail runners only. (I figure this has something to do with the cut of the gaiters around the top of the ankle.) So, rather than challenge that stated fact, I kept looking. What I ended up going with are the Integral Designs eVENT Shortie Gaiters…
These gaiters seemed to meet all of the needs I stated above. At 2.5 oz (70 g) per pair they are pretty lightweight, and when not being worn they pack down to a measly 2 x 4 in (5 x 10 cm) inside a supplied silnylon stuff sack. And of course, to meet my needs, these gaiters are designed to fit over both hiking boots as well as trail runners! And to make it even better, purchasing these won’t break the bank! These have a MSRP of $30, but can be found for $25 at some sites.
And as the name implies, these gaiters are constructed using a trilaminate eVENT fabric, a fairly lightweight material that is highly waterproof as well as breathable. (If you have been backpacking for very long, I am sure you have heard of eVENT…) While I am not so worried about the waterproofing ability of these gaiters, this material should allow moisture from my sweaty feet to still be able to escape from within the gaiters rather than collecting and creating a stinky sauna… In the picture above, the yellow area is the eVENT material.
The black material which can be seen on the instep (inside of the gaiters) are a slightly heavier weight nylon. Since the instep is prone to taking more of a beating from simply walking, ID used a heavier nylon material to offer more protection to this area. Being such a small area that the nylon is used, I cannot imagine that it would hinder the ability of the gaiters to breathe.
To secure the gaiters down to my shoe, there is a simple lace hook found at the front of the gaiters. This hook simply hooks around the laces on the front of my shoe. To tighten it up, I simply move the hook farther down the shoe. As well, there is a shock cord which runs under the instep of my footwear and is simply tied around the grommets on each side of the gaiters. This should make it quite easy to replace the cord when it breaks apart (which it will do with time and use, however, this is to be expected).
Where as most gaiters will open along the front and allow the user to wrap them around the leg and then reseal them, these do not have that option. These are completely sewn shut. So, to use these gaiters:
- Slip the gaiters on before my footwear, just like a pair of socks.
- Put on my boots/trail runners.
- Pull the gaiters down over my footwear.
- Hook the lace hook over the laces as far down on my footwear as possible.
- Position the shock cord under sole of my footwear.
- Pull the top shock cord snug and then secure it with the cord lock.
- Start hiking!
Some may find this to be a bit of trouble, and I can see why. I wouldn’t want to have to stop and take off my footwear just because I wanted to take the gaiters off, or put them on. So I am counting on these to breathe well enough for me not to want to stop and take them off and just simply to wear them all day long. Only time will tell on this , but now is that time…
I have recently worn these gaiters on a 5 mile day hike to Big Hill Pond State Park as my first trial run. I wore them with a pair of Merrell Moab GTX Mid-height boots and they fit over them great. Since it was fairly early morning the temperature probably did not get much above 85 F and I found that in the 4 hours I wore them in these temps, I experienced no stinky sauna! However, I will have to pay attention to how tight I tighten the top shock cords around my legs. I feel like adjusting these cords may be something I will do a couple of times throughout the day.
I did make one small adjustment to the gaiters. I simply untied one end of the shock cord which runs under the instep and ties into the grommets and added a very lightweight cord lock. By doing this, I can now cinch the shock cord running under my foot just a little tighter. By doing this, it should make the gaiters more secure around my footwear as well as keep the cord from getting caught on rocks or roots and maybe will prolong the life time of the shock cord. I will see…
I do like the fact that these gaiters will keep the wet grass from soaking the bottom of my pants/legs, as well as keep debris from flying up into my new trail runners! I also like the fact that it may help to keep out ticks. As well, since I still plan to wear hiking boots at times, I like that these will fit over both my boots and my trail runners! So, I am looking forward to putting these things to good use this summer!
To end this post, here is a pic of the gaiters with my new Inov-8 Roclite trail runners: