Montbell’s Light Long Gaiters are highly functional Gore-tex Gaiters with a simple design that overcomes many of the problems that you’re likely to experience with gaiters from other companies, including Outdoor Research’s Crocodile Gaiters, the most popular winter gaiters sold today. These Montbell gaiters are best used for snowshoeing and winter hiking with light traction aids like microspikes or trail crampons and aren’t as thick or protective as gaiters intended for use with full mountaineering or ice climbing crampons.
Specs at a glance
- Height: Calf-high
- Gender: Unisex
- Waterproof/breathable: Gore-tex
- Weight: 5.1 oz
- Fabrics: 50-denier nylon ripstop (upper), 210-denier Urethane coated nylon (bottom)
- Closure: Zipper
- Color: Two-tone pink and grey, or all-back
- Sizing: Runs small. If you have fat calves or Men’s size 11 boots or higher, these gaiters will be too small.
Montbell’s Light Long Gaiters are calf-high gaiters that close (vertically) with a heavy-duty rear zipper instead of velcro and rely on elastic tensioning at the top to keep them from sliding down your legs and bunching around your ankles. They have a gaiter hook and a heavy-duty replaceable instep strap that is anchored with a grommet/hook combination but non-adjustable in length.
This is a quite different design than the OR Crocodile Gaiter, which is why these Montbell gaiters caught my eye. The OR Crocodiles use velcro to close the front of the gaiter; they have an adjustable belt-like strap to secure the top over your calves, and an adjustable length instep strap to prevent the gaiter from riding up your leg. The last two of these features are problematic because the Crocodile gaiters have a tendency to fall down around the ankles and the instep strap is easy to tear out, requiring frequent third-party repairs.
I’m convinced that the Montbell design is better performing and more durable if you’re looking for a non-technical gaiter as an alternative.
Montbell’s Light Long Gaiters use different upper and lower fabrics for breathability and protection: the upper part of the gaiter is a 50d nylon ripstop while the bottom is 210-denier Urethane coated nylon. The uppers are moderately breathable, which minimal internal moisture buildup, even on very steep and strenuous climbs in deep snow. This is important because you want winter gaiters to act as part of your layering system, contributing lower leg warmth rather than making your legs cold because your socks get soaked from perspiration.
I’ve had mixed luck with gaiters with zipper closures instead of velcro: I reviewed several gaiters from Hillsound some years back and their zippers all failed within a season. Those zippers were on the front of the gaiters though, while the Montbell gaiters are on the rear and better protected. They’re also reinforced at the top with a snap so the zipper is not under tension when the gaiter is worn.
As you can imagine, putting on a gaiter with a rear zipper is a pain in the ass because it means contorting your body to reach behind your leg. A simpler solution is to zip the gaiters on with the zipper in front before rotating them around your shin so that the zipper is facing the rear. This is necessary to connect the gaiter hook to your laces, since its positions on the side opposite the zipper.
The top of the Montbell gaiter is a snug elastic band that encircles your upper calf and prevents the gaiter from sliding down around your ankles. Snug is the operative word. It’s far more reliable at keeping the gaiter from falling down around your ankles than any other gaiter I’ve used this winter. I also think it takes more tension off the rear zipper closure.
The bottom instep strap is girth hitched to the gaiter on one side with a grommet and on the other with a hook, making it very easy to replace if you manage to break it. That’s a lot better than having to send it out for repair. The length is not adjustable, however, but that’s less of an issue if you’re not wearing rigid mountaineering boots.
Available in pink/grey or all black, I couldn’t help myself and bought the pink/grey model because I thought they’d be amusing to wear and because they clearly illustrate the use of the two fabrics on the gaiter. Technically, these gaiters are Unisex only and the pinkish color is not pink, but something that Montbell labels as “Cosmos,” whatever that is…
If you’re looking for a calf-high trekking gaiter that’s comfortable to wear for snowshoeing and winter hiking, I suggest you give these Montbell Light Long Gaiters a try. They’re thin and cool enough to keep your feet and calves from perspiring when hiking or snowshoeing in winter, they’re easy to maintain if you break the instep strap, and don’t constantly fall down around your ankles like some other popular gaiters. Time will tell how long the zipper closure lasts (check back in 2 years), but I’m quite bullish on these gaiters and think they’re a good addition to my winter footwear kit.
Disclosure: The author purchased this product.
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