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Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats (in other words, gaiters)

Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats (in other words gaiters)
Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats (in other words, gaiters)

Montbell’s Stretch Semi-Long Spats are highly breathable soft shell gaiters that keep sticks, stones, and other trail duff from getting inside your shoes or boots during a hike. I never really liked wearing gaiters for three season hiking before I tried these gaiters, but now I am a convert.

I use these gaiters with La Sportiva Ultra Raptor trail runners and Vasque Snow Junkie boots and like the fact that I can switch to different shoes for different hikes and trail conditions without having the prep my shoes in any way (unlike Dirty Girl gaiters where you need to glue a velcro patch to the back of each pair of shoes). I already do a considerable amount of gear maintenance and repair during the year and don’t want to have to prep each pair of shoes or boots I own  to work with a pair of gaiters.

Shoe-independent gaiters
Shoe-independent gaiters

The design of Montbell’s Spats is quite simple.They have an elastic cord, protected by a rugged polyurethane tube, that is secured to the bottom of the gaiter using a simple manual eye and hook attachment system.There’s a front hook that attaches to a front lace and creates a “garage” to contain your shoelaces and protect them from becoming untied. I have no idea why they’re called “Semi-Long” since they only run a few inches above the bottom hem of your pants legs, although they’re long enough to contain your pant legs if you want to prevent bugs from crawling up them.

The polyurethane tube is indestructible, and shows no wear after nearly two months of frequent hikes in snow, mud, and on rocky New England trail surfaces. While I’ve broken one of the original elastic cords, it was very easy to repair in the field with the elastic cord I use to rig up custom external attachment points on my UL Backpack.

If you wear trail runners that have no channel between the forefoot and heel, the Montbell Spats will not work for you and you’ll need to get some kind of gaiter system that doesn’t wrap around the bottom of your shoe. Traditional winter gaiters that have a strap instead of a plastic cord will also not work with heel-less trail runners.

Plastic cord guard holds up to constant punishement
Plastic cord guard holds up to constant punishment

So far, the soft shell stretch fabric on the Montbell Spats has held up very well to the on-trail, off-trail, snowshoeing, and spring hiking (postholing) abuse I’ve thrown its way. While there are some spots that are slightly worn around the ankles, there are no holes in the fabric and equally important, no more scrapes and bruises on my lower legs from trail rash. While I don’t count on these gaiters for impact protection, my ankles and lower legs have ceased to look like piranhas attacked me on days when I bushwhack, off-trail.

As someone who gets very sweaty calves when I hike, the thing I like the most about these gaiters is their breathability. My socks don’t get damp from sweat when I wear these gaiters which is really a feat (no pun intended)! DWR coated, the Spats do soak through when immersed during postholing or wading through snowmelt, but they dry quickly.

Weighing 2.0 ounces a pair, I barely notice these gaiters when I wear them. You just have to remember to put them on before you put on your shoes because they aren’t large enough to stretch over a pair of shoes.

For $34 a pair, the Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats are a great buy, one that has already transformed my hiking experience this year.

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) purchased this product with his own funds. 

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  1. Timely reminder to buy some more gaiters, I don’t like the strap underneath so I’ll be getting the LevaGaiter from simBLISSity.

    • How often do you need to replace those?

      • Andrew Skurka mentions in his book that he gets 3000 miles of wear with LevaGaiters.

      • If you could only order them. :-) The manufacturer isn’t taking orders at this time which seems crazy when he’s only out of the office for a few weeks.

      • Pounce on it when they become available again. At 2oz, with a velcro strip so that you don’t have to take off your shoe and pass your foot through it, it’s quite functional and easy. Plus they seem to have mastered the no strap, no velcro to the shoes, gravity defeating design. Worth waiting for IMHO.

      • I will – how well do they stay on off trail? I’m doing quite a lot of that these days.

      • Hard for me to reply – I’m not whacking the bushes like you – but I can offer you this – no complaints. Plus they do come with metal grommet holes where straps can be fastened if needed. The Montbell design of elastic cord and polyurethane tube could be added if needed. You’ll be collaborating with Skurka in a couple of weeks, yes? Pump his brain.

      • Ah – best of both worlds. Thx.

  2. I’ve had some great mileage lately from the Rab Latok gaiter, although it is definitely a boot-only gaiter and wouldn’t work with trail shoes / runners. Can’t say I mind the under-boot strap but one thing that really used to annoy me was drawcords getting caught on things, luckily the Latok has a little loop to stow them in!

  3. In addition to my La Sportiva Ultra Raptor purchase I decided it was about time to get gaiters. Usually my long pants keep enough stuff out but all summer I had more issues with dirt than I could remember. I could not find the semi-long spats anywhere, so I went with the short spats. They still cover the quarter socks I normally wear, and after my hike last weekend on a lot of dirt and rock I got nothing in my socks. The thin softshell fabric dries very quickly and is barely noticeable. The bottom strap only popped off once when I was running. I love these. In combination with my Ultra Raptors I think I have my new all season footwear.

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