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Montbell Gore-Tex Light Long Gaiters Review

Montbell Light Long Gaiters Review

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.

Unique Design

The top of the gaiter is held up over the calf by snug elastic.
The top of the gaiter is held up over the calf by snug elastic.

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.

Construction

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.

Zippers

A snap takes pressure off the zipper improving durability
A snap takes the pressure off the zipper improving durability

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.

Top Collar

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 instep "Dura Strap" is common across several Montbell product and only costs $3.50 to replace.
The instep “Dura Strap” is common across several Montbell products and only costs $3.50 to replace.

Instep Strap

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.

The instep strap is girth hitched to one side of the gaiter and attaches with a simple hook on the other. This makes it very easy to replace.
The instep strap is girth hitched to one side of the gaiter and attaches with a simple hook on the other. This makes it very easy to replace.

Colors

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…

Recommendation

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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13 comments

  1. Are these more comparable to the OR Rocky Mountain High gators? I know both the croc and RMH use the same cinch strap for the calf

  2. I noticed the GoreTex tag in one of the pictures, but no real mention of it in the text. Any thoughts about whether this is an appropriate application of GoreTex, or any pluses or minuses it creates in these gaiters?

    • “The uppers are moderately breathable, which minimal internal moisture buildup, even on very steep and strenuous climbs in deep snow.”

      They pass my damp sock test – as in my socks don’t get damp or soaked using them. Considering how much I sweat in high gaiters, that’s a thumbs up. They are also waterproof, which is kind of a big deal when the snow is up to your hips.

      • Thanks, Philip. I don’t snow-hike a lot (no mountains in southwest Ohio); I was just curious. I hear, often, about how sand, grit, etc. cakes into Gore-Tex boots and degrades the performance of hiking shoe/boots, and was wondering if packed snow would make the GoreTex less effective. Good to know.

        I’ve tried using low gaiters (both coated and uncoated nylon) in summer but gave up on them because the sweating was more annoying than the very small amount of stuff that gets into my shoes on trail (I also don’t do much off-trail.) I notice that Montbell has GoreTex low gaiters, too, so I might have to revisit that decision. It doesn’t hurt that all the other Montbell stuff I’ve got works so well.

        • There’s really no need for Gore-tex gaiters in warm weather. Montbell has some excellent softshell gaiters called Spats that you might try if you use boots or trail runners. They have an instep strap. If you use trail runners, I’d recommend Dirty Girl Gaiters which don’t require an instep strap. They’ll keep all the crap out of your shoes.

  3. Is the weight listed per gaiter or per pair? If per pair, it would seem these are a good comparison to the OR Helium gaiters? I like the thought of the zipper, I always find the velcro difficult to get nice and smooth.

    • Sorry bout that – it’s 5.1 oz per pair. They’re a little heavier and warmer than the OR Heliums. I prefer the stretch top on the Montbells to the lightweight elastic cord on the Heliums because I think it holds better.

  4. I’ve had the same Cabela’s GTX camo gaiters for literally 25 years and they still work just fine.
    My lesson was to flat the underfoot Taslan cord with SHOO GOO for much improved durability.
    **I will say gaiters with Front zippers are far easier to don and remove. Wish mine had that feature.

  5. Everything old is new again….my first pair of gaiters in the ’90’s had a zipper in the back and a string under the foot. I forget what old-timey brand they were.

  6. What do you think of Zpacks Calf Gaiters? They are less than half the weight!

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