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.
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.
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.