When you’re hiking through snow, gaiters are an essential piece of gear because they help keep your socks dry. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters are so-called because they’re built tough like the skin of the animal. Toughness is important, especially around the ankles when wearing crampons, which can slice up your gaiters and even wound your legs.
Specs at a glance
- Weight: 9.8 ounces, size large, tested
- Abrasion-Resistant Cordura Inner Leg and Boot
- Abrasion-Resistant Lower Boot Lined with Packcloth
- Larger Circumference Accommodates Plastic Boots
- Webbing/Cam Buckle Top Closure
- 2″-Wide Hook/Loop Front Closure
- Double-Stitched Front Closure
- Bottom Shear Tab Secures Front Closure
- Reinforced Boot Lace Hook
- Durable BioThane Instep Strap
- Fabric: GORE-TEX 3L, 100% nylon 70D upper leg // Cordura 1000D boot
Crocodile gaiters are made with heavy 1000 denier Cordura on the bottom and triple-layer Gore-tex lined 70 denier nylon at the top. The Cordura fabric, which is the stuff companies make airplane luggage with is tough enough to deflect self-inflicted crampon hits while the Gore-tex helps vent moisture buildup. As temperatures warm you can generate a lot of heat in your feet and lower legs and this breathable layer will help keep your socks drier, as long as the layers underneath your gaiters are also breathable, like a softshell pant.
Unlike three-season or trail running gaiters, the Crocodiles are high gaiters that end just below your knee. This extra height is necessary when you find yourself deep snow, the snow-pack equivalent of quicksand in Tarzan movies. If you aren’t wearing gaiters, the snow can soak your socks and hiking pants, chilling you, or even freezing when you stop hiking.
Crocodiles wrap around your legs and seal in front of your calves using a wide velcro strip that runs from the top of the gaiter over your shoelaces to the point where they attach to the front of your laces with a small hook. The velcro strip also gives the gaiters some body and prevents them from collapsing and falling down around your ankles.
I bought my first pair of Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters in 2009, but they gave up the ghost in 2012 when the fabric patch (top photo, above) that held the bottom strap came unstitched and unrepairable. That had been my only complaint with the original version of the Crocodiles.
Outdoor Research has since modified the design of the Crocodile Gaiters to eliminate this point of failure, removing the outer patch which held the strap in place and was sewn to the outside of the gaiter. The end of the strap is now sandwiched between two layers of 1000D Cordura and bar-tacked in place. This is a very significant design simplification which results in much better durability because the inside of your boot doesn’t have anything to catch on that will weaken the stitching. It’s also the reason why I invested in a new pair of Crocodiles for winter hiking.
But, the reason that Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters are so popular, really boils down to the simplicity of their construction. They do exactly what they are intended to do and can stand up to incredible abuse for ice climbing, winter mountaineering, or off-trail hiking. I swear by my Crocodiles and think they’re the best gaiters you can buy for hardcore winter hiking.
Disclosure: The author purchased these gaiters with his own funds.
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