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Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters Review

Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters Review

OR’s Helium Gaiters are high hiking gaiters that are suitable for four-season use with any footwear that has an arched sole. They’re much thinner, cooler, and lighter weight than heavier-duty mountaineering gaiters (such as OR’s Crocodile Gaiters) but still perfectly suitable for winter hiking with non-technical traction aids such as Hillsound Trail Crampons or Kahtoola Microspikes.

Specs at a Glance

  • Type: High Gaiter
  • Weight: 4.9 oz/pr
  • Gender: men’s (women’s model also available)
  • Waterproof/Breathable: Pertex Shield 2.5L
  • Upper: 30D Ripstop Nylon
  • Lower: 420D Nylon Packcloth With PU Coating
  • Closure: Snap, Velcro, Drawstring

The OR Helium Gaiter is a lightweight high gaiter that reaches to just below the knee. It has a replaceable Hypalon (synthetic rubber) strap that runs through the arch of your shoes to keep the gaiter from riding up and closes in the front with a full-length velcro strip and a top and bottom snap. An elastic drawstring cinches the gaiter at the top and prevents it from falling down below your calf while worn.

I purchased these gaiters because I wanted a pair for winter hiking that was cooler with thinner fabric than the mountaineering gaiters I typically wear for winter hiking and snowshoeing. Heavier mountaineering gaiters make my calves sweat profusely in winter, dampening my socks and lower pant legs. While there are times when I need the added lower leg protection that a mountaineering gaiter provides, such as when using full crampons, most of my winter hikes involve must less aggressive traction aids like Hillsound Trail Crampons where the danger of self-inflicted wounds is virtually non-existent.

The Helium Gaiters close in front with velcro and top and bottom snaps.
The Helium Gaiters close in front with velcro and top and bottom snaps.

I’m quite pleased with these Helium Gaiters because they’re so much cooler than the mountaineering gaiters I own. They’re also very breathable and the exterior feels noticeably damp when I’m hiking or snowshoeing in them. They’re fully waterproof with a gaiter hook at the base to attach to your laces or a gaiter ring on your boots. I’m also a fan of the elastic drawstring at the top because it prevents the gaiters from dropping below the calf and bunching around the ankles which tends to occur when I use mountaineering gaiters that close with a webbing strap and buckle. (see also Winter Hiking Gaiters: Benefits and Pitfalls.)

If there’s one concern I have about these gaiters it’s the quality of the construction. The first time I took them off, the top snap at the top of the front velcro closure tore off and flew across the room. I consider that top snap to be redundant with the front velcro closure since the gaiters don’t rely on it to stay shut. Still, it was disconcerting to have the snap tear out that easily and I plan to contact OR for a warranty replacement.

Otherwise, these OR Helium Gaiters are easy to like. They’re comfortable to wear, they shed snow well, and they stay up when you cinch the drawstring cord. I suspect they’ll also prove valuable in the spring during the mud season when my dirty girl gaiters are insufficient to keep splashback off my lower legs.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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One comment

  1. A year in – are you still using these and any additional impressions? Received a REI card for Christmas and I would say new gaiters are on the top of my list of things to upgrade. I don’t do anything that requires full crampons and like you, with my current – heavier – pair, there’s a lot of sweat on the lower leg.

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