Outdoor Research’s Thru-Gaiters are short stretch gaiters with a Hypalon instep strap and two front hooks for clipping on to your shoelaces. They can be used with hiking boots, mids, or trail runners and incorporate OR’s ActiveIce thermoregulating technology to keep your calves cool while keeping mud and trail debris from entering your shoes.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 1.9 oz/pair
- Gaiter height: 9.5 inches
- Style: Slip-on
- Colors: Assorted
- Heel strap: Hypalon (synthetic rubber)
- Fabric: Stretchable polyester and spandex
I hate wearing gaiters in non-winter conditions because they’re too hot and make my calves and feet sweat. But I’ve come to like these OR Thru-Gaiters, because they keep my calves cool and dry even in humid, warm weather. They also don’t slide off my long pants and bunch around my ankles, even after an all day walk, something that can’t be said for the slew of other short, ankle-height gaiters I’ve tried from Altra and Dirty Girl Gaiters, which aren’t really designed for use with long pants.
The OR Thru-gaiters gaiters also provide an added element of tick protection, which is the main reason I wear them, preventing ticks from crawling up my lower legs in the spring when they’re most prevalent. I spray the gaiters with Sawyer Permethrin, letting it soak thru the fabric, for an added level of tick protection. I rarely wash my gaiters, so the Permethrin treatment lasts all hiking season.
ActiveIce Fabric Technology
The thing that makes these gaiters cool is something Outdoor Research calls ActiveIce fabric technology, which works astonishingly well. The gaiters are made with a stretchy, breathable polyester and spandex stretch knit that wicks sweat away from your skin so that it can evaporate. That evaporation process cools your skin temperature using the same thermodynamic mechanism as human sweat, lowering the temperature of the skin near the fabric. While the temperature reduction is less noticeable on my legs, other than the fact that they don’t run hot and sweat, it’s far more noticeable on the ActiveIce Fingerless Sun Gloves from OR that I’ve been wearing this spring for hiking and fly fishing. Those gloves also great for insect protection during bug season.
The OR Thru-Gaiters are optimized for shoes or boots that have a heel arch, with a heavy duty Hypalon (synthetic rubber) strap running underneath. I’ve found it quite durable, but if you do manage to break it, the straps are designed so that you can replace them with a piece of cordage, without having to chuck the entire gaiter. I prefer wearing gaiters with straps because I can swap them between different shoes or boots more easily, and don’t depend on a gaiter trap.
The stretch incorporated into the Thru-Gaiters also does a remarkably good job at keeping them tucked down on the heels of my hiking shoes, so they don’t ride up and allow sticks or trail debris into the shoe. That might not sound like a big deal but I’ve tried lots of stretch gaiters that don’t stay down over the heel. While it’s true, that this helps keep your socks cleaner, keeping my sock clean is one of my lower priorities compared to keeping trail debris out of my shoes and insects from crawling up my legs.
These Outdoor Research Thru-gaiters are a win. They stay cool so you don’t sweat when wearing them. They won’t fall down when you wear them with long pants, which helps prevents ticks from crawling up your legs. It’s easy to replace the synthetic rubber heel strap if you manage to wear it out. They help keep trail debris out of your shoes and you can spray them with Sawyer Permethrin for added insect protection. I bought myself a second pair.
Disclosure: OR gave the author a sample pair of gaiters to review. He bought a second pair.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.