Outdoor Research Thru-Gaiters Review

Hiking Gaiters

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.

Outdoor Research Thru-Gaiters

Footwear Compatibility
Ease of Care

Cool and Lightweight

Outdoor Research's Thru-Gaiters are compatible with trail runners, mids, and hiking boots and don't fall down when worn. They also incorporate OR's ActiveIce Thermoregulation Technology to keep your legs cool, even in hot weather.

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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.

Hiking Gaiter Detail

Heel Straps

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.

Gaiters to prevent Lyme Disease
The stretch in the Thru-gaiters prevents them from falling down when worn with long pants and provides superior tick protection.


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.

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  1. Zachary Robbins

    Did you fall out of love with Montbell Spats? I purchased Short Spats based on your post 5 years ago and have since purchased another pair when those wore out. I really like those gaiters for 3-season hiking when I’m wearing shorts instead of pants. Are these significantly better? I’ve had them in my Amazon Wish List for a while but haven’t felt the need to buy them.

  2. Have you tried MLD’s Superlight gaiters?

  3. I wonder if this would be cooler than my usual tick regimen, which is tucking my permethrin-treated pants into my permethrin-treated crew socks. This does work very well for tick and chigger prevention, however, it is quite hot in a St. Louis summer. It would be nice to wear short socks.

  4. I bought a pair to keep the fox tail and cheat grass out of my socks when I go mountain biking because of the wet spring weeds are everywhere. When I wear long pants they will keep the bottom of my pants out of the gears and I won’t need the big gaiters that would be to hot
    Thanks for the information
    Good numbers
    R D Childs

  5. Looks good. Anything I’ve had from OR has been very durable and I expect these gaiters are as well.

    My take on OR gear in general is that their products are designed by backpackers and winter campers and have been thoroughly tested by them.

  6. I took your advice and tried these. They are now my favorite general purpose gaiter. My part of northern CA has fine grit dirt that comes thru the top of mesh shoes into your socks. These provide great coverage without overheating my feet. I generally reach for these and leave the dirty girl gaiters at home now.

    • I just bought 3 more pairs. They are really great. Same reason. My feet don’t overheat. These are great with long pants.

  7. are you still recommending these over the usual strapless/velcro gaiters (dirty girl, ultra gam on etsy, simblissity, etc)? does it ever feel like the strap could catch on something and trip you?

    • I bought 5 pairs at the end of last season and use them on every hike I take. So much better than other gaiters.

  8. Thanks for the review, Philip! Based on your review I picked up a couple pairs of these and I’m really loving them. Do you have any sense how many miles you get out of a pair? And what part of the gaiters breaks down on you – the fabric or the instep strap? Thanks again!

    • The fabric tends to rip before the instep breaks. But the instep is easily repairable with a piece of elastic cord. I’m still using ones I bought last year but I rotate through a few different pairs. I guess I probably get 500 miles out of a pair. They last longer than my trail runners.

      • I found out how long the insteps last when mine shredded today. It looks like those La Sportiva’s you have pictured have a nice recess in the sole, but the Lone Peaks I wear managed to only grind out 150 miles before the strap blew out (kind of disappointing). The straps were showing quite a bit of wear, so I knew they were going to fail (actually only one of them broke, but the other is on the verge). I do like them, however, so I will just thread some cordage through the hooks, reattach, and keep on truckin.

      • What did you expect? Using these on a flat sole is a non starter. It’s not a product design failure…

      • I didn’t mean to imply it was a desgin failure, I only meant to relay how many miles I got out of the stock straps with a commonly used trail runner, a type of shoe your review states is compatible with this gaiter. Since replacing the straps with cord, I’ve gotten another 130 miles out of the gaiters. Two small holes did open up around the inner ankle area (not a design flaw!) as the result of some very rocky terrain, but nothing a bit of repair tape can’t fix. As a side note: I did size down from the recommended size. Since I’m not wearing them with boots, there was a bit too much extra fabric with the XL on my 11.5 Lone Peaks.

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