Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

GEAR REVIEW and My Favorite Gear #3 My Favorite Ultralight Gaiter: The Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats

By Will Rietveld

What a name; I challenge you to say it three times as fast as you can!

In spite of its long name, which doesn’t actually identify it as a gaiter, the Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats are my favorite gaiter, for the following reasons:
  • The fabric stretch is just right and very durable
  • An underfoot elastic cord is protected by a flat polyurethane tube
  • They are easy to put on/take off
  • They reliably seal shoe tops and ankles, keeping debris and snow out
  • They stay in place
  • They perform well on a wide range of shoes/boots
 The measured weight is 1.95 ounces per pair for Size Large, and cost is a reasonable $34. They are not the very lightest available; the Dirty Girl gaiters weigh as little as 1.15 ounces per pair (weight varies by style), but they fit too loose and are not very durable. The Montbell gaiters weigh a tad more, but they get everything right.

My initial impression was the gaiters are too small for my size 12 shoes, because they cover just the top opening of the shoe or boot. Other gaiters cover most of the topside of a shoe, which is unnecessary, and may impede shoe breathability.

The Montbell Stretch Semi-Long Spats are not “long” as the name implies; the height is 7 inches, which is about right. They cover the top opening of a trail running shoe or light hiker (shown) very well, and stay put, including the heel.

A unique feature is Montbell’s Dura Strap – a double underfoot elastic cord protected by a flat polyurethane tube – which are replaceable for just $3 a pair. The Dura Strap's elastic cord loops through a grommet on one side and hooks on the other.

The Dura Strap runs underfoot in the cavity in front of the heel. They make a huge difference in durability and longevity compared to a traditional underfoot elastic cord.

I have put hundreds of miles on these gaiters and find them to be extremely durable. The stretch fabric shows very few signs of wear, and I am still using the original set of Dura Straps. Before finding the Montbell gaiters, I went through a dozen pairs of underfoot elastic cords a year on other gaiters, especially when hiking off-trail through slide rock and scree. Montbell has eliminated this nemesis with their Dura Strap.

Overall, these gaiters are very rugged and maintenance free, and are built to last a long time.

No comments:

Post a Comment