Product Review: Altra Trail Gaiters

Jenna Lyons is part of the 2017/18 RErun Ambassador team. She recently completed the Rut 28k as well as the Kendall Mountain Sky Run. With a few more Sky Running races on her 2017 calendar she has experience with rocky, loose terrain. You can follow all her adventures at @littleyoness. We asked Jenna to try out the Altra Trail Gaiters and tell us her experience.

ALTRA TRAIL GAITERS: WHAT A FEELING!

I was asked to review the Altra Trail Gaiters. Like my last review, I will evaluate them in terms of design, functionality, fit, and looks. But first, a little bit of fascinating history.

BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE GAITER

Originally, gaiters were made of leather. In World War I and World War II, the American Army wore gaiters made of canvas. A form of gaiter called jambieres were worn by the Zouaves, a class of the French Army’s light infantry regiments which served between the mid 1830s until about 1960. Gaiters were also part of the everyday attire of bishops and archdeacons of the Church of England until the mid-twentieth century when they stopped riding horses around.

DESIGN

The Altra gaiters have a strapless design, like a tube top for your feet. Everyone loves tube tops! The gaiters are breathable, thin, and light. Therefore, they won’t chafe your feet. The takeaway: Tube tops = good. Chafing = bad.

These gaiters are perfect for some of the steep, gnarly, shale runs that exist in and around Missoula. The descent off of Lone Peak in The Rut is a prime example of where these gaiters are the most helpful, as there are millions of tiny fragments of rock that can jump into your shoes. These gaiters prevent them from getting in your shoes and causing little blisters or places of discomfort in your shoes.

FUNCTIONALITY

When running in rocky, snowy, sandy, or muddy conditions, the Altra gaiters are like having windshield wipers on a rainy day. Or a corn dog at the fair. You simply can’t go without them. The package says they shield feet from dirt, sand, mud, rocks, and snow.

However, it is my opinion that if you were to run through a field full of Nerds™ then these gaiters would prevent little hard pieces of candy from getting in your shoes and ruining your day.

They would also be wonderful when you are frolicking in the snow on a silent Missoula morning and would like to keep snow out of your shoes and Christmas spirit in your heart.

FIT

The gaiters are unisex, and supposedly fit blokes and dames. But, being a petite little Oompa-Loompa, these were actually kind of baggy on me. So, if you are a petite female, I’d make sure these fit before you buy or go with another female-specific gaiter.

The package says the gaiters attach to all Altra shoes, but I wore them with my La Sportiva Mutants and they worked just fine. I assume they’d attach to all trail shoes or other shoes. But not Danskos. Because that would be weird anyway???

LOOKS

In the looks department, these score a little lower in my book. I’ve always had Dirty Girl gaiters with leopard and butterflies on them. So black gaiters with little silver sporty stripes on them don’t really get me going. With that in mind, the great granddaddy of these gaiters has made a famous cameo appearance in 1983. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXQeVqLMr9Q

So retro.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

This may seem intuitive, but you have to put your gaiters on before your shoes. Like you have to put your pants on before your shoes. Or your underwear before your pants. I seem to fail to realize these things many, many times even though I am an “adult.”

These seem a little more durable than the Dirty Girl gaiters I have always worn. And although they don’t have leopard print or butterflies on them, they will probably last longer! They are harder better faster stronger.

CONCLUSION

These gaiters are a must have for your running wardrobe. I don’t think I will do another run in the Missions or up Holland Peak etc. without them. I’ll certainly be wearing them for The Rut next year. They are easy to wear, compatible with all trail shoes, and they’ll run you just under $20. They feel great, and will protect you from nuisance rocks, sticks, ticks, and other little objects. What a feeling!

Sources:

Gaiters, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaiters)

Henry, Mark (2003), The US Army of World War I, Oxford: Osprey.

Through the Years With Gaiters, Anglicans Online (http://anglicansonline.org/special/gaiters/)