As I’ve continued Winter trail running in earnest this year, it didn’t take long to recognize that I needed a good pair of gaiters. When I think of gaiters, my mind conjures up the memories of my early skiing days when I wore neon yellow gaiters on the slopes. They seamlessly matched the neon yellow accents on my Columbia Bugaboo jacket, so I was stoked in a mid-80’s sort of way.
To my dismay, Outdoor Research doesn’t make their trail shoe-friendly FlexTex Gaiters in neon yellow, so the full 80’s redux will have to wait, but in the end these black beauties are well worth their weight in gold… err… make that stretchy nylon.
Features of the Flex-Tex Gaiters:
- Durable, stretch-woven nylon fabric
- 1-inch wide hook/loop front closure
- Hook/loop shear tabs at top and bottom of front closure prevent separation
- Double-riveted boot lace hook
- Urethane-coated nylon instep strap
- Sizes: S/M, L/XL
- MSRP: $35
Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters Review
Just in the nick of time, the Flex-Tex gaiters came in for my winter trail running adventures. With the meager Utah snowpack this season, I’ve been trail running much more than I typically do. On my usual routes, the snowshoe traffic packs down the trail fairly quickly, thus allowing me to run on firm, snow-covered trails.
Where the Flex-Tex gatiers have been worth their weight in gold has been after a few inches of new snow has fallen on the packed trail. Their ability to keep snow out of my shoes has been superb. I really appreciate the 2-way stretch of the gaiters (fabric stretches fore/aft for a snug fit) and the streamlined cut. these are not meant to be worn with pants, so I typically ran with shorts or running tights and their svelte fit didn’t add any bulk or get in the way of my lightning-fast stride (well, on the downhill).
I found the instep strap to fit well with a variety of shoes including: New Balance MT910, Montrail Mountain Masochist GTX and Lafuma Sky Race OT. With each of them, I was able to get a snug fit and excellent coverage for running in 3-5 inches of new snow.
The Velcro lock tabs keep things in place should you get a little more aggressive on the trail and the simple lace hook keeps you covered. Not once did I get any snow intrusion while wearing these. The snug, 4-way stretch fabric maintains an excellent barrier.
My only real feedback on these gaiters is that the hook should be on the opposite side so you can hook it to your lace, then attach the Velcro from the other side to the top. As it is right now, you place the hook on your laces and then have to slip the attaching piece to the underside. It’s not a huge deal, but did cause me to mismatch them on occasion.
After posting the initial review, I have since used these snowshoe running with the Atlas Run snowshoes. The nature of snowshoe running flips a ton of snow all over the place and snow tended to enter into the gaiter from the top. Perhaps a more elastic upper cuff could eliminate this.
- Streamlined fit… perfect for winter running
- Stretch fabric moves with you
- Stays secure with instep loop and Velcro closures
- Easy on-off
- Works with a variety of trail running shoes
- Lace hook should be switched to other end for easier Velcro attachment
- An elastic upper-cuff closure could reduce snow intrusion while shoeshoe running (lots of snow flying around)
- If your shoes don’t lace far down the forefoot (Inov-8 Roclite 312 GTX), you may not be able to attach the hook–just choose your shoes wisely
- Unavailable in flashy 80’s neon yellow… sorry
Bottom Line: Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Gaiters
For winter running or wet-weather bushwacking, these gaiters are comfortable, durable and affordable. You can’t ask much more from a running-friendly gaiter.
Buy Now: Find Gaiters at REI.com