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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola INSTAgaiters > Test Report by Christie KimberKahtoola INSTAgaiter Mid
Long Term Report
April 8, 2020
Name: Christie Kimber
Height: 6’0" (183 cm)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Email address: christiekimber AT yahoo DOT com
City, Province, Country: Campbell River, British Columbia (BC), Canada
I started hiking in 2015 when I moved from Saskatchewan to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I started with day hikes and have eventually pushed myself to weekend and even week-long excursions. I am a three-season hiker. That being said, as I gather new gear and develop skills I am pushing my limits to try out 4-season backpacking and mountaineering. Vancouver Island gets a lot of rain and has a moderate climate. I also spend time in interior British Columbia in the Rocky Mountains.
Manufacturer: Kahtoola, Inc
Year of manufacture: 2020
Style: INSTAgaiter Mid
Other style available: INSTAgaiter Low
Other sizes available: L/XL
MSRP: $49.95 USD
Color tested: Gray
Other available colors: Black, Purple, Sand, Steel Blue
Listed weight: 2.3 oz (66g)
Actual weight: as above
Fabric: Stretch-woven nylon/polyester blend with DWR finish
Zipper: VISLON zipper
Instep strap: Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)
The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters are, as the name implies, a mid-length gaiter. There are two styles in this series, a low and a mid-length style. The low comes in a length of 5 inches (12.7 cm), while the mid style comes in a length of 8 inches (20.3 cm). The website recommends these gaiters be used for hiking and running. This additional height of the "mid" style is to accommodate higher profile hiking boots as well as hiking or running shoes.
The purpose of the gaiters is described as providing a shield from the elements including dust, dirt, mud, and rocks. These gaiters are advertised as being breathable, water resistant, and light weight. They also include a small travel pouch that the gaiters can easily pack in to.
These gaiters come in a variety of colors and two different sizes. The S/M size is for US M 6-10 shoe size or W 7-11. The L/XL size is for US M 10-13 or W 11+.
In terms of structure the gaiters are made up of a soft, lightweight, stretchy nylon. On the lateral side of the gaiter is a zipper. The zipper opens completely from top to bottom. It is sewn at an angle to allow for more comfortable ankle flexion while walking, according to the website. The zipper also folds down at the top and locks to prevent unzipping. On the inside of the zipper is a material nylon flap. The instep strap is a firm, but flexible strap made of TPU. It has four different settings for length. For additional security there is a lace hook located on the front of the gaiter. There is also an elasticized draw cord at the top of the gaiter.
Included care instructions recommend hand washing the gaiters in cold water. They advise against bleach or fabric softeners, ironing or dry cleaning. It is recommended to line dry.
Kahtoola is an American company. The gaiters were made in Cambodia. The company provides a one-year warranty. This company has a program called Kahtoola for the People. One percent of sales are granted to environmental and cultural preservation projects worldwide.
The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters Mid arrived with minimal, but professional packaging. I appreciated the little amount of waste. I thought they were well displayed and would look good hanging on a rack in a store. One gaiter is fully accessible and the other packed away nicely in the included tote bag. I was immediately impressed by how small the tote bag was. Despite the minimal packaging the features of the product are clearly displayed and a small instruction manual is included which describes the function of the zipper and adjustable TPU strap.
I was also initially impressed by the incredibly thin and light weight material the gaiters are constructed from. If they are durable and truly protect my feet from the elements, I will be very impressed. I like all of the included features to ensure the gaiters stay secure, for example, the hook, band, and zipper. Because the material is so light, these extra features do not seem to bog down the product. All of these features are also well constructed. The zipper glides easily, the instep cord looks sturdy, and the elasticized band is easy to adjust.
I tried on the gaiters as soon as I got them. I wear a size 10.5 boot. Being between sizes, I decided to size down as I wanted to ensure a snug fit. I am not yet sure if this was the right decision. They were quite tight to put on, and I had to adjust the TPU strap to the longest setting. I think they will fit with runners very well, but my boots might be too big.
There are no specific instructions on how to put them on, but I think it is intuitive. I put on my shoes and then put on the gaiters afterward. The zipper is handy to be able to take off my shoes without removing the gaiters. I also appreciated the multiple ways there are to adjust the gaiters to ensure an optimal fit. I think these will make them very versatile to use with multiple pairs of shoes.
The only trouble I have had with the gaiters so far is that I initially found the instep strap a bit difficult to adjust. The included instructions advise placing my thumb on the clip and pulling the top of the clip away from the strap to remove the strap. To attach, it is recommended that I insert the arrow end of the clip and then push in to reattach. Once I figured it out, it is actually very easy. However, I found the instructions somewhat confusing and the strap is very stiff, so it takes some force to adjust. I was initially worried I was going to break the strap. In simpler terms, I just had to pull the strap off and push it back on at the desired height.
June 24, 2020
I will start with the testing I was able to do. I used the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters with both my runners and my hiking shoes. I think they fit a bit snug with my hiking boots, which could have contributed to the holes (more to come on that later). They fit perfectly with my running shoes. I found the gaiters easy to use, other than I did not like adjusting the TPU strap as I found it remained stiff. I tried to clip and unclip it a few times to make it easier to snap into place, but this did not make much difference. One could say the quality here was almost too good. Because of this I would put on my shoes first, then step into the gaiters with the TPU strap intact and zip them up on the side. I found the gaiters easy to adjust to obtain full coverage as there are multiple adjustment points including the TPU strap, zipper, front hook, and pull cord on the top. The size of the gaiters is very tiny, and the weight is negligible, so I did not hesitate to pack them with me even if I was not going to use them for the whole hike.
Given the weather and restrictions I did not manage to find any snow during the testing period but did take them through some damp trail and wet sand. I find sand specifically often gets into my boots, and this did not happen when I wore the gaiters. They got a bit scuffed on this hike but were easy to wipe down. The gaiters are not meant to be waterproof, but my feet and pants did not get wet in the damp sand. In the light rain the water did tend to soak in as opposed to bead and repel, which again, I expected.
My final hike with these gaiters was up Woss Lookout Trail which is a steep, short hike. About halfway through the trek I noticed small holes on the outside of both gaiters. I was wearing my hiking boots at the time. The holes seemed to be over the eye loops of my shoes. I am unsure if they got caught on low lying tree branches, roots or rocks, or if they just poked through with the movement of my feet up the steep hill as I did not notice the holes right away. The material is very soft, comfortable, and light weight, but I wonder if it is robust enough to be doing a more intense hike through brush and with heavy boots. As the gaiters are a bit short and not waterproof, I think I would use these more for debris protection with trail running or in an open snow field in winter with smaller boots rather than on a hike with my trail boots through brush. However, it is possible that I should have sized up. As I mentioned above I was between sizes (just at the upper end of S/M - I wear size 10.5), so perhaps a large would have fit over my boots better, thereby reducing tension on the material. I fear with my runners the size Large would have been too big, so hard to know what the best option may have been.
All of that being said, the customer service from Kahtoola was exceptional. The gaiters come with a 1-year warranty. As I am a tester I did not have a receipt. I simply went to their website and put in my personal information as well as the product information including date of purchase, product type and size, and description of the issue. I attached some pictures and submitted my claim. It took 9 business days for them to respond. On the website it states they usually respond within 4 to 6 business days, but that there is seasonal variation, and it is possible COVID could have contributed to a longer wait time as well (although I do not know this for certain). Once I received a response they shipped me a replacement the same day, no questions asked. They also requested feedback on the conditions where I had problems with the gaiters including type of terrain and activity I was doing when the tears occurred, which I provided. I received their response on May 19, 2020 and received the replacement gaiters in the mail June 15, 2020. I did not have to ship back the original gaiters or pay for any shipping, it was a free replacement. The length of shipping time was quite long, but again, during COVID I have found all of my online orders have been delayed and this was also shipped across the border. Some of my other products that I have ordered from across the border are still being held at the border, so I was impressed they arrived at all!
Long Term Report
August 25, 2020
It was great to be able to test these in more severe conditions. They got the most significant testing in Banff where I found a lot more snow in the Rocky Mountains. I found the gaiters held up great when the trail went up a wet river bed and more shallow snow. I did encounter deeper snow than I was expecting at one point and did get a little wet in these conditions. The gaiters do have a pull string around the top of the ankle, but I did find when my foot was fully submerged a bit of snow did get in to my shoe. However, as long as my ankle was not fully submerged both my feet and shoes stayed dry.
Now that I have used the gaiters a lot more, both with boots and shoes, I can confirm the S/M fits great with my runners, and I would upsize in the future for my boots, as I find the fit is too snug. I do think this is likely why my last pair got holes in them. They also unzip if there is too much tension. My sister, who has smaller feet than me (size 8), tried my gaiters with her boots and they appeared to fit well with no pulling and the zipper did not open.
After using these gaiters in many different conditions, I feel I would recommend them to others. I like that the material is light weight yet high quality. I think they work really well with runners, and also in wet conditions with low levels of snow. I would use a taller pair in deep snow, but these pack up so small. I feel they are great for spring and summer conditions.
Kahtoola also had great customer service, which I would again like to highlight.
This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Kahtoola and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these gaiters.
Read more reviews of Kahtoola gear
Read more gear reviews by Christie Kimber
Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola INSTAgaiters > Test Report by Christie Kimber