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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola INSTAgaiters > Test Report by Marina Batzke

KAHTOOLA INSTAGAITER MID
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 22, 2020

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Marina Batzke
EMAIL: mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
AGE: 60
LOCATION: Los Angeles County, California, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
WEIGHT: 132 lb (60.00 kg)

I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Kahtoola, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ, USA
Year of Manufacture: 2020
Manufacturer's Website: http://kahtoola.com
MSRP: US$49.95
Listed Weight: 2.3 oz (66 g) for S/M, 2.6 oz (74 g) for L/XL unisex sizes
Measured Weight: 2 oz (58 g) for the two gaiters
Tote Sack: 0.3 oz (9 g) with 4 x 4 in (10 x 10 cm) size
Other details:
Available Colors are light grey/dark grey, light purple/dark purple, light blue/steel blue, light grey/Sedona, light sand/dark sand, light grey/steel blue, and black with red stitching.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters Mid arrived with one gaiter attached to a stiff cardboard with product info, while the other gaiter was inside a small tote sack. Attached to the tote sack was a small booklet that describes four different Kahtoola gaiters (INSTAgaiter Low; INSTAgaiter Mid; NAVAgaiter GTX; LEVAgaiter GTX) with their different heights and recommended uses. I received the Women's S/M gaiters in all-black with red stitching and I like this color combination.

The INSTAgaiters Mid are described at 8 in (20.3 cm) high by Kahtoola. My S/M gaiters measure 7.5 in (19 cm) from top to bottom opening in the back and 6.5 in (16.5 cm) from top to bottom opening in the front. They are made from a stretch-woven nylon/ polyester blend with DWR (durable water repellent) finish. I can stretch the fabric minimally when pulling in opposite directions. The fabric is super-soft to the touch and the pair of gaiters is extremely lightweight.

At the 11 in (28 cm) diameter top opening, the INSTAgaiters have an elasticized drawcord. This shall allow me to tighten the top opening for a snug fit around my leg to prevent elements from getting in. The 17 in (43 cm) bottom opening is not elasticized. Attached to it is a hard-plastic red adjustable instep strap. This rounded TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) passes underneath my boot and interfaces with the sole tread. And in the gaiter front, a small hook is attached that I shall later connect with the front of my boot shoelace.

Quite unusual to me is the asymmetrical zipper from top opening to bottom opening. The asymmetrical design shall increase comfort as my ankle flexes. Interesting idea.
IMAGE 1
The gaiters with their tote sack

Kahtoola describes the INSTAgaiters Mid as breathable in warm temperatures and water resistant to damp environments.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The INSTAgaiters Mid are unisex. Both the manufacturer's website as well as the cardboard that the gaiters were attached to show the sizing chart:
S/M fits Women's boot sizes US W7-11 (EU 37-41) and Men's boot sizes US M6-10 (EU 39-43).
L/XL fits Women's boot sizes US W11+ (EU 41+) and Men's boot sizes US M10-13 (EU 43-46).

CARE
Handwashing in cold water is the recommended cleaning method, followed by line drying. I shall not use bleach or fabric softeners. No ironing. No dry cleaning. As part of regular maintenance, it is recommended to rinse the zippers following use in very dusty environments to avoid jamming of the zipper teeth.

Warranty: 1 year

TRYING IT OUT

When I opened the gaiter zippers, I noticed each gaiter has a tag on the inside that shows the size S/M and the indicator LEFT or RIGHT to explain which leg to wear it on. The gaiters can be worn over or under my pant legs.

In order to adjust the red hard-plastic instep strap to fit my boot, I have to press really hard on the upper portion of the black clip and pull the top of the red strap away from the black clip. It took me several attempts, worried I might tear the fabric, until I had it figured out. With the red strap loose, I did a first test run to determine the proper strap length.

To put the gaiters on, I pull the two fabric ends of an open gaiter from the back around to the front. The zipper is positioned a bit off center: to the right on my right foot and to the left on my left foot. The zipper runs from the bottom up. I insert the zipper into its pull side and with smooth action the zipper closes at the elastic top.
IMAGE 2
inside tag shows right or left side
IMAGE 3
the adjustable instep strap

When I adjust the gaiters to a particular pair of boots for the very first time, I guide the red strap under the boot sole and note into which red strap opening I must insert the black clip. Once I have determined the right strap length, I pull the gaiters off. Next I have to attach the arrow end of the black clip into the determined strap opening and push the top of the red strap on the black clip. From now on, as long as I wear boots in similar size, this setting will work for me and I do not have to repeat this procedure.

When I want to go hiking, I pull on the gaiter, next close the zipper, and I attach the black front plastic hook to my boot's front shoe lace.
IMAGE 4
Inside look, the front hook

Should the red plastic instep strap ever wear away, I can undo it from both the foot inside and foot outside gaiter clip. I can purchase two replacement gaiter instep straps for $5. Available colors are red and grey.

SUMMARY

The INSTAgaiters Mid are lightweight soft-fabric gaiters, intended to keep dust, dirt and rocks out of high-profile hiking boots and running shoes.

LIKES:
lightweight, super-soft fabric
big zipper teeth: not flimsy skinny
elastic drawcord at top opening
pair packs down to small size inside tote bag

DISLIKES:
took me a moment to figure out how to adjust the instep strap


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Due to COVID-19, all trails and trailheads, nearby national parks, even the beach near my home were closed the majority of the past two months. So I used the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters on twelve walks through the neighborhoods around my home. These last three weeks, I was finally able to go for walks in the nearby hills. The temperatures ranged from the low to the high 70s F (21 - 26 C). The weather was either sunny with bright blue skies, or a bit overcast.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The first couple of times I put the Kahtoola gaiters on, I had to remind myself how to position the zipper on each shoe: on my right shoe, the zipper is forward an inch to the right; on my left shoe, the zipper is forward an inch to the left. It has been easy to insert the zipper pin into the retainer box, then pull the slider up. I give the elasticized drawcord a little pull to close any gap at the top. I position the plastic hook over the shoelace at the top front of my trailrunners and the gaiters have a great fit. So far, I have always worn the INSTAgaiters while wearing capri pants and the top of the tightened gaiters has not cut into my bare legs. My Women's S/M size INSTAgaiters are a perfect fit when worn over my trailrunners.

Recently the black INSTAgaiters looked really grey and dusty. I handwashed them in the sink with water and now they look black and like-new again.
IMAGE 1
finally a trail opened up
IMAGE 2
a walk on the sand

A close inspection of the gaiters shows no damage, no holes, no pulled threats. While so many of my uses were walking around the neighborhood during the pandemic shut-down, once the beaches opened up again I did go for walks on the sand and no debris got into my trailrunners.

I have not used the small tote bag that came with the packing unit. I usually simply keep the gaiters near my trailrunners and have them handy when I go for a hike.

SUMMARY

The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters prevent debris from getting into my hiking shoes. Finally California is easing the ultra-tight pandemic restrictions and I have a few backpacking trips on my horizon, allowing me to test the gaiters on extended outings.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mt. Pinos to Sheep Camp via Sawmill Mtn, California, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack, wearing leather hiking boots
Elevation: 8300 ft/ 2530 m
9 miles/ 14.5 km
Temperature: 74 - 52 F (23 - 11 C)
Saturday sunny, Sunday sunny with a strong breeze
All on-trail: forest floor with roots, rocks, pine needles

4 weekend morning walks around the neighborhood
1 hour each, wearing either sneakers or trailrunners
Elevation: 1400 ft/ 430 m
3 miles/ 5 km
Temperature: 70s F (20s C)
Mornings typically lightly overcast with sun peaking through
Concrete sidewalk and asphalt road surfaces

White Wolf to Smith Peak, Yosemite National Park, USA
4 day/ 3 night backpack, wearing leather hiking boots
Elevation: 7900 ft/ 2400 m
18 miles/ 29 km
Temperature: mid-70s (mid-20s)
Pleasant, sunny
Mostly on-trail: forest floor with roots, rocks, pine needles
with one day majority off-trail 8.5 miles/ 14 km

Dawson Saddle to Mt. Baden Powell, California, USA
Out-and-back Dayhike, wearing trailrunners
Elevation: 7900 - 9400 ft/ 2400 - 2865 m
9 miles/ 14.5 km
Temperature: 84 F (29 C)
Sunny
Worn-out trail with dust and rocks

Mt. Pinos to Cerro Noroeste, California, USA
Out-and-back Dayhike, wearing trailrunners
Elevation: 8300 ft/ 2500 C
13 miles/ 21 km
Temperature: 80 F (27 C)
Sunny
All on-trail: forest floor with roots, rocks, pine needles

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During the Field Report phase, I had used the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters over my trailrunners. Additionally I had worn capri pants, so there had not been any pant leg fabric to get in the way. So it had been super easy to wrap the gaiters around the trailrunners and close the gaiter zippers.

For the Mt. Pinos backpack, for the first time I wore my mid-high leather hiking boots with the INSTAgaiters. I was surprised that I could not easily insert the zipper pin into the retainer box. The taller, stiffer leather boots have a bigger circumference and I had to pull really hard to line up the two zipper ends. It was definitely no longer super easy to insert the pin and pull up the zipper. I made sure the fabric of my long pants was evenly distributed around my leg because with the long pant legs and the bigger leather boots, the gaiters had a more snug fit. Yet the elastic top of the gaiters was not restricting and did not cut into my legs. This image shows one gaiter on and the other one removed after a long day of hiking:
IMAGE 1
one gaiter on - one gaiter off

A few times during this testing phase, I wore the gaiters over sneakers or trailrunners on my neighborhood conditioning walks in order to give the gaiters more use time.
IMAGE 2
on Mt. Baden Powell
IMAGE 3
next to a large Sugar Pine cone

The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters got their best workout on the Yosemite National Park backpacking trip. One day we ventured from our camp to Smith Peak and the majority of this dayhike was off-trail. We practiced our navigational and route-finding skills through heavy brush, down a steep hillside through overgrown vegetation and up/down forested hillsides. The INSTAgaiters kept the insides of my boots free from debris all day. Once I got back to the tent and took gaiters, boots and socks off, I was surprised to see how dusty my toes where. But no debris annoyed me or required me to take the boots off all day.
IMAGE 4
top unwashed - bottom washed

I have hand washed the gaiters in water six times and hung them to air-dry afterward. I simply soak the gaiters in water, lightly rub fabric against fabric and the dust comes off well. The only change I noticed was a bit of tree sap that dried up to the left of the Kahtoola logo. After I took the photo, I applied a bit of hand sanitizer gel to the tree sap and it came off. Now they look like-new again.

Inspecting the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters at the end of this test series, they have proven to be durable and long-lasting. I have kept the gaiters on the same red instep strap setting throughout the testing phase. The setting has fit for low shoes (trailrunners and sneakers) and for my higher leather hiking boots. Both red instep straps are still intact and show virtually no wear. The fabric does not show any holes or other deterioration. The zippers continue to open or close smoothly.

SUMMARY

The Kahtoola INSTAgaiters have kept debris out of my footwear on dayhikes and backpacking trips. I will continue to use the gaiters on my future dayhikes and backpacking trips.

LIKES:
durable: no signs of wear
lightweight
effective: do what they are designed to do

NO DISLIKES

Thank you to Kahtoola and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these lightweight mid-high INSTAgaiters.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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