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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola INSTAgaiters > Test Report by Robb Pratt

August 25, 2020



NAME: Robb Pratt
EMAIL: unicornv007 AT
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Canton, Michigan, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I backpacked sporadically growing up and rediscovered it back in 2011. Since then, I've taken several weekend trips a year. I also car camp with my family roughly a dozen nights a year when we use tents unless I can convince them I might snore and it would be better for all for me to use my hammock rig. I prefer a light pack (weight without food or water under 20 pounds / 9 kg). My backpacking stomping ground is northern Michigan that has small hills and I typically camp late spring, summer and early fall months.



Manufacturer: Kahtoola
Year of manufacture: 2020
Website: Kahtoola
Listed Weight: 2.6 oz (74g) per pair
Weight as Delivered:
* Storage Bag: 0.3 oz (9g)
* Gaiters: 2.3 oz (64g) per pair
Listed Dimensions: 8 in (20.3 cm)
Measured Dimension: 8 in (20.3 cm) - while I am not sure how to confirm this measurement, I used a ruler and checked the distance from the ground to the top of the gaiter while being worn.
MSRP: US$49.95
Product description: The INSTAgaiter Mids are small pieces of fabric with asymmetric zippers that are connected to footwear. They are held to the underneath of the shoe by a plastic strap and near the front of the foot with a plastic loop that latches onto the shoelacing. Toward the top of the ankle, there is a cinch-cord that is used to pull them tight against the ankle. While they provide some water protection, their primary purpose is to keep debris that is kicked up while walking from settling inside the shoe. Kahtoola's INSTAgaiter Mids are designed to unzip while still remaining attached to the footwear. Made from a blend of nylon and polyester, they also provide a high level of breathability.
Colors: Kahtoola provides 7 different color options. I received the black with red stitching.
Material: The gaiters are made of stretch-woven nylon/polyester blend with a DWR finish while the strap is manufactured with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).
Care: Hand wash cold. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Line dry. Do not iron. Do not dry clean.

Instagaiter Mid Packaging


I examined the gaiters closely after they arrived. The construction is very well done with clean, stylish stitching. Even the inside of the seams was well crafted with no loose threads that needed to be trimmed. The cords at the top of each gaiter also have nice, bright (and easy to grasp) tabs on them. The zippers connect easily and slide smoothly. Each gaiter also had a pair of small fabric loops inside. I am not sure of the exact purpose of those loops, but for me, they would be a great place to 'clip' the gaiters together so I wouldn't lose them and they also could be hung somewhere to dry.

Laid Out - Both Inside & Outside Shown


They have very limited instructions, but I've had some experience with asymmetric-zipper gaiters. I had to go online to determine how to change the location of the strap but it still seemed very easy to do - just pull the red plastic out from the black plastic and change to a different spot.

Understrap Loose

Understrap Connected

Packaging Instructions

Washing instructions: Thankfully, words as well as pictures were included on the label on the gaiters. While I enjoy the "guess what it means" picture game when it comes to deciphering laundry instructions, I greatly prefer just reading it in simple words. Either way, the actual instructions are straight forward and what I do on my normal camping and backpacking gear (wash in cold water, line dry).


After removing them from the package, the first thing I did was stuff them in the small carry sack that they arrived with. I'm not sure I would be using the sack very often but everything did fit in there easily.

Gaiters Stuffed in Stuff Sack

Installing the gaiters was easy. For me, I found it took less effort to install them on my trail runners before putting the shoes on my feet. I was able to first slide the bottom plastic piece underneath the sole of the shoe until it settled roughly where my foot arch would be. Then, I wrapped the fabric around and clipped the top loop into the front of my shoelace. After that, it was just a matter of putting my foot inside the shoe and zipping up the gaiter.

Installed on Shoe

Ready to Roll

The only real challenge comes from remembering my left from my right. The gaiters are labeled clearly so I can't blame Kahtoola there. That's all on me.

For now, other than taking a short walk through the neighborhood, I have not had a chance to go on a hiking or backpacking trip but then again, as a country we are currently locked down and quarantined and most of the nearby hiking trails have been closed.


Overall, I have found the Kahtoola INSTAgaiter Mids to be well crafted and fashionable. They are very light-weight, easy to install and comfortable to wear. I especially like that I can also leave them attached to my shoes even when I've taken my footwear off to let my feet take a break.



* Day Hike #1 (May 17, 2020): Maybury State Park in Northville, Michigan, USA. Temperature was 55F (13C). It had rained heavily during the morning and rained most of the hike as well. The terrain was packed dirt. My pack weight was 21 pounds (9.5 kg). The hike length was 6.3 miles (10.1 km).
* Trip #1 (June 20 to 21, 2020): Manistee River Trail in Brethren, Michigan, USA for 2 days / 1 night. Temperature ranged from 69F to 90F (21 to 32C). There was light rain overnight and early on the second morning but not a measurable amount. The terrain was mostly packed dirt and sand with lots of tree roots. My pack weight was 25 pounds (11.3 kg) and we hiked a total of 8 miles (12.9 km) over the two days.


With the Coronavirus quarantine, I have been limited in my time outside, hiking in the woods. Initially, several of the parks nearby were closed entirely. After some time though, the parks were reopened but overwhelmed by day hikers. This made it difficult for me to find just the right balance of hiking in the parks and social distancing.

My first real test was going to Maybury State Park for a long morning of fast paced hiking during what I call "Bad Weather Hiking!". I add the exclamation point there and usually a large grin when I say this around my family. My wife thinks I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal. I'm not sure what the kids think though I have invited them to join me. They usually look outside, get this weird expression on their faces and go back to their hobbies. This was an ideal day for me, and I had specifically been waiting for this kind of weather. It was cold, rainy and most of the park had localized, minor flooding. It would be perfect to social distance without having to fight off the crowds that descend on the parks when the weather is nice.

The INSTAgaiter Mids did a great job of keeping floating debris from funneling down into my shoes while I was hiking. I did not have any issues with keeping them zipped up and I found they were easy to leave attached to my shoes even after my trip. As my trail runners are not waterproof, I never did test their ability to shed water but I can say that at least from a mud and water standpoint, the top half of my socks looked much cleaner than the bottom half. Overall, the gaiters did their job perfectly and they also stayed in place around my ankles without having to be readjusted.

Post Wet & Muddy Hike

Muddy Bottom of Gaiters

Sock with High Water Mark for Water

For my second trip - my first overnight backpack trip since the quarantine started, the conditions were more traditional with hot, sunny weather and dusty trail conditions. While the INSTAgaiter Mids did not have to deal with the water, they did a great job of keeping twigs and dirt from collecting inside my shoes. On the return trip, the weather changed to light drizzling with some damp conditions. The gaiters kept my socks and feet mostly dry. The only parts that got wet were my toes but then again, the gaiters do not cover that part and I have mesh along the top of my shoes which allowed water to enter and soak the front of my feet. I also was pleased that I had no issues with breathability with the gaiters covering the top of my feet and ankles. I did not experience any noticeable sweating or heat rashes. Furthermore, the gaiters did a great job (much like the earlier hike in colder weather) of staying in place and not requiring readjustments while hiking.

Dry and Dusty

I have rinsed the gaiters several times in the bathtub to remove dirt and mud that has coated them. I have found them easy to clean. Furthermore, the zippers work flawlessly and have not had any binding. I have also inspected the bottom plastic strap and not found any signs of wear or damage.


The Kahtoola INSTAgaiter Mids are a great addition to my hiking footwear to keep out debris and dirt from my shoes. I find they do a great job and are easy to attach and remove from my shoes. I especially like how I can even leave them installed to my shoes when not being actively worn.


1. Easy to install
2. Can be left on shoes when not being worn
3. Does a great job keeping debris/dirt out of shoes


1. Cinch cord is a bit long but then again, I have small ankles. I may trim them long term but for now, I keep tucking them inside to prevent flopping around.



* Trip (August 9 to 11, 2020): Manistee River Trail in Brethren, Michigan, USA for 3 days, 2 nights. Temperatures ranged from 60F to 88F (16 to 30C). The weather was overall hot and very humid - even at night. The terrain was packed dirt, some sand and lots of tree roots. My pack weight started at 28 pounds (12.7 kg) and slowly reduced over the length of the trip. I hiked the entire trail of 20 miles (32 km).
* Day Trips: Multiple hikes at Proud Lake Recreational Area (Wixom, Michigan USA), Maybury State Park (Northville, Michigan USA) and several other local trails. Trips generally were 3 to 7 miles (5 to 11 km) in length and usually with a small pack that weighed under 10 pounds (4.5 kg).


Overall, I had a great experience with the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters. I have found that they have done a great job of preventing rocks, twigs and other debris from finding their way into the bottom of my shoes while I am hiking. I thought perhaps that I might be mistaken how often that occurred until I removed one of the gaiters for part of a hike. There was a noticeable difference between which shoe had the gaiter attached.

Another thing I paid close attention to was breathability. Initially, I was concerned about sweat building up on my ankles due to the high temperatures and whether the gaiters would provide enough venting. These gaiters did a great job to the point that when I performed the single gaiter only trial, I could not tell the difference.

I especially enjoyed how I could remove my shoes while leaving the gaiters attached to them. This was a delight when I took breaks throughout the day where I could easily pop my shoes off and not have to hassle with the gaiters or even worry about chasing one down if the wind were to kick up. I was also pleased that my socks actually looked cleaner after hiking all day, kicking up dirt.

The only issue I did have, was the zipper coming down slightly (maybe the length of my pinky finger) twice on the first day of the backpacking trip but on the remaining days (as well as my day hikes), this never happened. I am still not sure what I was doing differently on that first day. Both gaiters also stayed in place around my ankles and never caused me any troubles with sliding down.

Lastly, I have also used them now on two different trail hiking shoes without issues. They are versatile enough that I can even connect them to my normal, daily walking shoes if I wanted as well as my old hiking boots.


While they look a little dirty, they have held up well. The fabric has not developed any holes. The stitching is still solid without any frayed edges. The plastic piece on the bottom of the shoe also does not show any signs of wear. Lastly, the zippers still move easily.

As for cleaning, a simple rinse in a river stream washed away the dust and mud. Upon arriving at home, I also rinsed them in the laundry sink and hung them to dry. They continue to look new.

Plastic Connector - Still Mint!


Overall, I have enjoyed wearing the Kahtoola INSTAgaiters while backpacking and hiking in the woods. They have eliminated the number of times I have to stop to pick out a pebble or twig from inside my shoes. They are also easy to install and can be left on the shoe. This makes them an integral piece of equipment that I do not have to think about after I put them on the first time.

Taking a Break


I will definitely be using these in the future on any of my backpacking hikes.

This concludes my long term report. I want to thank both and Kahtoola for letting me take part in testing the INSTAgaiters.

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

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