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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola NAVAgaiters > Test Report by joe schaffer

Kahtoola NAVAgaiters
Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - March 15, 2020
FIELD REPORT - July 1, 2020
LONG TERM REPORT - July 20, 2020
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 72
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.
packageProduct: NAVAgaiter GTXpair gaiters

Manufacturer:  Kahtoola
    NAVA™gaiter GTX Specs: (from vendor website)
Best Use: Winter hiking and mountaineering
Fabric: Three-layer GORE-TEX upper with polyester face fabric and a ballistic nylon lower
Zipper: Waterproof AquaGuard coil zipper
Instep Strap: Adjustable and (if necessary) replaceable
Sizes: S, M, L
Weight (per pair): 5.3 oz/ 152g (S), 5.4 oz/ 154 g (M), 5.5 oz/157 g (L)
Height: 13.5 in/34.3 cm
Color: Light gray/dark gray
Pack Size: 5” by 4.5” by 2.5” (13 x 12 x 6 cm)
Unisex: Yes
Warranty: 1 year
Tote sack included
Care Instructions: Hand wash cold. Do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Line dry. Do not iron. Do not dry clean.

MSRP: $74.95 US

Received: March, 2020
; Men's Medium

My Specs:
  M size
weight, pair: 5 1/4 oz (149 g)
    height from heel: 14 in (36 cm)
    circumference at top: 17 1/2 in (44 cm)
    circumference at foot: 19 in (48 cm)
    zipper length: 12 3/4 in (32 cm)

    stuff sack: 6 in x 5 in (15 x 13 cm)
    stuff sack weight: 1/2 oz (14 g)

My Description:
NAVAgaiter GTX features off-center zipper placement, light-weight waterproof breathable gray upper and coated heavy duty black Cordura lower. The zipper is water resistant, so there is no cover. The top snugs up with a grosgrain garter and cord lock. The gaiter anchors to a shoe lace with a plastic, flat-face hook. The instep strap is a stiff, round, four mm (5/32 in) synthetic cord. The cord anchors to each side of the gaiter via a push-in/pull-out retainer feature, making the strap easily adjustable within its range of four half-inch (1 cm) adjustment slots on one side. The retaining feature makes the strap easily removable; and replacement pairs are presently available on the vendor's website for $5 US. The breathable stuff sack has an elastic cord closure with cord lock.
NAVAgaiter feels light, though the Cordura certainly seems capable of withstanding significant wear
and tear. The off-center zipper works great for me as putting it toward the inside makes it very easy to manipulate. I was able to adjust the instep strap without reading directions. Though my shoe size falls about mid-range for a Medium NAVAgaiter, I found it necessary to adjust the strap to its longest. I put the NAVAgaiter over jeans and the gaitor fit fine. I'll be hiking in ski socks and possibly a base layer, and that will give a better indication of fit for me. The garter strap doesn't hit much above the fat of my calf, so I'll be testing how well it holds the gaiters up in concert with the stiffness of the zipper coil.

    Of course it is what it is; but as I'm more
used to knee-highs, NAVAgaiter seems a little short, being several inches (7 cm) below the knee, and I'm about average height.

    The stuff sack doesn't work for me. I have to struggle to hold the gaiters in a tight enough bundle to get them in; and my gear karma agreement conflicts with folding stuff up so tightly. I won't be using it.


Field Conditions:open leg
    1. June 23-29, 2020:Yosemite/Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 7 days, 15 mi (24 km) brushy trail, 10 hrs hiking; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 35-80 F (2-27 C), mostly sunny. 6,000-8,000 ft (1,800-2,400 m); 3 camps.

    Serendipitously the gaiters arrived just a few days before a scheduled snow outing. Not so serendipitously, we all know what popped out of the woodwork to kill that plan. This test is thus reduced to dust.

    Kahtoola tags the NAVAgaiters Left and Right. That puts the zippers on the outside, which I find not well suited to my arthritic disposition. I put them on to suit me and they almost did perfectly. I was in a hurry at the trailhead and couldn't figure out why the first one went on just right and the next very tight pulling over the boot heel. So, think about something else and get to hiking. The cause turned out simple enough. I thought I'd adjusted the stirrups at home to their maximum, whereby one sees three adjustment holes. Each side had three. Good, yes? A fellow can get too excited to see that three are at the end while the other side's three are inside. Oh well. Fortunately that was the hardest mental effort exerted on the trip. I fidgeted to figure out how to make the adjustment, reluctant to apply enough force until frustration brought the matter to fruition.

    Hiking was blithering hot and a lot of me melted into my boots. What I found most advantageous about the gaiters is that they fit a (bare) leg like a stove pipe. The action of walking causes the gaiters to flop around enough to pump stinky old hot air out and let fresher hot air in. I did sweat, but not as much as I'm used to in high temperatures, and certainly not as much as I expected from waterproof/breathable fabric.

    Earlier I whined about the (lack of) height of the gaiters. Now having used them, that they will stay completely upright without being gartered at the top causes me to praise them. Skin suffered a few more scratches than would have been the case with real 'knee-highs', but in such miserable heat the tradeoff was more than worthwhile. (I'd rather bleed than sweat.) No rubble got in through the tops, and only a very few leaves off the despicable sticker brush presently abounding on Kibbie Ridge Trail. The stickers have on occasion torn gaiters, but so far the NAVAgaiters have endured substantial insult without consequence.

    Though I hope never to find out, I take comfort in thinking the loose and floppy fit over the calf could also impair a rattlesnake's strike to reach skin.

    The fit around the bottom is snug enough that no debris and only a tiny bit of dust managed to insinuate itself up into my shoes.

    Other than the 'force' issue to make the adjustment, the stirrups held up on this short but often rubbly hike.

    Once having made the stirrup adjustment after a couple of days, I found the gaiters very easy to put on and remove. The lace hook faces down, so only the end of the hook has to slip under the lace. This is much easier to snag the lace than with hooks that face up, requiring the entire hook to be slid under the lace and pulled back. Zippers on the outside don't work so well for me, but on the inside they are great--easy to see and to manipulate. The zippers are smooth and I found them not the least bit persnickety.

Field Conditions:

    2. July 8-15, 2020:Yosemite/Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 8 days, 15 mi (24 km) trail, 10 mi (16 km) cross country = 25 mi (40 km) in 24 hours hiking; leave weight 39 lb (18 kg); 45-80 F (7-27 C), sunny. 6,000-8,000 ft (1,800-2,400 m); 5 camps.
    3. Jul 23-30, 2020: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 8 days, 23 mi (37 km) mostly trail, 20 hours; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 45-85 F (7-29 C), mostly sunny with several T-storms. 7,150-8,400 ft (2,200-2,600 m); 6 camps.
    4. Aug 9-15, 2020: Tahoe National Forest, California, USA. 7 days, 8 mi (13 km) mostly trail, 8 hours; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 50-85 F (10-29 C), sunny. 7,000-7,400 ft (2,100-2,300 m); 3 camps.

    I again tried the gaiters on L & R as tagged and continue to find them much more easily zipped when put on--according to directions--backwards. It is hard for me to reach across to the outside of the leg; and my shirt sleeve tends to get more fouled from the dust on the gaiters. I don't see as a matter of functional performance how it could matter which side is which and I mostly wore them to suit my ease of putting them on and off. I can't help but wonder if the L R direction is mis-tagged; or if such tagging actually serves any purpose.

    Following another gambit through brushy trail and cross country, the gaiters show no sign of wear. It would not be unexpected to find tears after wading seas of sticker brush, but so
far the gaiters remain sound. Also, having ground the stirrups over 71 mi (114 km) of often rubbly trail, they show no sign of weakening. Zippers continue to work flawlessly and without the benefit of any special cleaning. I rinsed the gaiters in lake water once.

    Alas, by the time forest access was permitted during the test time frame, snow remained only a wistful memory. Conditions are so dry there was no opportunity to traipse through anything wet; and consequently afford no comment on waterproofness. The inside coating does make wiping blood from the material much easier.

Test total: 71 mi (114 km); 62 hrs hiking; dry, hot conditions.

Summation: Ungartered stay-in-place with floppy fit over the calf make for a cooler ride; while snug fit at bottom keeps much rubble and dust out.
Quick shots:
a) light
    b) easy-reach, off-center zipper
    c) replaceable instep strap
Thank you Kahtoola and for the opportunity to test this product. This report concludes the test.

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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Kahtoola NAVAgaiters > Test Report by joe schaffer

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