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Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Outdoor Research Salamander Gaiters > Test Report by Wayne Merry

Outdoor Research Salamander Gaiters

Test Series by Wayne Merry


FIELD REPORT: 13 August 2009

LONG-TERM REPORT: 13 October 2009

About Wayne, the tester:

Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 1.8 m (5' 10")
Weight: 90 kg (198 lb)
Email address: wayne underscore merry at yahoo dot com dot au
City, State, Country: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Backpacking Background: I started overnight backpacking six years ago. I hike in various terrains from moderate/hard track walks to some off-track and rivers. I like the temperature to stay above freezing, and have not camped above the snow line during winter. I enjoy going on weekend and multi-day walks up to two weeks as well as day walks. I carry a moderate weight pack, enjoying a few creature comforts at camp. I normally do at least 2 overnight or longer walks every three months, in addition to a number of full day length walks.
About the test environment:

I will be testing the Outdoor Research Salamander gaiters in Victoria, Australia. Elevations will vary from sea level to 1500 m (4900 ft). The test will be conducted in the winter and spring seasons with temperatures expected to vary from 0 C (32 F) to 25 C (77 F). Humidity varies widely during this time of year. Conditions could vary from quite wet to very dry.

I will be testing the OR Salamander gaiters on all my overnight or longer walks that I have planned during the test period.
Product Details:
Outdoor Research Salamander gaiters image courtesy of OR

Photograph courtesy of Outdoor Research
Manufacturer's description: "No matter if it's a drizzle or a steady downpour, these waterproof gaiters will keep feet and footwear dry on the approach. The boot section is molded to conform to the shape of your footwear and reaches nearly to the toe of your boot. The sidewalls extend down the edges of boots so even in soggy bushwhacking, your feet will stay dry from the elements."

Specifications for product as tested:
  • Weight
    • Manufacturer specified: 176 g (6.2 oz)
    • As tested: 182 g (6.4 oz)
  • Dimensions
    • As tested: (received L/XL sizes 8-12, there is a S/M size 5-9 available)
      • Leg section length: 18 cm (7 in)
      • Length from top to toe: 31 cm (12 in)

Initial Report: Item Receipt & First Impressions:

3 Jun 2009

Gaiters as supplied Pair of gaiters

I received the Outdoor Research Salamander gaiters attached with information about the gaiters and the lifetime guarantee. Information was supplied in English and French, but je ne parle pas francais tres bien, so I'll stick to the English.

The Salamander gaiters (shown above) have a good feel to the hand. The fabric looks robust and feels light. The stitching is single stitching, and I found one loose threat at the top of the gaiters. It is too early to say how I feel about the stitching quality. Stitching is often what lets me down with gaiters, but I have found double stitching seems not to help much. A conclusion to this matter awaits testing in the field. The strap is sewn on to the gaiter on one side with two stitching rows. The other side has a buckle for strap adjustment. The boot section of the gaiter has a reinforced Cordura material. At the toe there is a semi-rigid reinforcement material underneath the Cordura.

The gaiter is secured at the back by a seam of hook and loop fastener running from top to bottom. There are also two adjustment straps which are also secured by hook and loop fastener. I am pleased that Outdoor Research used hook and loop for these instead of studs, as I find that studs often are the first thing to fail on a gaiter. I am used to velcro seams running on the front of the leg, so it might take a little time to get used to the seam being on the back of the leg. Having the seam at the back can be good in heavy bush, as stuff can get caught in seams at the front and force them open.

Inside of gaiters Outside of gaiters

The elastic top edge of the gaiters felt ok against the skin. There were no obvious rubbing or problems, but I'll have to wait to the field test to see how this goes. It looks like it should keep out water running down my leg, but I guess we shall see. These gaiters may not keep out water from river crossings for very long as it appears there is a bit of space between the bottom edge of the gaiter and the boot which would allow water through. It has been said that a good gaiter gives one quarter of a second grace in the river, but I'm not sure how much grace I will get with the Salamanders.

The instep strap has a good robust feel about it, but it will take walking over rough terrain to see how the urethane coating performs. It will be important that these straps last as they are sewn in.

My main likes and dislikes at this stage are:

  • LIKES:
    • Nice and light.
    • Material construction seems good.
    • There is a sizeable gap between my boot and gaiter on the bottom edge.
    • The instep strap is sewn in.

Field Test Report:

13 August 2009

Field test locations:

  • Mt Cobbler, Victoria, Australia. A planned overnight walk, but I had to abandon one day. The walk was in the Victorian high country. Around 15 km (9 miles) on track.
  • Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland, Australia. A 23 km (14 mile) day walk on track.
  • The Fortress, Grampians, Victoria, Australia. An overnight walk mostly on track, but a little rock hopping walking as well. A total distance of around 25 km (15 miles).

My field test involved using the Salamander gaiters over three significant walks. I wore shorts on all of these walks apart from the first to test how the Salamanders would perform directly against skin. As described in the Initial Report, the Salamanders are a half height gaiter that covers the top section of the boot and the lower leg. The top of the gaiter is located near the bottom of the calf. For serious off track walking in the bush or scrub, I would prefer using a full length gaiter and pants rather than shorts and a half length gaiter. For on track walking, the Salamander suits me just fine.

Gaiters worn in the field Gaiter strap

The Salamanders cover the boots to the toe cap. The front of the gaiter is more than 3 cm (1.2 in) forward of the lace hook. This can make it a little tricky getting the gaiter on, but I found that putting the lace hook on, and getting the gaiter strap done up before doing up the gaiter hook and loop material (similar to Velcro) gave the gaiters a tighter feel. On my first walk, I was doing up the hook and loop strips on the back before doing up the strap, but the gaiters tended to move around on the boot after 30 or so minutes of walking. When I reversed the order of doing up the gaiter - strap first - the gaiter was more secure. When done up well, the gaiters are able to stay securely in place throughout the day. The sizeable gap problem I mentioned in my initial review seems to have resolved itself when I put the gaiters on this way.

The gaiter material does appear to be significantly water resistant. There does appear to be some breathability to the gaiter fabrics, but my feet still get damp in the boot a little more than if I did not wear gaiters at all. I had a reasonable amount of rain on one of my walks, but the gaiters seemed to keep the water at bay.

I have found the gaiters to be quite comfortable throughout the day. There do not appear to be any sore spots. My skin is not excessively rubbed, and the top of the gaiter does not seem to be causing any problems.

The Salamanders can be a little difficult to take off at the end of the day. The hook and loop is easy enough for me to undo, but the strap buckle can be difficult to manipulate to get undone. Sometimes I have even had to lever the gaiters off the front of the boot because I could not get the buckle undone while the gaiters were on the boot.

I found it was important to ensure that the Salamanders were covering the toe cap of the boot properly. If the gaiter was a little too far back, the front lip of the gaiter could find its way in between the toe cap and the leather material of my boot, which forced them apart a little. I had to do a little glue repair to my boot because of this. When the lace hook is in place securely, this problem does not occur. I have found that the lace hook actually stays hooked throughout the day, which I have not found on every other gaiter I have ever used.

At this stage of the test there does not appear to be any obvious sign of wear and tear on the gaiters. The stitching still looks good, materials do not show signs of wear, and the strap is in good condition. I have done some walking on harsh surfaces, so the strap is getting a good workout. Given that the strap is sewn in, it will need to last the life of the gaiter.

In summary at this stage:

  • LIKES:
    • Nice and light.
    • Material construction seems good.
    • The gaiter does give good fit and stays in position throughout the day
    • Getting the gaiter buckle undone can be difficult.
    • The instep strap is sewn in.

Long Term Report:

13 October 2009

Long term test locations:

  • Rogaine at Won Wron, Victoira, Australia. A 1 day walk with around 40 km (24 mile) day walk mostly off-track through moderate to thick forest.
  • BSAR training, Wombat State Forest, Victoria, Australia. Two days, with the first day including significant off-track walking through moderate to thick forest. A total distance of around 18 km (10 miles).
The gaiters were used for a total of 3 days over the long term test period.

In the long term test period, I decided to focus on testing the Salamander gaiters using shorts so that the gaiters would be used against the skin for longer periods. All of the walking during this period was mostly off-track. Having some bare skin exposed in off track walking did result in a number of scratches to the skin, however the areas covered by the gaiters were well protected. The gaiters themselves also appeared to stand up to this punishment quite well. The elastic at the top of the gaiters did leave some temporary marks on the skin but even after several days of continuous use, I did not find them irritating.

Now that I have used the gaiters over a 4-month period, I have found it even more difficult to undo the strap that goes underneath the boot while the gaiters are on. I have instead levered the gaiters on and off the boot with the strap done up. The shape of the shaft on the buckle can be very tricky to get out of the holes on the strap. I think the reason why this has become a problem is that I am doing up the strap much tighter than I did at the start of the field test period. It is also fortunate that my boots are of a shape where I can leaver the gaiters on and off.

As described in my initial report, the Salamander gaiters extend down over the top of the boot to the toe cap. This protects more of the boot from the elements. While overall this is a good thing, there is also the potential for the front edge of the gaiter to get caught in-between the boot and the toe cap. This then begins to leaver the toe cap off the boot. I have found this happening to a small extent with one of my pairs of boots.

At the conclusion of the test, the gaiters appear to still be in good condition. The materials are still sound. There are no stitches obviously coming undone. The hook-and-loop strips (similar to Velcro) still work well. The strap underneath appears in good condition. The only sign of wear is on the strap buckle. This buckle must be coming into some contact with the ground and as a result is being roughed up. At this stage, it does not appear that failure of this buckle is imminent.

Overall, I am happy with the gaiters, and will continue to use them in most walking situations. The only situations that I feel that are unsuitable for the Salamanders is rough scrub/bush/forest where full length gaiters would be more appropriate.

In summary at the conclusion of this test, my main likes and dislikes are:

  • LIKES:
    • Nice and light.
    • Material construction seems good.
    • The gaiter does give good fit and stays in position throughout the day
    • Getting the gaiter buckle undone can be difficult.
    • The instep strap is sewn in.
This concludes my test report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the Salamander Gaiters.

Read more gear reviews by Wayne Merry

Reviews > Footwear > Accessories > Gaiters > Outdoor Research Salamander Gaiters > Test Report by Wayne Merry

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