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Reviews > Rain Gear > Gaiters > MountainAbout GatrGuard > Test Report by David Heyting
Name: David Heyting
Height: 6’ 0”, 1.83 m
Weight: 205 lb, 93 kg
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, USA
I have been hiking and backpacking for over 15 years. A great deal of the backpacking that I do is related to mountaineering and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest. When not climbing, I’m a hiker that tries to go light in order to push more miles. My main areas of exploration are the Washington Central and North Cascades, but have done lots of hiking in the British Columbia Coastal Range as well as the Oregon Cascades. I am also an avid adventure racer and compete in several races each year ranging from 2 hours up to several days in duration.
Listed Weight: .67 oz. / 18.99 g
Measured Weight: .7 oz / 19.84 g
MSRP: $7.99 US
The GatrGard is lightweight instep strap replacement for your gaiters. The strap consists of a nylon band that is about ½ an inch wide (1.2 cm) and stretchy shock cord. The cord slides through a sewn in hole in the nylon band and then is secured with a cord lock. To attach to a pair of gaiters, the cord lock is removed and the cord is put through the gaiter instep hole and then the lock is applied to secure the cord. With the lock, the tension on the strap can easily be adjusted to fit varying shoe sizes and to customize fit the tightness of the strap. The GatrGard will fit most standard trail gaiters or any gaiter that features a hole with which to attach the instep strap.
September 21, 2007
The GatrGards are pretty slick to say the least. They are easy to install and the stretchy cord provides for a nice tight fit. This will hopefully bode well for keeping out all sorts of things that I don’t want in my shoes. The nylon strap is a nice feature. Based on my initial tinkering with the product, this strap seems to fit nicely on different types of shoes which allows the stretchy shockcords to create a snug fit. The cordlocks should allow me to make in the field adjustments. One of the drawbacks to using string is that they always seem to break, come untied or shift during activity. This causes me to be constantly retying and tightening my string straps during trips. Hopefully the GatrGards will eliminate this type of issue. All in all the GatrGards appear to be well constructed. However I do have one concern with the cordlocks, as they are not sealed at the ends to help prevent the ends from fraying. I will be monitoring this during the testing period.
During the testing I will be using Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Trail Gaiters with my GatrGards. With the test being conducted in the fall, the typical temperatures in the Pacific Northwest will range from the mid 70’s F down to the mid to lower 30’s F (24 C to 0 C). My main areas of exploration are the Central and North Cascades, where I should be at altitudes ranging from sea level up to 9,000 ft ( 2743 m). This fall I have several excursions planned. My list includes: a 50K (31 miles) trail run, a six-hour adventure race, lots of day hiking and I am trying to fit in either a 70 mile (113 km) trek on the PCT or the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. All of which would be great places to use the GatrGard. I also plan on using the GatrGards on a scree and/or boulder field to hopefully push the limits of the product. In order to do this I am looking at a multi-day trip near Mt. Rainier or doing some fall scrambling in the Central Cascades
Cord and Lock
Initial Likes and Dislikes:
Likes: The stretchy cord that leads to a tight fit!
Dislikes: Nothing so far!
November 28, 2007
Field Conditions and Locations:
I have used GatrGards on numerous hiking trips and trail running during the two month testing period. Three of my trips during this period were longer outings. The first was a 16 mile (25.8 km) hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington. The trip included some 3rd to fourth class scrambling on Kaletan Peak. The Peak is made up of Granite and included a moving through boulder and scree fields both on the ascent and the descent of the peak. During the trip I experienced low temperatures of around 40 F (4 C) and highs around 60 F (16 C). The next trip was a 24 mile (39 km) hike in the Columbia River Gorge area in Oregon. I stayed entirely on trials during this trip. Temperatures were lows in the mid 40’s F (7 C) to mid 50’s F (13 C). The third longer outing was another approximately 16 mile trip (25.8 km) again into the Alpine Lake Wilderness. On this trip I encountered snow at around 3500 ft (1067 m) and logged about 7 miles (11 km) in 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) of snow during the trip. Temperatures ranged from mid 30’s F (2 C) to the upper 40’s F (9C).
I also used the GatrGards while doing some local hiking in the Cascades near my house in the Cascade Foothills and Issaquah Alps areas. Likewise, I have also used them for trail running. I completed a 50km (31 miles) trail run (The North Face Challenge) while using the GatrGards and also have probably logged an additional 50 + miles (80 km) of trail running during the testing period.
The boulder and scree field that I descending during one of my outings
Overall I have been very pleased with the performance of the GatrGards. During the testing period I have used them exclusively with my Outdoor Research Flex-Tex Trail Gaiters. My main shoes for the purposes of this test have been Montrail Hardrock trail runners.
The GatrGards have held up quite well during the testing period. The nylon cord, I have found to be very durable. Even after spending several hours scrambling on granite and traversing boulder fields the strap is not showing any major signs of wear and tear. One of the people who accompanied me on this particular trip actually had both of his gaiter straps (a standard small nylon cord) break. The shock cords remain super stretchy and flexible on both pairs. One of my concerns with the shock cords was that the ends were not sealed via open flame. However I have not had any issues with the cords beginning to unravel or shred. I did mange to lose a toggle however. I somehow caught the strap on a stick and sent the toggle flying. I simply replaced it with an extra toggle that I own. For all of the wear and tear especially on granite, the GatrGards have proven to be quite durable.
Due to the flat nylon surface of the strap, the shock cords and the toggle system, I have found it very easy to adjust and tighten the GatrGards to keep my gaiters snug around my shoes. I have experienced very little movement and problems that need adjusting in the field while using them. I have had some issues with what I call the “wing effect” where the excess shock cord straps that are past the toggle do not stay tucked underneath my gaiters. On MountainAbout’s website, it shows pictures of how to tuck in the excess shock cord; however I just can’t seem to get the cords to stay in this manner. This causes them to actually stick straight out and give my feet the appearance of wings. This is not a concern for the outside strap, but does pose to be a bit of an annoyance with the inner strap, as the wing can be stepped on and cause a potential fall or slip. I have not experienced any issues with the “wings” causing me to fall, however I have stepped on the cords a couple of times. I probably will end up shortening the inner strap to eliminate this issue and keep less shock cord exposed on the inside of my foot.
A view of the "wing effect"
Overall a great product. Often times I have omitted taking gaiters on trips of mine as I grow tired of constant adjustments and having to duct tape the straps back together after they break. The GatrGards have eliminated these types of issues and allowed me to use gaiters to help protect my feet from wetness and dirt. The product so far has been very easy to put on and adjust and appears to be very durable.
Items for Continued Testing:
I was able to use the GatrGards in the snow and I did notice that the nylon strap started to accumulate some snow. This balling effect can be quite an annoyance during a trip. I will be looking to monitor if this is something that can be expected to occur with GatrGards or was it just a one time event that occurred due to the ideal weather conditions. I also intend on using them on some more scree and boulder fields to further look at the products durability.
Field Report Likes and Dislikes:
Likes: It really does keep my gaiters on and tight.
Dislikes: The “wing” effect
Long Term Report
February 3, 2008
I have used GatrGards on almost every single trip I have been on since they arrived. During the final long term testing period, I used them on a 17 mile (27 km) hike in the foothills of the Central Cascades where I climbed to the top of Mt. Teneriffe 4788 ft (1459 m). There was about 4 inches (10 cm) of snow on the ground at the summit. I have made three trips up Mt. Si, which is a local hiking classic – 3900 ft (1189 m) and 3200 ft (975 m) of gain. And two traverses of Rattlesnake Mountain, which is a 13 mile (21 km) trek that is only a few miles from my house in the I-90 corridor of the Cascade Foothills. I also used the GatrGards on a 35 mile (56 km) trek in the Issaquah Alps area. This trip featured some snow above 1500 ft (457 m). I have also logged close to around 40 additional miles (64 km) of trail running with the GatrGards during the period.
I have been extremely impressed and very pleased with the GatrGards. Really the biggest thing that I can say about them is that I now wear my gaiters all of the time. Prior to this test I only wore gaiters while doing more technical climbing and would never wear them just day hiking. I have always found that the straps would break and then my gaiters would become completely useless on the trail and would just be extra weight in my pack. However the GatrGards have turned me into a gaiter advocate. I have found that by using gaiters, my feet and my shoes have experienced significantly less wear and tear. I can hardly leave home without my GatrGards and gaiters.
I have experienced no wear issues with the GatrGards and I feel that I have put them through lots and lots of varying terrain. I did manage to lose a toggle during the Field Test period, however MoutainAbout read my report and set me a new set of toggles! Thus I can say that I have found the crew at MountainAbout to be very responsive and easy to deal with.
I did experience some more issues with the nylon straps “balling with snow.” Thus I constantly found myself breaking up the large snowballs that would form on the nylon strap. I found this to be a problem while in 3 plus inches (7.6 cm) of snow with temperatures around 32 F (0 C). I am guessing this is just due to the type of material the nylon strap is.
I will continue to use GatrGards for all of my hiking and trail running trips. As I have mentioned before they have become a staple in my outdoor gear and I will continue to use them for almost all of my trips. The only trips that I may leave them at home are when I expect to run into snow due to the balling effect. However I plan on using them quite a bite in the upcoming years due to their durability and then fact that they just plain work great.
I found the GatrGards to be a great addition to my backpacking gear. Especially for my longer day hikes and trail running. The GatrGards are very easy to install and adjust to meet different shoes and gaiters. They have been very durable for me during the testing period and have even survived the dreaded granite scree field. I think they are a great choice for anyone that has ever broken a gaiters strap in the field. They are a no frills, yet highly effective piece of gear.
This concludes my Test report. Thank you to both BackpackGearTest and to MountainAbout for this fantastic opportunity to test the GatrGards.
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