Gaiters are pretty straight forward. They are an accessory that attaches to footwear to keep grit and grime from spilling in around where they are most vulnerable, the ankle. Trail running obviously introduces scenarios where debris is prone to get into your shoes and cause irritation so we’ve decided to do a whole series on gaiters. While the concept of gaiters is fairly simple, companies are spending a little extra time thinking about ways to differentiate. Because of that, we’ll be taking a look at some of the various designs available on the market today. Here we cover a gaiter design from Salomon.
Our first gaiter review is of the Salomon S-Lab gaiter (we’ll refer to it from here on out as S-Lab). The S-Lab gaiter’s body is a single rectangular piece of nylon stretch fabric with hook and loop enclosure (velcro) on opposing ends to the fabric. A dense rubber U-shaped strap attaches at two points on the bottom of the nylon body. This strap will fit roughly under the arch of the shoe when the gaiter is worn. Reflective hits are found on each side of the gaiter’s body near the hook and loop enclosure points. These reflective hits will be visible on the lateral side of shoe when the gaiter is worn. Lastly, you will find a thick piece of elastic in the middle of the nylon body that will be used to add resistance to the heel of the shoe and keep the gaiter from riding up.
How It Attaches
Open the gaiter and back the heel of the shoe into it. Make sure you pay attention to which side you have as the S-LAB gaiter are right and left specific. The thick elastic will be against the heel cup. Pull the rubber strap into the arch area of the shoe so that it lays flat against the outsole. Then grab the strap on the medial side of your foot and stretch it across, the top over the laces, and connect the hook and loop enclosure. Done, that’s it. There are not any hooks to connect to the laces or velcro patches outside of the main enclosure to secure. Everything is self-contained on this gaiter. It can even be put on after you have put on your shoes!
Salomon calls out in their packaging that an “outsole notch” is required for the gaiter. Basically, that rubber strap that runs underneath the shoe has to have somewhere to fit into and lay flat. We showed in the video that their S-LAB XT Wings has this “feature.” If your footwear has a lot of lugs covering the entire bottom of the shoe you could have a problem getting the strap to lay flat thus prematurely wearing it out by exposing the strap to additional wear and tear. The main thing to look for, if you are considering these gaiters, is a section of outsole between the middle to the back of your arch where a 1/2 inch or so is open (lug-free) continuously from the lateral to the medial side of the shoe. If you have that then these should work just fine. If not, you could always get out the old Swiss Army knife and MacGyver the strap a bit.
Salomon’s take on the gaiter is simple, but welcome idea. The wrap around design allows for easy adjustment of your laces if needed. Being able to quickly attach these after you have already pulled your shoes on is great for the forgetful type or for something to throw in your drop bag and be able to quickly put on without much fuss. Lastly, assuming your shoe has an outsole notch, there is no modifying of your footwear needed to get these hooked up. Open the box, pull them around your heel, secure and go.
Call for Comments
If you’ve used the Salomon S-Lab gaiters, what did you think? If not, what do you think of the design? Got any questions? Fire away.