Gaiters are an item of outdoor kit that easily divide opinion. Personally, we don’t tend to use gaiters in the warmer months apart from if travelling along particularly deep boggy routes in which we know many hours will be spent in this environment. Winter on the other hand is where a pair of gaiters becomes invaluable, keeping snow and ice from entering your boots and importantly acting as an extra layer to keeping your feet dry. They also protect the outer fabric of your footwear and can lessen the worry about a misplaced crampon spike slicing a nice hole in your super expensive trouser leg.
Rab’s Muztag gaiter are what we would regard as a regular length gaiter reaching to around the top of our calves. This is a good length for a typical Scottish winter where crossing areas of deep snow will often take place along many routes.
Weighing in at 208 grams in a size medium this is a lightweight and very packable option that were very comfortable to wear.
Using Gore-Tex’s latest Pro ‘Most Breathable’ main fabric the Muztag gaiter is split into two distinct sections. The majority being the upper, using a 40D construction, with reinforced 300D panels around the ankle to protect against abrasion, sharp rock, and crampon spikes. The 40D Gore-Tex Pro upper fabric stood up to its usual reputation and kept rainfall, snow, ice, from penetrating our layers underneath, whilst also mitigating a build of dirt on the outside which would lower breathability. The 300D nylon with polyurethane coated ankle reinforced panels are certainly tough and withstood a fair bit of abuse with little signs of wear.
The breathability of gaiters will largely be dictated by what they are placed over or underneath, as will the type of footwear you are using. In worsening conditions or when spending the day doing an activity that required less mobility, we would place the Muztag underneath a pair of over trousers made of a similar material. Days spent walking at a higher pace we would often decide depending on the available ground conditions, when a gaiter would be best suited, so would place them directly over our trouser leg.
The Gore-Tex Pro Most Breathable fabric worked well keeping our feet and lower legs free from a build of moisture. Quite often when using gaiters, directly around the top pull cord is where a build of moisture will find itself present, the Muztag had minimal moisture in this area which was very reassuring.
The fit is very much like choosing the correct footwear. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ as we all vary in shape and size. We would say the Rab Muztag leans towards the tighter side and in a size medium they were a perfect fit for our calf width, with no issues when using the Velcro strap to secure in place.
Rab say the Muztag gaiters are “designed to fit a technical alpine boot” and we cannot disagree with this claim. The shape is near perfect for our B2 boots and gave a decent hold without any unwanted loose/open fabric around the base of the gaiters, the reinforced 300D panels certainly helping in keeping shape even after prolonged use. The underfoot strap with internal adjustment saves a lot of the faff usually associated with gaiters and can quickly adjust via the Velcro tabs to suit our current footwear. In keeping with the streamlined approach, the internal fastening also prevents accidents involving a snag from loose strapping, whilst also combating the main sign of breakage you come across with this item, a broken buckle. It would have been great if the top adjuster could have also been designed in a similar way.
The zip-less hook and loop front closure had us divided in opinion. There is no doubt that the reversed lace hook is a clever addition and will stay in place even when kicking steps or breaking trail through deep snow, but it’s the overall reliance on Velcro which has us a little concerned. With only a single snap button at the top of the Muztag the rest of the closure uses a wide full length Velcro fastening system. There is an argument that this choice not only saves on weight but is also much easier to fasten even whilst wearing a thick pair of winter gloves. The issue with Velcro is over time it will naturally break up with extended use. If exposed, it will also start to form small balls of ice as moisture hits the surface, reducing the amount of contact with each panel. This isn’t much of a concern for shorter trips, but for extended expeditions this could become an issue. Saying this, we have had very little concerns over the durability of the Muztag but certainly don’t see them outliving our old Rab gaiters of near 10 years use.
We found the Rab Muztag Gaiter to be very well suited for winter walking in what turned out to be some of the best conditions we have had in many years. The overall length is well suited to our leg shape/height, waterproof level and breathability is impressive, and a solid hold to our boot meant that we have very little complaints. The 300D reinforced ankle panels are very tough and took a fair bit of abuse without many signs of wear. The internal strap and reversed lace hook do an excellent job of not only keeping the lower gaiter firmly in place but also prevent accidental trips and snags. Our only concern is the over reliance on Velcro which over time will start to break up.
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