UKH

Trekmates Field Dry Gaiter Review

© Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey surprises himself by really getting on with a pair of retro-looking dark green gaiters. It's thanks to their tough-but-soft canvas style fabric, he says.


For someone who's never been fully on board with gaiters, it's funny I'm on my second review of a pair in as many years. It's from the same brand, Trekmates, whose gaiter collection is surprisingly extensive, with something for everyone from ankle-length models to full-size winter mountain gaiters. Who knew the world needed so many?

The latest is the Field Dry Gaiter, something slightly different in a durably thick, but soft and supple polyamide 'canvas'. Coming in traditional-looking khaki green, I thought it appropriate to pair with traditional-looking brown leather boots for the full old-school hillwalker effect. Fogeys might also like to accessorize with a beard and a map case around the neck. The Field Dry may have an antiquated or classic look (delete according to preference), but in truth this model is lighter, more waterproof and more breathable than an actual canvas gaiter might have been back in the day (before even my time).

Field Dry Gaiters - spot on for some very wet autumn hills  © Dan Bailey
Field Dry Gaiters - spot on for some very wet autumn hills
© Dan Bailey

Summer is a crap season for gaiters, and indeed boots, both of which will always feel hot and clammy no matter what they're made of; but by autumn, with waterlogged ground and colder conditions, some lower leg covering does begin to look a lot more attractive, even to a gaiter-sceptic like me.

Pros

Soft-but tough fabric

Trim fit

Cons

Check for size before you buy

Not cheap for a gaiter

Weight

At 302g per pair in the medium size, they don't seem a particularly lightweight option, and they're significantly heavier than the Trekmates alternatives I looked at in 2021. But then that's not what they're about. With a burly outer fabric and a mesh lining, this is a thick and protective gaiter, and feels like it's made to last.

They look a bit military, or field-sportsy, but they certainly work  © Dan Bailey
They look a bit military, or field-sportsy, but they certainly work
© Dan Bailey

Fit

The Field Dry are full-height gaiters, so you get maximum leg coverage for bogs, stream crossings and thick wet vegetation. Three sizes are available, but I would suggest trying them on rather than going by the measurements Trekmates provide, since these definitely didn't work for me:

Size 1

  • Height: 5'3 - 5'7
  • Shoe size: 35 - 40 / 2.5 - 6.5
  • Max leg width: 42cm

Size 2

  • Height: 5'6 - 5'10
  • Shoe size: 38 - 44 / 5 - 9.5
  • Max leg width: 45cm

Size 3

  • Height: 5'8 - 6'2
  • Shoe size: 42 - 48 / 7.5 - 13
  • Max leg width: 48cm

Whatever the numbers say, they seem roomy for the stated size. At 6 feet tall, with size 47 feet, and chunkier-than-average legs, I initially went for size 3 as you might expect; but despite matching them with hefty leather boots they were still too roomy all over. In size 2 they work well on me, however, and certainly don't seem too small. Thanks in part to my slight downsize they've got a nice trim fit in the leg, which is a lot better than being baggy and snaggy. They ought to be well suited to winter use, when a neat lower leg is essential to avoid catching a crampon point.

On a warm day they might get a bit hot, but no such worries on a November morning in the highlands  © Dan Bailey
On a warm day they might get a bit hot, but no such worries on a November morning in the highlands
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

With its textured finish, the polyamide canvas is very thick stuff, and seems really resistant to damage. A double layer adds durability to the lower section covering your boot, while the leg itself has a soft mesh lining for comfort. Though you feel well-armoured in this gaiter, its cotton-like fabric is soft, comfy, and quiet when you walk. For those used to more crinkly and more obviously synthetic waterproof fabrics, the hipsterish retro Field Dry Gaiter is something a bit different - in a good way.

In terms of performance, the Dry Protect fabric's hydrostatic head of 10,000 seems waterproof enough for the job in hand (or on foot), and I've waded bogs and burns with no sign of water ingress; the PFC-free DWR beads well on the outside, at least when new (modern more environmentally-friendly DWRs do need regular reproofing). Breathability is decent too, at 10,000 MVTR; so while I definitely wouldn't choose to add this thick layer to my legs in summer, I've not found it at all sweaty in the more autumnal conditions in which it's been worn so far.

Closure, hooks and straps

Entry is via a side zip. Chunky and robust, the zips close downwards, which seems a sensible way to avoid them coming undone as you walk. A big popper locks everything off at the bottom, and the internal storm flap should help redirect water that makes it through the zip (I've not noticed any so far). I do find the side zip a bit more fiddly than a front entry, and I'd probably have been happy with a lighter velcro strip rather than the heavyweight metal zip; but neither are big issues.

At the front is the usual lace hook, while underfoot you get a small adjustable (and replaceable) rubber strap; this is directed up underneath the gaiter on the inside leg, to avoid snags and trips, while on the outside leg it's external to allow you to tweak the fit more easily. The boot strap is supposed to be cut short for fit, though the keen-eyed might spot that I've not yet got around to that. There's another webbing strap for adjustment at the top, plus a bit of elastication around the rear hem and at the ankle, to help bring the fit in closer around the heel of your boot. It's a fairly standard gaiter design, then, but here feels like it's done pretty well.

Adjust the fit with the webbing top strap  © Dan Bailey
Adjust the fit with the webbing top strap
© Dan Bailey

Summary

No one sports gaiters for the fashion cred, but they do have their place on wet or wintry hills. Insofar as it's possible I'd say the Field Dry Gaiter has a slightly more refined look than most, and I'm even willing to go with the sludge green field sports-style colour. What's next: cloth caps and waxed jackets? Its trim fit gives you a nice neat lower leg, while the high cut maximises the coverage. But it's the canvas-style fabric that I think sets this model apart: tough and protective, yet comfortably soft, this is a gaiter that it's actually almost a pleasure to wear. There, I've said it. Perhaps I am becoming that old fogey.


For more information trekmates.co.uk


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