In Discovery, we do lots of walking, often through mud, snow, or rain. Since rain boots and snow boots are impractical for hiking, the only alternatives to getting mud, snow, or rain in one’s boots are gaiters. On our first trip, the Chilcotins Hike, everyone in my group had their gaiters. However, the other boys had MEC Kokanee gaiters for the most part, while I had Mountain Warehouse Highland gaiters. My gaiters held up well enough when we were hiking through rain and some light mud, but once we reached snowy areas the advantages of the MEC gaiters became clear. The Mountain Warehouse gaiters were made of a thin and flimsy (and I suspect not all together waterproof) fabric, whereas the MEC gaiters were made of dependable Gore-Tex. Since the snow wasn’t melting, the waterproofness of the gaiters wasn’t ever really an issue for me.
However, the MEC gaiters had still more advantages over their flimsier counterparts. Let me explain. When it’s cold out (exactly gaiter weather) one doesn’t want to remove gloves and get the warm, soft, vulnerable flesh of the hands wet and cold. Solid velcro allows a person to fasten or open their gaiters even with gloves on. The MEC gaiters only had velcro, and nice wide strips they were. The MW gaiters had a metal zip up along the front.
This might not be a problem if I was hiking in a more temperate climate, but every time I wanted to open or close my gaiters, I found myself sharp zippers. I’m not sure what use these sharp zippers had (Theft prevention? Bear protection? Who knows?) but they certainly existed, as my hands could attest.
And finally, the third and last advantage of the MEC gaiters and probably the most important. The purpose of gaiters is to keep mud, snow, and water in the form of rain out of the hiking boot. This is accomplished by having the gaiter extend beyond the lip of the boot and go down a bit more, to ensure dryness of the foot. The MEC gaiters were long and well-suited to the task. The MW gaiters decided that keeping things out of my boots was boring, and they quit. I’m not sure if it was the cold or what, but about halfway through our hike through the snow the gaiters quit on me and refused to cover my boot, if they had ever been doing that at all. This was a serious problem, but there was no way to fix it in the middle of a snowstorm, and no need to later that day at Spruce Lake.
After my disastrous experience with the Mountain Warehouse gaiters, I immediately switched to the MEC gaiters my friends possessed, and even after spending most of my Manning Park trip thigh-deep in snow, they have thus far succeeded in their job of keeping snow and mud and rain out of my boot. The disgraced MW gaiters were relegated to a corner of the closet where they can continue to contemplate their complete failure of tactics. I highly recommend the MEC KOKANEE 2 GORE-TEX GAITERS from Mountain Equipment Co-op.