Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team
Our New Gaiter Range
By Ronnie Legg
09, Mar, 2018
We're launching into the world of gaiters (no, not the scaly ones with big teeth) to instil happiness in everyone's feet. The design team explain the thinking behind the range.
Happy feet: one of the biggest factors to get right for a simply great day in the hills. Of course, happy feet start with well-selected socks and footwear, but in many conditions a pair of gaiters do wonders for your comfort levels (especially in the UK!).
We’ve kicked off our gaiter range with two models, made to cater for the majority of UK conditions. Don’t worry, we’ve got a third model in the pipeline too…
Gaiters are designed to take a fair bit of abuse, so durability was key. Our first move was to look at the bits of our own gaiters that have broken over the years and tried to find a way to make Alpkit gaiters that would last. Next, we tried to eliminate all the little niggles that we’ve experienced when using gaiters.
What we ended up with were the Colca and the Kantju. Colca is aimed at walkers out in wet and muddy conditions commonly found on the UK hills, and the Kantju which is for the fast and light crowd.
Waterproof, breathable, calf-length
Getting your feet wet is a sure fire way of ruining your day out on the hill. These days we’re pretty spoiled for choice in the world of waterproof and breathable footwear, whether it’s a decent leather boot or a lighter weight style with waterproof liner. There’s only one problem with every piece of waterproof footwear on the market: they all come with a big hole in the top where you put your feet in!
We’ve made the Colca gaiters using a ballistic Cordura lower section to withstand abrasion and a lighter weight waterproof breathable upper to keep you comfortable. This carefully chosen combination gives you durability where you need it whilst keeping the overall weight and price reasonable.
To make the Colca gaiters even more hardwearing, we opted for stainless steel for the lace hook and strap buckle as it is often these components around the bottom of the gaiter that get rusty. For the top closure, we went with an alloy buckle and webbing strap instead of a snap, as we’ve seen so many pull out or break over years of use. We decided on a webbing adjuster at the top rather than a bungee or shockcord as we’ve found these really really annoying (if you’ve ever caught a loop of bungee on some undergrowth and twanged yourself in the calf you’ll know what we mean!).
It can be frustratingly difficult to find a well-fitting gaiter, especially if you are more well-developed in the calf area! To solve this issue, we’ve used a velcro closure instead of a zip to give you more scope for adjusting the calf-width. Velcro is also way more durable, which us a definite bonus!
That leads us on to the final thing we’ve disliked about gaiters in the past: that elasticated section in the middle that makes the fabric bulge out above and below. We’ve eliminated this by simply making sure the cut of the gaiter is shaped really well to give a slim profile and avoid excess fabric.
The Colca gaiter is designed for the truly dedicated all-weather hillwalker in the UK whose wet weather gear arsenal isn’t complete without a pair of waterproof gaiters. It fits neatly over your boot and regular trousers to prevent water getting in from the ground up.
Stretchy, breathable, ankle-length
Getting grit, mud, foliage or pretty much any foreign object in your shoes isn’t ideal – but if you’re out for a long run and you need to keep stopping to empty crud out of your shoes… well it gets downright annoying. Worse still, these annoying shoe intruders can cause blisters or other injuries over the course of a long day. Keeping out these shoe intruders was the design brief behind the humble trail running gaiter, Kantju. The French call this short style a ‘stop tous’ (literally translated as ‘stops all’), and its primary purpose is to keep stuff out of your shoes.
The Kantju fabric is a durable stretchy ripstop, designed to provide a close fit to get rid of excess fabric that flaps around or catches. (This does mean you have to remember to put your gaiters on before your shoes!)
On such a little gaiter it all comes down to the tiniest of details; things like the underfoot cord adjuster being sewn flat against the bottom of the gaiter so it is easy to use, unobtrusive, and can’t get ripped off or snag. The cord itself can be cut down to size easily once you’ve fitted the gaiter to your own shoes, and it has the added bonus of being reflective for those night time runs.
The main fabric is turned outwards instead of inwards around the top of the gaiter, leaving the smooth side of the fabric against your skin so that the ripstop doesn’t rip into your skin!
Finally, we paid particular attention to the cut to make the Kantju as low profile as possible, including adding a small, stretchy gusset at the top to accommodate variations in ankle size.
Stretchy, low-profile, and unobtrustive: the Kantju is perfect for trail running and other fast and light activities. It isn’t waterproof, but it will prevent mud, snow and other detritus like gravel and heather from finding its way into your shoes.
So what’s in the pipeline?
We never could keep secrets! We currently are working on a heavier weight, more durable gaiter which would be better suited to winter mountaineering and use with bulkier footwear (think the Colca, but beefier!). Watch this space!