SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Kahtoola NAVAgaiter Review: A Gaiter For Any Terrain

When I first began snowshoeing, I didn’t think gaiters were necessary. I thought that perhaps they could be useful, but not something I would go, say, 30 minutes out of my way to obtain. After a few wet sock incidents, however, I now panic when I forget to bring my gaiters with me. Then I frantically search for the nearest store where I can rent/buy a pair.

Using the Kahtoola NAVAgaiters in the snow in Wisconsin

Thus, gaiters have now become an essential part of my snowshoeing gear. They help to keep snow/debris out of my socks and shoes and keep the bottom of my pants dry while out on the trail.

So needless to say, I love being on the lookout for new gaiters. Luckily, while at the Outdoor Retailer winter show, I had the opportunity to review the Kahtoola NAVAgaiter GTX.

Over the last nine months, I have tested the NAVAgaiter GTX in a variety of conditions, from a few inches to several feet of snow. Outside of snow, they are also useful in high grasses and backcountry terrain. During my test, I’ve noticed a few pros/cons of the NAVAgaiter.

Pros of the Kahtoola NAVAgaiter

The NAVAgaiter has several advantages, including its durability, grip, and waterproof material.

Durable

These gaiters are incredibly durable. After nearly a dozen uses, they still look like new. Ballistic nylon comprises the bottom half of the gaiter, which lessons the unfortunate event of punctures and tears. The top half of the gaiter is made using a three-layer GORE-TEX fabric. For those new to GORE-TEX, it’s an incredibly lightweight, breathable, and waterproof fabric.

The durability provided by the combination of materials in the NAVAgaiter makes these gaiters a solid choice when navigating on backcountry trails with unpredictable terrain.

With that said, these gaiters are best, in my opinion, for early spring, fall, or winter outings. The same material that makes them durable (ballistic nylon) impacts their breathability in the late spring and summer. Kahtoola offers additional, more breathable gaiter options such as the INSTAgaiter or LEVAgaiter for warmer weather.

Comfort 

Kahtoola gaiters, Breckenridge

The author and her spouse using the NAVAgaiters in Breckenridge, CO.

Once I zip up the NAVAgaiters, I tend to forget I have them on. The zipper is an Asymmetrical Aquaguard zipper, which allows the ankle to flex and maneuver around. The zipper holds the gaiter securely, but without pressing into the foot. So as far as gaiters go, they’re comfortable. I have, on several occasions, forgotten to take them off after my snowshoe outing, to the laughter of my husband.

Grip
One reason I find the NAVAgaiters comfortable is that they don’t slip. The elasticized drawcord at the top of the gaiter ensures a secure fit. Thus, not once have the gaiters slid up or down my ankle or calf.  I have a pair of Merrell hiking boots that I wear with these gaiters regularly, and the zipper fits over my shoe easily as well.

Waterproof

Choosing a waterproof gaiter is imperative while snowshoeing. Nothing can ruin an outing faster than wet socks or pants. However, the NAVAgaiters are indeed waterproof, even when in several feet of snow. On my snowshoe outings, my socks remained dry, and luckily, I never needed the extra pair of socks in my daypack. Even when I kicked up snow from my snowshoes, I didn’t have any flakes seep into my footwear.

The Con of the Kahtoola NAVAgaiter

Using the gaiters in several feet of snow

Despite the excellent pros of this gaiter, there is one con that I found while using this gaiter on snowshoeing adventures: the in-step strap.

On my first attempt to wear the NAVAgaiter, I fiddled with the instep strap for almost 10 minutes. I initially had trouble slipping it underneath my hiking boot. So I tried to undo and adjust the instep strap but to no avail. It took some maneuvering to get it finally undone, and once I did, I wasn’t able to re-adjust. So I ended up removing the straps completely from both gaiters.

Luckily as I mentioned above, because of the elasticized drawcord and snug zipper, I had no issues with the gaiters slipping off my ankle or calf, even without the in-step straps attached.

Overall

The instep was the one flaw I found with these gaiters. However, I regularly wear the NAVAgaiters without the in-step strap and haven’t had any problems with them. I would recommend these gaiters if you’re looking for a durable, waterproof gaiter that is excellent for changing backcountry conditions, whether those be in snow or other terrains.

As a bonus, the gaiters come with a small bag to store them when not in use. They can be folded very small and put into the bag for fun snowshoe outings to come!

The manufacturer provided the product reviewed in this post to the author at no cost. The views and opinions expressed in this post are, as always, the author’s own.

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