Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

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Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

by spapagiannis » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:28 am

Hi all

I'm a long-time lurker, first question though. It has been a great pleasure to follow this site and obtain some wonderful information, from deeply informative (and helpful!) beta to great opinions on gear to training. Thank you all for such a wonderful community.

I've been a high-altitude hiker for a little under a year, and it has been beyond anything I've ever imagined. Though am in the process of breaking into that "4th season" with ice-snow travel/mountaineering, along with an ongoing rigorous fitness baseline which has been keeping my mind and body in-check and prepared. The intent is to take a one-day 101 class soon just to gain basic skills and confidence in snow/ice travel with crampons and self arrest, allowing me begin to move forward from there as a responsible person (both independently on my own trips, and further classes when I'm ready for skills such as glacial travel, crevasse rescue, etc). Being bit by the mountaineering bug has made me also realize how costly it can be just to dive into it, even when erring on the conservative but safe side of getting only what I need for right now to begin the transition into snow/ice travel.

Right now I've found myself needing a set of mountaineering gaiters to round out my clothing 'kit', and I've settled on the OR Crocodiles. I plan to wear them with my Salomon X Ultra Mid GTX for snowshoeing, microspikes, and maybe strap-on crampons (such as the 101 class, likely) - general mountain use. Though at some point I know I will want a boot for step-in crampons and more serious climbing like the Koflach Arctis Expe. Or at least, something which could be up to that size of plastic boot, if not that boot. All depends on when I get down that road.

My hiking boot is size 10 men's. According to OR, they recommend a Large gaiter for anyone with a boot size 8-11 men's. I've put on the Large, and adjusted the straps for the right fit and seal (and hook attached), though they feel somewhat big and floppy. I'm not swimming in them, but they hang kind of low (barely 1 inch above my tread bottoms on the side/back) and the tubing feels a bit wide around the ankle. I used to be a competitive sprinter, and I've still got the slender physique even with heavy resistance training: max calf circumference is 15.5" with jeans on, and my ankle is 9". Slender build, low-volume feet. Large just feels a bit too big (but not grossly oversized) in my size 10 hiking boots. I tried the Medium on, and the fit is money - snug with an equally good seal, but they sit higher up and not droopy (more like how pictures show them riding higher on the boot), and the calf doesn't require as much tightening.

Here's the conundrum: I hope to invest in only one set of gaiters, to be cost effective. But I hope for them to be future-proof/adaptable in some sense. Better to get the Large and feel just a smidge oversized when used on my hiking boots, but possibly a tighter/perfect fit on plastics? Or get the Mediums which fit perfect now, but could run the risk of being too small for plastics (even with the strap adjusted)? Are hiking boots and plastic boots drastically different in the size of their 'shell' that this will be a problem? Does anyone know if OR's sizing for these are referring to hiking boot or mountaineering boot 'shell' sizes when they list the foot size? Unfortunately I haven't been able to put plastic boots side by side with hiking boots in person to have any idea of how drastic or minute the difference is. I can't find them.

Maybe I'm over thinking this? I don't know. From what I've researched, it seems many have noted oddities about OR's sizing method on these gaiters, so I don't feel completely out my mind by also questioning the sizing chart.

Some insight from those of you who have used this combo and have dealt with similar sizing conundrums would be greatly appreciated. It feels mildly frustrating because clothing-wise, I sit right between sizes - on just about everything. Most of the time I need "a small and half" for uppers, but medium size lowers works fine - and I'd buy size 31 pants if they were ever made that way. Some brands I wear a small upper, other brands a medium upper. So understandably, this gaiter sizing thing also has me a bit unsure of what the better choice is. :?

Thanks for being patient with my long-winded post. And thanks for any insight you can provide a newbie

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Re: Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

by GuyNC » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:11 pm

Maybe I'm over thinking this?

Yes. :D

Get the gaiters that work best with your current boots and current set of activities, not what you think you might need/want down the road since that could change over time. My normal boot size is 9.5 US. My first mountaineering boots were Koflach Degre plastics and the Crocs in size L fit good. I later replaced these with non-plastic doubles (Sportiva Baruntse) and the L's fit those too, but when I eventually got some single boots I had to pick up a pair of M's also. I understand wanting to save money but often having just a single do-it-all piece of gear just will not work.

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Re: Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

by Tonka » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:32 pm

Are you an engineer? :)

I don't put this much thought into buying a car.

I put gaiters on the same level as eye you have them.

Good luck! Looks like you're having fun and that's all that matters.

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Re: Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

by JHH60 » Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:31 am

The purpose of gaiters is to keep snow out of your boots. If they fit so that they are snug around the boot at the bottom, and you can tighten them enough at the top around your calf that little or no snow gets in, then they will do the job. I have size 10-10.5 boots and the OR Croc size L works for both single and double boots. Remember that you want to wear them with relatively thick mountaineering pants + long underwear for snow climbs, or with insulated pants for really cold weather, so if they fit perfectly with thin summer weight pants they are too small.

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Re: Gaiter sizing question - OR Crocodile

by spapagiannis » Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:33 am

Thanks so much for the feedback, it's been a great help in figuring out the answer to this question. And thank you for the encouragement! It came down to the thought on my mind this morning: Keep It Simple Stupid. Best to fit for what I'm using now, and 'upgrade' if/when I need to when my footwear changes, but not before. Medium was the choice.

The deal-breaker, when worn side by side, was that the strap buckle on the Large hung too low. It was wedged almost part way under my tread on the side, even after adjusting the fit - enough so that a misstep on rock or hard ice would probably snap it. On the Medium it rode high enough to be clear of the ground entirely. These boots don't particularly have a high arch in the tread.

Fit-wise, the Mediums create a nice and snug seal around the seams. Re-lacing the second holes on my boots from an X crossover to a single-twist made a perfect, taut anchor for the gaiter hook. Even without using the hook the seal is nice and tight. Still ample leg room for layers, just not floppy-loose leg room like the other size. Certainly would fit a high-cut hiking boot no problem, probably could get away with using these Mediums on a single boot in the future, a double boot or plastic could very well require me to get a Large.

Also called OR for their thoughts on the situation.

@GuyNC - Thanks for the support on that. You're absolutely correct: buy for what I need at this moment. Being unfortunately right between sizes, I'll just have to relent to the fact I may end up owning two sets down the road.

@Tonka - Well... I used to be a sound editor, which is sort of digital engineering, and people have always said I should be an engineer since I was a child. It shows that badly huh? :D The over-analysis I guess is just my way of always trying to be thorough. Indeed, it has been very fun so far!

@JHH60 - Thanks for your thoughts on the sizing. I'm familiar with why they need a solid fit, the question I guess was more about the looseness factor in my current situation - sort of how a jacket that's a bit too loose or gloves a bit too roomy can get in the way of dexterity/agility, or even safety. Though my hiking boot is size 10, its a bit generous. I tend to forget that since I always wear it with a thin liner and a wool sock and fills the space nicely. If I wear it with regular cotton socks, I could pass for a 9.5 hiking boot instead. The boot isn't high-volume either so that could have been causing the Large to settle lower than expected. Either way I'm sort of right on that fine line of sizing. Thanks for the reminder about the layers too. I've been taking layering into account when considering my clothing size choices, including the gaiters. Most of my current 3-season hiking/scrambling layers work well together, just in the process right now of adding some choice pieces to make it 4-season compatible for getting into mountaineering. FWIW, I tested the Mediums with my boots and with jeans (straight-cut leg not tapered). The gaiter wrapped around very easy and still has 1.5-2 inches of extra fabric/space in the leg - the calf cinch tightened with almost 5 inches of slack :shock: . So for right now, the Mediums do the trick. We'll see if that changes further down the road with different, larger footwear.

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