Gaiters are essential for mountain hunting, providing protection from dirt, rocks, sticks, water, snow, ice and also shielding rain pants from punctures. When it comes to wear and tear on gear, gaiters bear significant abuse in the backcountry and are known for failing after a season or two of hard use. We set out to change that with the SQ2 Alpine Gaiters.
We did our best to destroy every inch of these gaiters for three years. From the deserts of Sonora to the peaks of the Chugach, we put them through the wringer. The result of this constant abuse is the burliest, longest-lasting gaiter we’ve ever used. We’re also proud to say the SQ2 Alpine Gaiters are made right here in the USA.
Common Gaiter Problems
When we designed the SQ2 Alpine Gaiter, we looked at everything wrong with gaiters. Why do they fail, and how do we prevent the failure? In the process, we identified four failure points common to gaiters on the market today.
- Bootstraps that wear out and can’t be replaced
- Bootstrap buckles that use pins, which tend to break
- Seam failures
- Lack of calf circumference adjustment
The first step in building a better gaiter started with sourcing new materials and understanding that one of the biggest problems is the need for a replaceable bootstrap. Then we looked at stress points, high-wear areas, and adjustable calf sizing. With a crew of hard-hunting staff and a big whiteboard, we picked apart every problem and built plans to solve them.
Ultra-high strength Dyneema rope has a breaking strength of 1,600 pounds. For perspective, that's about as much as an adult moose weighs. Dyneema also has the wear resistance of steel, and it’s just as tough to cut. You’re going to subject bootstraps to the same abuse your boots experience, and Dyneema proved to be the most durable and flexible material we sourced for the SQ2 bootstrap.
Moving parts, especially under strain, are weak, so we eliminated buckles using pins. We incorporated a pinless buckle in the SQ2, and when combined with the Dyneema bootstrap, produced the Contrail Bootstrap system. In the unlikely event that you will ever have to replace it, the Contrail Bootstrap is entirely replaceable.
A common failure point on any gaiter is where the bootstrap connects to the gaiter on the instep. To spread the tension, we designed a “V” webbing attachment that distributes the pressure across more of the gaiter’s area. In addition, we moved the bar tacks away from the high-wear area of the instep to reduce the likelihood of wearing out the webbing.
Calf Circumference Adjustment
We know hunters aren’t cast from the same mold. Some have calves the size of baseball bats, others the size of footballs. That’s why we incorporated a Velcro adjustment design that allows our SQ2 Gaiters to adjust to the exact size of every calf. Once properly fitted, the gaiter has a nylon webbing strap with integrated elastic, which provides constant tension, keeping the gaiter in place while keeping snow and debris out. The adjustable Velcro design allows you to adjust the gaiter size based on the number of layers you wear for the hunt.
Built to Last
Rounding out the SQ2 is a waterproof, breathable upper with an incredibly abrasion-resistant lower. The uppers feature HydraShield® RS, which is part of our proprietary line of waterproof/breathable textiles. The RS stands for rip-stop, and we use it in high-wear pieces like SQ2. The lower is built from X-Pac material, which is waterproof and insanely durable.
We mean it when we say you’ll likely never buy another gaiter. From the replaceable Contrail Bootstrap to the rugged uppers and lowers, the American-made SQ2 Alpine Gaiters are built for decades of backcountry abuse.