Berghaus was formed in the late 1960s by two British climbers, Peter Lockey and Gordon Davison. During the 1970s and 80s they pioneered a number of climbing innovations and were one of the first users of Goretex in Europe.
In 1978 Berghaus launched the ‘Yeti Gaiter’, which is unlike any other gaiter on the market*.
The Yeti Gaiter is made with a solid rubber rand around the base of the gaiter so they seal fully. The body of the gaiters are made of GoreTex, and it is used widely as a gaiter material for good reason.
The idea is to end up with a fully waterproof and protected boot, so no snow,water,mud etc can even touch your boot.
This is a very attractive proposition and I have struggled during the winter months to find a boot/gaiter system that works for me.
These gaiters are designed to be fitted once, and then left on your boots long term. Leaving you with a fully sealed boot, much like the modern high alpine climbing boots with built in gaiter systems.
In the Field
The main issue I have with a ‘traditional’ set up is the snow/moisture build up in the tongue and lace area of the boot. During the day this melts and soaks into the boot, over night it freezes solid. The result is very cold, solid boots every morning, over a week or ten day hunt this can be quite a challenge and I often have to run my boots over a cooker in the morning to even get them on.
I do use a piece of closed cell foam at times in behind the laces which does help to a point.
After quite some research I decided the Berghaus Yeti gaiters were the answer to all my problems. I have a few pairs of boots and my plan was to set up one pair of boots with these gaiters fitted, and use these boots for only winter snow conditions.
The Yeti Gaiters are rather expensive, but shopping around I found them for not much more than a normal pair of gaiters(https://www.trekkinn.com)
I went for a XL size gaiter, which should fit size 9-10UK(10-11US. There 3 styles of the Yeti Gaiters.The base model(in green) were out of stock so I upgraded to the ‘Extreme’ version, which have a better velcro closure from all I could tell. Berghaus also make an insulated version which is filled out with Primaloft.
The main complaint you see online with these gaiters is the fitting of them, and I can assure you it is a frustrating exercise. After trying two pairs of boots I finally settled on my Scarpa Grand Drus, a few hours of swearing and pulling most the skin off my fingers I had my new gaiters fitted.
Fitting these gaiters will depend a bit on the boot you have, they will fit most boot styles, but you really need a stiff ‘mountain’ style boot for them to work properly. Soaking the rubber rands in hot water does help a little, but most of it was brute strength and swearing. For my grand drus I found fitting the rear of the boot first to be the easiest, then I rolled the front of the gaiter down to the toe.
My first impression of the gaiters were that they seemed great, fitted a tight seal on my boots and I was confident they would be dry and warm. The gaiters came up right under my knee and have an elastic draw cord so they can cinched up tight. The main issue I could see was the rubber rand, it was soft rubber and in rocky terrain they looked like they might get chewed up.
With the gaiters fitted all I needed was some snow to test them out! About mid way through my season one of my clients got his boots very wet in a small creek crossing, I had my Grand Drus with Yeti Gaiters fitted in camp and they fit him so he was the first trial run. After one day of Tahr hunting I was a little disappointed to see the toes had rolled up on the gaiters.
Back at home I re fitted them, this time with half a tube of shoe goo glue under the rands. Problem solved.
A month later we finally started to get some snowy conditions to test these in. I did one week wearing these in cold and snowy conditions and they performed flawlessly, my feet were warmer, and no snow or moisture made its way inside my boots. Granted the gaiters were a little sweaty, but they all are.
On my second hunt with the Yeti Gaiters I started to see some issues. The rubber rands started to show some serious wear and after less than 2 weeks of field use they were more or less useless. This was a little disappointing to say the least.
I predicted this would happen, but how long it would take was a mystery. I was hoping to get at least one season from these but that was not to be.
I think for hunting applications these gaiters are limited. If you were in perfect clean snow conditions(ie higher alpine climbing) these should last pretty well. But for the hunter we often move through a huge variety of terrain, and it is not unusual to go from well below tree line to well above the snow line and back down again in one day.
Overall I am little disappointed but not surprised. This was a bit of a test run in the hope that I could find a solution to winter boot problems but the quest continues!
*- There is another product on the market which seems almost identical, the ‘Super Gaiter’ by Mountain Tools,