Overall: Assigning a rating is both difficult and somewhat pointless, since if you want to use the Alien 1.0 (or the “0.0” before the 2013-14 version added an internal gaiter) for backcountry skiing in anything but your lycra race suit, you have no choice but to buy the matching gaiter. So Four Stars for ingenious effectiveness at near weightlessness, with the missing star for poor durability from rocks and crampon straps. (And subtract another star for inconvenience if you plan to deal with this every morning in your cold tent during a month-long expedition to Whereveristan.)
Background on product familiarity: For my Alien 1.0 size 26 boots, I have the size Small in the gaiter – actually, two pairs of gaiters, but more on that under the final section of this review.
First, the first impressions out of the box: I already spent so much money on my boots, yet now I need to spend still more on a separate gaiter? Yes. For backcountry skiing in anything but a skimo suit with integrated gaiters, even with the good coverage of something like the Dynafit Movement pant/tight, the Alien 1.0 still lets in astounding excessive amounts of powder during the winter or wet snow during the spring.
Okay, well, at least this gaiter sure is beautifully designed and nearly weightless. But how do I get it on my boots? 1) Pull gaiter up over your calves before putting on your boot. 2) Set up the boot in tour mode, then slide the gaiter all the way down over the boot until it’s bunched up around the cuff rivets. 3) Loop the gaiter’s elastic strap down around the boot sole instep. 4) Pull the front hole of the gaiter over the Boa adjustment knob. 5) Pull up the back of the gaiter so that the walk-ski lever slides through the small hole.
Second impressions, in use: In short, it works as designed. Snow and waiter ingress goes from unacceptably excessive to just typical.
Third impressions, for long-term durability: The amazing off-snow durability of the Alien 1.0 unfortunately leads to abuse of the gaiter. For any extended rock scrambling or hiking, you need to keep the gaiter pulled back up over the ankle area of the boot. Otherwise, all the cumulative rock hits to the lower sides of the boot will eventually shred the lycra (currently undergoing an extended mending attempt by Mom, unless she gives up in protest).
Once I learned that the hard way, I bought only a second pair, only to realize that the reinforced area is vulnerable to premature wear from my boot crampon straps (CAMP Race 290). After only two ascents of about 760’ vertical each, some part of the strap had worn a small hole through the reinforcement on each gaiter. Fortunately this hole is very small, and it happens to be in the reinforcement fabric that can take lots of abuse before threatening the overall integrity of the gaiter.
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