Back in 2019, I was on a search for new gaiters. I’d worn out my my old Sportsman’s Warehouse fleece/membrane gaiters. These had gone 10 seasons, but they were loud. I came across First Lite’s Traverse Gaiter (link) at Western Hunt Expo 2019.
Bridget Noonan was working the booth and I explained I needed a water resistant gaiter that was quiet. She showed me the Traverse Gaiter. It was made from Duraflex nylon and treated with DWR. It was soft and quiet. My old gaiters were pretty waterproof, but that same membrane that kept water out was also very loud, especially in the cold. I thought the Traverse without a membrane might solve that problem. As a Rokslide sponsor, First Light comped me a pair to try. I chose Dry Earth to match my First Lite Corrugate Pants.
Upon arrival, I immediately tried them on my Schnee’s Hunter II Pac Boot. My first frustration came when I found how small the Traverse was, even though I’d ordered in their largest size, an LG/XL, there was no way it would fit this boot.
After calling First Lite, I had to admit it was my-bad as I hadn’t told them exactly what boot I was planning to pair with. Bridget clarified that the the Traverse Gaiter is made to go over a hiking boot, not a pac boot.
She said that the stretch-nylon design offers water and debris protection for light hikers, while taking the beating the pant cuff would usually take.
For the way I hunt, I rarely wear a hiking boot and a gaiter. By the time I don a gaiter, it’s cold and I’m in pacs. I had NEVER worn gaiters over hiking boot, but thinking back to a dozen torn pant cuffs over the years, I thought I might try the Traverse in the early season over my various hikers. Any water protection would be a bonus.
I put them over my Lathrop & Sons Tech-Lite Hunter. These are an 8” boot. They were too snug, as well, so I tried them on my Schnee’s Bridger Hiker, a 6” boot. They fit this boot well.
Unfortunately, I forgot about the Traverse Gaiters, stashed away in a gear drawer, and I didn’t get back to them until the spring of 2021.
For this year, I paired the Traverse with my Kenetrek Hardscrabbles. These are a 7” boot and the Traverse fit them very well, too.
I liked how easy the Traverse was to put on, even with the adjustable stirrup left buckled. There is a small pocket on the side of the Traverse where the tail of the adjustable stirrup is stored. This keeps the tail from flopping.
The Traverse has a velcro strip that fastens together in the front of boot. There is an aggressive lace hook that has never slipped out of the laces.
A button on top and bottom of the velcro strip keeps everything shut. One button doesn’t snap as tight as it used and every few days it comes undone and I need to snap it together again. The stirrup is tough. I’ve hiked in some very rocky terrain to prove that point.
I’ve also hunted in light rain and dew and the DWR coating has kept out the moisture well enough. As they aren’t waterproof, I don’t expect the Traverse to perform well in over-the-ankle stream crossings or heavy rain. I’d wager they’d work well in snow as long as it’s not really deep and wet.
I’ve put dozens of days on them and am completely happy with their performance. I’ve found them to be very quiet, and would consider them for bowhunting, no problem. The Duraflex is “smooth” enough that burrs typically just wipe off.
I figured out later there is a left and a right gaiter. This only seems to matter on where the stirrup buckle will end up. If you accidentally swap them, the stirrup buckles will end up on the inside of your ankles and can make noise when they rub together. Other than than that, I didn’t notice any loss of function or fit.
I really liked how light and packable they are, and the fact that with dozens of days, they have no holes. I think I’ll easily get three to four seasons out of my Traverse Gaiters.
In 2021, First Lite upgraded the original Traverse tested above to the 2.0. The upgrade only had to do with increased sizing and the stirrup. Upgrades were based on customer feedback.
I received the 2.0s just a week ago. Had they not told me they were different, I’d have hardly noticed. I laid them on top of my originals, and noticed about an inch more material on each height & width dimension, if even that much.
The stirrup has also been upgraded to a PU coated stirrup to increase abrasion resistance.
I’ve worn the Traverse 2.0 scouting and found that they function just like Gen 1, they’re just more forgiving to put on, and the stirrup should last even longer (although the Gen 1 stirrup was doing well.)
While I never crossed any streams over a few inches deep with either Gen, I hunted in plenty of wet dew and rain with almost no leakage. It would be impossible to seal the top of a gaiter from water eventually entering, but with the Duraflex stretch and snug fit, I didn’t have any problems.
I did a hose test on both Gens and found the results were the same. As the image below shows, when I tested the Traverse 2.0, little water got to through to the pant, and none got in the boot.
Someone could get these to soak through eventually, but I found for all my hiking applications, the Traverse 2.0 was very water resistant.
To note, the first pair of Traverse’s were able to bead water nearly as much as the Traverse Gaiter 2.0. So the DWR is definitely durable.
- Easy to put on, even with the stirrup left buckled
- Light-3oz, and packable (about the size of a medium weight wool sock)
- Durable, should last multiple seasons for most hunters
- Durastretch nylon sucks tight to leg
- Water-resistant, but not waterproof
- Won’t fit a pac style boot, or even large hiking boots
I’m now a convert to an early season gaiter. I haven’t ripped a pant cuff since I started wearing them, and found the additional benefit of clean pant cuffs once back at camp. They keep the debris out and moisture at bay. The Traverse is very easy to put on and take off.
If you’re looking for a water-resistant gaiter that will fit medium sized hiking boots and is light, packable, and tough, give the First Lite Traverse 2.0 some thought. The Traverse comes in three patterns: Dry Earth, Fusion, and Cipher. At less than $50, they are a great value. You can shop here
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