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Rain Gear for Your Feet: First Lite Brambler Gaiter Review

From repelling morning dew to post-holing in the snow, If you want to keep your feet dry in moist environments, waterproof gaiters are a vital part of your hunting kit. First Lite’s Brambler gaiters keep you dry even after they take a beating.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)
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Boot gaiters can serve many purposes. They range anywhere from light-duty cloth meant to keep rocks and debris out of shoes to waterproof layers meant to keep your lower legs and feet dry. The First Lite Brambler falls into the latter category and does a great job, given proper fit and care.

I dragged these gaiters to hell and back through two seasons of hard hunting for mountain lions in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Though they are visibly worn out, they just won’t quit doing their job of keeping the moisture off my legs and out of my boots.

In short: The First Lite Brambler Gaiter is a very waterproof and thorn-resistant gaiter option. And if you damage them, they’re backed by rad customer support.

First Lite Brambler Gaiter


  • 37.5 Active Particle Technology
  • Heavy-duty construction featuring 4.5 layered construction
  • Adjustable calf strap
  • Snap-reinforced Velcro closure
  • Hypalon stirrup with black metal buckle adjustment
  • Black, metal lace hook
  • Weight 12 oz., according to First Lite’s website; 10.7 oz. actual weight of my S/M
  • Colors Dry Earth (brown), First Lite Fusion (camo)
  • Sizing S/M and L/XL
  • Cost $85


  • Waterproof
  • Thorn-resistant
  • Good choice if other brands run large for you
  • CORDURA wear panels
  • Generous warranty support


  • Hot on warm days
  • Fit can be tricky (true for all gaiters), and some users mention that they run too small
  • Noisy (I only include this because it’s a common complaint from other users. I consider it inherent to all waterproof gear.)

First Lite Brambler Gaiter Review

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Testing the Brambler

I originally purchased the First Lite Brambler gaiters in the fall of 2021. They hung out for a season in my elk hunting pack in case I encountered some unexpected snowpack or extended periods of wet vegetation.

However, in 2022, I decided I’d try my hand at mountain lion hunting. I don’t use hounds. Nothing against hound hunting, it just isn’t how I’m doing it. I respect it and the dedication of the people who raise, train, and run dogs. I hike off into the snow in search of tracks and follow them until I find the lion.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve had two good chases this way, but haven’t managed to get a shot at one yet. This means long hours of hiking through everything from dry ground to thigh-deep snow. I mean, I try to keep it knee-deep or shallower, but, hey … things happen.

An average day of hunting is anywhere from 4 to 9 hours and 5 to 10 miles with 2,000-3,000 feet of elevation gain. Most hunts utilize little to no maintained trails. It can include everything from snow to creek crossings to nearly impenetrable stands of Gambel oak. I hunt around half the days of the month from the season opener until the quotas fill sometime around the middle of February.


(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

The waterproofness of the Bramblers is infallible, given attention to proper care and fit. Despite the large hole I ripped in the outer fabric on one ankle and severe wear on the front seams, the multilayer construction kept my pants dry day after day. Per First Lite recommendations, I’ve given them mid- and post-season washings in tech fabric-friendly detergent. I followed up with either a Nikwax direct wash-in waterproofing treatment or a similar spray-on product.

It’s worth noting here that without proper waterproofing of “supporting” layers of clothing, you’re likely to experience moisture in undesirable areas.

I could easily rant about the one time I wore these for a rainy day of elk hunting and ended up soaked and cold from knees to toes. The pants I unwisely chose that day were merely water-resistant. They eventually wetted out above the gaiter, allowing capillary action to draw water down my pants legs, socks, and into my boots. I see a lot of hunters complain about waterproofing failures on products without realizing that capillary action is a thing. It’s worth learning about it if you want to stay dry.

On that note, it’s also worth mentioning that when it comes to waterproof clothing of any type, sweat happens. If it’s a particularly warm day, and/or you’re hiking at a pace that’s inducing a full-body sweat, the dampness in your boots, socks, and pants probably originated from your own body.


“Andrea, you could mess up a crowbar.” — My Dad

First Lite makes some bold statements about the durability of the Bramblers. From its website: “We know that great all-season leg gaiters for hunting are designed and constructed to last a lifetime, and the Brambler Hunting Boot Gaiter is no exception. Overbuilt and as burly as your favorite boots, this 37.5 by Cocona Technology gaiter utilizes Hypalon straps, Cordura insteps, and bombproof seams to keep you dry in the roughest hunting country. Field tested in BC and all over the Western US, the Brambler is your new ironclad gaiter.

I’ve basically destroyed these gaiters in two seasons of hunting.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Off-trail in the shin-to-knee snow depths I’m in most often, it’s impossible to avoid things like hidden rocks and sharp branches that bend buckles, pick and rip holes in the fabric, and cause major abrasion on seams. The stirrup straps are shredded, the wear panels are fraying over the spot where the stirrup strap attaches on the inside at the ankle, and the Velcro layer on the front is separating from the other layers of fabric.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

So, I will say, based on the product description, I had higher expectations. Given my ability to “mess up a crowbar,” I’m not surprised that they’re showing severe signs of wear after two seasons.

I imagine that if I’d initially chosen a gaiter without CORDURA-reinforced panels, I would have experienced much faster and more dramatic wear. Just handling these to get close-up photos of the damage, it’s obvious that First Lite made a valiant effort to produce a product that lives up to their durability claims.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Customer Support

While writing this article, I decided to contact First Lite to see if any of the damage could be covered under warranty. And despite the obvious signs of hard use in the photos I attached to the warranty form, they are willing to send me a new pair, no questions asked.

To my surprise, they even provided a shipping label for the old ones. One of my pet peeves in warranty situations is that if the company admits that a product is defective, why do I need to pay for the shipping cost to send it back?

Being in the throes of the current lion season and still needing gaiters several times a week, I tried to get them to send the replacement pair out before I mailed the damaged ones back. Unfortunately, they won’t ship out replacements until they have the old product in hand.


Comfort-wise, I love these gaiters. I put them on and forget about them, which is the highest compliment I can bestow upon a product. They do get stuffy on warmer days. Since they’re waterproof, I expect this, and I don’t fault the product in any way for it. It doesn’t matter how breathable and technologically advanced; if a fabric is labeled as waterproof, it’s just not going to exhaust body heat and sweat as well as other fabrics.

First Lite uses 37.5 Technology (in the Brambler as well as other products in their line). According to the manufacturer, it allows fabrics to keep you cool when it’s hot. Given the snowy conditions I used these in most often, I really didn’t notice unless I was going full mountain goat up a steep, sunny grade.

Though not a feature mentioned in the product description, the name “Brambler” implies some degree of thorny plant protection. I’ve found that lighter thorns (wild roses, thistles, and raspberries, in my case) don’t penetrate the fabric. However, tougher plants like yucca and cactus will definitely poke through, albeit at a much less expletive-inducing intensity than when they poke a knee or thigh just above the gaiter.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

First Lite Brambler Gaiter’s Fit

Gaiter fit is a tricky thing. If the bottom opening doesn’t fit tightly against your boot, then it provides an opening that can allow snow and water ingress. This means you become a victim of the aforementioned capillary action once it contacts your pants, leg, and/or socks.

There are as many combinations of lower leg lengths, calf widths, and boot sizes as there are hunters. I can imagine that deciding on exact fit specifications is a nightmare for a clothing company.

Personal Size Example

The best thing I can do here is give you a few measurements for myself in the gear I’m using. Hopefully, this can help you determine if the Bramblers are a good fit for you. First Lite recommends the S/M size if you have small calves, full-size boots size 9 or smaller, or if you’re wearing a lighter boot or trail shoe.

I wear a women’s size 9 (equivalent to men’s 7.5) and measuring over my pants, my calf is exactly 15 inches in diameter at the widest part, 13.5 inches just below the knee, and 15.5 inches from floor to back of the knee when my knee is flexed to a 90-degree angle.

I keep the upper strap tightened as far in as it can tighten, and they’ve never slipped down. I end up closing the Velcro down the front length of the boot with about a half inch of extra Velcro hanging over the edge. I’ve successfully fitted the S/M to mid-top trail runners, La Sportiva Aequilibrium ST GTX light-duty mountaineering boots, and Kenetrek Mountain Extreme hunting boots by adjusting the stirrup strap to draw the lower edge of the gaiter tightly down to the top of the boot.

When reading user reviews on the First Lite product page, it’s obvious that some larger individuals have issues with these being too small, even in the L/XL version. But, as I said, sizing for something like this is bound to be a little bit of a crapshoot.

(Photo/Andrea Wilson)


I almost didn’t include a mention of noise in this review. To me (much like its tendency to be warmer and sweaty), waterproof gear is inherently noisier than other fabrics.

This is especially true when, like the First Lite gaiter, it includes CORDURA wear panels. It’s the nature of the beast. However, some people are compelled to complain about it anyway. So, it’s worth noting in case you’re searching for a unicorn … keep looking because this one’s still a horse.

First Lite Brambler Gaiter: Conclusion

Even though I’ve absolutely hammered these gaiters, I’m impressed by their ability to keep doing their job of being waterproof. Also, once I began looking at other gaiter options, these are obviously more overbuilt than similar offerings. Given proper waterproofing of your boots and pants, these puppies are going to keep you dry in whatever conditions you throw their way.

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