Best Gaiters

Why do we need another piece of gear? It seems as if gaiters are a trick from the manufacturers, who somehow brainwashed our minds to make us think that they are useful. What about the looks of them? A gaiter is a protective sleeve that covers the upper boot, the ankle, and the lower leg. They provide extra insulation to these parts, keeping your socks dry at all times, and if you do, bushwhacking, they give an additional layer of protection to your legs. Some people do find them useful in the dry season, because they keep rocks and sand from getting inside a boot.

Best Gaiters

Our RankModelMaterialsWeight (oz each)
1Outdoor Research Men's Rocky Mountain High Gaiters420D Nylon6.8
2MAIYU Outdoor Waterproof Windproof GaitersDacron (Polyethylene terephthalate)6.0
3OUTAD Waterproof Outdoor Hiking Gaiters600D Oxford Fabric8.8
4Outdoor Research Men's Crocodile GaiterNylon 70D Upper Leg, Cordura 1000D Inner Leg10.2
5Astra Depot Double Sealed Velcro Zippered Gaiters400D Fabric5.4

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What Are Gaiters?

While waterproof hiking boots or ski boots will provide a huge amount of protection, gaiters work in tandem with your boots to protect the little nooks and crannies that are vulnerable to being encroached by abrasive environments or sneaky drops of rain or snow – like the top of the boot. Are you planning on heading out for a hike during this spring’s snow melt or maybe lacing up for a trail run?

Well, I am sure you know how important a waterproof hiking boot is, but, if there is one thing , I have come to realize, is that even with the most waterproof of boots, snow, water, dirt and pebbles always find a way to sneak into the boots. That’s why an extra layer of protection will come in handy.

Gaiters are the only piece of kit known to provide that kind of protection. Many people do not know that this valuable piece actually exist, so in this guide, we will answer few basic questions that you might have about gaiters, among them, what are gaiters?

A gaiter is a protective sleeve that covers the upper boot, the ankle, and the lower leg. They provide extra insulation to these parts, keeping your socks dry at all times, and if you do, bushwhacking, they give an additional layer of protection to your legs. Some people do find them useful in the dry season, because they keep rocks and sand from getting inside a boot.

What Material Are Gaiters Made Of?

Just like any outwear, the fabrics on a gaiter defines the level of performance you get from them. That’s why it is important to consider the material of a gaiter before you make a purchase. Here is a breakdown of modern fabrics on gaiters;

a) Gore-Tex®

Gore-Tex® fabrics are well-known to provide comfortable and long-lasting weather protection. Products engineered with this fabric are durably waterproof, lightweight, windproof and with optimized breathability. Not only are products from Gore-Tex® built to last, but they are also easy to care for, and if you keenly follow the manufacturer’s care instructions, you will be able to extend their life even further. If your itinerary involves rivers, wet ground, and snow, then this fabric should be your top pick.

b) Cordura® nylon

Cordura® nylon fabrics are known for their durability features, resistance to abrasions and tear. They are more ten times more durable than cotton fabric, twice durable than standard nylon, and three times more durable than standard polyester fabric. Gaiters made from this material can, therefore, withstand the abrasion of ice and rocks.

c) Coated nylon

Coated nylon is exceptionally strong material, very light, with low absorbency and elastic characteristics. Basic gaiters are made from coated nylon. The coating is added to increase the protective capabilities of the fabric, so if you are the kind of person, who prefers a short day hike, or planning to be involved in a lot of rock scrambling and scrub bashing, then this fabric will just work fine.

d) Schoeller® fabrics

Schoeller® fabrics are similar to Gore-Tex, but they are more permeable, and they tend to stretch more. They are of high-quality, functional, durable and provide a modern look to a garter. Schoeller® fabrics allow more free motion than most fabrics, gives more breathability and fits tighter saving material weight.

Different Types of Gaiters

Trail Gaiters

If you are running trails, then a trail shoe alone won’t be enough. Consider getting a trail gaiter. Trail gaiters are lightweight, breathable and offer basic protection against light rains and stuff on the trail and by stuff, I mean sand, dirt, rocks, snow and mud.

Alpine Gaiters

These are designed to handle plunge-stepping in deep snow, and bushwhacking through wet forest. They do a great job when hiking, mountaineering, and cross-country skiing. One unique feature about them is that they are basically taller, usually 15 to 18 inches, which means they can provide protection for most harsh environments.

Expedition Gaiters

The Expedition gaiters provide high-duty protection as well as adding insulation for extended mountaineering trips even in extreme conditions. Ideally, they feature a durable inner leg that prevents crampon snagging and puncturing when in mountains. They come in waterproof fabric, are breathable and with superior comfort.

Women’s Gaiters

Women gaiters can fall in any of the above types, but they tend to be a little shorter, with more girth to accommodate a woman’s calf.

Features To Consider Before You Purchase A Gaiter

Entry System

Basically, the front of a gaiter usually opens up to make them easier to access. Some feature a rip-and-stick fastener usually Velcro, other features a zippered entry. Each of these entry systems comes with its set of advantages and problems, but it’s always important to choose the one with an entry system, but also make sure that the openings seal tightly.

Top Closures

Gaiters are typically cinched with elasticized draw-cords and toggles. Some are a bit fancier and may come with a top strap with cam buckle. Each of these closures has their advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific activity, but avoiding lace ones would be a good idea, since they usually fall out, or even get lost. And since, gaiters are made from non-stretching materials they may also be a challenge to work on.

Instep Straps

The instep straps secure the bottom of the boot. You will constantly be stepping on them, so make sure you get a beefy one, this way, they can be able to handle the numerous rocks that they will encounter.

Reinforcements

The lower part of gaiters is usually reinforced with a resilient fabric such as Cordura or Kevlar. This additionally protects the gaiters against abrasion. It is very common that a hiker accidentally gets his/her crampons hooked in the gaiters and tear them up. Therefore, a reinforced lower part is indeed a great feature.

Weight

Gaiters should be light as all other hiking equipment. Light equipment allows you to hike faster and reach your goals easier. All gaiters in this review weigh less than 400 grams (pair).

Lace Hooks

Many models come with laces hook attachment on the front bottom. This connects the lower part of the gaiter to the shoelace to help hold the bottom in place. They might not be necessary, but with one, you get an extra snug fit.

What Activities Will You Need A Gaiter?

When picking a gaiter, the first thing that you should put into consideration is your specific type of activities along with the environment you expect to find yourself in, for example;

Hiking or Mountaineering

When hiking or mountaineering, a gaiter is necessary if you want to keep debris, water, or snow away from your boot. Under this activity, you will need a gaiter with tough material to withstand the rock scraping.

Adventure Sports

When out fell running or mountain biking, you will definitely need a gaiter, specifically a shorter one. As movement is the key under such activity you need a strong, but lightweight one.

Hunting and Shooting

Many people, who like hunting, never bother to get a gaiter, but they go along way in providing extra protection when walking through rough terrains such as on brambles, heather, and nettles. Get a gaiter that is abrasion and tear resistance for such activity.

General Work

You may also need a gaiter for general work, such as when gardening, mowing the lawn or working outdoors. Get a lighter one, for easy movements.

These are just but a few activities you can use a gaiter. But as long as you are trekking through snow, dirt, and mud, you will need one. Just make sure you get one that will match with your specific activity.

Conclusion

Whether snow, rain or overgrown trails are the terrain du jour, there are different types of gaiters that excel for different activities, each with different features. Although hiking through snow is not the easiest thing to do, it can be an unforgettable experience to wander around an amazing snow-covered landscape. In order to be comfortable and safe on snowy trails you will need some additional equipment such as insulated clothing, winter hiking boots and gaiters. Gaiters are very useful as they prevent snow and dirt from entering your boots – and few things are more annoying than having snow melting inside your boots. Gaiters are worn over the top of your boots and over the lower part of your trouser legs. They are attached to the boots with an instep strap and lace hooks. Additionally they usually have drawcord top closures which ensure that they stay firmly attached to the pants thus preventing snow and dirt from entering between the pants and the gaiters. As gaiters keep your feet warm and dry while hiking in deep snow, they are crucial for comfortable winter trips.