On our AGC participant packing lists, we include a short list of “optional” items to bring on a trip. By “optional,” we mean – if you have this item, then bring it! If you don’t have the item, then don’t worry about buying it because it is not absolutely necessary. Among those optional items, we often list “gaiters,” particularly on our trips that include hiking.
What are gaiters?
Many people are not familiar with gaiters. A quick Wikipedia search will tell you that: Gaiters are garments worn over the shoe and lower pants leg, and used primarily as personal protective equipment.
Why get gaiters?
Hikers, runners, snowshoers are among the outdoorsy folk who utilize gaiters. Some people wouldn’t leave home without them, while others don’t feel they are necessary. To use/wear them when outdoor adventuring is really a personal choice.
Gaiters can protect your legs, ankles, and feet from elements of nature.
When walking through dense vegetation they can protect your ankles and calves from getting scraped by branches and brush.
In snow and icy conditions, gaiters can be barrier to snow and moisture leading to dry, happy feet.
And even while hiking on a dry, well-maintained trail, dirt and pebbles can make their way into your boots and socks; over time and coupled with friction the presence of dirt and pebbles can lead to blisters. Gaiters cover the top of your shoes and keep such debris away from your feet.
There are a variety of gaiters and the type you choose will likely depend on your activity. There are trail gaiters, alpine gaiters, and expedition gaiters. For most AGC trips, trail gaiters are appropriate. Trail gaiters are lightweight, breathable, and provide basic protection against rocks, grit, and light rain while on mild-weather excursions. Among trail gaiters, there are short gaiters and long gaiters. The height of the gaiters you choose depends on how much protection you need. Low gaiters are ankle high, about 8" to 12" tall. These are best for less-than-extreme conditions when you just need to keep trail debris and rain out of your boots. Regular gaiters are calf high, around 15" to 18" tall. These are designed for rugged conditions such as hiking through deep snow, wet brush, or in bad weather. Depending on whether or not you plan to hike in shorts or pants will also affect your gaiter use. Some may feel that pants or a thick pair of taller hiking socks provide enough protection for their legs.
How to get gaiters?
Gaiters can range in cost from $30-70 and can be purchased at a local outfitter, larger sports equipment store or online. When fitting your gaiters, look for a snug fit. Most gaiter styles come in sizes, which are aligned with a range of boot sizes. When you try on gaiters, adjust the straps to make sure the fit is snug. Your goal is to achieve the best possible seal around your boots.
Getting girly gaiters?
There are even gaiters made specifically for women. Women's styles are typically shorter in height and have a bit more top girth to accommodate a woman's calf. Some companies market directly to women – and make gaiters with styles and colors like leopard and zebra prints, butterfly, hearts, and peace sign print. One such company is Dirty Girl Gaiters.
According to Dirty Girl Gaiters - Anyone can wear black gaiters! But a dirtXy girl's gotta do what a dirtXy girl's gotta do! Accessorize! Dirty Girl Gaiters keep the debris out of your shoes with style and sass. And you'll have something fun to look at while you hang your sorry head and shuffle your tired feet.
For more info on Dirty Girl Gaiters visit: http://www.dirtygirlgaiters.com/
And for more general information on gaiters visit: