There are some outdoor gear testers outfitters with a large following on YouTube who can be heard saying, “If you have the right hiking pants and the right hiking footgear, you really don’t need gaiters.”
The comeback answer to those gaiter-doubters is that more than likely they have not been exposed to the kinds of outdoor activities where gaiters not only enhance the experiences but in some cases may even make them possible. It’s either that, or they live in a part of the country where gaiters are impractical and not often thought of as being included on the essential outdoor gear checklist. It’s hard to imagine, for example, why anyone would wear gaiters hiking in southern Texas’ Big Bend National Park.
Gaiters are practical and valuable in a variety of outdoor situations. They…
- Keep dirt and rocks out of your footgear while hiking or backpacking
- Protect your lower legs from abuse while bushwhacking
- Keep your legs dry when walking through tall wet grass
- Protect you from ticks and insects
But where they really come into their own and demonstrate their true value is for participating in snow sports like winter mountaineering, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. If you are a participant in outdoor winter sports and have not tried them before, should you be wearing gaiters for winter outdoor activity?
- Are both water resistant and breathable
- Have reinforced material on the lower portion around the top of the boot
- Are easy to put on and take off. Usually they wrap around your calf and are secured by a vertical velcro strip that runs top to bottom
- Have a strong strap that goes under your boot and fastens with a durable plastic or metal buckle securing the gaiter
- Are anchored to the boot toe by a small metal clip that attaches to your shoelaces or to a tiny metal ring that’s included on some high-quality hiking boots.
Here are five top-of-the-line gaiters that will enhance your enjoyment of all winter sports, especially those that include snow.
Black Diamond Apex GTX are full-height gaiters weighing 8.1 ounces. They are constructed from three layers of waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX fabric with a welded, double-layer 600d abrasion guard. They have a velcro front closure. The high density, neoprene-coated nylon instep strap is adjusted with a nickel-plated buckle. They feature a secure hook-and-loop front closure. Best uses include cold weather outings like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and mountaineering.
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters are 19 inches high. They have a 3-inch reinforced ankle area. The eVent fabric is waterproof. They have a zipless velcro front closure. A rubberized abrasion resistant strap goes under the instep to secure the gator to the boot. A drawcord top closure tightens the gaiter at the top of the calf. A lace hook fastens the gaiter to the toe of the boot. They have a reflective safty print on the back. Best uses include snow sports, winter mountaineering, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing.
Tuban waterproof Boot Gaiters are constructed of 3-layer, waterproof, breathable 500D Nylon. The instep strap is fastened with a roller buckle. Velcro front opening is easy to open and closes securely. A substantial hook fastens the bottom of the gaiter to the boot laces to prevent gaiter from riding up. Tuban Waterproof Boot Gaiters increase warmth and protection for all winter sports including mountaineering, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, ice climbing.
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters are 20 inches tall and weigh 13.6 ounces. They are made from waterproof, breathable Cordura nylon that is 1000D on the inner leg and around the boot. Front closure is a velcro strip that runs the length of the gaiter. A durable instep strap secures the gaiter to the boot. Best uses include winter sports like cross country skiing, mountaineering, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice climbing.
Mountain Hardwear Ascent Gaiters are 18 inches tall. The synthetic 420D pack cloth material is strong and abrasion resistant as well as being water resistant. On and off is easy thanks to the vertical velcro stip running the full length of the gaiter. The 4-way stretch air-permeable and breathable back panels allow airflow for cooling but is not water resistant. The top of the gaiter secures with a simple ladder lock that works like a climbing harness. Instep straps are adjustable from either side. More than one user has faulted these gaiters because one of the instep straps broke during use and were not easily repairable despite claims to the contrary by Mountain Hardwear. Best uses include winter sports like mountaineering, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice climbing.
Tell Savage Camper… Are you a gaiter wearer or not? Savage Camper and other readers would be interested to know how gaiters have made a difference in your enjoyment of and comfort during winter outdoor activities. Have you come up with any unusual applications for gaiters that are not included here? Is there a particular brand of gaiters that you prefer and recommend? We’ll share your comments with other readers and add them to the SC resource files for future stories on gaiters.