Waterproof Gaiters

snow-shovelingSnow, water, dirt and pebbles have a way of sneaking into even the most waterproof of boots. To prevent this, put on some gaiters.  Gaiters like Gaiterwraps cover the vulnerable tops of your footwear to fully protect your feet from the elements.

Gaiter shopping is not complicated. This article gives you the basics of how to find the right waterproof gaiters.

The right pair of gaiters depends on the kinds of trips you have planned and the conditions you expect. The main types:

Shop a popular store like REI’s selection of gaiters or search on line at Amazon.com.

Gaiter height depends on how much protection you need.  The heavier the brush and debris, the higher the gaiters should be.  But think about weight also.  How far will you be walking with the gaiters on?

Entry system: Gaiters are usually opened and secured by front rip-and-stick fasteners (VELCRO® brand or similar), although a few models feature a sturdy zippered entry. Older models tended to be rear entry, which offered less convenient on/off access.

Top closures: Basic gaiters are typically cinched with toggles and elasticized drawcords; some models are a bit fancier and feature a dedicated top strap with cam buckle.

Instep straps: These secure the lower edge of your gaiters around your boots’ insteps. Basic gaiters come with simple lace straps. Premium gaiters feature beefier leather/synthetic straps for extra durability.

Lace hooks: Offered on some styles, these let you attach your boot laces to your gaiters for added security.

Much like with outerwear, fabrics help define the level of gaiter performance you’re going to get. Most gaiters feature a lower section that is abrasion-resistant to fend off scrapes and an upper section that is waterproof or highly water-resistant. Here’s a breakdown of the most common fabric players:

Get 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.

Wear low gaiters under your rain pants: This creates the most waterproof seal.

A product like GaiterWraps also helps your shoes be water resistant longer.  For example for people who run cross country or participate in the Tough Mudder races, GaiterWraps can be just the thing to keep your feet warm and dry longer than any other method.

Waterproof Gaiters for Hiking
Hiking gaiters can be an essential piece of gear when your backpacking in the Spring or Winter. I find in early Spring when it’s still wet, muddy, and cold, gaiters can keep my boots and socks pretty dry.

Hiking Gaiters are normally a synthetic type material that covers the top of your boot and the lower part of your leg.  Gaiters can protect you in many ways:

  • Keeps your legs warm when hiking in snow (especially snowshoeing)
  • Keeping your feet warm and dry when crossing small streams, or hiking in really muddy conditions.
  • They are great when hiking in tall blade grass, or ferns.

Another big advantage is during tick season. Ticks generally leap onto your leg or sock. Gaiters can be a huge benefit to make sure you don’t bring those pesky guys into your tent. Very tall gaiters for deep snow

Hiking Gaiters come in two heights, low and high.

  • Low Gaiters, 8” to 12” tall, are designed to mainly keep debris and water out of your hiking boots. These are recommended for basic hiking conditions.
  • High Gaiters are 15” to 18” tall. These are the workhorse Gaiters. They protect you during more extreme conditions, like bushwacking, deep snow and bad weather.

What kind of Gaiters should I get?

What’s the Activity?

  • Mild-Weather Hiking Trips – Trail Gaiters are your best bet. These have basic protection against some rain, rocks and grit. These are normally breathable and lightweight.
  • All-around Hiking, Mountaineering and Snowshoeing – Alpine gaiters are what you need. These provide better abrasion and water protection than the Trail Gaiters.

Good Gaiters can be costly, but well worth the investment. Nobody likes hiking in wet socks. Look for Gaiters that are waterproof. Gaiters that have a waterproof and breathable material are going to cost a bit more, but can be worth it for comfort.

Durability is the key. Keeping your legs free of abrasions is of utmost importance. Make sure the material is strong.