Getting back to nature is something we all love, but we also know there is nothing more frustrating than having to call a hike short the annoyance of constantly stopping to empty stones or mud from your boots. Gaiters are a simple and inexpensive piece of equipment which can address all these concerns, but there are a lot of options out there. Are you confident in selecting the best hiking gaiters for your outdoor needs?

Not all gaiters are the same, with numerous models, materials, and designs available to suit your preferred style of hiking. Here at The Adventure Junkies we’ve reviewed the various options currently available for each of these popular approaches, to help save you time and money in your search for the best hiking gaiter.

 

THE BEST HIKING GAITERS

  1. Outdoor Research Crocodile
  2. REI Alpine
  3. Outdoor Research Verglas
  4. Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile
  5. Black Diamond GTX FrontPoint
  6. Outdoor Research Wrapid
  7. Outdoor Research Ultra Trail
  8. Mountain Hardware Scree
  9. Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low
  10. REI Activator

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide to Hiking

 

THE BEST HIKING GAITERS – A COMPARISON

PICTURE
HIKING GAITERS
BEST USE
WATER RESISTANCE
MATERIAL
HEIGHT
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
HIKING GAITERS
BEST USE
WATER RESISTANCE
MATERIAL
HEIGHT
WEIGHT (PER GAITER)
PRICE
RATING
Outdoor Research Crocodile
Overall
Waterproof
GoreTex
High
5.1 oz
$$$
4.4
REI Alpine
Overall
Water Resistant
Nylon
High
3.9 oz
$$$
4.4
Outdoor Research Verglas
Overall
Waterproof
Cordura
High
3.7 oz
$$
4.6
Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile
Expedition
Waterproof
GoreTex
High
6.1 oz
$$$
4.5
Black Diamond GTX FrontPoint
Expedition
Waterproof
GoreTex
High
4.5 oz
$$$
4.1
Outdoor Research Wrapid
Trail Running
Water Resistant
Nylon
Low
2.0 oz
$$
4.0
Outdoor Research Ultra Trail
Trail Running
Water Resistant
Cordura
Medium
2.0 oz
$$
3.0
Mountain Hardware Scree
Trail Running
Water Resistant
Nylon
Low
0.5 oz
$$
2.8
Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low
Budget
Water Resistant
Nylon
Low
2.4 oz
$
4.0
REI Activator
Budget
Water Resistant
Polyester
Low
0.9 oz
$
3.8

 

 

HIKING GAITERS 101

 

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST HIKING GAITERS

 

1. HIKING STYLE

All gaiters serve one common purpose, to protect you from the elements. Yet the ways in which they do this vary greatly and are closely related to the style of hiking you prefer.

If you enjoy the occasional weekend day-hike on well-made trails, then you will be needing a good ‘all round’ gaiter which will prevent small stones from getting lodged inside your boots. Waterproofing may also be important if it’s likely that you may be required to cross small streams.

On the other hand, if you prefer to immerse yourself in the wild, away from marked trails and close to nature, you’re going to be needing a tough, comfortable, and waterproof gaiter that can handle anything nature might throw at you.

In recent years, we’ve also seen significant growth in the number of people who enjoy running in the outdoors, or ‘trail running’. If this is you, then you’ll be wanting a gaiter that is light-weight, breathable and providing a basic level of protection.

Every hiker has differing needs, and a balance is critical as you don’t want to get caught paying too much for features you don’t need.

 

2. PHYSICAL PROTECTION

Gaiters are typically used to protect against stones and mud from getting into your boots. However, they also protect your shins from scratches and provide an impenetrable barrier against snake bites.

There are three factors which will determine the level of protection that a gaiter will provide; it’s height, thickness, and the level of seal that the gaiter provides at its top opening.

 

HEIGHT

Gaiter heights will vary from ankle-high to knee-high, with knee-high versions providing a far superior level of protection for your entire lower leg. This does come with more weight, and comfort levels won’t be as high as for a shorter gaiter.

 

THICKNESS

The thickness of a gaiter will determine how well it can withstand a beating. Sharp sticks, thorns, stiff under-brush and rocks will all test your gaiters to the limit, and all but the thinnest gaiters will provide excellent protection against snakebite. Thicker gaiters will provide you with the greatest level of protection, but again this will come with increased weight and reduced levels of comfort.

 

SEAL

An effective ‘seal’ at the top of a gaiter will prevent stones, twigs, moisture, mud, and other debris from entering your boots. You need a gaiter that can be adjusted at the top, to cater for your own physique and style of hiking.

 

3. DURABILITY

You may choose a gaiter that provides excellent physical protection, but if they only protect you once, then they aren’t going to be of much use!

When you’re hiking, your body is in constant motion. Your gaiters will be flexing and folding in response to every step you take, and at the same time your legs will be striking branches and being abraded by rocks. Durable gaiters will be designed to handle these strains and stresses hour after hour, day after day. A quick rule of thumb is to check the ‘denier’ rating of the gaiter material, with a higher rating being denser. For example, 1000D is twice as dense as 500D fabric.

The toughest material you can find is canvas, but it is also the heaviest. Canvas gaiters are ideal for the toughest terrains on earth where you will be exploring off-track and camping overnight.

The perfect balance for most hikers is by selecting a synthetic gaiter constructed with GoreTex or eVent material, or nylon packcloth. They will give you excellent life but may suffer in densely vegetated off-track regions of the world.

If you’re a trail runner then your needs won’t be as onerous, and a light-weight synthetic gaiter will suit your needs.

Be sure to also examine the gaiter design. Fasteners, buckles, and loops should not protrude excessively or impede your stride in any way. If this does occur then you will find these components being repeatedly struck to the point of early failure.

 

4. WATER RESISTANCE

Gaiter manufacturers will often use the level of water resistance of their gaiters as a significant point of difference. The reality is, if you’re walking in the rain, through streams of any reasonable depth, or in deep snow, gaiters will not stop your feet from getting wet! In fact, even in dry conditions, your feet will still get wet due to your own perspiration.

However, in mud, drizzle, shallow streams or occasional snow a good level of water resistance will stop your feet from getting drenched, and most importantly you won’t be needing to worry so much about the inner of your boot drying off overnight, particularly if you’re above the snow line.

A close-fitting gaiter will work best at preventing moisture ingress, but do remember that if it’s too tight then your mobility may be restricted.

The gaiter material type does matter to a certain extent but isn’t critical. Synthetics such as GoreTex or eVent will provide excellent water resistance, but they do need to be regularly maintained to keep the level of water resistance at optimal levels. Canvas gaiters are increasingly rare due to their weight, but provide the best water resistance and don’t require as much attention.

 

5. COMFORT

When it comes to buying a gaiter, the comfort or ‘fit’ is extremely important. Just like your boots, you’re going to be wearing them for hours at a time and the last thing you want is for them to become uncomfortable or a hindrance. Poorly designed gaiters can also be fiddly when putting them on and taking them off, so if this is something you’re going to be doing regularly then this is also very important.

When you’re hiking, your feet will perspire. A good gaiter will be light and have a high level of breathability, minimizing the level of perspiration and keeping your feet cool. A poorly designed or heavy gaiter will create a hot and humid environment that exacerbates the perspiration, causing your feet to become slippery (possibly leading to blisters) and making the overnight drying-off process that much harder.

Modern synthetics such as GoreTex and eVent have improved remarkably, and these are the best fabrics for gaiters if you need a high level of breathability. They also have the added benefit of high levels of water resistance and are light-weight. Nylon packcloth is not quite as breathable as GoreTex or eVent, but won’t cost as much either.

Ideally, you would want to try your gaiters on before purchasing, but if this isn’t possible then try to ensure the online retailer has a good return policy. The perfect pair of gaiters will fit snugly over the top of your hiking boots and around your calf. They should have a sturdy loop that passes under the boot to keep it secure, and should open and close easily. If you’re going to be hiking in alpine regions then you may also want to make sure they can be fastened when wearing hiking gloves.

 

ideal gaiters to have for hiking

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/quintanilla

 

HIKING GAITER REVIEWS

 

1. BEST HIKING GAITERS FOR OVERALL USE

OUTDOOR RESEARCH CROCODILE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hikers needing an extremely tough, warm, and waterproof gaiter

WATER RESISTANCE: Waterproof

MATERIAL: GoreTex

HEIGHT: High

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 5.1 oz (145 g)

PROS: Very durable, waterproof

CONS: Heavy, can get warm

 

 

 

REI ALPINE

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Hikers wanting an all-round gaiter providing full protection, that isn’t too heavy, and provides good water resistance

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Nylon

HEIGHT: High

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 3.9 oz (111 g)

PROS: Durable, good protection for its weight

CONS: Not waterproof, draw-cord closing mechanism at the top of the gaiter can be uncomfortable

 

 

 

OUTDOOR RESEARCH VERGLAS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hikers seeking a tough, waterproof, and light-weight gaiter

WATER RESISTANCE: Waterproof

MATERIAL: Cordura

HEIGHT: High

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 3.7 oz (105 g)

PROS: Low profile leg shape prevents snagging, waterproof, light-weight

CONS: Hikers with skinny calves may find the upper section to be too loose, average breathability

 

 

 

 

2. BEST HIKING GAITERS FOR EXPEDITIONS

OUTDOOR RESEARCH EXPEDITION CROCODILE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hiking in all conditions, and in the toughest terrain such as alpine and off-track

WATER RESISTANCE: Waterproof

MATERIAL: GoreTex

HEIGHT: High

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 6.1 oz (173 g)

PROS: Waterproof, extremely abrasion resistant, designed to prevent nicks from crampons, can fit over mountaineering boots

CONS: Heavy, can get warm

 

 

 

BLACK DIAMOND GTX FRONTPOINT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hikers looking for a pair of rugged, waterproof gaiters suitable for mountaineering, without being too heavy

WATER RESISTANCE: Waterproof

MATERIAL: GoreTex

HEIGHT: High

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 4.5 oz (128 g)

PROS: Can fit over mountaineering boots, waterproof, comfortable

CONS: Average breathability, some reports of loop and buckle failures

 

 

 

 

3. BEST HIKING GAITERS FOR TRAIL RUNNING

OUTDOOR RESEARCH WRAPID

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Trail runners that want a pair of light-weight gaiters that are extremely quick and easy to put on

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Nylon

HEIGHT: Low

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 2.0 oz (57 g)

PROS: Light-weight, innovative design making them very easy to put on, very versatile

CONS: Not waterproof

 

 

 

OUTDOOR RESEARCH ULTRA TRAIL

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Trail runners wanting a light-weight gaiter that provides a little bit of extra protection up the calf

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Cordura

HEIGHT: Medium

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 2.0 oz (57 g)

PROS: Light-weight, good protection to mid-calf, very comfortable

CONS: Fiddly under-boot loop, not waterproof

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN HARDWARE SCREE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Trail runners wanting an extremely light and comfortable gaiter

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Nylon

HEIGHT: Low

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 0.5 oz (14 g)

PROS: Extremely light-weight, good breathability

CONS: Not waterproof, difficult to attach under-boot loop

 

 

 

 

4. BEST BUDGET HIKING GAITERS

OUTDOOR RESEARCH ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Hikers looking for a light-weight gaiter with good water resistance

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Nylon

HEIGHT: Low

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 2.4 oz (68 g)

PROS: Light-weight

CONS: Not waterproof, limited calf protection

 

 

 

REI ACTIVATOR

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Hikers looking for an extremely light-weight gaiter

WATER RESISTANCE: Water Resistant

MATERIAL: Polyester

HEIGHT: Low

WEIGHT (PER GAITER): 0.9 oz (26 g)

PROS: Extremely light-weight, easy to fit

CONS: Poor durability

Top 10 Best Hiking Gaiters of 2017 – Best Hiking Gear For Beginners – Backpacking Gadgets – Hiking Equipment List for Women, Men and Kids
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