I think we can all agree that keeping your feet dry and free of little rocks and sand is pretty important on the trail.
Gaiters can be a really useful way of staying safe and comfortable when hiking in a range of conditions.
I’m going to help you choose the best hiking gaiters for your next backpacking trip by listing the best gaiters on the market right now and then explaining a little about what to look for.
- TOP 14 Best Hiking Gaiters of 2020
- Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters
- Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodiles Gaiters
- Sea to Summit Alpine eVent Gaiter
- Mountain Equipment Alpine Pro Gaiter
- Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
- RAB Hispar Gaiter
- Outdoor Research Women’s Verglas Gaiters
- Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter
- Outdoor Research Bug Out Gaiters
- Black Diamond Talus Gaiter
- Salomon Trail Gaiters
- Unigear Waterproof Leg Gaiters
- Pike Trail Leg Gaiters
- TurtleSkin SnakeArmor Snake Gaiters
- Your Essential Checklist for the Best Hiking Gaiters
TOP 14 Best Hiking Gaiters of 2020
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiters
Review: These top quality gaiters from UK brand, RAB, are designed with mountaineering in mind. They use eVent fabric instead of Gore-Tex for waterproofing, making for a more breathable, waterproof gaiter so you won’t get too sweaty.
They are also designed with ease of use in mind when wearing gloves, as the top tightens with a drawstring that can be done with one hand.
- Reinforced ankles for abrasion protection.
- Easy one-handed drawstring top closure.
- eVent waterproofing provides extra breathability and a waterproof rating of 30,000mm.
- These gaiters are listed as men’s but they’re actually unisex.
Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodiles Gaiters
Review: These are a highly popular pair of full-height gaiters, ideal for mountaineering and hiking in tough conditions. They have Gore-Tex waterproofing together with a thick, durable outer material to protect against obstacles and the elements.
The tops tighten using a Velcro strap while the bottoms are fitted with lace hooks and a sturdy instep strap.
- Reinforced with tough 1000D Cordura fabric on the insides to protect against tears from crampons.
- Tough 70D nylon outer with Gore-Tex lining for breathable waterproofing.
- Ideal for hiking through rain and snow.
- The instep strap is fastened with a buckle which could be fiddly.
- A little heavy.
Sea to Summit Alpine eVent Gaiter
Review: These are another high-quality pair of gaiters that use eVent material instead of Gore-Tex for waterproofing and breathability.
They are another great option for alpine environments or wet conditions
- Boot straps are replaceable which is a bonus.
- 900D nylon provides durable reinforcements on the lower leg.
- Highly waterproof and breathable eVent material.
- Stainless steel lace hooks.
- The drawstring top closure could be fiddly with gloves on and isn’t designed for one hand.
Mountain Equipment Alpine Pro Gaiter
Review: These gaiters are designed for deep snow, fastening snugly around the boot and upper leg to prevent any snow or other debris from entering your boots. They are made of waterproof Gore-Tex layers and have a reinforced lower leg to cope with the occasional crampon scratch.
- 3-layer Gore-Tex composition is waterproof and breathable.
- 500D nylon lower leg reinforcements.
- Replaceable boot strap.
- Not quite as breathable as the Rab and Sea to Summit gaiters.
Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
Review: These gaiters score top points for durability and are able to cope with the toughest conditions. They are also highly adjustable meaning you can get a perfect, form-fitting fit, effective at keeping out snow, rain and debris.
They’re not quite knee-high, but they don’t need to be because they’re so awesome.
- Extremely durable.
- Waterproof Gore-Tex lining.
- Velcro closure down the front and side-release buckle at the top.
- Tough neoprene coated foot straps and nickel coated buckles.
- Sizing runs a little small.
RAB Hispar Gaiter
Review: These gaiters are similar to the Rab Latok Alpine above, but a little shorter and with a cinched ankle. They’re less designed for snow and more for wet weather, being ideal for hiking through rain and small streams.
They are made of the highly breathable but waterproof eVent material and have a very durable 600D ballistic polyester ankle.
- Very waterproof and highly breathable eVent fabric.
- Cinched ankle provides an extra layer of protection from rain and debris that might enter the top of the gaiter.
- One-handed glove friendly drawstring top closure.
- Comes in small, medium and large unisex sizing.
- There’s honestly not much to fault with these gaiters.
Outdoor Research Women’s Verglas Gaiters
Review: These are some of the few women’s specific gaiters on the market, providing a lightweight, sleeker and less bulky alternative. They are slightly less durable than the crocodiles, but that’s what allows them to be lightweight.
So, provided you’re not going to be doing lots of rock scrambling, they should last a long time and do the job perfectly.
- Made of waterproof and breathable Pretex Shield fabric.
- Machine washable.
- Reinforced 500D cordura ankle.
- Calves may have a wide fit so go for the ‘small’ if you have slim calves.
Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter
Review: These knee-high gaiters have a few more unique design features that might work well for some people. They use an adjustable buckle for top closure instead of a drawstring, and a sealed full-length zip instead of flap closure.
They don’t use Gore-Tex but still manage to be pretty waterproof and breathable, making them ideal for hiking in rain and snow.
- 20,000mm waterproof rating.
- Full length YKK zipper closure.
- 1000D nylon reinforcement around the ankle.
- Tricky fit. For best results, try before you buy.
Outdoor Research Bug Out Gaiters
Review: If you spend a lot of time in areas with blood-hungry insects, you’re going to want a pair of these gaiters.
They’re not designed to protect against rain, snow or really abrasive obstacles, but they will keep the insects out of your boots and pants, and small rocks and debris too.
- Lightweight and comfortable mid-calf length.
- Very effective at keeping out tics and mosquitoes.
- Breathable and suitable for hot weather.
- Machine washable.
- Could do with an extra draw string at the top for secure closure around the lower calf.
- Not designed to protect against snakes.
Black Diamond Talus Gaiter
Review: These old school gaiters are designed to be worn with high ankle boots and protect against debris and light rain.
They’re a simple design and super easy to put on and take off, making them ideal to keep in your pack if you just want a pair of lightweight gaiters on hand for when things get messy but you don’t want to wear them the whole time.
- Very effective at keeping debris and rain out of your boots.
- Simple and quick to put on and take off.
- Lightweight and compact to keep on hand in your backpack.
- One-size-fits-all probably won’t fit all.
Salomon Trail Gaiters
Review: These aren’t designed to be hiking gaiters… but, more and more people are starting to hike in shoes rather than boots. So, if you’re a summer hiker who prefers to wear shoes, and you’re looking for gaiters to keep out grit and sand, these trail gaiters could fit the bill.
They wrap tightly around your ankles to prevent debris from entering your shoes.
- Easy to strap on.
- Elasticated for a snug fit.
- Reflective logo for some visibility at night.
- Sizing seems to run large so you may need to size down.
- Not waterproof.
Unigear Waterproof Leg Gaiters
Review: These are an affordable pair of entry-level gaiters that are ideal for beginner hikers and backpackers.
They are made of water-resistant 600D oxford fabric with 300D polyester that likely won’t be as durable as the more expensive gaiters above but will still serve you well for shorter walks in the snow and light rain.
- Very affordable.
- Easy Velcro front closure with an adjustable strap at the top.
- Adjustable TPU boot band and lace hook.
- Provide pretty good protection from snake bites.
- Boot band may not last very long before it requires some DIY repairs.
Pike Trail Leg Gaiters
Review: These are another excellent budget pair of gaiters for beginners or occasional hikers.
They’re made of lightweight, waterproof polyester and score top points for adjustability and fit.
- Cinched ankles help to hold the gaiters in place.
- Velcro front closure with poppers and a drawstring at the top.
- Metal buckles on the boot straps.
- Excellent quality for the price.
- Lifespan of the boot band may be limited.
TurtleSkin SnakeArmor Snake Gaiters
Review: If you’re going to be hiking in snake country and you want something specifically for snake protection, these gaiters are your best bet.
They’ve been tested against rattlesnakes and are some of the lightest and most flexible snake gaiters on the market.
- Lightweight and flexible for snake gaiters.
- Made of really tough polyester and ballistic fibers in a tight weave.
- Reversible design.
- Not breathable so very hot and sweaty in warm weather.
- Lack of fasteners around the ankle.
Your Essential Checklist for the Best Hiking Gaiters
Gaiters aren’t often at the top of the list when people think about what gear they need for hiking and backpacking.
But, once you’ve hiked with them, you’re unlikely to go back to hiking without them.
You’ll feel like something’s missing, and then you’ll feel the rain trickling into your boot, or little pieces of gravel getting caught between your toes, and you’ll remember… Ah yes, gaiters.
This is the main factor to consider when choosing your gaiters.
Gaiters come in 3 styles:
- Knee-height gaiters are for pretty serious conditions, providing protection for the whole lower leg. They’re mostly designed for alpine conditions to provide extra waterproofing and prevent snow from entering your boots. But, they can get hot and sweaty pretty quickly.
- Mid-calf is perfectly adequate for most hiking adventures unless you’re going to be venturing off-trail and want extra protection from abrasive vegetation, or walking through really deep snow.
- Ankle gaiters are ideal for keeping debris out of your boots or shoes but won’t do anything to protect your legs from abrasion.
Not everyone needs waterproof gaiters, but they are a huge advantage if you hike through rainy climates or will be walking through the occasional stream.
They prevent rain and splashes from entering through the top of your boot, assuming your boot is waterproof!
This is a pretty important consideration to avoid having to replace the gaiters unnecessarily. Well-made gaiters shouldn’t wear out and should be an item of gear that rarely, if ever, needs replacing.
In saying that, the weak point of most gaiters is the strap that goes under the arch of the boot to hold the gaiter in place. They never seem to last as long as the rest of the gaiter.
But, higher-end gaiters come with replaceable straps so that you don’t have to replace the whole gaiter when it fails.
Easy to Put On and Take Off
You may not want to wear your gaiters the whole time you’re hiking.
If they’re easy to put on and take off then you can choose to wear them just when it rains or you’re hiking through a particularly dense patch of scrub.
Good gaiters should come with a little metal hook to loop over the laces at the front of your boot and hold the gaiter in place.
Gaiter sizing can be annoying. Most are unisex and listed as S, M and L. But this isn’t necessarily a reliable guide.
Make sure the length of the gaiter is right for your lower leg, and look for gaiters that allow for adjustments around the calf and bootstrap in particular so that you can be guaranteed a snug fit.
Why do Hikers Wear Gaiters?
Hikers wear gaiters for a number of reasons, mainly for increased waterproofing of your boots, protection from scratchy vegetation and rocks, prevention of small rocks, debris or snow from entering your boots, and protection from snake bites.
Do You Need Gaiters for Snowshoeing?
It’s not a deal breaker, you can still go snowshoeing without gaiters, but you’ll be more comfortable in the long run if you wear them. Their main purpose in snowshoeing is to stop snow from entering your boots from the top.
Do Gaiters Stop Snake Bites?
If they’re made of thick enough material, yes, gaiters can offer great protection against snake bites.
Do Gaiters Keep Water Out?
To a point, yes. Once they get saturated, there will be a bit of leakage. And, if you stand in an ankle-deep stream for long enough then the water will eventually leak through.
But if you’re just walking through the occasional stream, good gaiters will prevent water from entering your boots from the top, assuming your boots are waterproof.
Do You Wear Gaiters Over Waterproof Trousers/Pants?
This depends on the reason you’re wearing the gaiters. If it’s raining and you’re trying to stop water from entering your boots, you’ll need to wear the gaiters under your pants otherwise the rain will run down between the top and the gaiters and your pants.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to keep yourself protected from abrasive vegetation and rocks, or keep water out during stream crossings, it would make sense to wear the gaiters over your pants.
That concludes this article on the best hiking gaiters. Once you know what purpose you want your gaiters to serve, it should be simple to choose the right pair for your needs.
Don’t forget to download my travel safety ebook and share your thoughts below if you have anything to add on gaiter-related know-how.
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