Using Gaiters

Short, tall, junior, unisex, nylon, Gore-Tex, insulated – gaiters come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials. But they all do the same thing and that’s simply keep things off and out of your boots.

Gaiters would have helped! (Photo: Megan Kopp)

Most people think of gaiters for winter outdoor activities, but they come in just as handy for keeping mud off, water out and sand away.

Personally I wear mine whenever I’m hiking in wet weather. Even when the rain stops, tall grasses and brush tend to hold the moisture. With gaiters and a pair of waterproof hiking boots, my feet stay dry.

Short gaiters are commonly seen on hikers in desert areas. While a full gaiter would be far too hot, a short cuff works well to keep sand out of hiking shoes.

A good pair of breathable gaiters can do double duty – summer and winter – in mountain terrain. I prefer a wide Velcro closure rather than zipper that tends to ice up in winter months. Also make sure that the bottom strap is wide and flat so that snow doesn’t ball up under your ski boot.

Nylon gaiters are less expensive and work well enough for shorter cross-country ski trips and in wet weather, but they can get sweaty fast when the temperature picks up.

What kind of gaiters do you use in the backcountry?

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