Let’s be honest, a lot of hiking is done in the summertime on groomed trails that are made for the masses. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of a hike and if that’s what makes you happy, keep doing it. There are too many people who get hung up on having all the best gear and dress more for the “look” than for the hike.
Hiking gaiters are made for extreme hikes that take you to those hard to reach places that make you work. The best hiking gaiters work double duty, giving you the protection necessary to keep your feet and legs safe and providing you with peace of mind that your legs are safe while traversing the rugged outdoors.
Best hiking gaiter reviews
Here’s a roundup of the best hiking gaiters, each with a proven track record and the highest ratings by actual people (other than us).
Unigear Leg Gaiters
Unigear is a newer outdoor company that was formed in 2014, they make all kinds of gear for every outdoor activity you can think of. One of the nice things about Unigear is that if you choose to purchase their product from Amazon you can head over to their website and register it there to get their full warranty.
Their leg gaiters come in 4 sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. The way you size these gaiters is by measuring your calf and referencing their sizing chart. There are also 3 colors to choose from: black, blue and green.
The bottom portion of the gaiter is 600D Oxford canvas and the upper portion is 300D polyester ripstop fabric. There’s a 1″ wide hook and loop front closure with tabs at the bottom to keep them in place. You can simply adjust the top strap,
- 600D Oxford canvas lower portion
- 300D polyester ripstop lower portion
- 3 adjustment points
- Bottom clasp can come loose
- Lower buckle difficult to buckle
- Sizing runs small
- WATER RESISTANT AND BREATHABLE – Unigear snow gaiters provide excellent combination of waterproof and breathable, waterproof rating 1000mm. The gaiters are constructed with rugged polyester and featured with waterproof membrane, which can keep moisture out and let sweat escape.
- ABRASION RESISTANCE AND DURABLE – We use 600D polyester on the lower legs with high workmanship to reinforce abrasion resistance and anti-tear. The long-lasting TPU instep straps of our boot gaiters can be used in lowest temperature (-35℃/-31℉).
- ADJUSTABLE FOR TIGHT FIT –The TPU instep allows for adjusting different sizes of boots and keeping them tight. Featured adjustable buckle strap on top, the hiking gaiters can fit your legs well and prevent slipping down. It’s easy to put on and take off with the front sticky self-adhesive.
- MULTI-FUNCTIONAL: Excellent waterproof and dust proof material offers superior protection against water, rain, snow, mud, wind, sand and insects from entering into your shoes or pants to keep your legs safe and dry. Our leg gaiters excel at cold, wet-weather for Hiking, Hunting, Climbing, Mountaineering, Snowing and Skiing.
Outdoor Research Men’s Crocodile Gaiters
Outdoor Research was founded by a nuclear physicist and mountaineer who needed a solution to a personal problem. The company is based in Seattle, Washington
The Men’s Crocodile Gaiters are made of 1000 denier Cordura fabric on the lower portion of the gaiter and 70 denier nylon on the upper portion. One of the first things that you notice is how stiff these gaiters are out of the box. Made for extremely cold weather and mountaineering trips, they live up to the “crocodile” in their name, thicker than a snickers.
The 3-layer Gore-Tex upper portion combined with the 1000 denier lower portion make these about as beefy as any gaiter out there. Keep in mind, that these are made to go over mountaineering boots, so they are going to be larger than other gaiters.
- No rubbing or slipping
- Quick drying
- Durable and water resistant
- Sizes run small
- Top buckle weakens over time
- Closing the bottom can be a challenge
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Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
Black Diamond is an outdoor company that dates back to the 1950’s when a climber named Yvon Chounaird began selling pitons from the trunk of his car. He quickly built a reputation of making quality gear. In 1989, after some legal struggles, Black Diamond was formed from what was left of Chouinard Equipment Ltd. and has since grown into a company providing gear for climbing, mountaineering, and skiing.
The Apex Gaiter performs well in cold weather pursuits like skiing, climbing, and mountaineering. It’s a full height gaiter that has a 3-layer Gore-Tex breathable upper portion. There’s also a welded double layer 600 denier abrasion guard with a neoprene coated instep strap.
These gaiters are easy to put on and hard to take off while resisting ski edges and crampons easily. They are specifically made for extreme cold weather and perform well in winter conditions for years with proper care.
- Water resistant
- Anti-abrasion patches
- Neoprene coated nylon strap
- Sizing runs small
- Top buckle gets weak over time
- Closing the bottom is challenging
Outdoor Research Men’s Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
Outdoor Research was a company founded on gaiters, literally. In 1980, Ron Gregg, a committed mountaineer suffered extreme frostbite on Alaska’s Denali courtesy of a poorly designed pair of gaiters. He came home and developed the X-Gaiter for his boots and the rest is history.
The Rocky Mountain High Gaiter is a
The top of the gaiter is secured through a piece of webbing and a cam buckle. At the bottom, there’s a Velcro tab that secures around the base of your foot and a double riveted buckle that secures the gaiter to your foot. You can adjust the bottom buckle to secure to a variety of different sized shoes.
- Good price point
- Short boot straps
- Sized small
- Not 100% waterproof
- Water resistant gaiters designed for the trail with a stretch hem to help fit a variety of boot profiles.
- 100% Nylon, 420D Packcloth With PU Coating
- Water Resistant Breathable Abrasion-Resistant
- Durable Hypalon Instep Strap Reinforced Boot Lace Hooks Hook/Loop Front Closure Buckle Top Closure Elastic Bottom Edge
Outdoor Research Women’s Verglas Gaiters
The Outdoor Research Women’s Verglas Gaiters are different from their other gaiters in that they’re made of a 3-layer Pertex Shield fabric and 500 denier Cordura. Pertex is designed for mountain pursuits when weight and breathability are important.
The upper portion of these gaiters is held up with a webbing cam buckle. The upper leg portion is Pertex Shield and 70 denier nylon ripstop fabric. The lower portion of the gaiter is made of 500 denier Cordura with a reinforced boot lace hook for attaching them to your hiking boots.
- Breathable material
- Lightweight gaiters
- Sizing issues
- Awkward top fastener
- Tight in the calf
Benefits of hiking gaiters
Pine needles in your socks and pebbles in your shoes are uncomfortable
There are times when you’re forced to scramble and head off-trail. If you’re on a trail that requires crossing rock formations or crashing through
If your hiking in the early morning or on a rainy day, the lower portion of your pants is the first place to get wet. Cold feet and wet socks are the worst. Hiking gaiters provide water-resistant protection on your feet and ankles.
While getting wet will never be completely avoided, staying warm is always a plus. Thick gaiters provide you with an extra layer to keep your legs warmer in cold temperatures.
Advantages of hiking gaiters
- Hiking gaiters shield your shoes and ankles from debris
- They protect your shins on scrambles and deep brush
- They offer an extra layer of water resistance
- In cold weather, thick gaiters insulate your legs
Tips for wearing hiking gaiters
Hiking gaiters come in a wide range of styles and sizes. Here are a few important things to be aware of on your hunt for a pair of gaiters.
1. Choose the right size
Gaiters are typically made for a particular boot or shoe style, so you want to try them on with the footwear that you plan on using them with. Start by engaging the hook and loop system and adjust them until they have a tight seal around your boots or shoes.
2. Adjust the fit
Gaiters are all adjustable to fit all different leg sizes, however, they don’t always come form fitting. Use the attachment points (hook and loop) to conform to the size of your ankles and calves. The best fit is typically a half an inch overlap in the fabric of the gaiter.
3. Buckles out
The buckles on the instep strap (the strap underneath your boot) should always be facing outside. When you first put on a pair of gaiters, it feel like the straps should be on the inside of the material. However, they actually go on the outside, this prevents them from digging into your ankles and accidentally kicking them as you walk.
4. Tighten the top straps
The top straps of gaiters are there to prevent them from falling down your leg as you walk, which is super annoying. Adjust the straps so that they fit snugly above your calf muscle, you don’t want them uncomfortably tight, but you also don’t want them too loose. This may take a couple tries over the first few miles, just be patient until you find the right fit.
5. Don’t ignore the lace hooks
The lace hooks are there to extend the gaiters as far down the top of your boots as possible. Hook the lace as close to the toe as possible. For people with larger feet you may not reach the last lace, just get them as far as they’ll reach.
How to choose the best hiking gaiters
All hiking gaiters are there to protect your legs from the things that pants simply can’t. Here are a few key considerations to
Consider the terrain
The terrain that you’re hiking is going to vary from trail to trail and is the determining factor on what type of hiking gaiters are necessary. High gaiters are the most versatile hiking gaiters as they’ll work on every trail, regardless of the terrain.
A good pair of gaiters will fit snugly around your upper calf just below the knee. They should be tight enough so they don’t fall down, but not tight enough to cut off
You also want to make sure the lower
If you plan on using your gaiters in the summertime, water resistance is not a big deal. However, if you plan on using them all 4 seasons, finding a gaiter with adequate water resistance is a must.
One of the key considerations when choosing waterproof gear of any kind is making sure that the material is breathable, otherwise, you end up with dry pants and sweaty legs.
Gaiters are there as an extra layer of protection for your legs, however, if they only last for a couple trips they aren’t worth the investment. Gaiters are going to see a level of wear and tear that other pieces of gear are not exposed to, so quality material and craftsmanship is of upmost importance.
Be sure to take a close look at whatever gaiter you choose and read the fine print. Find out what material the base is made, as well as, the upper portion. Read reviews from people who have taken them in the wild to ensure that you’re gaiters are worth your hard earned money.
The best hiking is done in places that are challenging to reach with terrain that is less than forgiving. These hard to reach places are not found on well-manicured trails with public restrooms at the beginning of the trailhead.
These paths are often rugged, tough, and unforgiving and your hiking gaiters should be the same. The best pair of hiking gaiters is going to have a delicate balance of comfort and durability. We hope that this guide points in the right direction in your search for hiking gaiter for you next adventure.
As always, get lost and keep wandering.