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Best Hiking Gaiters for the Outdoors

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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, inset strap, and boot lace hook to ensure the perfect fit.

Pros:

  • 600D Oxford canvas lower portion
  • 300D polyester ripstop lower portion
  • 3 adjustment points

Cons:

  • Bottom clasp can come loose
  • Lower buckle difficult to buckle
  • Sizing runs small
Sale
Unigear Leg Gaiters
150 Reviews
Unigear Leg Gaiters
  • WATERPROOF OXFORD FABRIC AND POLYSTER CHARACTERISTICS: Made of 600D Oxford fabric and 300D Polyester, Unigear Leg Gaiters provides excellent water and tear & puncture resistance. Upgraded Durable TPU belt can be used for long time, low temperate resistant(-35℃/-31℉). Comfortable and breathable
  • LIGHTWEIGHT AND EASY TO CARRY: Coming with small package, it's easy to fold up and carry. 4 sizes(S,M,L,XL) and 3 colors are available for you: Black, Blue and Green
  • FIRM TO WAER AND CONVENIENT TO USE: With adjustable top buckle strap on top and TPU footband on bottom, our gaiters fit different sizes of boots. It's easy to put on and take off with the front wide opening Velcro, very convenient to use
  • MULTI-FUNCTIONAL: Excellent waterproof and dust proof material prevents water, rain, snow, mud, wind, sand, mosquitoes, insects from entering into your shoes or pants and keep you leg warm. It can be widely used for Snow, Desert, Rain, Jungle, Hiking, Hunting, Running, Walking, 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 and their first product was a hiking gaiter created after a summit of Denali.

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.

Pros:

  • No rubbing or slipping
  • Quick drying
  • Durable and water resistant

Cons:

  • Sizes run small
  • Top buckle weakens over time
  • Closing the bottom can be a challenge
Sale
Outdoor Research Men's Crocodile Gaiters
252 Reviews
Outdoor Research Men's Crocodile Gaiters
  • Fabric Performance: Waterproof, Breathable, Abrasion-Resistant, Windproof, Laminated Construction
  • Durable, waterproof and breathable
  • Abrasion Resistant Cordura Inner Leg and Boot
  • Larger Circumference Accommodates Plastic Boots

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.

Pros:

  • Water resistant
  • Anti-abrasion patches
  • Neoprene coated nylon strap

Cons:

  • Sizing runs small
  • Top buckle gets weak over time
  • Closing the bottom is challenging
Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
9 Reviews
Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
  • Legging-Type: calf-high

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 full length gaiter that’s waterproof on the lower portion and breathable and durable on the upper portion. It’s designed to protect your leg from snow, mud, and debris while hiking while keeping your feet fairly dry from various forms of precipitation.

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.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Good price point

Cons:

  • Short boot straps
  • Sized small
  • Not 100% waterproof
Sale
Outdoor Research Men's Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
179 Reviews
Outdoor Research Men's Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
  • Hypalon Instep Strap
  • 1"-Wide Hook/Loop Front Closure
  • Bottom Shear Tab Secures Front Closure
  • Reinforced Boot Lace Hook

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.

Pros:

  • Breathable material
  • Lightweight gaiters
  • Weatherproof

Cons:

  • Sizing issues
  • Awkward top fastener
  • Tight in the calf
Sale
Outdoor Research Women's Verglas Gaiters
42 Reviews
Outdoor Research Women's Verglas Gaiters
  • Reinforced Boot Lace Hook
  • Abrasion Resistant Cordura Boot
  • Molded Boot Section
  • Webbing/Cam Buckle Top Closure

Benefits of hiking gaiters

Pine needles in your socks and pebbles in your shoes are uncomfortable to say the least. You may be able to tolerate them occasionally, however, avoiding them completely is the best option. Hiking gaiters block debris from getting stuck in all those umcomfortable places.

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 deep brush, your shins and ankles take the majority of the abuse. Hiking gaiters cover your shins and lower legs with a tough layer of protection that pants simply don’t offer.

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.

man standing on cliff near trees during daytime

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 kepe in mind when choosing the best pair of hiking gaiters.

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.

Fit

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 circulatoin to your lower legs.

You also want to make sure the lower boot strap fits your pair of boots. You should always try your gaiters on with your boots before you head out into the wild. Your gaiters.

Water resistance

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.

Durability

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.

Conclusion

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.

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