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Convince me of the merits of gaiters.
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E.L. Boston
(El_Jefe) - F

Locale: The Pacific Northwest
Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:22:57 MDT Print View

Sometimes I see folks discuss gaiters as if they were a truly indispensable piece of equipment. I've never used them myself because, honestly, I've never seen the need. While I am not one of those people inclined to carry any item "just because," it occurs to me that I might not "know what I'm missing."

So, I invite the community to convince me why I simply can't live without that which I have, heretofore, lived without. :)

Edited by El_Jefe on 05/16/2011 11:49:00 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:23:51 MDT Print View

You can live without them.

Gee, that was easy.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:28:02 MDT Print View

I only use them in winter.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:32:53 MDT Print View

I get lots of debris (sand/rocks, etc) in my shoes in FL, and gaiters keep out almost all of it. Usually wear 'em in other parts of th country, too - perhaps out of habit.

I really like them, but I cannot say that you can't live without them!

Mark Cashmere
(tinkrtoy) - M

Locale: NEOH
Conditions on 05/16/2011 11:37:51 MDT Print View

As you can probably already see it is going to depend on where you hike. For me in the Midwest snow pretty much dictates gaiters or not.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:40:27 MDT Print View

I have a pretty good pair of gaiters, but although they're nice to have on occasion, I don't use them much either. I have a feeling that you're going to find a lot of non-committal responses on this one ;)

Ultra Magnus
(Ultra_Magnus) - F
Re: Conditions on 05/16/2011 11:41:01 MDT Print View

I'm looking to try gaiters to keep the thorns, stickers, and fox-tails out of my socks. It's as if socks are magnets to those things, and most times I go for a walk in the desert, within the first 5 mins, I'm taking my shoes off to pick those d*mn things out... They can make life miserable.


Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 11:43:35 MDT Print View


Edited by ChrisMorgan on 05/16/2011 11:48:56 MDT.

Kevin Cody
(codycolor2) - F

Locale: Los Padres NF
Southern California on 05/16/2011 11:46:27 MDT Print View

I live in Southern California and have the same issues as you seem to have with the fox tails. I picked up a pair of Simblissity Gaiters and they work great for keep the fox tails/stickers out of my socks for the most part. However another reason I like them is I don't have to constantly keep retying my shoes from coming undone which was happening all to frequently. The only time I had sand get in my shoes was when I was creek crossing which lifted up the gaiters. Hope this helps

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Convince me of the merits of gaiters on 05/16/2011 11:47:12 MDT Print View

Gaiters keep gunk from getting into your shoes (dirt, rocks, sticks, snow, what have you). They are especially good in snow, which can have a chilling effect as it goes down into your footwear.

They keep mosquitoes from biting through your socks. My first trip in trail runners (after switching from boots), I forgot this little issue (the gaiters were in my pack!) and got many bites around my ankles! Driving 900 miles home with constantly itching ankles was, to say the least, interesting!

They keep your pants dry when going through tall grass wet with dew or rain.

If you're wearing shorts, gaiters protect your lower legs from stinging nettles, poison oak, thorns and other interesting flora that can be found at the edge of (or even in) the trail.

In spring gaiters keep ticks from crawling up your legs inside your pants. You can achieve the same effect by tucking your pants into your socks, but it's a lot harder to keep them there.

Gaiters aren't essential, just handy. Get a cheap pair of low gaiters and try them out. If you decide you don't like them after trying them, no big deal.

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/16/2011 11:49:07 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 12:00:52 MDT Print View

No gaiters.
Until I got poison ivy all over my ankles.
Now, gaiters.

Christopher Chiappini
(Juggles) - F

Locale: NJ/NYC
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 12:21:01 MDT Print View

El Jefe, FWIW Andrew Skurka wears them! When I saw him speak recently - roughly quoting him here... "They alleviate debris found in the shoe at the end of the day, thus help keep my feet a little cleaner(negates blisters, etc.). They don't weight too much."


Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 12:22:26 MDT Print View

> Until I got poison ivy all over my ankles.


Poison ivy and thorns seem like good reasons to wear gaiters, if you like to wear shorts. After an experience with some stinging nettles while on a photo shoot, that left my ankles itching and burning for a couple of days, I switched to wearing long hiking pants while trekking. Gaiters would work also though. I should get some lighter ones. :)

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
good for winter on 05/16/2011 12:29:41 MDT Print View

Agree with Mary D. about 3 season use.

In winter, knee length WB gaiters allow you to use very breathable softshell/nylon pants and still maintain snow protection for the legs.

Further, when using crampons with frontpoints, the slim leg profile that gaiters allow (some pants do as well, but IME those rarely cover my boots sufficiently) make it less likely that you will put a front point through the shin area of your pants (did this again last winter when I put shell pants OVER my gaiters during an alpine climb).

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
use all the time on 05/16/2011 13:14:03 MDT Print View

I use gaiters all the time.

Keep gravel and stuff out of shoes. Keep water off shoes and socks.

The only thing bad, is the rule that an ounce on your feet is as bad as 5 ounces on your back (or whatever the multiplier is). So you want light weight gaiters.

I make my own but I'm thinking of making some with the lightest weight materials.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Gaiters on 05/16/2011 20:43:18 MDT Print View

I've never worn a pair of gaiters, but I can certainly see the appeal in snowy conditions.

For me, I try to keep things simple in the outdoors. Besides the weight, Gaiters are two more items to keep track of and spend time putting on and off. Perhaps in some locals the amount of debris getting in hikers shoes necessitates gaiters, but I've never come across such conditions in my area. If I have to dump out a pebble or two per day, I'd rather do that then deal with gaiters. I am open to using them in the winter since snow is not something you can just dump out at your leisure. I would also consider them in extremely sandy conditions.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
gaiters on 05/16/2011 20:53:00 MDT Print View

In Oregon, I wore knee-high gaiters to help deal with the wet.

Om SoCal, I wear ankle high gaiters to help deal with the grit, sand, rocks and twigs that want to get into my trail runners.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
I've never worn 'em, but can see the need. on 05/16/2011 22:00:52 MDT Print View

I've never worn gaiters, but after two days of hiking in rain through tall grass and sometimes dense brush, I wish I had some last weekend. My pants were soaked from mid-calf down all weekend, and the unusually cold temps (for Missouri) made for a very uncomfortable weekend.

Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Convince me of the merits of gaiters. on 05/16/2011 22:17:49 MDT Print View

I wear them all the time, even on "conditioning" hikes on a well-groomed trail. They keep all the gunk out of my shoes. Cuts down on blisters, eliminates having to stop and pour things out of the shoes and, best of all, makes the shoes last a lot longer. I don't like having stuff on my legs if I can help it, so I use the excellent Dirty Girl Gaiters ($17 including shipping from They're not waterproof and not tough enough for serious off-trail stuff, but they're low, light, cool, and effective on trails. I get lots of comments about them, too. :-)Dirty Girl Gaiters

Edited by texasbb on 05/16/2011 22:31:36 MDT.

Eric Marcano

Locale: Southcentral Texas
Gaiters on 05/17/2011 06:52:00 MDT Print View

+1 on Dirty Girl Gaiters.