Best Trekking Gaiters
When you’re out enjoying the natural world, especially during a wilderness trek, many things can get in your way and can even damage your lower legs or feet. We have all been on a hiking or backpacking trip and had some cuts and scrapes occur on our lower legs, most of the time they are just irritating but some situations can be detrimental to continuing your journey. And since hiking can become uncomfortable and next to impossible with injured legs or feet, opting to protect them with some gaiters is a wise decision to make.
If you’re a hiker or a trekker who reaches for trekking gaiters to protect your lower extremities, well done. You are on the road to much happier trekking. But what if you have never used gaiters before and do not know which ones would best fit your body or the terrain you will be hiking in. Your first thought will be to do some research online and try and find some gaiters, but then you realize that the research will take up much of the time you can not afford to spend. That is why we thought we would lend a hand and do the research for you and listed the top ten trekking gaiters, and explained why they are the best of the best.
- Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain
- Secure fit
- Unigear Leg Gaiters
- Rated for extreme temperatures
- Black Diamond Apex GTX
- Water resistant
10 Best Trekking Gaiters
Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain
These low gaiters easily cover your ankle area as well as the majority of your chosen hiking boot or shoe. While you might not get as much coverage for your lower legs as with some of the other gaiters on this list, these are perfect for those times when only a small amount of protection is needed.
These gaiters are offered in either small/medium or large/extra-large, and are true to size about ¾ of the time. When they do fit improperly, they do tend to be somewhat larger, so it’s a good idea to take that into account when making a purchase.
These gaiters are made with traditional pack cloth nylon material that is very lightweight and easily sheds mud and rocks.
While it doesn’t offer much protection for your calf area, if you’re only looking to protect your feet and ankles from debris, or to prevent rocks from getting into your shoes, these gaiters more than adequately fit the bill.
In addition to a one inch wide hook and loop closure at the top, these gaiters also feature a bottom shear tab and hypalon instep strap for a more secure fit.
While they may not offer as much protection as their high-calf cousins, if you’re searching for a way to keep rocks and debris out of your shoes, this is a great way to go.
- Superior protection for feet
- Secure fit
- Only slightly water resistant
- Does not protect upper calves
Unigear Leg Gaiters
The height of these gaiters ranges based on the size: small is 14.96", a medium is 15.75", large is 16.15", and the extra large is 17.23". Regardless of size, the Unigear Leg Gaiters are designed to hit a few inches below the knee.
These come in four size options, based on the circumference of your leg and the height of the gaiter. Some users do report these running small, however, so measure carefully and order a size up if you fall between sizes.
Made of 600D Oxford and 300D polyester, the Unigear Leg Gaiters are built for superb water and puncture resistance. This material is also rated for temperatures as low as -31F/-35C, making them ideal for even extreme temperatures. The fabric is also comfortable and breathable, so you won't have to worry about excessive sweat.
As stated above, the Oxford and polyester blend fabric is made to be both water and puncture resistant, so they can easily handle rough areas and wet conditions. The material is rated for extreme temperatures, making these great for when the mercury drops well below freezing.
The top buckle strap is adjustable and the footband is made of a durable yet flexible TPU, allowing these gaiters to fit well over any type of footwear, even heavy boots. Unigear also offers a lifetime warranty on this product, so if you have any concerns you can easily reach out to them for guidance.
Once you find the size that's right for you, these gaiters work very well and still stand up to all of your outdoor adventures. The fabric is durable yet comfortable and easy to move in, and the TPU footbands allow them to be used with even the heaviest of footwear.
Rated for extreme temperatures
Black Diamond Apex GTX
These gaiters are designed to cover both your ankles and shin areas, and can easily do both with their calf height design.
These trekking gaiters from Black Diamond are true to size a little over half the time, but they do tend to run a little on the small size. So if you decide to purchase them through an online retailer, it’s best to order one size larger than your shoe size.
These trekking gaiters offer great protection from the elements through the use of a hard shell synthetic material that features a Gore-Tex outer material and easy to use Velcro clasp.
While the Apex GTX Gaiter won’t protect you adequately from a snake bite or other animal encounter, they are certainly tough enough to protect your legs from most branches, debris, moisture, and snow. If you’re worried about your legs or boots getting damaged by everyday items found in the woods, these gaiters would be a wise investment.
In addition to easy to use Velcro closures and a water resistant Gore-Tex material, these gaiters also feature a side release buckle that is adjustable for added comfort and flexibility, and high density neoprene coated foot straps, so there is little chance of slipping out of them while walking.
While these trekking gaiters from Black Diamond do run a little on the smaller side, the overall protection and ease of use more than make up for the inconvenience of ordering a larger size. If you’ll looking for a great all around gaiter to use while you're outside, this is one of the better options out there.
- Easy to put on and adjust
- Water resistant and offers great protection
- Relatively comfortable
- Sizes run a bit small
Black Crystal Hiking Ski
These gaiters are designed to easily protect the lower legs, and do so with their overall calf-height length.
Between the flexible nylon fabric and the adjustable metal buckle, getting a secure fit with these gaiters is fairly easy.
These gaiters offer two different weights of nylon material, one in the upper portion consisting of a 3-ply 70D fabric, and a thicker, 1000D Cordura material that easily sheds off both water and ice during your treks.
When it comes to protection from the cold and wet of snow, these gaiters offer great protection. In addition, the lower, thicker portion of the gaiters provides great protection against burs, rocks and other small debris that may fly up during a skiing session.
In addition to 15 mm aluminum buckles that are easy to fasten and adjust, these gaiters also feature dual locks for a front closure, a Velcro zipper for simple use, and roller buckles on the instep strap for easy and secure fit.
While not suited for all environments, if your trekking includes skiing or heading out into a snowy environment, these gaiters from Black Crystal are nearly essential. The tough nylon shell, secure buckles, and easy to use Velcro fastener zipper make for an easy to use and very tough pair of gaiters.
- Very durable
- Offers superior protection in winter environments
- Easy to put on and take off
- Not suitable for warm weather environments.
Outdoor Research Crocodile
The calf-height design of these gaiters easily protect both your ankle and lower leg area, and will often protect the knee area as well due to their slightly longer length and oversized design.
These gaiters are true to fit about 84% of the time, and when they don’t, they are typically only slightly larger than expected. So instead of ordering a smaller size, most trekkers use these gaiters during colder weather months when larger boots are more prevalent.
These gaiters from outdoor research are made of 100% nylon 70D upper leg with 1000D Cordura inner leg lining for extra insulation and water resistance. In addition, to that the material is highly abrasion resistant while still maintaining a comfortable, breathable material.
While we wouldn’t go toe to fang with a snake in these gaiters from Outdoor Research, we would certainly trust them to protect us from various rocks, roots, and other debris that may cross our path. Also, the waterproof and breathable materials offer a great way to keep from overheating.
These gaiters are designed to be oversized, and are a perfect fit of larger boots that are sometimes used in colder conditions. In addition, both the instep strap and the bottom shear tab provides for a secure fit overall.
If you’re willing to spend a few more dollars on your trekking gaiters, and you need them to fit oversized boots, these Crocodile Gaiters from Outdoor research should certainly be on your list. While they can run slightly large at times, most trekkers with larger shoes see that as an added benefit, not a flaw.
- Great cold weather protection
- Easy to wear
- May run a little small.
Fivejoy Mountain Hiking Boot Gaiters
These gaiters easily protect both your ankles and your shins/calf areas with their extended calf-height design that reach very close to your lower knee area.
These gaiters come in small, medium, and large, and can easily fit a woman’s shoe from size seven to eleven, and men’s sizes six to ten. While we were disappointed in the trekking gaiters not being sized for larger or smaller individuals, the average hiker shouldn’t have too much of a problem fitting into these.
Thes gaiters are made from nylon, which is both breathable and light weight. The material is very durable and will protect you from pests, such as ticks. The outer material is coated with a water proof protection, so that you stay dry.
As expected from the materials used these trekking gaiters from FiveJoy offer superior protection from ticks, mosquitoes, water, sharp objects, and brush.
Some of the added features of these gaiters include a wide one inch hook and loop front closure, and an easy to use boot lace hook that helps to keep things securely in place. Add to that a secure instep strap, and there is little chance of your protection slipping.
while we were disappointed in the limited sizes, there is little doubt that these gaiters from FiveJoy provide a great deal of protection from the elements, and are generally very easy to use in multiple range of environments.
- Fantastic protection
- Easy to put on and take off
- Somewhat limited sizing
Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile
These gaiters fall easily into the high calf category of sizes and ride around the knees. They easily protect both your feet and lower leg area.
These gaiters come in varying sizes, with small, medium, large, and x-large. They should fit most outdoor enthusiasts quite easily.
These gaiters are made of durable nylon on the upper leg and Cordura 1000D in the inner leg and boot. They are made to be durable and withstand abrasions as well as cold.
These Expedition Crocodiles Gaiters are made from Cordura, which is highly abrasion resistant, so you are protected from things like branches and sharp objects.
These gaiters are durable, waterproof, and breathable. In essence, you are good to go with these on and shouldn't be bothered by the colder weather or other elements of nature. At the bottom, there is a tab that secures the front closure. The gaiters are also lined with Pack cloth.
Overall, these gaiters are doing great when it comes to reviews of both testers and purchasers of this product. Everyone loves the durability, warmth, and quality fabric they provide.
- Varying sizes
- Some people need to size up
Outdoor Research Verglas
These gaiters are designed to cover both the calf and ankle areas and extend down to the instep area of the foot.
These gaiters are true to fit about ¾ of the time, and may run either run slightly smaller or slightly larger depending on the manufacturing. While this may make getting a precise fit a little problematic, it shouldn’t affect getting a generally good fit in most cases.
Created with 100% nylon rip stop material for the outer shell and 500D Cordura inner leg lining, this gaiter is relatively water resistant, breathable and very lightweight.
In addition to the superior water resistance offered by these gaiters, the boot area is also abrasion resistant, and the molded boot section provides additional protection for the ankle area if needed.
These trekking gaiters also feature a hypalon instep strap and an easy to use 1.5 inch wide hook and loop front closure.
While these gaiters may be a little bit ill-fitting for some, especially in the upper calf area, overall the provide more than adequate protection from the elements and common debris encountered while hiking.
- Easy to use
- Fairly comfortable
- Provides adequate protection
- May be ill-fitting in the calf area for some
Moon Lence Waterproof Leg Gaiters
These gaiters easily cover your lower leg area and a good portion of the instep foot area to provide great and lightweight protection.
These gaiters come in one size that should generally work for most hikers. The measurements of these Moon Lence gaiters are 47 x 42 x 49 cm. They come with a Velcro opening in the front, a Velcro buckle on the bottom, and an elastic band at the top to help fit these gaiters to your specific needs.
These gaiters are created from nylon which is breathable and 100% polyester fleece to keep your legs warm. The fleece makes these gaiters great for colder weather outings.
These gaiters are made to be durable. The material is waterproof and dust proof, so you are protected from moisture and other debris that could get in the way of your safety and comfort.
These gaiters come with a 100% money back guarantee, which is always nice. So if you are at all unhappy with them, you can return them, which says a lot about the company's faith in the product.
These gaiters are easy to get into and out of. The elastic bands and Velcro make them adjustable, and they are also durable and waterproof. Overall, you get a great gaiter with these. However, they do lack in the issue of specific sizing.
- Easy to get into and out of
- Fleece lining
- Only one size
Hillsound Armadillo LT
Similar to most other gaiters on the market in this price range, these are calf height and will protect your ankles and shins from the elements.
These gaiters come in five size options, from XS to XL based on your calf circumference. Sizing is unisex, with most users reporting that they run true to size. If you're concerned, however, or fall in between sizes, it's best to order a size up just in case. The fit is comfortable and roomy, even with thicker pants underneath.
The upper is made of Flexia's three-layer fabric, which is designed to be breathable and move with you. The zippers are made by YKK, the global leader in the zipper industry. They're made to be durable and water-repellent, to keep moisture out and ensure a secure and comfortable fit. The lower section is 1000D high-density nylon and it provides solid protection from rocks or other debris you may encounter.
The Hillsound Armadillo Gaiters come with a DWR coating that's fully waterproof and guaranteed to last 50 washes before needing to be reapplied. The synthetic material is made to resist tears and abrasions well, and the YKK zippers are durable and water-repellent.
Hillsound offers a limited lifetime warranty for all of their gaiters. While their website suggests going back to the retailer first in the event of an issue, you can also reach out to Hillsound themselves at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns about the process.
A pricer option on our list, the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiters are a solid investment that is built to protect and built to last. The DWR coating lasts up to 50 washes before needing to be reapplied, and the 1000D nylon lower is high density for protection from tears and abrasions.
Long-lasting DWR coating
Wide range of sizes
Straps are stiff, can be difficult to work with in the cold
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
In truth, trekking gaiters are fairly simple designs. They are created to protect your legs and feet from debris, extreme temperatures, water, and quite possibly animals. However, choosing the right one for you can be a bit more problematic. There are a few things to consider before you buy a pair of gaiters for your next adventure. Here is an explanation of a few of the criteria that we considered when making this list.
Gaiters essentially fall into three broad categories – high gaiters, mid-length, and low gaiters. High gaiters, or sometimes high-calf gaiters offer protection in one form or another to everything below the knee area. Mid length gaiters will offer protection for the mid-calf area downwards. Low gaiters, as the name implies, only usually cover the ankle and foot area. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, while a high gaiter can offer great overall protection, it can become a bit uncomfortable or difficult to wear, especially in warmer weather. Low gaiters, while they are often much more comfortable, don’t often provide enough protection for your needs.
Gaiter sizing is based primarily on a corresponding shoe size that aligns with the general small, medium, large sizing criteria. While each manufacturer has a slightly different take on the correspondence between the two sizing techniques, for the most part, an adult can easily find what he needs.
When considering the overall fit of the gaiter, you need to also take a look at how securely the gaiter can be attached to your leg, and how easily they can be adjusted. After all, no one person can meet the ideal body set by the manufacturer as average, so adjustment will need to be made. However, once you have a secure fit, the best trekking gaiters won’t even reveal their presence beyond providing great protection as you move through the wilderness.
So many things have changed over the years, including the material used to make gaiters. While many gaiters in the past were made from a heavy leather material, often lined with wool or cotton, most today use a much lighter and more flexible nylon material. While leather is still sometimes used in gaiters designed to protect from snake bites or animal attacks, the nylon material not only provides a much lighter feel, but actually superior protection from wind and rain during a storm.
The name of the game is protection when it comes to gaiters. While some of the lighter options on this list only provided adequate protection from water and smaller debris, there were quite a few that provided a much more robust protection against a wide range of elements, including snow, water, dust, sand, insects, rocks and general debris that a person may encounter.
And finally, we considered whether or not the gaiters had additional bells and whistles that were easy to use and relatively practical for the average hiker or trekker. In most cases, these added features lent themselves to either adding to a more secure fit, more protection to a specific area, or simply providing a way to easily transport the gaiters when they weren’t in use. While we didn’t see these things as mandatory to the best trekking gaiters, we did see them as a worthwhile bonus.
More to think about when choosing your trekking gaiters
What environment will you be trekking in?
While there are quite a few good all-purpose gaiters, many have been designed to operate best in certain trekking environments. Some gaiters are specifically designed to protect the user in a more of a lake environment. You wouldn’t use that gaiter during a cross country ski trip for example. Conversely, the heavier weight gaiters, would be highly uncomfortable in warmer weather.
By knowing what environments you’re likely to go hiking or trekking through, you can more easily choose the level and type of protection that you need from your gaiters. Are you simply going for a small trek down a well-maintained trail? Then perhaps all you need are some low gaiters. Are you expecting to transverse steep mountain trails with lots of rocks? Then something a little hardier like the Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters is probably more suitable.
How much running will you be doing?
This may sound like a strange thing to say, but the amount of running you do during your trekking adventure can have a significant influence on what type of gaiter you choose. If you expect to be simply walking at a leisurely pace, any type of gaiter, and any weight gaiter would probably suffice.
However, if you see yourself doing a fair bit of running or fast movement, the heavier weight gaiters may not be exactly comfortable to where. Thankfully, there are quite a few lightweight options available for use.
In what season will you be trekking?
Trekking is one of those sports that can easily be done in all types of weather and seasons, provided you have the proper equipment. The leg gaiters that you choose are no exception. Some trekking gaiters are specifically designed for use during the winter months, while others are used primarily during the warmer weather. By taking when you are planning on hiking into account, you can make sure that you find the best choice overall for your needs.
What type of clothing and shoes will you be wearing?
A pair of gaiters is only as good as its ability to cover, and connect to the clothing and shoes that it’s trying to protect. In essence, gaiters connect to your clothing and shoes in three basic ways. First, there is usually a lace hook that attaches to the top of your shoes or hiking boots via the laces. Second, there is an instep strap that loops around the foot through the arch area and back around to the other side of the gaiter. And finally, the calf area is secured with one, two, or possibly three different fasteners.
In order to work properly, each of these fasteners needs a certain set of conditions. For example, the instep strap does need something to wrap around and brace against, such as a heel or risen arch area. The lace hook needs something to attach to, so a shoe featuring a Velcro fastener may not be the best choice. And finally, clothing that already features quite a few pockets, buttons or zippers on the lower legs may interfere with the upper fasteners.
Q: How do I know if my gaiters fit properly?
If your gaiters fit properly, you really shouldn’t notice that they are there. They shouldn’t ride up as you walk, or shift down or to the side with a twist or sudden movement. The fasteners should feel taunt, but provide for a good range of motion without cutting into your legs. In essence, the gaiters should feel like a pair of pants or booties in the case of the low gaiters.
In order to achieve that type of fit, it’s important to understand that although a gaiter is often tied to your shoe size, the more important thing to consider is the diameter of your calf in the lower, middle and upper area. If you glance at your lower leg, you’ll notice that your calf muscle will grow in diameter as it approaches the knee, so you’ll need to find a gaiter that can either be adjusted to account for that change, or be already molded or tapered to fit.
Q: Why should I use trekking gaiters?
Simply put, trekking gaiters offer superior protection for you while you’re moving through the wilderness. Your legs and feet often encounter quite a few dangerous situations, including smaller animals, rocks, roots, wading through water, or changes in temperature that affect them more easily since they are extremities. While your torso is often protected from the cold for example through your blood flow and warm layers, your feet and legs can often be neglected, and feel the temperature difference more readily. Therefore, gaiters can not only provide protection from things on the forest floor, but also against things such as frostbite or cooler temperatures.
Q: When were gaiters first used?
This is a hard question to answer, since gaiters have been used for quite some time. There is evidence of gaiters, or what would be the equivalent to them in Civil War battles, as well as earlier wars. Some would even argue that the more fashionable shoes worn by ladies in the 18th and 19th century, often called spats may be considered a prototype to the modern gaiter.
However, examples of clothing that was used to protect the lower legs and feet, in much the same way that trekking gaiters do today have been recorded since the early Greeks or Romans, and even in some forms of armor from ancient China or Japan. What we consider the modern style of gaiter didn’t really appear until the mid to late 19th century.
Q: How should I care for my trekking gaiters?
Thankfully, caring for your gaiters is fairly straightforward. First, make sure that you inspect them on a regular basis for tears, worn through fasteners, holes, or just areas of general wear. If you find any of these things, make sure you either repair or replace the gaiters before they lose their effectiveness.
Also, after each hike, make sure you clean your gaiters to remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten stuck during the trek. Usually a brush or a damp cloth is more than enough to get the job done. We wouldn’t suggest using a harsh cleaner such as bleach, because the harsher chemical can easily degrade the material. Then once you’re done cleaning, both inside and out, allow the gaiters to dry completely before storing them away.
Q: How do I put on a pair of trekking gaiters?
First of all, relax. Putting on gaiters is an easy process that nearly anyone can do. The first step is to make sure that you have the left gaiter associated with the left foot, and the right one associated with the right side. One way to tell is that if you have buckles or fasteners on the sides, the fasteners should be on the outside of your leg. If they’re on the inside, they can easily become undone as you’re walking along.
Next, make sure that the gaiters are completely open and unfastened. They should be loose enough to fit easily over the boots and pants that you are wearing.
Now, simply slide the trekking gaiters over your boots and up to the height on your leg that they are designed for. Shift them around to make them fit more comfortably and tighten the fasters starting from the bottom up. It’s as simple as that.
Spending time in the great outdoors is a wonderful way to commune with nature, and spend time with some wonderful friends. If you enjoy going on longer treks, having a way to protect your legs from the bumps, bruises and scrapes that you can encounter is a good idea. Add to that protection from water and colder temperatures and you can see why having a pair of trekking gaiters can benefit most people. If you do decide to use gaiters in your next adventure, choosing the right type for you is important. Hopefully, this list of the best trekking gaiters that we’ve found will prove to be a good place to start.