Do you agree that shoes and pants alone are not sufficient at keeping out rocks, water, snow, and all the other elements that accompany outdoor recreation? Are you an advanced outdoor enthusiast or an occasional trail hiker that thinks that finding the best gaiters for an outdoor adventure is essential? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Ankle and calf protection is important to consider when planning any outdoor activity, and gaiters are a durable and waterproof solution.
With so many products on the market with a variety of attributes tailored to specific activities, taking the time to find the right fit for your outdoor adventure will set you up for success. But, since it takes too much time to find the perfect pair for your needs, and time is money, we decided to help you out by doing the research for you.
Before you throw that first pair of gaiters into your shopping cart and head to the checkout stand, you’ll want to be sure what you’ve chosen is what you really need.
So, to help you choose the best pair of gaiters, we have created this guide, complete with the important gaiter reviews for you to check through and consider. Read on and see whether you find a product that is perfect for you.
Best Products on Today’s Market
If you don’t have your personal gaiters, then you will wish you had one if stuck out while hiking in the wet. Check out this review for 10 of the best gaiter models depending on your budget and activity.
Note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 in
Weight: 13.6 oz
Specific features: Waterproof, Gore-Tex nylon uppers and lower panels of coated Cordura nylon, adjustable wide nylon webbing strap and low-profile cam buckles, Rugged BioThane webbing instep straps with buckles, double-riveted boot lace hooks
Best use: Mountaineering
Description: The Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters are ideal for those looking to traverse uneven and unpredictable terrain. Whether you’re hiking, bushwhacking or snowshoeing, these gaiters are proven to withstand the elements. They come in handy when crossing small streams or trekking through thorns, heavy brush, and even mud.
Their design includes a three-layer Gore-Tex, which effectively keeps out all matter of water, mud and cold temperatures. However, for expeditions during warmer climates, this insulation can cause the calves to sweat, making for an unpleasant, wet interior. Also, the clamp design lends to their occasional unbuckling. For those partaking in activities that require the use of both hands, an alternative gaiter with a more secure buckle would be optimal.
Furthermore, these gaiters are reinforced with a two-layer Cordura fabric in the lower area. This is really practical since this gaiter model is very exposed to tear that result from crampons. Despite the fact that the Cordura fabric is sturdier compared to Gore-Tex fabric, it doesn’t significantly diminish the breathability of the gaiters. Overall, The Crocodile gaiters are good for long expeditions and those wanting a product that lasts for years to come.
- Very durable
- Reinforced with Cordura
- Can get warm
Related: When you are hiking through snowy or icy conditions, the gaiters will definitely prevent the snow and ice to enter your boots, but what about traction on icy terrain? You will need additional traction if the path you plan on taking is covered in ice. We recommend checking out the Kahtoola MICROspikes, as they offer excellent additional traction for slippery terrain, and are really easy to put on and take off.
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter
Dimensions: 19 x 10 x 3 in
Weight: 9.4 oz
Specific features: eVent waterproof fabric and outer Stretch Watergate fabric with Robic nylon ankle area, Velcro front closure with a flexible polymer strip on rear, drawcord and reflective print on rear
Best use: Alpine treks, hiking
Description: The Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter has a great waterproof feature. They are a very versatile style of gaiter that can be used for winter hiking and Snowshoeing, are extremely rugged and are capable of withstanding rough terrain.
Their softshell outer material makes for a breathable and flexible fit while still offering increased protection. Some would argue that the eVent technology offers a more breathable experience than Gore-Tex nylon fabric in this instance.
The eVent fabric features a hydrostatic head of 30mm and also MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate) between 15 and 25 g/m2/24h. This is really a great result. These gaiters are fortified with Tough Robic nylon for enhanced durability in the ankle region.
In addition to the top-notch materials, the Rab Latok Alpine gaiters likewise feature rubberized abrasion-resistant instep straps, Velcro front closures and single-hand drawcord top closures for ease of use while you are putting on gloves. These gaiters slip on pretty easy once you have adjusted the instep strap base on your requirement.
- Quality material
- Great design
- Not Durable Enough
Related: When walking on snow, or through the muddy terrain, it is easy to lose balance and that can lead to serious injuries or even a fatal outcome. Therefore, we recommend getting hiking poles. The Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles are foldable, durable, lightweight, and quite affordable, and will allow you to keep your balance no matter the terrain.
Outdoor Research Wrapid Gaiters
Dimensions: 16 x 8 x 2 in
Weight: 4.8 oz
Specific features: Blended with nylon, polyester, and spandex, double pivoting boot hooks and silicone anti-slip prints at the heel, hook loop front closure and adjustable, removable Bio Thane instep strap
Best use: Trail hiking
Description: These Outdoor Research Wrapid Gaiters are good for laborious tasks outdoors. They are extremely effective at keeping out brush and all manner of debris. The added benefit of these lightweight gaiters is that it comes in handy for trail runners who prefer the unobtrusive instep strap.
Sometimes it is a mystery as to what you may confront on the approach. For some days when you don’t know whether you will cross snowfields or not, put the Wrapid Gaiter into your backpack and be rest assured that your feet will stay dry all through your hiking trip. The Wrapid Gaiter is an extremely packable, step-in gaiter that is very versatile for all your outdoor trips.
They are well-known for their novel wraparound Velcro layout, which gives a similarly tight fit over an expanded length of your ankle. The Velcro seal makes them easy to put on and take off. However, utilizing Velcro versus a sturdier enclosure such as a zipper or a buckle, may lead to wearing over a shorter amount of time.
- Very versatile
- Innovative design
- Easy to put on and off
- Durable plastic strap
- Not fully waterproof
Related: For a full, enjoyable snow hiking experience, besides the gaiters you just checked, you will also need high-quality Snowshoes to keep you walking, no matter how deep the snow is. Our recommendation, are the Alps All Terrain Snowshoes. Lightweight, easy to get in and out off, and come with adjustable poles and a carry bag, these snowshoes are a great pick for every winter hiking enthusiast.
REI Alpine 3/4 Gaiters
Dimensions: 12 in
Weight: 6.1 oz
Specific features: Waterproof, breathable laminate with lower Cordura nylon and nylon upper, hook-and-loop front closures and shock cord hooks at the bottom, Hypalon instep straps
Best use: Trail hiking
Description: These REI Alpine 3/4 Gaiters are incredibly easy to put on and off. The good news is that you can put them on without sitting down or slipping them over your already sloppy boots. By the time you discover that you need gaiters, you have just walked through a large number of wet grounds and have a few seconds ago made this decision. Therefore, the fact that the whole front of REI Alpine is Velcro makes life very simple.
Simply unclasp the button at the top, un-Velcro the seam, then put them on directly from behind with the clasp strap underneath your boot and Velcro right in the front. From that point, simply fasten the button at the top and draw the rip-stop tab over so it does not coincidentally un-Velcro mid-step.
The just over-the-ankle fit of these gaiters lends to a comfortable and breathable fit without the issue of sweaty calves. The instep strap is heavy-duty and built to withstand wear and tear. They protect effectively against all mud and rainwater, providing a tight seal around the upper and lower boot. The materials used make for a very quiet and hunter-friendly pair.
- Great protection for its weight
- Good construction
- Very comfortable
- They breathe great
- Not waterproof
- A bit tight
Related: Making sure that the snow doesn’t enter your boots is important, but keeping your hands dry and warm is another important thing you should consider while on a winter hike. Therefore, we recommend checking out the Oakley Factory Winter 2 Gloves. They are made of leather, waterproof, touchscreen compatible, and have Thinsulate insulation. This pair of gloves is great for cold, winter conditions.
Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters
Dimensions: 13 x 8 x 2 in
Weight: 4.8 oz
Specific features: Upper and lower made of nylon pack-cloth, hook-and-loop closures, reinforced bootlace hook complete with a Hypalon instep strap
Best use: Hiking, cross-country skiing
Description: The Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters are a good choice for trail hiking with their durable nylon upper and lower. They are effective at keeping out debris and brush and are extremely waterproof. One thing to consider is that this instep strap is sewn on. While there are benefits, to permanently securing this strap to the lower part of the gaiter, this piece is not replaceable, so wear and tear on this strap will eventually cause your pair to be less effective.
Furthermore, this gaiter provides a great fit over hiking boots and they are made to keep your feet satisfactorily dry in many conditions. The gaiter’s nylon fabric sheds water very well, especially if you get a good rigid fit over your clothing and boots. They are great for splashes crosswise over streams and the infrequent brush up against some moist vegetation, but they eventually splash through if utilized in wet situations for an extended period of time.
Underneath the arch of one’s foot, a sturdy Hypalon strap loops directly from one side to a clasp on the other. This enables one to comfortably secure the gaiters, adjusting the fit to one’s footwear.
- Quality construction
- Easy-on and easy-off design
- DWR weather resistant
- Limited calf protection
- Not waterproof
- Lacks versatility
- Bottom strap isn’t replaceable
Related: Now that you got your feet covered and secured from snow, it’s time to think about the upper body. To ensure warmth on your winter hikes, we recommend using under-layer clothing. The ColdPruf Basic Dual Layer Top. It will keep the warmth close to your body, thus making your cold hiking experience more enjoyable.
Mountain Hardwear Ascent Gaiters
Dimensions: 21 x 11 x 3 in
Weight: 10.7 oz
Specific features: Inner 420 pack-cloth and nylon knit with reinforced Hardwear tarp 25 outer, 4-way stretch breathable back panels, pinless bootstrap buckle
Best use: Mountaineering, backpacking
Description: These, heavy-duty Mountain Hardwear Ascent Gaiters, offer a high-level protection against debris, wet climates and even scrapes from hooks and crampons.
There is no sacrificing comfort with this product as well, being that they are extremely flexible and breathable with the stretch back panel. In addition, the instep foot straps can be adjusted from either side, adding ease of utility, and are replaceable if broken.
These gaiters are produced with a tough nylon and strengthened in the vital parts with the HardWear tarp 25 material. They are furnished with Velcro front entries, high-quality lace hooks, cam clasp top closures and pinless bootstraps which are customizable from the two sides.
The three-layer Conduit is highly effective. A decent pair of gaiters shouldn’t be visible. Definitely, you can feel them, but what you are not feeling is simply the most relevant part of furnishing yourself with gaiters. All things considered, the Mountain Hardwear Ascent is an awesome pair of gaiters for the price.
- Fits double boots
- Great breathability
- Good fit
Related: No matter how well dressed you are, if the wind is strong and cold, it will go through your clothing and you will lose body heat fast. Therefore, a high-quality Windstopper is a must. We recommend checking out the Mountain Hardwear Microchill Zip Tee. This Windstopper is more than enough when the temperature is not too low, but there’s some wind. But, it can also easily be worn under a heavier jacket, to ensure you have a wind stopping layer.
Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 in
Weight: 4 oz
Specific features: Jersey knit, main body consisting of Cordura nylon fabric, 120D stretch woven side panels with a reflective pattern, double pivoting boot lace hooks and anti-slip silicone pads, optional instep strap and hook-and-loop patches on the heel, drawcord top closure
Best use: Fast backpacking, trail running
Description: These Outdoor Research Ultra Trail Gaiters are ideal for those who plan to be on the move quickly. Their stretch fabric allows for increased mobility and breathability. These are suitable for any extreme outdoor activity involving agility and speed. These gaiters will keep debris out of your hiking boots while being lightweight and invisible on your feet and are sufficiently rugged to withstand rough treatment, which is what most buyers are looking for.
The front hooks are positioned on a piece of plastic rather than through the material, which tends to increase their lifespan. The spandex/nylon upper snags on shrubs and other vegetation more easily compared to a hard-faced gaiter, which is a feature worth considering if you intend on doing some bushwhacking.
The Velcro patch at the foot-rear area of the gaiter likewise gathers sand and mud, and once Velcro is loaded with sand, it is not very sticky any longer. While not ideal for hunting, the reflective material allows for increased visibility for outdoor sporting events. The instep strap is a lace tie, that may cause some inconvenience versus a buckle or shock cord.
- Good mobility and breathability
- Increased visibility
- Very comfortable
- Good protection to mid-calf
- Not waterproof
- Fiddly under-boot loop
- Slides down easily
Related: No matter the type of terrain you are walking on, having perfect balance is important if you want to avoid injuries. Therefore, we recommend checking out the Foxelli Trekking Poles. They are light, collapsible, and thanks to carbon fiber material used, they offer great support and are durable.
Mountain Hardwear Scree Gaiters
Dimensions: 10.25 in
Weight: 3 oz
Specific features: Instep strap attached with grommet holes, abrasion resistant, stretch fabric and highly-visible reflective print
Best use: Trail runs
Description: The lightweight Mountain Hardwear Scree Gaiters, offer lower ankle protection from debris while providing extreme comfort and breathability, and you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them. They are very waterproof, but their low height will not protect against high creek bed trekking, so pairing with a waterproof pant will be a necessity.
These come with a highly-visible reflective print on the back, which is ideal for night running, but not as suitable for hunting. These gaiters feature 3M dual-lock with high-tenacity VHB adhesive to help sustain your gaiter. The draw-on fit is low-profile and reduces bulk and is intended to fit both trail hiking boots or running shoes. Shockcord and side loops can be utilized for added security to help keep the Hardwear Scree gaiter in place.
The Mountain Hardwear Scree gaiters feature an air-permeable stretch textile with high abrasion resistant and it comes with high-visibility reflective print positioned on the back for hiking at night.
- Good breathability
- Extremely lightweight
- Simple and lightweight
- Easy to put on and off
- Not waterproof
Related: Stopping the snow from entering your boots is one thing, but keeping your feet warm even in the harshest winter conditions, is completely a different thing. Therefore, we recommend arming your feet with high-quality hiking socks. The People Socks Premium Merino Woll Hiking Socks are an ideal choice for making sure your feet stay dry, warm and cozy, no matter the temperature.
Hillsound Armadillo Lt Gaiters
Dimensions: 14.2 in
Weight: 13.6 oz
Specific features: Waterproof to 20,000 mm with YKK zipper and DWR coating, outer consists of Flexia three-layer lightweight fabric, lower consists of 1000 denier, high-density nylon
Best Use: Backcountry, hiking
Description: The Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiters work well for keeping out any debris or wet conditions. They are intensely waterproof and highly durable against the toughest of terrain with their slash-resistant technology, and the sleek design makes them aesthetically appealing as well. They are relatively lightweight for their height and durability, making for an increasingly comfortable long distance excursion. In comparison to other products, they are relatively more affordable.
The Armadillo LT is built with Flexia’s 3-layer fabric that is lightweight and contour-fitting. This stretch fabric guarantees a cozy fit that won’t squeeze or tumble down. The lower is a thousand denier and high-density nylon, offering great protection from the elements. A customizable calf strap likewise ensures that the gaiter is firmly fixed to your upper calf, shielding your lower leg without being excessively tight and restricting.
Like all Hillsound products, the Armadillo gaiter features a YKK waterproof zipper and this makes it easy to put the gaiter off and on. These gaiters are really a great choice for year-round Snowshoeing and hiking.
- Moist weed/brush resistant
- Material not durable enough
Related: The gaiters will stop the snow and moisture from entering your boots, but they don’t cover your legs entirely. That is why you need winter pants for adventures in the snow. We recommend the Arctix Snow Sport Cargo Pants. Not only that they will keep you warm, but they also offer protection from water, and can even be worn on top of your gaiters, thanks to their wide and adjustable lower leg parts.
Rab Scree Gaiters
Dimensions: 7.5 in
Weight: 2.25 oz
Specific features: Silicone gripper elastic around the lower ankle, with elasticated instep bungee cord with quick-release toggle
Best use: Mountain marathons
Description: This is the ideal product for long distance trail runners, as they are among the lightest weight gaiter options. The Rab Scree Gaiters are stretchable, Softshell gaiters that are extremely comfortable in most all weather conditions.
The silicone gripper makes for a highly secure fit that is long-lasting. The instep strap will have to be cut to fit your size, but once cut, the quick release toggle is a nice feature. Their size is compact for easy packing.
This gaiter model is the first non-waterproof produced by RAB, it provides a degree of security for those wanting to utilize the new age of lightweight and grippy-fell boots or shoes. A cut-to-fit underfoot bungee and a simple elasticated cuff give security and fit. Reflective details imply that your partner (and rivals) will only be able to see your heels at your upcoming outdoor trip. If you’re on your feet all through the day, you will really like this new dimension of comfort
- Compact for easy packing
- Great fit
- No ankle sizing
- Elastic is fairly tight
Related: When you are in the outdoors during the winter, you always have to be well insulated to protect yourself from the cold wind. The best way is to wear a Windstopper as a base layer. The Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Top is ideal for windy conditions and will keep you warm and cozy all the time.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Although all gaiters always have a similar core functionality, each specific model will contain unique features which may separate them from other models. Here are some important features you need to consider before hitting the purchase button:
When picking the gaiter pair that is best for you, it’s important to first consider your desired activity and the conditions in which you’ll be trekking. Will you be on a ski trip requiring protection from cold, wet conditions, thus requiring ultra-waterproof fabric?
For these instances, triple-layer protection and seamless gaiters will keep you warm and dry all day. Pay close attention to the difference in fabrics for the upper and lower portions of your gaiters. Make sure that you are adequately covered at the ankle as well as the lower calf.
Will you be mountaineering through rough terrain, and thus needing something extra-durable? Gore-Tex, a commonly used, sturdy, synthetic fabric has been proven to hold up against the toughest of thorns and brush. Fabrics that are noted for withstanding abrasion are best if you want a long-lasting product.
Such materials are advertised as breathable, but keep in mind that added layering lends to increased insulation and may, in turn, cause the calves to sweat. Will you be working outdoors and in need of a breathable, lightweight fabric? Most lightweight, nylon gaiters will allow your lower legs to breathe even in the warmest of outdoor working conditions.
While gaiters that are not produced with technologically advanced, triple-layer protection aren’t the best at remaining waterproof for an extended period of time or lasting after extreme exposure to brush and thorns, they are the better choice for strenuous outdoor work beneath the sweltering sun.
The next factor to consider is the likely weather conditions you’ll be facing during your excursion. While many gaiters can be suitable in most climates and are designed with comfortability in mind, fabric types are important to take into account.
There are so many different fabrics claiming to be technologically advanced and designed to be extremely waterproof and durable, but which is best for you? For long distance hiking or intensely laborious outdoor work during those hot summer months, you’ll want to lean toward a lighter-weight coated nylon single-layer fabric that allows easy airflow to avoid those sweaty calves. Choosing such gaiters may inadvertently mean sacrificing long-term durability, however.
For winter expeditions through snowy climates or heavy rainfall, a multi-layer fabric is the best option, as insolation will be important for keeping your lower legs and feet warm and dry throughout an entire days’ journey. Gore-Tex and Cordura® nylon materials are well-known for keeping wetness and debris out of shoes and pants while providing full insulation.
There are a number of other well-known technologically advanced products as well, all providing a high-level of waterproofing and resistance to abrasions. The increased number of layers can cause the fit to be tighter than expected, so be sure to take this into account when choosing your gaiters.
When considering which gaiters to choose, it is also important to note that many of them differ in their fastening mechanisms. The reasoning behind this consideration is that many expeditions require consistent use of your hands for carrying packs and for navigating rough terrain. The last thing you want to worry about is a buckle snapping loose while negotiating and escarpment or crossing a steep incline.
Also, the type of fastening can affect the fit of the gaiter. Hardened buckles make for a less customizable fit, but provide added sturdiness while drawstring and Velcro® (or similar) fasteners can adjust more easily, but may not fare as well over time due to stretching or loss of elasticity.
Some gaiters you’ll find use zippers alone to secure the front (or back) portion, while others add a layer of Velcro® flaps over the zipper for increased protection from debris and water. These mechanisms will suffice under most circumstances involving low creek treks and mountaineering. Seamless gaiters are an option as well and will be of benefit to those navigating wetter conditions.
The fewer the seams, the lesser the potential exposure of your extremities. Though rare, some older models of gaiters feature a rear entry with either a sturdy zipper or Velcro® (or similar) opening. This design is not recommended, as they make for a difficult time putting on and taking off, especially in extreme weather conditions. Most all gaiters come complete with bottom lace hooks or straps made for securing the front of your gaiters to your shoes or boots.
Lastly, most gaiters are equipped with an instep strap, designed to hold the sides of your gaiters down and tight to your boots. The durability of these straps is important, as they are what preserve the bottom seal of your gaiters in conjunction with the lace hooks. The more inexpensive designs utilize mere lace straps, but for essential protection against wear, sturdy leather or synthetic straps are a must.
When picking out the ideal gaiters for you, remember that size matters. Some gaiters are designed to fit both over or under your pants. Some are designed specifically to fit over your boots and pants. Make sure you know which is which for the most comfortable fit.
If you plan to fix your gaiters over wide and high hiking boots, you may need to opt for a size larger than normal. If you plan to wear additional layers including under layers, pants, and thick socks, again, it may be best to choose one size up from your typical show or pant size.
If you are looking for lower calf gaiters meant for covering everyday hiking boots or shoes, selecting your traditional size will work perfectly. Gaiters are designed to fit snugly around the calf so do not be surprised if they take a little getting used to.
Ultimately, you want to aim for a tight seal from the bottom enclosure to the top enclosure to ensure no penetration of debris or water. Testing out the variety of different fastenings to acquire this tight seal is a good idea.
Lastly, it’s important to find the best product for you that fits your budget. Price points for gaiters vary depending on their quality of fabrics and their various dimensions. For well-known, brand-name fabrics, prices can increase considerably, but you’ll know you’re getting reliable protection from the elements.
REI Elements fabric is a comparable substitute to Gore-Tex and is also less expensive. Both are considered to be durable, viable options for gaiter fabrics. Overall, if the gaiters you are considering are made of a trademarked, reputable fabric, you’ll fare just fine.
Overall, there are a number of great gaiters on the market with unique features for each. As you can see, all gaiters are not created equal! Choosing the right product for you ultimately depends on what your outdoor adventure will entail, what kind of weather you’ll be experiencing and how much you’re willing to spend for the ankle and calf protection during your expeditions.
Be sure to take into careful consideration the different materials used, the level of comfortability you require and the utility of your gaiters. Decide whether you have need of Velcro® (or similar), zipper and/or buckle fasteners.
Determine whether you’re fine with seams or are not, and which height of gaiter makes sense for your activity. Out of the all the products reviewed, it is difficult to pick which is the best, but the Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters are definitely at the top of our rundown for a lightweight and comfortable shoe.
Choose the product that best fits your ideal combination of all these attributes, and you’re sure to find the most worthwhile gaiters for your outdoor adventure. Do you think we missed any of the great products out there? If so, please let us know in the comments.
Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.