When you prepare your clothing for a hike, one of the most important questions will be how to keep nature outside your clothing, rather than inside. The obvious answers immediately spring to mind – jackets, boots, gloves. But don’t forget your secret weapon – gaiters. Gaiters are a handy but often overlooked bit of gear ideal for walkers and hikers.
We know the weather isn’t always on our side – especially if tackling a mighty Munro in winter or… Honestly, any time of the year. That’s why we count gaiters among our essential pieces of walking gear.
Why should you wear gaiters for walking? Gaiters are ideal for wet conditions – or their aftermath. Water, mud and snow are all far too effective at slipping through small gaps between your trousers, socks and shoes – so you end up with damp feet. And there’s nothing quite as likely to put a damper on an adventure than wet feet.
Gaiters are a waterproof layer that covers the gap between your trousers and your shoes. They tend to be made from tough materials, which helps fight off jaggy branches and sharp rocks as you climb.
In the Scottish summer, they can also be an extra defence against midges and ticks. These wee beasties love exposed skin. Your trusty gaiters will leave no space for sneaking to sup on your legs, even when walking through tick-filled bracken.
How are gaiters supposed to fit? The tighter, the better when it comes to gaiter fitting. While you don’t want to cut off circulation, a close fit leaves even less space for tiny droplets to find their way in.
Choose the height of your gaiters based on the conditions you’re likely to face.
Mid-height and ankle gaiters – Great for handling still-muddy trails and moderate rain.
Tall gaiters – Preferred for more extreme weathers like snow and rainstorms.
Gaiters are normally sold in one or two sizes with all the adjustments you need to get a snug fit. They have a stirrup which holds them on under your shoe, an elasticated section that stretches to fit your ankle, and a draw cord or velcro top closure.
How are gaiters worn? Gaiters are normally worn over the top of your trousers and shoes. These should be one of the last things you put on before heading out, as your first line of defence against liquid at ankle height.
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Are gaiters waterproof? Gaiters are always water-resistant but not always waterproof. If you’re not sure on the difference, take a glance at our article onwaterproof jackets.
For most adventures, water-resistant gaiters will do the job well. They have enough protection to keep splashes out and can keep off short showers.
Of course, if you’re expecting to be out all day in the pouring rain, waterproof gaiters will give you peace of mind. And for snow, they’re a necessity.
What gaiters should I buy? With all this in mind, how do you find the perfect gaiters for you? Look nae further, we’ve rounded up your best options below.
For snowy paths – Glenshee Gaiters Sometimes even the smoothest hikes have some risks, whether that is a few puddles as you skirt a loch or a dusting of snow as you ascend higher. You’ll feel more secure with the Glenshee Gaiters in your pack, ready to whip out if conditions worsen. They’re good all-rounders, with waterproofing up to 3,000mm HH, tough ripstop fabric, and a breathable AB-TEX membrane. Plus, if you prefer a pair that doesn’t need as much adjustment, these come in men’s fit, women’s fit, and kids!
For off-the-beaten track adventures – Glencoe Gaiters When your adventures could take you through any terrain, you need your gaiters to be properly durable. Made with tough ripstop XTP fabric, the Glencoe Gaiters can handle all the mud, thorns, and small insects that come with dense undergrowth. They’re lightweight at 155g for the pair, and still waterproof to a respectable 3,000mm HH. Plus, the reflective piping makes you easy to be seen after-dark, handy when you’re sticking with a group.
Ideal for deep snow, the Cuillin Gaiters are tall, tough, and nigh-on impenetrable. With a hydrostatic head of 5,000mm, there’s no way for snow to seep through these. They fasten securely with a hook-and-loop system and the drawcord hugs your calves tightly. With AB-TEX membranes and XTP fabric, they stay breathable and hard-wearing.
For multi-day hikes in the rain – Grampian Ankle Gaiters If the danger is near-constant rain, you’re looking for some serious waterproofing. The Grampians are waterproof to 5,000mm hydrostatic head, which will be more than enough for hours of storm protection. And the combination of AB-TEX fabric and shorter length offers more breathability and flexibility, so these will remain comfortable to wear all day long.
For everyday walks – Walking Gaiters These walking gaiters are a great everyday pick, whether you’re completing short hikes or walking the dog. They’re made of a ripstop polyester which moves well and handles spiky underbrush with ease. No guessing on your size, they come in one-size and can be adjusted to your measurements.