If you are new to hiking, you may not know it yet but gaiters are an incredible piece of gear. Not only do they keep mud and debris out of your shoes, but they also allow you to hike comfortably in wet conditions and help protect against ticks and other pests. Gaiter features can vary widely depending on the type of gaiter you get but there is one thing that remains consistent among them all: gaiters go over your shoes!

Types of Gaiters

There are three primary types of gaiters. Each is designed for a specific purpose, so choosing the correct type is important when selecting your next pair.

Hiking: Hiking gaiters are durable and relatively inexpensive. They’re designed to help keep debris out of your shoes while you walk, hike, or climb in muddy conditions. These gaiters usually have a hook-and-loop closure system that can be adjusted over multiple layers of clothing.

Mountaineering: Mountaineering gaiters are top-of-the-line when it comes to keeping snow and mud out of your boots during cold weather adventures at high altitudes or in inclement conditions like rain or snowfall (hence their name). They often feature reinforced fabric around the ankle opening and sometimes include integrated gaiter booties—a second layer that seals the bottom of each boot off from the elements better than traditional hiking models do alone.

Trail Running: Trail running gaiters are typically made from lightweight materials like mesh fabrics so they don’t weigh down runners’ legs during long days on trails where they need maximum mobility with minimal bulkiness getting in their way (this category also includes trail running shoes).

These tend not to have as much protection against sharp objects since they’re meant as more flexible additions rather than sturdy barriers between elements like dirt/mud/sand/water etcetera versus heavy duty mountaineering styles which provide more shielding against these items

Gaiter Height

Gaiter height is the first thing you should consider when choosing a pair of gaiters. There are three primary options: over-the-ankle, mid-ankle, and around-the-ankle. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, but the most important thing to remember is that your gaiter needs to fit well in order for it to do its job!

Here are the three primary options for gaiter heights:

Over-the-ankle: If you’re going to be hiking in deep snow or mud, over-the-ankle gaiters are a great choice. They protect your pants from getting wet or muddy, and they help keep your boots dry.

Mid-calf: If you’re hiking in light snow or rain, mid-calf gaiters may be all you need. They’re also handy if you have to cross streams or rivers—you can just roll them up when you need to get your feet wet.

Below the knee: Below-the-knee gaiters are ideal for keeping out snow and dirt when hiking on trails that aren’t too rough. They protect your pants from getting dirty and help keep out small rocks and sticks that might poke holes in them if they were exposed to them directly.

Gaiter Sizing

You’ll want to size your gaiters for hiking and mountaineering, as well as running.

Gaiter Sizes

SmallMediumLargeExtra Large
U.S Men’s Shoe Size5 – 76 – 98 – 1110 – 13
U.S. Women’s Shoe Size6.5 – 8.57.5 – 10.59.5 – 10.5

Hiking/mountaineering gaiters: should be sized to your shoes and the pants you plan to wear with them. If your pants are loose-fitting, consider sizing up if you want more coverage; if they’re snug or have a lot of fabric around the ankle area, consider sizing down if you want less added bulk.

Running gaiter sizing: is much more straightforward, they’re either one-size-fits-all or come in different sizes based on shoe size (like most other clothing).

Gaiter Features

Gaiters are made of a variety of fabrics and materials, each with its own particular set of characteristics. Each gaiter type has benefits and drawbacks, so you should use your own preferences in deciding which to buy. The most common types include:

Waterproof: If you’re going to be out in the elements, waterproof gaiters are a must. They’ll keep your feet dry even in the wettest conditions and are ideal for hiking and hunting trips. Look for gaiters that use a waterproof fabric like Gore-Tex or eVent, which is breathable and lightweight but also keeps water out.

Insect repellent: If you’re going to be in an area with lots of bugs, look for insect-repellent gaiters that use permethrin or DEET to keep mosquitoes, ticks, and other pests away from your ankles. This can help prevent insect bites during hikes and camping trips.

Abrasion-resistant fabric: If the terrain you’re walking on is particularly rocky or tough, abrasion-resistant gaiter fabrics will help protect against wear and tear on your legs. These fabrics are typically made from nylon or polyester woven into a tight weave that reduces friction with every step so your pants don’t get worn through as quickly as possible.

Soft-shell fabric: If you’re looking for maximum breathability, then soft-shell fabric is the way to go. It’s lightweight and stretchy, so it won’t hinder your movement or restrict your circulation. You’ll also get great protection from light rain, wind, and snow with soft shell fabrics.

Coated nylon: If you’re looking for a gaiter that will hold up against heavy rain and strong winds, then coated nylon is the way to go. These gaiters are made from durable water repellent (DWR) materials designed to keep moisture out while keeping your feet dry in wet conditions.

Entry system: There are two main types of entry systems—zipper and hook-and-loop straps—both of which are equally effective at keeping your feet dry when walking through challenging conditions. Zippers can be frustrating if they get stuck or if they break, however; hook-and-loop straps tend to be more durable in the long run.

Top closures: The most common type of closure, these fasten at the top to keep out snow and mud. The best top closures have a drawstring that lets you adjust them to fit your leg snugly.

Instep straps: Instep straps are an alternative to top closures. They have a buckle that you can tighten around your ankle or instep so that they stay in place. This is an easier way to secure the gaiter in place than trying to tie the top closed with a drawstring.

Lace hooks: Lace hooks allow you to lace your gaiters onto your boots, which means they will stay in place even if you’re wearing thick socks or boots without eyelets for laces.

How to Put Gaiters On

Gaiters are a type of footwear that covers the lower leg and ankle. They come in many shapes and sizes, but most have an instep strap that wraps around the top of your foot to secure the gaiter to your boot. To put them on, follow these steps:

  • Position the gaiters so the hook-and-loop closures are in front. The hook-and-loop is what will secure it against your boots.
  • Place the instep strap buckles to the outside (if possible). This will allow you to get a tighter fit at first if needed, then loosen them later if necessary (see Step 5 below). If there’s no way for you to do this with another design or style, skip this step and move on!
  • Adjust each side’s instep strap so it fits snugly around your ankle without pinching any skin when tightened fully—but not so tightly that circulation is cut off. If necessary, adjust one side at a time while leaving its counterpart loose enough so they don’t overlap each other while walking; tighten both sides together once they’ve been properly adjusted individually! Clipping these fasteners into place will help ensure nothing moves around when walking through rough terrains such as snowdrifts or mudslides…just make sure not too tight!


Gaiters are a great piece of gear to have on hand. They can be used in any season, in any weather condition and they provide a lot of protection from the elements. Our guide will help you choose the right gaiters for your specific needs, as well as how to properly use them so that they’re effective every time!