Do I Need Gaiters for Hiking?

Hiker running on rock

Gaiters are fabrics used to cover the gap between your trousers and your hiking boots. They are used in covering the gaps around your ankle. 

While they are not very important for hiking, gaiters can make a lot of difference, especially in cold weather. This is because once water or moisture gets into your boots, it is very difficult to dry them out.

Is the use of gaiters important for hiking?

Do I Need Gaiters for Hiking

So when you step into snow or water the first time it can get quite cold very fast. This is one of the reasons why you should use them. But we will talk about their advantages in a while. First, let’s look at other uses of gaiters in general.

Another very good reason to use them on a trail is protection against thorns and insects. You do not always want to stop every 2 minutes to pull out a thorn or even worse pick up an insect with your bare hands.

An advantage of gaiters is that you can easily pull them off, so you don’t have to stop every minute to take them off because the bottom of your boot is full of thorns or burrs from the trail. So gaiters are great for this purpose.

You can also use them when you are on the trail in deep forest, where you do not see any thorns but there is a possibility that you might step on some. So if that happens, you don’t really want to know how much damage it could cause. In addition, they can be used as a sun shield over your legs and they will protect your skin from getting burned by the hot sun.

The only negative thing is that they might not be the best in hot weather and when you sweat a lot. Because they basically don’t let air through your legs, so it can get a bit warm.

Often you will find that gaiters can be used for both purposes see below:

I love to use them not so much as insect prevention but more as a protection from snakes, thorns or even large insects like grasshoppers that might fly up to your face.

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What Are The Types of Gaiters?

All gaiters basically have the same purpose and that is to keep stuff from getting into your boots. But regardless, the best type of gaiters that will work for you depends on the type of trips you have planned and also the weather and trail condition

The main types of gaiters include:

  • Full-length Gaiters: these are designed for rugged conditions, they are very popular among expert and multiple day hikers.
  • Snow gaiters: these types of gaiters are specially made for snowy weather. They are usually thicker and cover more of your leg.
  • Hiking:  Gaiters made for hiking are very lightweight and breathable, and offer rudimentary protection against rocks, insects and light rain while on low-weather trips. Some are fully waterproof for protection against rain, snow and moisture. Hiking gaiters are often used for everything from short hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.
  • Mountaineering: Gaiters made for mountaineering provide heavy-duty protection and some added protection for long trips in extreme conditions. Most include a waterproof, breathable fabric for protection against rain and snow. In addition to mountaineering, these gaiters are frequently used for other outdoor sports like ice climbing, cross country skiing, backpacking and snowshoeing.

However, it is important to know that these types of gaiters are not limited to specific sports, mountaineering gaiters can also be used for hiking as long as the conditions are viable. Also, gaiters are not limited to specific kinds of outdoor activities.

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What Are The Advantages of Wearing Gaiters?

Wearing gaiters while hiking has a lot of advantages. A very good advantage is protection against thorns and insects. You do not always want to stop every 2 minutes to pull out a thorn or even worse pick up an insect with your bare hands.

An advantage of gaiters is that you can easily pull them off, so you don’t have to stop every minute to take them off because the bottom of your boot is full of thorns or burrs from the trail. So gaiters are great for this purpose.

You can also use them when you are on the trail in deep forest, where you do not see any thorns but there is a possibility that you might step on some. So if that happens, you don’t really want to know how much damage it could cause. In addition, they can be used as a sun shield over your legs and it will protect skin from getting burned by the hot sun.

How Can I Wear Gaiters for Hiking?

Unless you’ve worn them before, gaiters can be pretty tricky to wear. Gaiters should be worn outside the trousers.

These are tips on how gaiters can be worn correctly

  • Make sure your trousers and hiking boots are already on you before wearing your gaiters
  • Place the instep strap buckle to the outside
  • Adjust the instep straps
  • Engage the lace hooks
  • Close the hook and loop closures
  • Secure other closures
  • Adjust the elasticated cord, you don’t want to restrict circulation.
  • Then repeat the whole process

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Conclusion

Gaiters are a very important piece of protection that every hiker needs to own. It protects you from cold and insects.

It also protects you from debris like stones or other types. It is important to know how and when to use them.

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