Stefan Mertens - Fri, 24 May 2019 - Start the conversation

GAITERS: How To’s and Frequently Asked Questions

“Do gaiters keep my feet dry?”

“Do gaiters protect me from animals and insects?”

“How do I even put on gaiters properly?”

You might have questions similar to these when you are looking into gaiters for the first time. Or maybe you just bought a pair of gaiters, and now you want to know how and when exactly to use them.

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Gaiter faq ; what are gaiters used for?

We have all been there. You Google the questions you have, and the information is scattered, incoherent, and opinions on the topic are conflicting. Not helpful.

In this article, we will address some of the common misconceptions, the basic how-to’s, and frequently asked questions.

Confusion about gaiters is a thing of the past!

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Some things might seem self-explanatory at first, but some pointers can improve the lifespan of your product, or improve the fit of your gaiters.

These How To’s should help you with that.

Gaiters FAQ How to wear gaiters for hiking image
How do you wear gaiters correctly?

How To: Wear gaiters

You would think that wearing gaiters is as easy as putting on socks. Although it isn’t rocket science, it isn’t as easy as you might think to wear gaiters the right way.

1. Determine the right side

Make sure that the buckle/velcro or other means of attaching the strap that goes under the boot, should be on the outside of each foot/leg.

Other ways to recognize the right side are logos (not always), storm flap or top part of gaiters facing outside.

The reason they should face outwards is so you won’t kick against the buckles with your shoes/crampons, or open the velcro with your other leg when walking.

2. Get the snug fit

Secondly, make sure the gaiters fit well and that they will not move too much during activities.

This can be tricky, as you also don’t want to prevent your blood flowing properly by closing the gaiters too tight.

Not all gaiters have a universal system, gaiter brands are continuously innovating and trying new ways to improve the fitting and closing system.

The general rule is to tighten the top part of a gaiter so that they stay in place.

Evaluate after roughly half an hour, and tighten them or loosen them depending on your experience.

Gaiters FAQ how to put on gaiters while hiking image
How do you put on your gaiters?

How To: Put on gaiters

In line with how to wear gaiters, how to put them on can be tricky as well the first time. Some gaiters demand the user to put them on before the shoes, mainly in trail running gaiters.

When you have these type of gaiters, you usually put them on before the activity and put them off after you are done with your activity.

Most gaiters, however, are designed so you can put them on easily when desired. Also in these cases, there are several designs, requiring different steps to put them on correctly. We will walk through the most common gaiter system, and how to put these gaiters on.

Front closing gaiters are the most common versatile gaiters. The closing on the front makes it so you can easily put them on and take off.

Putting these gaiters on can be done in multiple ways. The two ways we find most convenient we will address.

Illustration how to put on gaiters easy 5 steps 2019 edition
Once you know how to do it, it is like putting on a pair of shoes

Putting on gaiters method 1

  1. Determine which gaiter goes on which leg (H2 wear gaiters)
  2. Completely open the gaiters (straps, velcro, zippers, etc.)
  3. Wrap and close the gaiter around your leg. Close the velcro and/or the zipper on the front
  4. Wrap the gaiter around your leg, and close it
  5. Snag the lace hook on your laces, as far as it will go
  6. Tighten the calf closure(s) at the top of the gaiters
  7. Adjust/tighten the bottom strap

This method works well when you are sitting down, and you can put gaiters on at ease.

However, when you want to put them on standing up, or when your boots are already covered in mud, we find the second method a better option.

Putting on gaiters method 2

  1. Determine which gaiter goes on which leg
  2. Completely open the gaiters, apart from the strap that goes under your boot
  3. Step into the bottom strap
  4. Wrap the gaiter around your leg, and close it
  5. Snag the lace hook on your laces, as far as it will go
  6. Tighten the calf closure(s) at the top of the gaiters
  7. Adjust/tighten the bottom strap

How To: Stow/Carry Gaiters

The main reason why we advocate always taking your gaiters with you is because of their versatility. Besides that, they also hardly take up space and are usually lightweight.

Therefore, carrying gaiters isn’t a difficult task. You can tuck them away in one of the side pockets of your backpack. In this way, they are easily accessible when you need them, and you can fold them down to fit almost everywhere.

Alternatively, you could carry the gaiters in your main compartment, but if you carry a lot of stuff it might be a hassle to find them when you need them. However, if you are packing light, this shouldn’t be a problem either.

Gaiters FAQ how to prevent gaiters from slipping image
Do your gaiters slip down your calves? Make sure they are the right fit.

How To: Prevent Gaiters from slipping

If your gaiters are slipping from your calves, there are two possible causes. You either did not put them on correctly, or you have the wrong size.

In the first case, it is just a matter of tightening the closing system around the calves and/or adjust the velcro around the leg.

In the second case, you should look for a different size gaiter or a different gaiter in general. Look for return policies, and if possible try on gaiters before you buy them, as they might fit smaller or larger than indicated.

The right size is important for the snug fit. Look at size charts or guides if you order online.

Gaiter FAQ how to choose the right gaiter type image
Which type of gaiter fits your needs best?

How To: Choose the right gaiter

Choosing the right pair of gaiters can be a difficult task. There is a variety of factors that will determine what the right type of gaiter is for you.

In short, the main things to keep in mind when choosing the right pair of gaiters are:

  • What activities are you most likely going to do with the gaiters?
  • What weather conditions are you most likely going to face?
  • What climate specific needs do you have?
  • Are there specific additional needs/wishes you have? (e.g. snake bite prevention)
  • Make sure you have the right size, and the gaiters fit well

Once you wrote down all the product needs, then you can look for the appropriate gaiter.

Gaiter FAQ how to clean your gaiters image
How should you clean your gaiters after use?

How To: Clean Gaiters

Cleaning your gaiters is pretty straight forward.

To improve the lifecycle of your gaiters it is recommended to pack them away cleanly. So, after use, make sure to remove any dirt and debris.

Warm water and something like a coarse sponge will do. Allow the gaiters to dry naturally.

For some gaiters, it is also possible to put them in the washing machine and even tumble dryer. If you are planning to do so, make sure to read the washing care label carefully.

For more info on cleaning hiking equipment:

How to clean Synthetic Hiking Gear

How To: Maintain Gaiters

Depending on the material of your gaiter, some need more general maintenance than others.

As most gaiters are made out of synthetic materials, it is very likely that you will need a specialized product to maintain the product qualities.

For the maintenance, we highly recommend that you look at the manufacturer’s instructions. Just like cleaning your gaiters (which is part of maintaining your gaiters), different designs require different ways of maintenance.

Sometimes you need to take a few extra steps after cleaning to maintain the water-repellent effect of a certain material.

Applying a water repellency treatment (DWR) is sometimes needed, but in some cases it can also harm your garment.

Again, this depends on the fabric, so read the instructions of the gaiters, or the instructions of the material manufacturer.

In general, keeping your product clean when stowed or not in use is always good for the lifecycle of your product, no matter which brand or design.

To properly clean and maintain your gaiters, please read the washing care label carefully!

Related: The Ultimate Gaiter Guide

Gaiters come in different shapes and forms, what should you look for in a pair of gaiters?
Looking for more in-depth information? Check out this blog instead!

Frequently Asked Questions

Even Though we covered a lot of questions, there might be some unanswered questions left.

This section covers the questions most people have regarding gaiters.

Gaiters faq what are gaiters used for? What are the benefits?
What are gaiters used for? What are the benefits?

What are the Benefits of wearing gaiters?

Gaiters have multiple benefits. The main benefits and advantages of gaiters are:

  • Footwear, socks, pants, and legs are protected from scrub, twigs, thorns, dirt, pebbles, mud and other debris
  • Preventing debris, snow, sand, and such from getting into footwear
  • Keeps part of your boots and trousers clean and dry (to a certain extent, depending on the type of gaiter and material)
  • Providing a degree of resistance to leeches, ticks and sometimes even snake bites
  • Protects you footwear, trousers, and legs against scratches and abrasion
  • An extra layer of protection from dirt, mud, snow, and water
  • Keeping your socks dry - preventing blisters/chafing
  • Easier to dry than pants
  • Protection against sharp tools and crampon spikes

What are the (Dis)advantages of wearing gaiters?

Same as the benefits there are also negatives when it comes to gaiters. Just like the benefits, here is a list of some disadvantages:

  • It can produce extra sound/noise
  • Some gaiters are tricky to put on
  • Anything that keeps moisture out will keep some moisture in
  • Closures can irritate the calves when they are too tight

Gaiters faq when should i not be wearing
In some circumstances gaiters are not needed

When should I not be wearing gaiters?

Pretty straight forward, when you do not need them you should not wear gaiters.

As mentioned earlier, they are easy to put on and easy to stow, so if the trail is well-maintained and there aren't much pebbles or debris on your path, then there is no reason to wear gaiters.

gaiters faq are gaiters really necessary image
Are gaiters really a necessity?

Are Gaiters really necessary?

Gaiters are not one of the 10 essentials but it's a big comfort product.

Since they are lightweight it’s just a great addition to have. It might save you some time of getting dirt and debris out of your shoes.

Gaiters aren’t essential, just handy. Just get a cheaper pair of (low) gaiters and try them out. If you decide you don’t like them after a while, it won’t be a big deal. However, we are quite certain you will not be disappointed.

Gaiters faq do gaiters prevent ticks?
Are you safe from these little pests?

Do Gaiters prevent ticks?

Commonly the skin-crawling ticks go for the lower legs, most certainly when they are exposed. When wearing long pants some advice is putting your pants in your socks or you can put a gaiter on to combat it.

Another safety measure is to spray your gaiter with permethrin or put DEET (20%+) on your skin.

In short, gaiters can definitely help you combat ticks.

Do Gaiters keep your feet dry?

Short answer

Yes, most of the times.

Long answer

It isn’t just the gaiters that will keep your feet dry, having good waterproof shoes and good socks is a must as well.

When having all those a gaiter can really help with deflecting the rain, and water entering your boot when walking through small streams.

There is a wide range of gaiters so not all gaiters are treated equally. Different materials like Goretex/nylon and leather will also be a factor.

gaiters faq how tight should your gaiters be around your calves
How tight should your gaiters be around the calves?

How Tight should Gaiters be?

Since gaiters are used for deflecting dirt/water/debris, it should be snug against your boot but looser around the calves to make sure there is no discomfort and there is enough blood circulation.

They should also not slip or move when walking, so too loose isn’t an option.

Find the right balance by adjusting the closure system during your hike.

What type of trousers should I wear with Gaiters?

Most people wear “special” hiking pants that dry faster or are better resistant against water, but most pants will get soaked under the harsher circumstances, gaiters will help you with that problem.

When wearing shorts is always nice for the heat and to get a breeze but it will also expose your legs to some outdoor elements like stinging nettles, poison oak/ivy, thorns and fox-tails (or maybe other flora that might bug you).

Putting on gaiters will prevent you from that (no more abrasions & scratches on your leg) and in the meantime wearing gaiters with shorts will still be less warm than pants.

Gaiters faq do gaiters protect me from snake bites and other animals and insects
Do you need to be afraid of snakes while wearing gaiters?

Do Gaiters protect me from animals and insects?

When wearing shorts you will get bitten through your socks by mosquitoes more than once. Having low or normal gaiters will help you with that problem.

Ticks are nasty little creatures and will almost get everywhere, having an extra layer will make it harder for them to latch on. You can also put your pants in your socks but that might not be as comfortable and will get loose after a while.

Some gaiters are thick enough to help you get bitten by snakes, but it’s only for a handful so don’t blindly think yours are as well.

Hopefully, you found the answers you were looking for. If however you still have questions when it comes to gaiters, feel free to ask. We will gladly answer your questions.

You can also read the more elaborate post about Gaiters: The Ultimate Guide. For more in-depth info download the e-book.

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