Gaiters: Heights, materials vary by intended activity

The gaiter is our icon here at Outdoor Research. We grew up around the X-Gaiter and many outdoor adventurers still have a pair around.

Let’s put it this way: When company owner and CEO Dan Nordstrom first came to the company in 2003, a lot of Outdoor Research employees were skeptical. Outdoor Research employees pride themselves on their core authenticity and sense of adventure. Nordstrom, who has started and run, was a guy who came from a world of suits. But Nordstrom found a photo of himself at 20 years old with backcountry skis on his back crossing a log in the wilds of the North Cascades and wearing a pair of X-Gaiters. When they saw that, our employees said, “Ok. This guy is one of us.”

That’s the power of the gaiter.

Gaiters, at their most basic, are gigantic seam seals. They protect the weakest link in the body armor you create when you dress in hi-tech fabrics. The gap between shoe/boot and pant can be devastating if snow, water, dirt or trail debris works its way in—but outdoor adventurers sometimes don’t think about that until it’s too late. A solid pair of gaiters built for the appropriate conditions make a big difference out in the wild. As with most of our apparel, the tool here needs to fit the job at hand.

When that job is big, burly alpine climbing, expeditions or heavy-duty use, reach for our Expedition Crocodiles®, Crocodiles® or Verglas Gaiters™. These tall gaiters reach to the top of the calf and help tackle the rigors and abuse of alpine climbing, mixed climbing, rugged backpacking and multi-days or weeks-out trips. They all feature tough Cordura® fabric which can survive a beating. Expediton Crocodiles® and their lighter siblings, the Crocodiles®, feature GORE-TEX® to provide waterproof/breathabilty. The even lighter Verglas Gaiters™ are built from the proprietary Outdoor Research waterproof/breathable material Ventia Dry™.

Some activities don’t necessitate that level of protection.

The Trail category of gaiters is lighter in weight and integrates more effectively with lighter-weight shoes. In this category, there are varying heights, and the materials range from waterproof to soft shell. Thus, match Trail gaiters to the shoes you will be wearing, and also to the activity and the terrain. Higher gaiters may work better if you will be bushwacking off-trail, whereas lower gaiters may be better for keeping debris out of your shoes on a trail. Examples include the Flex Tex Gaiters™, which are made with soft shell fabric and a low-cut, stretchy and breathable design. The Rocky Mountain High Gaiters™ and Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters™ are the workhorses of the line—they cover a wide range of bases.

So that’s why we love gaiters—because nothing is worse than trail debris or moisture in your shoes.