Planning on hiking through spring snow melt? Or lacing up for an ultra-long trail run? Whether you're mountaineering, hiking or running, the extra layer of protection from gaiters will help keep your outing a challenging adventure rather than a painful sufferfest.
While waterproof hiking boots or ski boots will provide a huge amount of protection, hiking gaiters work in tandem with your boots to protect the little nooks and crannies that are vulnerable to being encroached by abrasive environments or sneaky drops of rain or snow – like the top of the boot.
Whether snow, rain or overgrown trails are the terrain du jour, there are different types of gaiters that excel for different activities, each with different features. But which kind of gaiter you need largely depends on what you’ll be doing. So how do you choose?
It all depends on your outing. But first, let’s dissect the construction of the gaiter. Gaiters typically run from the bottom of your foot to mid-calf and are made with sturdy weather-resistant materials. This design and fabrication works well to protect your foot and lower leg from deep snow, wet underbrush or debris that you can pick up while hiking, cross-country skiing or mountaineering. Low gaiters are about ankle high and are designed for less extreme conditions.
In addition to the fabrication and design, most hiking gaiters are also equipped with: a strap that fits over the instep of your boot or shoe or lace hook that holds the gaiter in place; a top closure that cinches or clips tight to seal the upper half of the gaiter; and some sort of entry system. The entry system is a closure like Velcro. In the case of ultra minimalist gaiters, a tighter, stretchy design serves this purpose. Typically, our gaiters have a front entry – where the closure system runs down the length of your shin – which makes getting in and out of the gaiter on the trail or in the hills a hassle-free task.
At Outdoor Research, we make gaiters for mountaineering and also trail running and hiking. They range from the beefcakes of the mountaineering world to everyday gaiters for a quick blast down the trail.
We divide our mountaineering gaiters into two categories: expedition and alpine.
Our expedition gaiters are our toughest mountaineering gaiters, built sturdy to withstand harsh conditions and long mountaineering trips. The newest addition to the expedition gaiter team is the X-Gaiter—a fresh take on the very first product Outdoor Research ever produced. These are our warmest gaiters, and feature a streamlined, low-bulk design that's compatible with both mountaineering boots and ski touring boots. The X-Gaiter uses PrimaLoft® Aerogel insulation to cover the toes and entire lower half of boot, extending the range of your three-season mountaineering boots.
The Expedition Crocodiles™ are made with waterproof and breathable three-layer GORE-TEX® to combat the snow, rain and cold climates of mountaineering, these gaiters also have tear-resistant Cordura® strategically placed on this inside of the leg to prevent snags and rips from wearing crampons. They also have a larger circumference to fit over insulated pants and mountaineering boots.
Our alpine gaiters have a more general purpose. Crafted to protect your feet while hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, these gaiters are made with waterproof and breathable fabric uppers and also an abrasion-resistant lower to protect your ankles and lower legs from sticks, rocks and other trail debris.
The Crocodile Gaiters™ are our time-tested classic with a sturdy fabrication of GORE-TEX® upper and Cordura® lower. As at home in snowy environment as a dry and brushy trail, the Crocs (as they have come to be known) will fit well in your pack’s essentials kit and come in both Men's Crocodile Hiking Gaiters and Women's Crocodile Hiking Gaiters.