If you want to keep your hiking boots free from the wear and tear of elements like dirt, water, and snow, hiking gaiters are an easy solution. Choosing the best hiking gaiters for all your outdoor needs doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s important to know what features to look for before you make your selection.
Keep reading for our hiking gaiters buying guide to make your purchase process a breeze, plus our review of the top 5 best hiking gaiters.
The top 5 hiking gaiters we recommend for 2021:
Before you select the best hiking gaiters for all your outdoor activities, you need to consider a few key factors. First, determine how you intend to use the hiking gaiters. Do you want to have them on hand for regular, moderate hiking or are you planning a big outdoor adventure?
You’ll also need to determine the size gaiter you want, based on the usage you intend. There are key features to decide on too, based on your needs, such as top closures or waterproof construction. Most hiking gaiters are light to wear and breath well, while still providing the protection you require against things like dirt and rocks.
Let’s take a look at the different types of gaiters available.
The hiking gaiter height you choose will greatly depend on the level of protection you require. For example, if you plan on hiking in the snow or off the beaten path, you’ll probably want to purchase a taller gaiter that offers extensive leg protection. On the other hand, if you like to stay on the trail for regular hikes and runs, a shorter gaiter will work perfectly.
The lowest hiking gaiters are over the ankle gaiters. These types of gaiters are meant for activities such as hiking in the warmer months or trail running. They serve mainly to keep debris and pebbles away from your hiking footwear.
Mid-calf hiking gaiters typically stand anywhere from 8 to 12 inches in height. They are better for moderate hiking conditions where you won’t be in rugged territory, but need to keep elements like water and debris away and out of your hiking boots.
Knee high gaiters usually stand between 15 and 18 inches tall, and are specifically designed for intense conditions and weather. Activities like hiking in the snow, through damp brush, or off trail are all examples where knee high gaiters would be your best option.
Here are the key features you need to know about and look for when selecting the best gaiters for hiking. Most hiking gaiters feature waterproof material that keeps water out and the warmth in when you’re dealing with damp or snowy weather conditions. If you anticipate hiking in more intense weather elements, this key feature is a must have.
Some gaiters also feature insect repellent material to ward off unwelcome trail companions such as ticks and mosquitoes. If you hike or backpack often in areas with lots of bugs, hiking gaiters with this repellant design could be just what you need.
Hiking gaiters sometimes feature abrasion resistant material to hold up against rocks, ice, and other rugged elements. These types of add-ons come in really handy if you tend to hike in trying weather conditions.
Soft-shell material and coated nylon are common features to look for in the best hiking gaiters. The soft-shell fabric allows for better freedom of movement, while providing sufficient stretch and an additional shield against weather elements. Most standard hiking gaiters are made using coated nylon, which is completely fine for shorter hikes or moving quickly through damp brush.
Hiking gaiters typically feature hook and loop openers and fasteners to tighten the gaiters, but basic ones could use toggles and drawcords as closures. Regular gaiters usually feature lace straps to secure the gaiters around the instep of your hiking boots, while more upscale versions have synthetic or leather straps for more longwear use.
Some hiking gaiters even sport lace hooks so you can secure your gaiters to your hiking boot laces.
Below are some helpful tips for using hiking gaiters. If you’re a newbie to hiking gaiters, you won’t want to miss these!
As you now know, the best hiking gaiters come in a range of sizes, based on usage and on the hiking boot you pair them with. When you first try on your hiking gaiters, begin by securing the hook and loop together at the front.
Next, take the lace hook and alter the instep strap is needed. It’s important to make sure that the hiking gaiters fit snug against your boots.
If you don’t quite like how your hiking gaiters fit when you first try them on, you can adjust as needed. Use the hook and loop entry at the front again to alter the fit if you need to. Most of the time, a half inch of hook and loop overlap is enough.
You always want to put on your hiking gaiters in such a way that the buckles situated on the instep straps face the outside of each foot. If you were to situate them inwardly, you could run into the buckles while walking or climbing.
Don’t worry about tightening the top straps of your hiking gaiters so much that they start to squeeze your ankles or legs. Just secure them enough so the gaiters don’t fall down once you start moving on the trail. If you overtighten those top straps, that could make for a pretty uncomfortable hike.
If your hiking gaiters feature lace hooks, do your best to hook them all the way as far as you can. If you’re wearing larger hiking boots, you probably won’t be able to secure the hooks right near your toes.
If you’re going to be hiking in a torrential rainstorm or other damp environment, consider layering your hiking gaiters beneath your rain pants. Layering will help repel rain effectively. If you were to do it the other way around, wearing your gaiters over your pants, the rain could get into your hiking boots.
Here are the top 5 best hiking gaiters to consider for your next outdoor adventure.
These impressive knee-high hiking gaiters are pretty stiff when you first put them on, but they are extremely durable, super waterproof, and are designed to fit over large boots, making them an excellent contender for rugged terrain hiking trips. You won’t have to worry about these sliding down your legs when you wear them, because the stiff material of the Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters helps to secure them in place.
These are a pretty bulky option, so we wouldn’t really recommend them for light hiking or trips in regular terrain. These are an ideal option for rugged topography and rough weather conditions though, like deep snow and slush. One pair weighs in at 10.2 ounces.
A huge strong point of these hiking gaiters is their water-resistant material. We love the 1000 denier foot panel and multi-layer Gore-Tex upper that enables these gaiters to ward off even the harshest weather elements. They also do a good job of keeping debris out of your boots. If you’re planning an extended trip out in the wild, these gaiters could be your faithful companion.
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The next best gaiters for hiking selection on our list is not only highly durable, but it features a water-resistant exterior and is highly breathable. We liked how lightweight the Rab Latok Alpine is, without sacrificing quality or functionality. These hiking gaiters are designed from eVent fabric to ward off moisture and keep you dry in a range of weather conditions.
The hiking gaiters also sport Robic nylon patches as a protective barrier from crampon spikes, plus a Velcro instep strap component, which means you won’t have to stress over buckles. These best hiking gaiters hit at the calf, making them an excellent option for varying levels of terrain. We liked the easy hook and loop closure at the front and drawcord at the top that make adjusting and securing these gaiters a total breeze.
While we wish that these gaiters were just a bit sturdier, they are a more affordable option, making them less trouble to replace whenever they do eventually wear out.
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These hiking gaiters by Outdoor Research are the low-ankle variety, featuring an excellent fit and a user-friendly design that makes them easy to slip on and off as you need to. Even though these hiking gaiters hit at the ankle, they fit so well that they do an exceptional job of preventing debris and other elements from going down the gaiters and into your shoes.
Whether you like to take trail runs or go on long backpacking adventures, the Outdoor Research Overdrive Wrap Gaiters will serve you well on the road. It is important to note, that these may not be well suited to some hiking boots. They are more designed for lower and medium cut footwear.
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If you’re looking for a basic option on our list of the best hiking gaiters, the Black Diamond Talus Gaiter could be the pick for you. Featuring water resistant material, these gaiters are still fairly lightweight and pretty breathable to boot. If paired with the proper hiking shoes, the Black Diamond Talus Gaiter will ward off unwelcome debris and keep your footwear free of things like dirt and pebbles.
We like the handy lace hook and instep strap these gaiters feature, along with ankle and foot straps to secure everything in place. These gaiters work best with mid to high cut shoes, since they are 7 inches in height.
We also really like the durability of these best hiking gaiters, sporting combined fabric that is thicker at the bottom and lighter and more breathable toward the top of the piece. Another huge plus for these is that the gaiters are easy to adjust. The lace look is huge and the gaiters are a one-size-fits-all product, so they are well suited to a range of foot sizes and hiking needs.
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The final best hiking gaiters selection on our list is another product by RAB that is an excellent pick for hiking through fields and on trails. They feature an excellent fit, so you’ll be able to wear them tight against your shoes and not have to worry about a bunch of debris creeping in.
They are also very light and breathable, but they are less water resistant than other gaiters. Their ankle length design makes them best suited to shoes that wouldn’t guard you against excess dampness anyway though.
The main body of the gaiter is durable and could last you for many a moderate hiking trip, but the instep strap has a tendency to wear out quickly. In terms of comfort, the RAB Scree Gaiter is a tough option to beat, with softshell fabric that keeps you nice and cool, even on warm weather hikes. These gaiters are also easy to put on and adjust.
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While each of the best hiking gaiters has something to offer for everyone, we picked the Rab Latok Alpine as the clear winner of the five. Not only is it very light and breathable, but its built in eVent, water repellent fabric was a huge selling point that some other selections were lacking.
The Alpine gaiters hit right at the calf, which makes them a good choice for terrain with varying levels of difficulty, plus they have a handy hook and loop closure that everyone from beginners to pros will appreciate. For affordability, ease of use, and weather protection, you can’t go wrong with the Rab Latok Alpine hiking gaiters.