May 16, 2011 at 10:22 am #1273893
@el_jefeLocale: The Pacific Northwest
Sometimes I see folks discuss gaiters as if they were a truly indispensable piece of equipment. I've never used them myself because, honestly, I've never seen the need. While I am not one of those people inclined to carry any item "just because," it occurs to me that I might not "know what I'm missing."
So, I invite the community to convince me why I simply can't live without that which I have, heretofore, lived without. :)May 16, 2011 at 10:23 am #1737194
You can live without them.
Gee, that was easy.May 16, 2011 at 10:28 am #1737196
I only use them in winter.May 16, 2011 at 10:32 am #1737199
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
I get lots of debris (sand/rocks, etc) in my shoes in FL, and gaiters keep out almost all of it. Usually wear 'em in other parts of th country, too – perhaps out of habit.
I really like them, but I cannot say that you can't live without them!May 16, 2011 at 10:37 am #1737204
As you can probably already see it is going to depend on where you hike. For me in the Midwest snow pretty much dictates gaiters or not.May 16, 2011 at 10:40 am #1737205
I have a pretty good pair of gaiters, but although they're nice to have on occasion, I don't use them much either. I have a feeling that you're going to find a lot of non-committal responses on this one ;)May 16, 2011 at 10:41 am #1737206
I'm looking to try gaiters to keep the thorns, stickers, and fox-tails out of my socks. It's as if socks are magnets to those things, and most times I go for a walk in the desert, within the first 5 mins, I'm taking my shoes off to pick those d*mn things out… They can make life miserable.
BMMay 16, 2011 at 10:43 am #1737209
@chrismorganLocale: Southern Oregon
.May 16, 2011 at 10:46 am #1737210
@codycolor2Locale: Los Padres NF
I live in Southern California and have the same issues as you seem to have with the fox tails. I picked up a pair of Simblissity Gaiters and they work great for keep the fox tails/stickers out of my socks for the most part. However another reason I like them is I don't have to constantly keep retying my shoes from coming undone which was happening all to frequently. The only time I had sand get in my shoes was when I was creek crossing which lifted up the gaiters. Hope this helpsMay 16, 2011 at 10:47 am #1737212
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Gaiters keep gunk from getting into your shoes (dirt, rocks, sticks, snow, what have you). They are especially good in snow, which can have a chilling effect as it goes down into your footwear.
They keep mosquitoes from biting through your socks. My first trip in trail runners (after switching from boots), I forgot this little issue (the gaiters were in my pack!) and got many bites around my ankles! Driving 900 miles home with constantly itching ankles was, to say the least, interesting!
They keep your pants dry when going through tall grass wet with dew or rain.
If you're wearing shorts, gaiters protect your lower legs from stinging nettles, poison oak, thorns and other interesting flora that can be found at the edge of (or even in) the trail.
In spring gaiters keep ticks from crawling up your legs inside your pants. You can achieve the same effect by tucking your pants into your socks, but it's a lot harder to keep them there.
Gaiters aren't essential, just handy. Get a cheap pair of low gaiters and try them out. If you decide you don't like them after trying them, no big deal.May 16, 2011 at 11:00 am #1737216
Until I got poison ivy all over my ankles.
Now, gaiters.May 16, 2011 at 11:21 am #1737229
El Jefe, FWIW Andrew Skurka wears them! When I saw him speak recently – roughly quoting him here… "They alleviate debris found in the shoe at the end of the day, thus help keep my feet a little cleaner(negates blisters, etc.). They don't weight too much."
-ChrisMay 16, 2011 at 11:22 am #1737230
> Until I got poison ivy all over my ankles.
Poison ivy and thorns seem like good reasons to wear gaiters, if you like to wear shorts. After an experience with some stinging nettles while on a photo shoot, that left my ankles itching and burning for a couple of days, I switched to wearing long hiking pants while trekking. Gaiters would work also though. I should get some lighter ones. :)May 16, 2011 at 11:29 am #1737234
Agree with Mary D. about 3 season use.
In winter, knee length WB gaiters allow you to use very breathable softshell/nylon pants and still maintain snow protection for the legs.
Further, when using crampons with frontpoints, the slim leg profile that gaiters allow (some pants do as well, but IME those rarely cover my boots sufficiently) make it less likely that you will put a front point through the shin area of your pants (did this again last winter when I put shell pants OVER my gaiters during an alpine climb).May 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm #1737262
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I use gaiters all the time.
Keep gravel and stuff out of shoes. Keep water off shoes and socks.
The only thing bad, is the rule that an ounce on your feet is as bad as 5 ounces on your back (or whatever the multiplier is). So you want light weight gaiters.
I make my own but I'm thinking of making some with the lightest weight materials.May 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm #1737455
I've never worn a pair of gaiters, but I can certainly see the appeal in snowy conditions.
For me, I try to keep things simple in the outdoors. Besides the weight, Gaiters are two more items to keep track of and spend time putting on and off. Perhaps in some locals the amount of debris getting in hikers shoes necessitates gaiters, but I've never come across such conditions in my area. If I have to dump out a pebble or two per day, I'd rather do that then deal with gaiters. I am open to using them in the winter since snow is not something you can just dump out at your leisure. I would also consider them in extremely sandy conditions.May 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm #1737460
In Oregon, I wore knee-high gaiters to help deal with the wet.
Om SoCal, I wear ankle high gaiters to help deal with the grit, sand, rocks and twigs that want to get into my trail runners.May 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm #1737478
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
I've never worn gaiters, but after two days of hiking in rain through tall grass and sometimes dense brush, I wish I had some last weekend. My pants were soaked from mid-calf down all weekend, and the unusually cold temps (for Missouri) made for a very uncomfortable weekend.May 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm #1737483
@texasbbLocale: Pacific Northwest
I wear them all the time, even on "conditioning" hikes on a well-groomed trail. They keep all the gunk out of my shoes. Cuts down on blisters, eliminates having to stop and pour things out of the shoes and, best of all, makes the shoes last a lot longer. I don't like having stuff on my legs if I can help it, so I use the excellent Dirty Girl Gaiters ($17 including shipping from dirtygirlgaiters.com). They're not waterproof and not tough enough for serious off-trail stuff, but they're low, light, cool, and effective on trails. I get lots of comments about them, too. :-)May 17, 2011 at 5:52 am #1737560
@ericmLocale: Southcentral Texas
+1 on Dirty Girl Gaiters.May 17, 2011 at 6:53 am #1737582
@newtonLocale: Southeastern Louisiana
Yes you can live without them. I have up to this point. But I will be using Dirty Girl Gaiters on my next hike.
I use low quarter shoes and socks for hiking. On my last hike one little piece of trail debris got into my shoe. I am now convinced. I'll be using the Dirty girl Gaiters to keep the dirt and tiny rocks out of my shoes.
NewtonMay 17, 2011 at 7:32 am #1737594
@rcarverLocale: Southeast TN
A lot of people use them. A lot of people don't use them. I am on the side that uses them. I like that they keep trail debris out of my shoes and they help to keep my socks clean. I don't find that they make my feet any hotter then if I didn't use them. I prefer OR shortie gaiters for most conditions. I use OR Verglas in the winter paired with my Patagonia baggie shorts.May 17, 2011 at 7:39 am #1737595
Gaiters are invaluable hiking in mud, snow, scree, or sand. Considering I will see one of these on every trip, I would be more interested in seeing the 'non' merits of gaiters. In my opinion, there aren't any. Especially given the nominal weight of some shorties (i.e. Dirty Girls at less than an oz).May 17, 2011 at 7:40 am #1737596
@aaronmbLocale: Central Valley California
I will reiterate the above pro-gaiter posts.
I wear convertible pants as I like to hike in shorts when the weather allows; plenty of trails get narrow and I like the gaiters for the vegetation, as well as helping to keep out rocks and debris from inside the shoes (especially now that I'm wearing low cut trail runners).
A few weeks ago I was in Sequoia. The 12 miles was easy, but not on the legs of my fellow hikers that plowed through the overgrown trail brush without the gaiters. They didn't mind the bleeding scratches (they weren't gushing by any means, but they did need a little attention).
I picked up a pair of Mountain Hardware gaiters here from Gear Swap–cheap–that go up to about me knee. They open along their length so I don't have to take off shoes to put them on or remove them and, they're tough as nails. Overall, an investment I am quite happy with.May 17, 2011 at 10:04 am #1737657
@kevperroLocale: Washington State
I agree with most of what has been said. I wore them on my last long hike 1200 miles and they do help keep stuff out of your shoes. I've not wore them in the last 5-6 years on short hikes (<4-5 days) but only because I misplaced one. If I were in the snow for any amount of time I'd go out and buy a pair. For most hiking they fall under the luxury category. I don't consider them as important as trekking poles which I won't go without but if I have them, I'll wear them.
Oh… there are a couple types. The short scree gaiters are the ones you wear for general hiking. The full calf length ones for snow. I'd never wear the bigger ones for general hiking but those Girly gaiters look like a good solution.
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