The Scottish weather and landscape can sometimes make you feel unwelcome as a walker.
Every walker has had a day on the trails when they just wish they had been better prepared.
Staying dry, clean and comfortable is key to having a good day’s walking so having the right kit to protect yourself against the elements is essential and gaiters are one piece of equipment that are often overlooked by new walkers.
The major benefit of Gaiters is that they are often small and lightweight enough to be easily stowed in your pack ready for when you need them and, when do you do need them, they provide a great deal of protection for both your feet and lower legs.
So when do you need gaiters?
Gaiters are designed for when you are walking through terrain and weather where you are at risk of rain, snow or dirt making it’s way into you boots and soaking your feet and lower legs eg, thick wet grassy areas or overgrown scrub, deep snow or muddy and wet conditions.
Benefits of Gaiters
There are many benefits to wearing gaiters some of which include –
- They keep your boots and trousers reasonably clean.
- They bolster the waterproofness of your boots keeping your feet dry and warm.
- They can be used on their own or in conjunction with a pair of waterproof trousers.
- They can protect your legs against tick bites if passing through affected areas.
- They protect your losers and boots from catches if wearing crampons.
Types of Gaiters
There are many different types of gaiters available to the walker in all shapes and sizes and in this post we are going to run through the most common types and for what conditions they are best suited.
Ankle gaiters are designed to prevent gravel, dirt and water from sneaking into your boots as you walk the trail. While they can be used to wade through shallow water and snow (provided your boots are waterproof), they aren’t really designed for more than helping your boots to protect your feet from the elements. These gaiters are perfect if you like to walk in lightweight walking boots or shoes which aren’t waterproof and they are also ideal to protect your legs against tick bites during their annoying season.
High Leg Gaiters
High leg gaiters (sometimes called high cut or mountain gaiters) are, as the name suggests, gaiters that stretch up a good proportion of your leg covering each of your calves. These gaiters are perfect for wading through water (provided your boots are waterproof), walking through deep snow and across rough wet grassy and scrubland areas.
While these type of gaiters do offer the greatest protection they can cause your lowers legs and feet to overheat due to lack of ventilation (even if they are made from breathable fabric) and this especially is the case if wearing them along with waterproof trousers. It is also advisable to loosen them off at the top or unzip them a little when it is possible to avoid a build of condensation and to let your legs cool down.
What should you look for in a gaiter?
You need your gaiters to be robust, flexible and waterproof. Listed below are a few things to look for when choosing your gaiters.
Fit – It is amazing how many people haven’t tried their gaiters on with their walking boots/shoes prior to buying them. Make sure that they fit your boots and legs snugly while allowing for a good amount of movement and adjustment. Ensure the securing hook towards the front of the gaiter is compatible with your boots and test that the stirrup strap that passes underfoot of the boot can be adjusted to suit.
Breathable – Look for gaiters that are manufactured from breathable fabrics which use systems such as eVent or Gore-tex as they keep you dry while helping to reduce both condensation and overheating.
Zips – Make sure that the zips are heavy duty construction, corrosion proof and you can operate them while wearing gloves and make sure there is a storm flap covering the zip which is secured in place with Velcro or added protection.
Ripstop – Ensure that the outer fabric of the gaiter is made from a ripstop material. Scrubland, heather and the occasional piece of barbed wire can take their toll on your gaiters so make sure they they can take the punishment.
Care of your gaiters
Don’t put your gaiters in the washing machine!
Instead use a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dirt and make sure you clean the zip and remove all the dirt and grit so it can move freely (I use a small nail brush for this task) and ensure that the fittings are also cleaned thoroughly.
After cleaning, ensure that your gaiters are completely dry before packing them away in readiness for your next adventure.
Your gaiters will last for many years if taken care of carefully. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep them in tip top walking condition.
If you have any questions about how to pick the right gaiters or you have any suggestions on improving this guide then please get in touch with the Walk Fife team at firstname.lastname@example.org