Fed up with tears in your pricey hiking pants? Sick of stopping to get trail debris out of your boots? If this sounds like you, you need to get yourself a pair of the best gaiters for hiking.
Simple in design but incredibly effective in practice, gaiters help to keep your lower legs and feet well protected from the elements and harsh terrain. After all, nobody likes hiking with sodden wet legs, scratched ankles and mud-filled boots, right?
To find the best hiking gaiters for your needs, simply read on and take a look through our comprehensive hiking gaiter reviews and buying guide. You’re sure to find your perfect pair for dry, protected legs, feet and ankles no matter what mother nature throws at you.
- 1 Best Gaiters for Hiking
- 1.1 Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters
- 1.2 Salomon Trail Gaiters (High and Low)
- 1.3 Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter
- 1.4 Leg Shield Hiking, Hunting and Biking Gaiters
- 1.5 Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
- 1.6 Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter
- 1.7 Unigear Snow Boot Gaiters for Hiking
- 1.8 Crackshot Snake Bite Proof Guardz Gaiters
- 1.9 Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
- 1.10 Kenetrek Unisex Hunting Gaiter
- 2 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Gaiters
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Gaiters for Hiking
There’s a huge range of gaiters on the market for you to choose from.
To help you make your selection, we’ve reviewed ten of the very best hiking gaiters available, including a range of models to encompass different hiking styles over varying terrains and seasons, as well as a range of budgets.
Read on to find your ideal gaiters for hiking right here.
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters
Highly reputed, the Crocodile Gaiters by Outdoor Research are a popular choice for hiking over rugged terrain during all weather. Available in both male and female-specific versions with a range of sizes, the larger choices are even suitable for wearing with plastic mountaineering boots.
These gaiters are extremely robust and have been designed and manufactured to stand the test of time during your outdoor adventures. Made with a 70D nylon woven leg panel, complete with Gore-Tex 3L; they are waterproof and breathable, as well as windproof and abrasion-resistant. Ideal for muddy, rocky and wet terrain, these gaiters will keep your legs and feet dry even when traversing creeks.
The instep is made from a dense 1000D woven Cordura panel for added resistance and durability, and the lower boot is lined with packcloth. Double stitching on the front closure further adds to their practicality and extensive lifespan. Furthermore, these gaiters are nice and easy to get on, thanks to their hook and loop closure. The top buckle and reinforced boot lace hooks add to this product’s simplicity and excellent, practically-designed construction.
Weighing in at around 12oz, these are not the lightest of gaiters, but we think that’s to be expected considering their durability and intended use over rugged terrain. They are also a little tricky to fold up for packing; so if you’re looking for a pair that is ultra-packable or for fast-moving trail running, then you may wish to opt for a more lightweight choice.
The Crocodile Gaiters don’t come cheap and are one of the more expensive models that we’ve reviewed. However, they are a high-quality product and come backed by Outdoor Research’s Infinite Guarantee, which is valid throughout their lifespan. If you need hard-wearing gaiters for day-long dryness in the mud, mountains and backcountry, we think this model should be one of your top choices.
Salomon Trail Gaiters (High and Low)
Looking for a pair of lightweight and comfortable gaiters for hiking and trail running? Check out this compact model, available in both a low and (still fairly short) high version. They won’t slow you down when speed matters, making them ideal for fast hiking or just throwing in your pack for tackling rocky, debris-strewn terrain.
Granted, this model isn’t waterproof, so if you’re looking for gaiters specifically to keep your feet dry, these Salomon gaiters won’t be the best option. Also, due to their limited coverage area, they are less suitable for protecting your lower leg from scratches. However, they are an excellent choice for keeping gravel, rocks and vegetation out of your boots, which means less discomfort and stoppage time spent emptying them out.
Crafted from a flexible polyamide and elastane body, these gaiters are made to move with you for maximum freedom out on the trail. This makes them suitable for faster paced hiking or rock hopping. They even have reflective details to help keep you safe from traffic on remote country roads.
Extremely easy to put on, thanks to their sole strap and chunky side closure system with velcro, these moderately-priced gaiters are convenient to use when on the go. At just 2oz for the low version, or 3oz for the high, they won’t weigh your pack or your feet down either. This makes them an excellent choice if you are looking at tackling rocky screes as well as gravel tracks, or anywhere where fragments or vegetation could get into your boots and slow down your hike.
Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter
If you need waterproof gaiters for general hill and mountain walking in wet weather conditions, then you can count on the Latok Alpine Gaiter by Rab to keep you dry. Available in male and female-specific versions for a snug fit, these gaiters have been designed for use with lower volume boots.
The Latok Alpine GTX combines breathability, waterproofness and abrasion-resistance – thanks to its use of Gore-Tex technology and tough Robic nylon around the ankle area. The rubberized under-boot strap is solidly constructed to take on all terrains, while the flexible polymer strip to the rear ensures that your gaiters stay put, even in challenging muddy conditions.
Easy to put on and take off, the Alpine Gaiter features a hook and loop front closure, an internal strap adjustment system and a single hand drawcord top closure – ideal when your hands are cold or you’re fumbling with gloves. They are comfortable to wear, but keep in mind that as they are better suited to lower volume footwear, they will fit a little snug around large boots and alpine pants.
That said, if you need a solidly designed, fully-waterproof pair of hiking gaiters then the Alpine Gaiters by Rab will not disappoint. They may be fairly pricey, but their quality, durability and practical design make them well worth the extra, especially for winter hill walkers in snowy and windy conditions.
Leg Shield Hiking, Hunting and Biking Gaiters
These hiking gaiters by Leg Shield are a low budget unisex version, designed specifically to offer enhanced lower leg protection when you’re out on the trail. Whether you have a skin condition, are recovering post-operation or just extremely sensitive in the lower leg region, these gaiters can help to protect your legs from vegetation, debris and bruising while hiking.
Made from flexible neoprene, this model is designed to move with you and not hamper your movements. The premium hook and look closures allow you to open up the whole gaiter, making it easy to put on in a matter of seconds. And with their snug fit your legs will feel well protected during your hike.
However, there are two important things to note with these gaiters; one, they do not protect your ankle area, so they will not stop water, gravel or vegetation from getting into your boots. Secondly, as they are made from neoprene, they do tend to heat up pretty quickly, which can make wearing them in warmer weather a little unpleasant. It is also important to note that, while they are water-resistant, they are not fully waterproof.
If you’re simply looking for a little extra leg protection from bruises and scrapes when out on a hike – then this budget pair of gaiters could be just what you need. However, if you’re an experienced hiker looking for protection from the elements and sturdy ankle protection, you’ll be better off looking at a model designed exclusively for hiking and mountaineering use.
Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters
The Rocky Mountain High Gaiters by Outdoor Research are an excellent choice for milder seasons. They weigh less than the Crocodile version, yet provide adequate protection from the damp, rocks and bushes. These essential water-resistant gaiters can even be used in light snow, should you get caught out at higher altitudes.
Made entirely from nylon, with a robust 420D packcloth leg panel, these gaiters weigh 6.8oz, making them a sturdy choice at a lighter weight than some of their hardier counterparts. Breathable and abrasion-resistant, they are ideal companions for exploring the backcountry. With their Hypalon instep strap and elastic bottom edge, they stay put over all terrains. Furthermore, thanks to their front hook and loop closure and durable buckle top, they’re also very easy to get on and off.
Although these gaiters make an excellent all-round choice and great value for money, bear in mind that they are not suitable for all conditions. If you need a good, breathable model for protection in warmer seasons, then these gaiters could be just what you’re looking for. However, if you need complete wet weather protection, you should look for another model that offers full waterproofing.
On the whole, we think these gaiters are a great, solid choice to keep rocks and dirt out of your footwear, while protecting you from vegetation and scratches. They are also an ideal choice for warmer weather exploration, thanks to their superior breathability.
Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter
Waterproof and breathable with excellent stretch and durability, there’s a multitude of reasons to opt for the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter for your next hiking expedition. Whether your hikes take you through wet-weather mud, up snowy peaks or over debris-strewn trails, these professional quality gaiters will keep you protected and dry.
The Armadillo LT features a contour-fitting, lightweight three-layer upper made from Flexia 3.0 fabric that is both waterproof and breathable. For extra durability and protection, the tough lower cuff is made from 1000 denier nylon. Ideal for keeping out snow, mud and debris, no matter where the trail takes you.
These gaiters also provide extremely easy access, thanks to their waterproof YKK zippers. Combined with the flexible top section, you get a huggable, snug fit that moves with your body for a barely-there sensation that only comes with premium made gear.
Not only is the Armadillo LT highly practical and comfortable, it is also extremely durable and its TPU-coated nylon instep can even be replaced if required. In addition, this model is covered by Hillsound’s Lifetime Warranty – further proof that it’s truly made to last. In spite of this, while moderately priced, these gaiters are far from being the most expensive in our selection, making them a great value buy.
For four-season altitude hiking, backcountry exploration and even snowshoeing, the Armadillo LT by Hillsound make an excellent choice. Waterproof, breathable and comfortable, as well as highly practical to get on and off, for many users these gaiters are close to perfection.
Unigear Snow Boot Gaiters for Hiking
These Snow Boot Gaiters for hiking by Unigear are a low price, budget option, ideal if you’re new to hiking and don’t want to spend a large amount on your first pair of gaiters. Although they may lack some of the full waterproofness and breathability of the big brand names, they do provide a good level of protection and are excellent value for money.
The upper leg is made from a three-layer nylon construction, including a TPU waterproof membrane to help keep you dry. The lower part is constructed with 1000 denier Cordura nylon, popular for its abrasion and tear-resistant properties, while the secure instep strap is constructed from TPU complete with a thickened clip. On the whole, these gaiters are well made and robust, especially given their low price point.
They are also easy to adjust and to put on and take off. The top fastening features adjustable webbing with a sturdy buckle, while the hook and loop closure is fast and highly practical. These gaiters are unisex and available in a variety of sizes to fit most average-sized adults without any problems.
Robust, weather-resistant and low priced, there’s plenty to like about these hiking gaiters. While they’re a little bulky and are not quite as breathable or waterproof as some more expensive models, for the money, they are an excellent choice for good all-round protection out on the trail.
Crackshot Snake Bite Proof Guardz Gaiters
If you hike in snake country, you need adequate protection from snake bites. Not only will these snake bite proof gaiters keep you safe from angry snakes, they are also extremely versatile and will keep you dry and protected from trail debris and vegetation.
Unisex and available in a variety of sizes, Snake Guardz are guaranteed to be snake bite proof, backed up by a million-dollar liability policy, so you can hike with your mind at ease. This version is comfortable to wear, being lightweight at only 11 ounces and allowing for a degree of air circulation for enhanced breathability.
Made with a water-repellent coating in order to keep venom away from your skin, these gaiters can also be worn as protection from mud, damp and rain. Aside from keeping you dry and cool, they are also abrasion-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about scratches from vegetation or debris.
Snake Guardz are easy to put on thanks to their snap buckle fastenings and wrap-around design for full-coverage protection. They also extended down over the laces of your hiking boots ensuring that any venom, debris and dirt stays out, for safety, protection and comfort out on the trail.
If you want to go hiking in snake country, then Snake Guardz gaiters really are a must. Not only could they potentially save your life, they are also comfortable, easy to wear and will keep your boots free from debris for a more enjoyable hike with added peace of mind. We think this alone makes them worth the higher end price tag.
Black Diamond Apex Gaiters
Beautifully designed and solidly made, the Apex Gaiters by Black Diamond are a great choice for fall and winter hiking. This full height gaiter is ideal for any outing into the cold and wet, including ice climbing, snowshoeing and mountaineering, from a brand that’s famous for its high-quality and reliable outdoor wear.
Gaiters don’t come much more durable than this model, thanks to its three-layer waterproof Gore-Tex welded upper. You won’t have to worry about your crampons or any sharp rocks or debris damaging your legs. As the Gore-Tex layer is also breathable, even if you work up a sweat in the damp and cold, your legs and socks will stay dry with these gaiters.
Thanks to its neoprene-coated instep strap, these gaiters stay securely in place, even when you’re hiking through snowy or muddy conditions. Once you have fitted your gaiters, they are extremely easy to put on and take off, thanks to the front hook and loop closure and the webbing with buckle side closure.
At just over 8oz for the medium size, these gaiters are lightweight, making them even more comfortable to wear. However, they do tend to fit a little on the small side, so you may want to order a size up if you have large calves or boots.
While these gaiters are at the top-end of the price scale, they are exceptionally well made. Their abrasion-resistant welded upper really does make them a class apart for cold weather hiking protection, that can stand up to crampons, ice and snow. Easy to fit, comfortable to wear, fully waterproof and breathable, it’s little wonder these gaiters are an extremely popular model for winter mountaineering and hiking.
Kenetrek Unisex Hunting Gaiter
These unisex hunting gaiters by Kenetrek make an excellent, no-nonsense choice for hiking out in the backcountry. Comfortable to wear, easy to put on and providing plenty of knee-down protection, these gaiters are virtually indestructible and will stand up to almost any hike over all types of terrain.
Featuring an extra durable nylon exterior, with a 1000 denier reinforced boot section, these gaiters will stand up to long days on the trail. And thanks to their breathable Stormblocker membrane, your legs and feet will stay dry both outside and inside, whether it’s pouring with rain or you’re working up a sweat.
Easy to adjust with cam-lock buckles on the top webbing straps, once you’ve fitted your gaiters they go on in seconds thanks to the front opening full-length hook and loop closure. This means you won’t have to mess about trying to slip them on over your boots.
Designed to stand up to the rigors of extended hunting trips over all terrains, these gaiters are an excellent choice for hiking, especially mountaineering or on trails with overgrown vegetation. While they’re not cheap, they’re extremely durable and are sure to last a long time. Comfortable and easy to wear, especially on multi-day hiking trips, these gaiters make a good year-round choice.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Gaiters
Gaiters are often overlooked and underrated, but they are extremely useful pieces of gear that can make hiking much more enjoyable.
To ensure that your new hiking gaiters live up to your needs, check out our hiking gaiter buying guide to find out which features you need to prioritize when making your decision.
While gaiters are not high-cost pieces of gear, like most outdoor wear, it often makes sense to pay more for a higher performance model that will stand up to the elements on the trail. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t bargains to be had.
The amount that you spend on your gaiters should reflect the amount of use that you intend to get out of them and the environment in which you will be using them. If you need a pair of hiking gaiters for mild-weather or occasional short hikes then there’s no point paying out for a top of the range alpine model designed to withstand snow and ice.
On the other hand, if you are planning on using your gaiters in wet weather and for mountaineering, then you will be better off paying more for a model with a specialized waterproof, breathable membrane. The same goes for if you often tackle extreme terrain or are going backcountry backpacking.
Likewise, if you expect your gaiters to be getting a lot of use, it can be worthwhile to spend a little more on a higher quality model that comes with a lifetime guarantee, rather than spending less and having to replace them several times over.
Intended Use – Terrain and Weather
For regular hiking over steep rocky terrain or backcountry hiking, you should look out for gaiters with reinforced uppers that are abrasion-resistant. Cordura nylon is a popular choice, although there are plenty of other specialized options out there.
Weather also plays a big role, are you looking for three or four-season use out of your gaiters? In some cases you may be better opting for two different pairs, a more breathable, lighter pair for damp and warm conditions and a heavier, more highly resistant model for snow and ice. It all depends upon where you hike and what the climate is like.
Take into account the conditions that you regularly encounter when you’re out hiking. Of course, you cannot plan for absolutely every eventuality, but taking into account the average conditions during your average hike will give you a good idea of the best gaiters for your needs.
Protection – Debris and Water
Think about what kind of protection you need from your hiking gaiters. Do you cross a lot of creeks, mud and standing water? Or do you tend to get your boots full of scree and gravel? Depending upon where you hike most and at what times of year, your needs could vary considerably.
If protection from water is essential, then be sure to look for gaiters with a high-quality branded membrane, such as Gore-Tex, eVent or their own proprietary waterproof membrane. It is even more important to find a high-quality one if you tend to build up a sweat when hiking as you can get wet on the inside from perspiration. So if you’re hill walking, for example, or fast hiking, you’ll definitely want to make sure that your waterproof gaiters are breathable.
For protection from debris, take a look at how your gaiters are shaped to cover the top of your boots, you’ll want them to have a good covering. They should provide a snug fit at the top so you can be sure that no fragments of rock, vegetation or gravel can make its way in.
Material and Reinforcements
Nylon is a popular choice for its movement and strength. Some versions may also have elastane blends for added flexibility. Most models will have reinforced lower panels to protect your ankles against rocks and vegetation.
Take a close look at your gaiter’s composition materials. Good models will use a variety of materials in varying deniers to reduce bulk and weight where possible, but also to enhance protection and durability where needed. The instep is one crucial part that needs reinforcement or you could find your gaiters only lasting a few hundred miles. Some models even feature replaceable insteps, ideal for long-distance or regular hikers.
Ease of Use, Fit and Fastenings
Ideally, your gaiters will be easy to fit. Using the various fastenings and adjustments, take time out before your hike to fully adjust your gaiters for a snug fit. Once adjusted, they should be easy to put on and take off without having to interfere with the fit that you have already set up.
Full front openings can be extremely useful, be they zipper or hook and loop fastenings. Full front openings make it quick and easy to get your gaiters on, even if you’re already out, without having to remove your boots or risking getting dirt off them inside your gaiters.
If you are purchasing gaiters for winter hiking or mountaineering, make sure that your gaiters are easy to put on, take off and adjust as needed, preferably with gloved hands if necessary. This could prove crucial if you encounter a snowstorm with limited visibility and experience any issues with your gaiters.
Size and Weight
For your average hiker, gaiter weight is less of an issue than size. However, if you’re into long-distance or ultra-light hiking then every ounce really does count. There’s often a trade-off to be made between weight and durability in outdoor gear with only the very highest priced models managing to fulfill both criteria. Gaiters are no exception.
Most gaiters are available in a variety of sizes, although you will see some cheaper models that offer a one-size-fits-all approach. It is important to measure your calf carefully when choosing your gaiter size. Unless you have a very unusual shoe size, it is pretty much all about achieving a comfortable snug fit around the upper edge of your gaiter.
Comfort, Breathable and Style
Of course, everyone wants their gaiters to be as comfortable as possible. While lightweight, flexible models are best for that barely-there feel, in practice you still need to make sure that they offer a sufficient level of protection.
As discussed earlier, breathability is an important issue to consider, especially during warm weather hikes or if you tend to exert yourself and work up a sweat. If you need waterproof protection, then make sure that it is also breathable. You could also look at purchasing water-resistant, lightweight gaiters for summer use that tend to “breathe” better.
The style of gaiters that you should opt for really depends upon the level of protection that you require, as well as your hiking style. If you mainly go trail running or hike on established, well-marked trails, then you may prefer a low style mainly to keep gravel and debris out of your runners or boots. For protection against briars or deep snow, you will want a high style type of gaiter for complete lower-leg protection.
While it would be unreasonable to expect your gaiters to last you a lifetime, if you opt for a high-quality model there is no reason why it shouldn’t last you several years, depending upon usage. Some big outdoor wear brands offer replacement guarantees or models with replaceable insteps, so that you can really make the most of your gaiters for years to come.
If you tend to go hiking off the beaten trail or enjoy backcountry hiking you will want to look for durable gaiters that feature reinforced panels for longer-lasting protection and durability. Always check any fastenings and how they are fixed as they are often the weakest spots on any gaiter and the first to go.
Gender-Specific or Unisex
A lot of gaiters are unisex and both men and women have no problem with their fit. Some models are available as gender-specific versions which can be helpful if you have very slender or very chunky calves or especially small or large feet. Don’t be afraid to try gaiters marketed at the opposite sex if you are having difficulty finding a version that fits you.
It’s fairly common practice for women to purchase men’s hiking boots and vice versa when the fit is better for that individual. Similarly, not all gender-specific gaiters are necessarily the best fit, although for women with slender calves and larger feet, finding a unisex gaiter that fits without slipping can be tricky.
Gaiters are a great extra piece of gear to have when out on the trail. While they are often overlooked, they can, in the right conditions, make your hike much more comfortable.
Maybe you just want to keep bits of gravel out of your boots with a low, simple gaiter like the Salomon Trail Gaiters so you don’t have to keep stopping to empty out your footwear. Alternatively, you might want a serious winter gaiter for hiking through ice and snow like the Black Diamond Apex with its welded upper waterproof section.
Whatever type of hiking gaiter you’re looking for, from a good all-rounder like the Rocky Mountain High Gaiter by Outdoor Research to Snake Guardz for hikes out into snake country, you’re sure to find your perfect pair in our selection.