The reasons why I wear gaiters.

Gaiters – What’s The Point? Are They Worth It? Here’s Why…

I love my gaiters (pictured above)! I wore them again yesterday which inspired me to list reasons answering the question of “What’s the point of gaiters?”. And, “Are gaiters worth it?” (Answer: Yes!).

I own a pair of knee-high gaiters (so does Mrs. J). They happen to be Outdoor Research’s Crocodile Gaiters (a best-seller for a very long time).

Anyway, the reason I wore them yesterday… Mrs. J and I were doing more tree work on the property. Thinning out some Birch surrounding several very nice-looking Maple trees not too far from the house. I wanted the Maples to ‘breathe’ and thrive. Location on a hillside thick with brush. Brought the tractor down there with a wood chipper attached to its PTO. After chainsaw work was done, dragged limbs, chipped, then hauled over to a raised garden bed area with ATV and attached dump cart. Made for some nice cover for the walkway areas. But I digress…

Are they worth it? What’s the point?

So, what’s the point of gaiters with reference to that short story? Well, multiple reasons!

Gaiters help keep ticks from crawling up and getting onto your body. Nasty little creatures. Related to that concept – we (thankfully) don’t have chiggers here like some of you folks in the south. But I suppose gaiters would similarly help.

Gaiters stop pickers and thorns from grabbing hold of your pants, legs, boots…

You all know about the byproduct of using a chainsaw? That’s right… sawdust and chips. They tend to land right on your boots! Gaiters keep all that stuff from going down your boots and such.

Those are just three reasons why gaiters are worth it. And that was while doing one project. More reasons listed below…

But first, how do you put on gaiters?

How-To Put-on Gaiters – How to Wear

Well, there are different kinds. Short (over the ankle), mid-calf, and Tall (like mine).

Instructions for putting on my style gaiters are the same for most used for hiking gaiters (and other reasons). Not all gaiters have the exact same features, so those may not match these exact steps.

Mrs. J took a few photos while I put on a gaiter for your illustration. As you can see, it’s pretty simple. Putting them on and wearing them is easy.

  1. There’s an inset strap that goes under your boot. The little buckle on that strap should be on your outside (that’s how you know which gaiter is right or left).
  2. Adjust the instep straps if necessary. This is usually a one-time adjustment, depending on the boots you wear. You simply want a snug fit under the boot.
  3. If your gaiters have a lace hook, clip it to a shoelace whichever seems to lineup the best.
  4. Press the Velcro halves (hook-and-loop) together while working your way up the gaiter.
  5. Snug the adjustable straps at the top of the gaiters. No need to overtighten.
How to put on gaiters.
The top adjustable strap to snug gaiters.

I did my research prior to buying Mrs. J and I each a pair of gaiters. It didn’t take long to discover the brand “Outdoor Research” is evidently the granddaddy of them all. So that’s what I bought.

( my ‘Crocodile’s’ )

Outdoor Research brand and styles
(view on amzn)

Gaiters For Hiking and Other Good Reasons

This depends on the trail system. A well-traveled trail typically won’t present any issues where you would benefit from wearing them just for that hike. However, gaiters for hiking are very popular. Not all trails are well groomed!

Like I said earlier they make short ankle gaiters all the way to tall. Each with their own advantages.

I can tell you one good reason to consider wearing something like ultralight ankle gaiters (or mid-calf, or tall!) for ordinary hiking on a good trail… Just in case there’s some poison ivy! I would rather it brush up against my gaiters than get that nasty oil on my shoes or boots. Easier to clean the gaiters instead!

I already mentioned ticks. Though they still may drop on your head from overhanging branches, you’ll stop the ones on the brush around your legs.

Gaiters will protect your shins from branches and scratches. Be it from brush, branches, or traversing rocky terrain (for example).

Rain! Or simply walking through damp and wet conditions where you boots might otherwise get wet.

Snake bite mitigation. I don’t have to worry about venomous snakes where I live. Well actually there is a timber rattler here, but a rare encounter. That said, many of you live among those wriggling slithering forked-tongue (potential) biters…

[ Read: 4 Deadly Poisonous (Venomous) Snakes in America ]

Cold weather. Snow. Although I have a nice pair of winter L.L. Bean boots, The tall gaiters help keep that deeper snow out (the snug strap at the top). Plus, it adds a layer of ‘insulation’ keeping you a little bit warmer.

TIP: I spray my gaiters with Permethrin. That stuff really helps keep insects off your clothes (e.g. ticks, mosquitoes, etc.). I wrote about this miracle spray in the following article:

[ Read: Permethrin For Your Clothes – How It Works ]

Anyway, there you have it… another prep for modern survival <grin>.

[ Read: 5 Steps To Buy Boots That Fit ]

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10 Comments

  1. I used to wear them when working on the farm, to keep the lower end of my pants dry mostly, much easier than wearing rain pants, way more comfortable.

  2. there is a good reason that they were required foot wear in WW1 and WW2 in both theaters of war. they worked, and helped to keep the troops healthy and uninjured from snakes, bugs and thorns.

  3. As mentioned, winter wear, used them when living in Vermont cross country (bushwacking) skiing in the mountains, kept dry in the deeper stuff.

  4. I’m in Cochise County, Arizona and I wear a good pair of gaiters any time I am out in rough country, which is frequently. We have plenty of Diamondbacks here.

    1. – I have to agree with woodchuck (welcome, BTW) they are a good thing in snake country. I like the TrueTimber Snake Gaiter from Bass Pro Shop. For $40 bucks, they are cheap insurance. Now, where did I put mine…

      – Papa S.

  5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane Ken.
    I was contacted by several companies in my youth to test and write/type reviews on Department letterhead on winter mountaineering gear back in 1980’s. ( Sierra Designs, North Face – both companies were based out of CA bay area back then ). The smaller items were made by Outdoor Research and among my cold weather/winter mountaineering kit was their long gaiters, gore-tex overmitts over fleece or wool gloves or mitts, fleece watch caps, silk baclava from Early Winters. goggles by Uvex or Scott. I liked to climb frozen waterfalls on the East Side of the Sierras back in my 20’s. After fighting fires in SoCal, Ice climbing was a welcome change in the off season.
    Outdoor Research is a solid company and it appears, they have made upgrades in their equipment these days. Gaiters are critical equipment if you have to post-hole your way through deep snow for any length of time. Since winter travel gear consists of many small things to remain warm and dry, these small, critical items are kept in a stuff sack until I need them. Based upon features I see, it appears they are instituting changes suggested by end-users. Lastly, I carried multiple pairs of gloves or mittens in order to always have a dry pair on hand.

  6. Thanks for the post, and reader comments. I have a pair of REI gaiter from the early 1980s, when I was in collage in southern Oregon (OIT). Haven’t worn them much and had been thinking of getting rid of them as I never found much use for them here in the Puget Sound area. I am now looking to move to eastern Washington state (Spokane or Yakima area, depending on family), and am thinking they may come in useful over there where it does actually snow in the winter. I am now thinking that I am glad I kept them.

    1. Thats funny, i went to OIT for a couple semesters in the early 80s
      Was a terrible student, i wanted to just go to our local CC and take auto mechanics, folks insisted i needed to go to college, 🙄

  7. I have used light, short gaiters with mid height boots for years backpacking in the CA Sierra. They keep dust, dirt, and sand out of boots and aren’t too warm in hot weather. Keeping socks dry in rain and cleaner socks on long trips is an added benefit.
    Tall gaiters similar to yours are a staple for cold weather and snow camping. I find they help keep my feet surprisingly warmer, probably by preventing heat from escaping between boot and pants.

  8. I thought it was just normal for the bottoms of pants to get wet and crusty when walking ( or playing) in snow. With gaiters, I’ll have to rethink the whole thing (hehe). Thanks for the idea. Good post. They could have helped prevent all that time warming up the bottoms so I could get the pants off after being frozen solid.

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