Gear Review: Gaiters

Gaiters can be a divisive piece of outdoor kit – some walkers swear by them for keeping mud and wet undergrowth from soaking their feet and trousers, whilst others find them a fussy hindrance. In the winter season, though, they become truly essential to prevent the snow from entering the top of your boots.

Over the last few months we’ve been testing a wide variety of gaiters. Here’s our vedict:

Rab Latok Alpine Gaiter GTX

Recommended price: £55
Weight: 212g pair (women’s medium)

Goretex fabric on the legs and reinforced Robic nylon at the ankle has proved to be a breathable and robust combination. A thick velcro fastening runs down the front with extra security of a press stud at the top and additional velcro loop at the bottom and a plastic catch to attach to laces which hooks under the laces (the opposite to most gaiters) slightly fiddly to attach but it doesn’t come off during use which sometimes happens with the traditional fastening. A rubber strap goes under the boot and cleverly fixes to the inside of the gaiter so avoiding any dangerous flapping excess material. The strap is also replaceable but it appears fairly robust and has stood up to mixed terrain well so I’d expect it to last as long as the gaiters. The top is elasticated but not too tight and can be tightened with a pull cord.

I found the women’s fit is on the slim side – if you have large calves you may need to go up a size. They are easy to put on, stay in place, and they are noticeably more breathable than most in warm, wet conditions. A reliable, good quality gaiter at a fair price.

Made in Vietnam, women’s and men’s versions available in S, M, L and black or navy.

Alpkit Colca Gaiter

Recommended price: £36 – currently on offer at £29.99
Weight: 210g pair (size M/L)

Fabric on the uppers is 3 layer waterproof and breathable nylon with reinforced Cordura on the lower half. There’s a wide velcro strip fastening down the front. At the top they are tightened with a buckle and strap – I much prefer this to gaiters I’ve worn with stretchy cord at the top which I find restricts circulation when worn all day. There’s a traditional metal hook to attach to the laces and an underfoot strap, again done up with a slightly fiddly buckle. This one has a stow away flap to prevent excess strap from flapping or getting snagged with your crampons. Alpkit promise to replace the strap if it wears out, though it’s sewn on at one end.

The fit is generous (if you’re particularly short, check the measurements on the Alpkit website or in store) and they stay in place well during wear. Whilst not quite as breathable as some on test, the fabric is robust and overall it represents great value.

Unisex, available in black or light blue/black in sizes S/M and M/L. Country of manufacturer unknown.

Berghaus Expeditor Gaiter

Recommended price: £35
Weight: 210g S/M R pair

Traditional gaiter with velcro strip, off-set press stud fastener at the top, pull cord to tighten top, and a metal hook to attach to boot laces. The underfoot strap is reasonably tough, easily adjustable and can be completely replaced as it’s attached via velcro. Fabric is 300 denier polyester on the uppers and thicker 600 dp on the ankles and storm flap.

Slim fit but slightly stretchy back panel adds to walking comfort; the gaiters can slide down if the top cord is not adjusted regularly. Appears to be well made and robust. Not breathable as the goretex version, but still performed well considering the lower price. Black only, made in China, available in 2 lengths and sizes S/M, M/L, L/XL.

Rab Trek Gaiter

Recommended price: £33
Weight: 264g pair (size L)

The upper is made from Watergate ripstop waterproof and breathable fabric with reinforced ankle and stormflap fabric, with both zip and velcro front fastening with press studs at top and bottom. The zips make putting them on more fiddly but some people prefer not to rely totally on velcro as it can fail at very low temperatures – although we’ve had no problems in sub-zero temperatures with any of these on test. Metal hook for boot laces and replaceable rubber strap attached by two (slightly fiddly) buckles – the straps need to be trimmed with scissors once adjusted to your length, as they sit on the outside of the gaiter and could otherwise get caught in crampons.

The fit is generous with the addition of an elasticated strip to cinch it in at the ankle which keeps the gaiter in place but makes it warmer to wear. They have a slight tendency to slide down, the top draw cord needs to be kept tightened which I don’t always find so comfortable, but overall the fit is good. Two colours (black, grey), sizes S, M, L, separate women’s/men’s versions, made in Vietnam.

Alpkit Kantju

Recommended price: £22.99 – currently on offer
Weight: 20g pair (size S/M)

Here is something very different – an ankle gaiter designed for runners, it’s also a lightweight option for walkers in trail shoes wanting to keep stones and bits of heather etc out of footwear. A simple band of stretchy ripstop fabric with a velcro volume adjuster at the top, robust hook for attaching to laces and adjustable, replaceable double cord underfoot strap.

Lightweight and comfortable once on, you don’t notice they are there and they do the job of keeping stones out, also useful as another line of protection against ticks in summer. It has to go on before footwear. Unisex, black/grey only, sizes S/M and M/L, made in China.

Vaude Albona Gaiter II

Recommended price: £35
Weight: 100g pair (size L)

Made from almost transparent siliconized ripstop Cordura fabric with no additional reinforcing. Full length zip is at the side, with a stormflap, cord tightener at the top. There’s an elasticated back at the bottom to keep them in place and a large hook which goes under the laces to attach to footwear. A simple, replaceable shoelace cord goes under the instep. Water resistant rather than waterproof and although not breathable, the thinness of the fabric adds to the comfort.

These simple gaiters are extremely lightweight, making them a great option for a backpacking trip, though they aren’t so tough for wintry conditions where crampons are being worn. Orange, unisex sizes S, M, L. Manufactured to Vaude’s Green Shape environmental standards.

Berghaus GTX Gaiter

Recommended price: £50
Weight: 240g pair (size L/XL long)

Same design as the Berghaus Expeditor but in Goretex fabric with reinforcing for the ankle area and stormflap. Noticeably more breathable (on a par with the Rab Latok) and well made, the breathable, waterproof fabric makes them worth the additional cost. More reflective trim than the Expeditor but the same useful features of internal adjusting, replaceable instep strap, wide velcro front fastening and off-set press stud at the top.

Black only, made in China, available in 2 lengths and sizes S/M, M/L, L/XL.

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