Gaiters are like boots, with different ones designed for different jobs. But are they just handy little accessories or wouldn’t-go-withouts?
With a good range to choose from according to durability, weight, length, latest technology and price, have a look at the gaiters available in your local outdoor shop and online.
My gear criteria are fairly minimal – I like gear that is light – but I am not fanatical – airy, and that will keep me dry, and even though I tend not to wander off the track, I want protection from prickly scrub if nature calls. So my new gaiters had to be light, waterproof and reasonably durable.
I like to buy from Australian companies, so I first checked the Sea to Summit range. I struck it lucky, because their Alpine Gore-tex gaiters met all my criteria, and were reasonably priced at $76. Since I bought mine, the waterproofing has been changed to eVent, but the price has stayed the same.
My gaiters have done the OT twice and have so far lived up to their promise, as they kept me and my pants dry on the very wet and muddy track last year. They are lightweight and easy to put on and get off and the Hypalon boot strap shows no sign of wear. To store, I just scrub the mud off, re-waterproof, dry thoroughly, and toss them in my boot box with Hippo. I volunteer at the Woodford Folk Festival, and last December it was steaming hot, wet and extremely muddy. I wore my gaiters comfortably every day for the whole week – which really tested their breathability.
My husband and sons prefer the heavier Sea to Summit Quagmire Canvas gaiter, because the wide front Velcro crossovers give their shins good protection rock scrambling. Being canvas, they weigh a lot more than mine, but the boys seem happy to trade the weight for this extra protection and durability – and the gaiters are so far standing up well to the heavy use. They cost about $70. If you are not keen on the weight of canvas, Quagmire also come in lighter, breathier eVent.
There are many other brands available, so when you are in need of some new gaiters, or want to buy some to give them a go, have a bit of fun searching out the common and the obscure. Here are a few sites to tempt you – in alphabetical order.
Cactus – these canvas gaiters brag they are tough, but they have a cute little cactus logo on the top of the stiff legs, just near the wire closing hook. These brutes can be posted anywhere in the world from New Zealand for $99. Sizes are small, medium and large. Check out these gaiters with grunt at www.cactusclimbing.co.nz
Crocodiles – from Outdoor Research. Come in men’s and women’s fits. They are double stitched on the front opening, and the women’s ones have a little embroidered flower on the side. I saw a girl buy a pair of these in lilac, which looked great new, but I don’t know how they would look after a bit of wear. Crocodiles cost about $100. www.outdoorresearch.com
Macpac –gaiters that also come in blue! Torlesse are made of light nylon that is fine for muddy, non-scratchy walking, but maybe not for prickly treks like the OT. They come in regular, long and women’s fit and cost about $55. Heavier duty Cascades are made from waterproof AzTec and cost about $80 – but you buy the nylon boot straps separately for about $15. www.macpac.com.au
Sea to Summit – 8 types to choose from – from the ankle length Spinifex to top of the range Summit. Priced from $30. www.seatosummit.com.au
Tatonka eVent Knee Highs – with no zips or Velcro, they are extra light and you have to put them on before your boots. They only weigh 190 grams, so might be a good option for you superlighters. Cost about $110. www.outdoorsurvival.com.au
Let us know what you think about gaiters – are they just handy little accessories, or do you never walk without them!
Researching Nordic Walking got me enthused about getting fit (again) – especially as a few sites say it is not that hard. Over the next four weeks I will explain how I should train for walking, using an interval programme to get me fit without injury. Does that appeal?