The 8 Best Men's Gaiters
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in December of 2016. With a great pair of gaiters strapped to his legs, a man is ready to brave anything the elements can throw at him ... from the knee to the ankle, at least. These handy accessories can keep snow, mud, debris, and rainwater from seeping into your footwear, and many will defang even the most biting windchill the winter blows toward those lower legs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best men's gaiter on Amazon.
Jackets For Your Footwear
Many of these materials offer improved breathability and resistance to abrasions or punctures from sharp objects.
Depending on where you live and the types of weather patterns you experience, certain outdoor elements seem to have a relentless knack for sneaking into your boots and shoes where your feet are the most vulnerable. I can't tell you how many times I've walked the streets during a torrential downpour only to have my sneakers soaked by the rain and my feet nearly frozen by the time I've reached my destination. Now, I'm not trying to say that all conventional footwear is worthless when it comes to protecting your feet from the outdoors and extreme weather, but a handy pair of gaiters will certainly provide some additional protection and warmth in a situation like this.
Gaiters are protective garments typically worn over the ankles and legs below the knee. They cover the tops of most shoes and boots for the purpose of preventing foot exposure to mud, water, snow, thorns, underbrush, and other debris that gets picked up while a person is hiking, skiing, walking, or mountaineering.
Common components for men's gaiters include an entry system, secured by long strips of Velcro on either side; a top closure, equipped with toggles and elasticized drawcords for fastening around the lower legs; lace hooks, designed for attaching to boot laces for added security; and instep straps, used to secure the lower edge of the gaiters when walking. Gaiters are usually constructed from durable, flexible fabrics and other materials like nylon, Gore-Tex, and eVent, among others. Many of these materials offer improved breathability and resistance to abrasions or punctures from sharp objects.
Men's gaiters are available in one of three height categories, including over-the-ankle, mid-calf, and knee length. Over-the-ankle styles are the shortest of all three and primarily designed for trail running and summer hiking activities. Mid-calf gaiters reach up to 12 inches in height from the ankle and are ideal for moderate walking activities and environments where wet underbrush, trail debris, and light rain are likely. Knee gaiters reach a maximum height of 18 inches and are perfect for hiking through deep snow and for traversing streets during heavy rainstorms.
It All Depends On The Adventure
The gaiters you choose will depend upon the terrain on which you plan to travel and the types of weather conditions you're likely to experience when performing physical activity. That said, the more rugged and extreme your environment becomes, the taller the pair of gaiters you should have to ensure maximum protection. In other words, don't go cheap on a simple pair of over-the-ankle gaiters when your ultimate goal is to climb Mount McKinley. Just the same, you don't need a pair of knee-length gaiters for a simple running trail on a sunny day. Practicality is key, and your intended use for the gaiters will inform the best decision.
Next, consider how the gaiters fit. Many men's gaiters are designed to fit relatively snug over most boots and shoes, so make sure to bring the specific pairs you plan to use with you when trying gaiters on in the store. It doesn't make a lot of sense to try on these accessories wearing an everyday pair of sneakers when you actually plan to go hiking with boots. Gaiters should close and fasten easily over your pants, as well. If you plan to use gaiters for extreme mountaineering adventures, look for a pair with durable and adjustable instep straps that are easy to tighten, as they'll help to minimize tripping hazards on steep inclines. When using lace hooks, try hooking the laces as close to the toes as possible to ensure maximum stability. Finally, any hardware with which the gaiters are equipped should be made from a resilient and weatherproof material like aluminum, minimizing the risk of the hardware breaking when you need it most.
When using gaiters in particularly cold conditions, always opt for a pair with multi-layered insulation, so you don't come back from your trip with icicles for feet.
A Brief History Of Men's Gaiters
The earliest gaiters date as far back as the 17th century. Referred to as spats (or spatterdashes) at the time, these accessories were simple leather or cloth coverings worn by both men and women for the purpose of protecting shoes and stockings from mud and water splashes. By the early 1700s, many European nations made gaiters part of the official military uniform with a focus on style and safety, as soldiers could protect their lower legs and ankles, while keeping dirt, sand, and mud from entering their shoes.
Reaching just below the knees, these gaiters were fashioned from black cotton, wool, or silk and buttoned up their sides.
Gaiters were later specialized in the 19th century for horseback riding as a means of protecting riders' legs from dirt and debris on the trail.
By the early 20th century, gaiters were considered less fashionable due to the popularity of men's boots, however the desire for gaiters increased around 1910 when shoe styles assumed a boot-like appearance representing a status symbol for well-to-do men. Gaiters were also used by the American army during both World Wars. Up until the middle of the 20th century, gaiters were included as part of the clerical wardrobe for bishops of the Church of England. Reaching just below the knees, these gaiters were fashioned from black cotton, wool, or silk and buttoned up their sides.
Thanks to a variety of weatherproof fabrics and sturdy attachments, modern men's gaiters can be engineered with safety and durability in mind, allowing them to accommodate virtually any kind of rugged outdoor activity or adventurous lifestyle.
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