Keep Your Feet Dry With Gaiters

Choose the right type of gaiter for your trip.

When it comes to keeping you dry in sloppy terrain, even the best waterproof boots have their Achilles heel—an open top. That's why many hikers wear gaiters to keep snow, water, and rocks away from this gap. These mudflaps for your boots come in many sizes and styles to tackle everything from desert to Himalayan conditions. Here's how to match the type to your trip.

Moisture

Do you need gaiters that block water, or ones that breathe freely?

Waterproof models repel rain and snow, and can also handle stream crossings and muddy trails—valuable protection in areas that may see wet conditions for multiple days. They come in ankle- and calf-high versions, plus specialized insulated styles for high-altitude mountaineering.

Water-resistant gaiters are typically made of thin nylon or a soft-shell fabric. They're lightweight and breathable, and best for keeping debris out of your shoes. More than a light rain will soak them.

Temperature

Are you planning three-season hikes or winter excursions?

Calf-high gaiters (which reach almost to the knee) are best for consistently wet, cold conditions. In a warm rain or temps above 40°F, wear them with shorts to stay cool.

You can ford streams up to 8 inches deep with waterproof models that have wide, secure zipper flaps.

Ankle-high gaiters work well with low-cut boots or trail runners to block sand, twigs, scree, and firm summer snow. Thin, non-waterproof versions are popular with desert hikers.

Wear gaiters under rain pants for the best waterproof seal over your boots and socks.