A gaiter is a tubular piece of fabric that keeps warm, wet or dirty snow out of your boots. They were originally designed to keep snow from soaking into leather boots, but now they’re used to keep sweat, snow and mud out of hiking boots, work boots, and rain boots.

In the Outdoor Testing Lab, we test gaiters for warmth, durability, and how well they keep snow out of your boots. We also evaluate how easy they are to put on and take off. And our testers wear them regularly to see how well they keep snow and water out. Here are 5 of the best gaiters you can buy in 2022, according to testing in the Outdoor Lab:

Length: The length of gaiters varies, depending on use. Gaiters intended for mountaineering and skiing should be long enough to go over your boot tops.
Materials: Gaiters made of nylon, breathable fabric, or DWR-treated nylon and spandex are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying.
Ease of use: Gaiters with cinch cords, toggles, or buckles allow for a quick and secure fit.

Best Overall: Rab Muztag GTX

Making full-on snow gaiters is a dubious proposition, because the garment is so bulky and heavy. But if you want to clip into an ice axe or crampon, then you need some kind of gaiter under your shoes. The best option we found was Rab’s Muztag GTX, a gaiter that functions as a balaclava, hood, sun block, and gaiter. The Muztag GTX has all of the essential components: a hood, a chin guard, a neck flap, a balaclava, and gaiters. The hood is warm, with a flip-up visor to keep your face from being sun burned on sunny days, and it can be rolled up and secured with an adjustable cord. The gaiters cover your lower shins and provide moisture protection on snowy or icy ascents. They also fold up easily into a small stuff sack, so it’s great for loading up a backpack before you head to your overnight camp. The only drawback is that the gaiters can be annoyingly tight if you have really thick wool socks, but that’s a reasonable tradeoff for the protection they provide.

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Features We Like
-Gore-Tex Pro for Breathability
-Hook-and-Loop Closure for Easy On and Off
-Waterproof for Summit Bids or Snowy Switchbacks
-Made for Technical Ascents

Best Bang for Your Buck: REI Co-op Backpacker Low

REI Co-op’s Backpacker Low gaiters are an affordable, durable and versatile choice—especially for hikers and backpackers who prefer to slop around on the trail wearing shoes or boots. These aren’t quite suitable for high-mileage, full-day hikes, but they’re still on par (audibly, at least) with pricier brands. Our testers found them to be comfortable, flexible, and functional, and at $29.99, REI Co-op’s gaiters offer an unbeatable mix of cost and quality.

– Lightweight
– Breathable material
– Very affordable
– Not waterproof
– Tends to develop small holes in fabric over time

Features We Like
-Great Value for Money
-Adjustable Straps
-Light Weight
-Multiple Colors

Most Comfortable Full-Length: Outdoor Research Helium

The Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters perform as well as the more expensive competition we tested. They’re lightweight, waterproof, breathable, and come in a range of colors. The elastic waistband is adjustable, so you can slip these on comfortably over your pants. They aren’t exactly cheap, but we found that they were worth the extra money.

– Easy-to-use, comfortable design
– Multiple adjustment options
– Advanced suspension system
– Expensive

Features We Like
-Breathable & Lightweight Waterproof Leg Gaiters
-Made for the people like you who love to stay on the trails
-Designed to cover the legs from knee to ankle
-Superlight, breathable, and waterproof
-Keep the moisture out and offer enough air flow keep you comfortable for long periods of time
-Great for Hiking Trail, Trekking, Mountain Climbing, Snow Sports
-Indoor & Outdoor Activities
-Easy To Put On | Easy To Take Off

Best for Trail Running and Thru-Hiking: Dirty Girl Gaiter

The Dirty Girl Gaiter is an extremely light and comfortable (and warm) option to protect your ankles and feet from getting caked in mud or snow. These gaiters are incredibly durable and very comfortable, with a 2-way stretch mesh fabric that conforms to the foot for maximum coverage. These gaiters are designed to be used with 0 ÂÂâÂÂâÂÂâÂÂ

– Very comfortable
– Keeps water, dirt, and snow out of your boots
– Reinforced elastic at bottom holds tight
– Doesn’t stretch well
– Heavy

Features We Like
-Easy to wear
-Comes in Small, Medium, & Large
-Great for Trail Running
-Best for thru-hiking

Old School: Black Diamond Talus

Black Diamond’s Talus boot top gaiters are intended to keep snow out. They work well at that, but they weigh about a pound more than comparable gaiters. They do a good job at keeping snow out of your boots, even while wearing a ski boot, but they add about a half-pound to the weight of my skis. Still, it’s a cheap piece of gear, and it works as advertised.

– Great traction
– Large surface area
– Low profile
– Comfortable
– Good pricing
Cons are
– Small size
– Small traction

Features We Like
-Hybrid design balances breathable comfort with durability
-The Black Diamond Talus is the ideal hybrid shoe for fast-and-light camping, trekking, and hiking with a durable leather toe and waterproof GORE-TEX membrane for protection against trail debris and water
-The Talus features a low-profile lugged rubber outsole, which delivers traction over mixed trail surfaces while shedding mud
-The Talus has a mesh upper, which delivers ventilation and keeps out debris
-The Talus has a lace-to-toe randing system, which delivers a custom and secure fit
-The Talus has a 3/4 mesh tongue, which delivers comfort
-The Talus has a TPU heel crash pad, which delivers protection
-The Talus has a nylon-cord instep strap, which delivers security
-The Talus has a gusseted tongue, which delivers a secure fit
-The Talus has a TPU heel clip, which delivers durability
-The Talus has a TPU lateral support post, which delivers

What is a gaiter and what are its benefits for outdoorsmen

Gaiters prevent debris and water from getting into your shoes. They help protect your feet and socks from debris and water. They’re made of either leather or fabric. Some are made of materials that are compatible with hiking shoes, like Gore-Tex, which is waterproof, breathable, and abrasion-resistant.

Gaiters are great to have during any outdoor activities or sports. They help protect your feet from debris, water, thorns, rocks, and other sharp objects. Most styles of gaiters come with a strap and a button hook, and some have adjustable straps. You tie them on and adjust them to fit your experience level.

Some styles are cut high in the back to prevent water from seeping into the upper part of your shoe. Fabric gaiters are perfect for wet conditions like snow and rain because they are lightweight, dry quickly, and donât shed water. Fabric gaiters also help clear snow from your shoes

Are gaiters only designed for men?

No. Women can also wear gaiters, but women often prefer a slimmer style. Gaiters have ceased to be worn with suits, and now they are worn with jeans, leather pants, or shorter parkas.

What type of gaiter should I buy?

There are many different types of gaiters, from plastic to cotton. You can wear gaiters with waterproof or water-resistant, windproof or soft shell lining. Some gaiters fit snugly and comfortably. Others don’t cover very much of your nose or mouth. To choose the right gaiter, you need to understand the type of weather you’re going to face. Gaiters are useful if you enjoy snowshoeing, skiing, or tobogganing.

Gaiters are made from many different materials. Cotton gaiters are common and relatively inexpensive. Synthetic gaiters such as Gore-Tex and Windstopper nylon protect against wind and water. Fleece gaiters keep your feet warm and are so comfortable that I often wear them as a jacket.

How do I choose the correct gaiter size?

Size is important when buying gaiters. Make sure that your gaiters are long enough to cover the cuff of your hiking boots, but not so long that they get caught on rocks or branches. Your gaiters should also be a pull-on style to make them easy to use.

A gaiter will protect your ankles if, for example, you hike in snow. It also allows your pant legs to be tucked in when you want to stay clean.