17+ Best Gaiters For Hiking, Backpacking, And Trail Running

By Jack Barker


Often times while hiking, our boots and hiking pants are just not enough to protect us from the elements.

Snow, mud, branches, and rocks can be a nuisance while hiking. This debris can get into our boots or shoes, making the hiking experience uncomfortable. Hiking for hours with cold, wet, and muddy legs is just not that pleasant!

Using gaiters over your hiking pants and footwear is a great way to protect your legs from the elements while hiking.

Hiking gaiters are one of my favorite items of hiking gear that I own along with microspikes.

In this guide, we will help you find the best hiking gaiters for your specific needs.

Best hiking gaiters to keep you dry and comfortable
Gaiters will keep your feet comfortable in a variety of trail conditions.

Best Hiking Gaiters 2023 Quick Picks

Best Ankle Gaiters For Trail Running: Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters

Best Mid Gaiters For Hiking: Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Mid GTX Gaiters

Best Tall Gaiters For Deep Snow: Outdoor Research Crocodile GORE-TEX Gaiters

Best Gaiters For Backpacking: Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters

Best Budget Pick Gaiters: REI Co-op Backpacker Low Gaiters

Best Waterproof Gaiters: Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Mid GTX Gaiters

Best Snow Gaiters: Outdoor Research Crocodile GORE-TEX Gaiters

17+ Best Hiking Gaiters For Men and Women

These are our top picks of the best gaiters you can wear hiking.

The Best Ankle Gaiters and Low-Cut Gaiters for 2023

Low-cut gaiters are perfect for trail running gaiters with your trail running shoes and microspikes in snow.

Ankle gaiters can also be worn with hiking shoes or hiking boots.

Keep out debris in dry conditions with some summer gaiters. Or, add some extra weather resistance during seasons when rain or snow is a factor.

These are the most lightweight gaiters you can buy.

1. Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters

Best use: Trail running or hiking.

Pros: Tough, durable fabric is stretchy and extremely breathable. Durable adjustable and replaceable strap.

Cons: More expensive (but much better value).

These are great trail running gaiters that I own and use with my Speedgoat 4 trail runners.

They keep my feet dry in snowy or wet conditions. In dry conditions, they keep dust, small rocks, and other debris out of my shoes.

The Ultimate Direction FK gaiters are made of durable, stretchy Kill Twill Cordura.

These gaiters have adjustable (and replaceable) straps that work well with different shoes.

Check price: Moosejaw | Amazon | Outdoor Gear Exchange

Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters - in snow
Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters - top view
Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters - top view

2. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hybrid Gaiters

Best use: Hiking or trail running, effective in light rain or snow.

Pros: Wind and rain resistant, sun protection, more durable (replaceable straps) than the Swiftland Running and Altra trail running gaiters.

Cons: No complaints, a good runner-up to the Ultimate Direction gaiters

Simple, lightweight gaiters to keep dirt, debris, rocks, sticks, and weather out of your shoes. A mix of nylon/spandex and polyester/elastane, the hybrid materials maximize overall durability, breathability, and weather resistance. These gaiters offer UPF 50+ sun protection. Perfect for fast-moving hikers and trail runners.

3. REI Co-op Swiftland Running Gaiters

Best use: Trail running.

Pros: Lightweight fabric is stretchy and breathable. More affordable.

Cons: Less durable underfoot strap (will wear out) than the Ultimate Direction gaiters.

A good lightweight, budget-friendly pair of trail running gaiters. The strap and optional clip can better secure these gaiters to your hiking shoes or trail runners.

4. Altra Trail Gaiters

Best use: Trail running, Altra shoes.

Pros: Very lightweight, budget-friendly.

Cons: Less secure since they do not have a strap around the foot. Not as durable.

A budget-friendly choice, and this time even lighter. Best for attaching over hiking shoes and for low-commitment hikes or even trail running. Great for keeping dirt out in very dry trail conditions.

5. REI Co-op Flash Gaiters

Best use: hiking in wet weather conditions or snow.

Pros: 3-layer waterproof fabric, budget-friendly

Cons: Underfoot cord isn’t as durable as the Kahtoola RENAgaiter Low Gaiters.

These gaiters are made of lightweight nylon spandex fabric.

Best for trails with small puddles. These gaiters will fend off rain, snow, dirt, and debris.

They can fit over hiking shoes, hiking boots, or trail runners.

6. Kahtoola CONNECT Gaiters

Best use: Hiking or trail running in the snow with microspikes and nanospikes by Kahtoola.

Pros: Zipper for easy on/off, water-resistant, durable yet lightweight construction.

Cons: A bit more pricey but seem to offer good value.

These are interesting low to mid-gaiters because they connect directly to your winter traction devices.

They are the ultimate trail-running snow machines.

The Connect gaiters are lightweight, water-resistant, breathable stretch-woven nylon fabric. The front zipper allows for easy on and off.

Check Price: Moosejaw | Amazon | Backcountry

7. Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in light snow or rain conditions.

Pros: More protective and substantial gaiters compared to trail-running ankle gaiters. Durable straps.

Cons: Not waterproof, but way more durable than all gaiters listed above. Baggy design can snag on brush or rocks.

A budget-friendly choice, this gaiter is best when you want something light for drier trail conditions.

Note these gaiters are not waterproof, although they will do well in light wet conditions.

The Best Mid-Calf Gaiters for 2023

These gaiters are great for fending off bugs or if you need a bit more coverage and protection against persistently bad weather.

8. Kahtoola RENAgaiter Mid Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in climates where rain is less of a factor.

Pros: Weather-resistant, tough nylon fabric, durable (and replaceable) straps guaranteed to 1000 miles.

Cons: Not waterproof, but this is what you want in dry climates.

Kahtoola has created a nice lineup of gaiters that focus on comfort, a great sleek fit, and durable straps. I also like the easy on-and-off zipper access. This model is not waterproof but provides adequate weather resistance since it has a DWR coating. These gaiters are versatile and great for climates where you do not expect heavy rain.

Also available in a low-cut version.

9. Outdoor Research Bugout Rocky Mountain Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in buggy conditions.

Pros: Bug-repelling gaiters. I like the streamlined design (they won’t catch foliage).

Cons: Underfoot strap lacks durability and isn’t replaceable.

This pair of gaiters is designed to be an insect-repelling option for hiking in the summer.

Coated with insect repellent, this is a great use for a gaiter.

Great for dry trail conditions.

These gaiters are also available as knee-high gaiters.

Check Price: Outdoor Research | Backcountry | REI

10. Kahtoola INSTAgaiter Mid Gaiters

Best use: Hiking or running in light rain, snow, or dry conditions.

Pros: DWR coating is weather resistant. TPU instep strap is more durable.

Cons: More expensive but are more durable and offer better protection.

The adjustment options on these gaiters will make for a tight fit. The zipper on the side of the gaiter makes for an easy way to take these gaiters on and off.

These lightweight gaiters are great for a little mud and drizzle but not for extremely wet conditions.

You can also get these gaiters in a low-cut version.

11. REI Co-op Backpacker Low Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in snow or rain.

Pros: Versatile, great price for durable, waterproof, and protective gaiters.

Cons: No real complaints.

These are a great waterproof option for a mid-calf gaiter. This is the most durable of the gaiters in the mid-calf category.

The Best Knee-High Gaiters and Deep Snow Gaiters for 2023

These longer knee-height gaiters are best for very wet weather or deep snow.

12. Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters

Best use: Lightweight knee-high protection for hiking in light rain or snow.

Pros: Budget-friendly knee-high gaiters.

Cons: Not waterproof, but that is okay in dry climates.

Just like the low version mentioned above in this list, but knee-high.

This is a simple, lightweight pair of gaiters that will help you drive through deep snow.

Check price at REI | Outdoor Research

13. Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters (MEN | WOMEN)

Best use: Versatile gaiters for hiking in rain or snow.

Pros: Lightweight, packable, and waterproof. Replaceable straps.

Cons: There’s a limit to the weather resistance; however better protection compared to the OR Rocky Mountain gaiters.

Waterproof, lightweight, packable, knee-height gaiters for men and women. Waterproofing is Pertex Shield waterproof/breathable laminate with Diamond Fuse Technology that is also abrasion-resistant fabric. Features a drawcord in top hem, hook and loop front closures, and replaceable instep straps.

Check price at REI | Outdoor Research

14. Outdoor Research Crocodile GORE-TEX Gaiters (MEN | WOMEN)

Best use: Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing in deep snow.

Pros: Waterproof GORE-TEX protection. Fantastic knee-high protection. Durable.

Cons: Most expensive.

This pair of waterproof gaiters is our top pick for durability and protection.

They are available in four color options.

The best choice for extremely rough trail conditions or hiking in the snow.

Check price at REI | Backcountry | Outdoor Research

15. REI Co-op Backpacker Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in deep snow.

Pros: 3-layer waterproof fabric, breathable, extra durable around the ankles. Most affordable knee-high gaiters offer excellent protection.

Cons: Not as sleek a design as the Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters.

REI’s knee-high gaiter comes with a great buckle to secure the gaiter while hiking.

This is another great option for a durable, waterproof gaiter for winter conditions or rough terrain.

The REI Backpacker gaiters are also available in a mid-shin height.

16. Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Tall GTX Gaiters

Best use: Backpacking in deep snow. 4-season protection.

Pros: Lightweight and packable. GORE-TEX waterproof fabric. Durable TPU instep strap.

Cons: No complaints; these are amazing gaiters made by a trustworthy company.

Looking for a pair of backpacking gaiters?

These Kahtoola gaiters offer 3-layer GORE-TEX protection for 4-season use in wet or snowy conditions.

They are lightweight and pack away small into your backpack when you don’t need them. This makes them ideal for backpacking.

The Asymmetrical Aquaguard zippers won’t rub your ankle bones when you move.

These gaiters are also available in a mid-cut length.

17. Kahtoola NAVAgaiter GTX Gaiters

Best use: Hiking and backpacking in deep snow or rain when protection is necessary.

Pros: Most durable Kahtoola gaiters. 3-layer GORE-TEX protection. Straps guaranteed to 1000 miles of hiking. Good looking sleek design.

Cons: None.

These durable gaiters are great for hiking and backpacking. They also feature 3-layer GORE-TEX fabric for the best in waterproof protection. Made of ultra-tough nylon fabric below the ankles.

18. Outdoor Research Cascadia II Gaiters

Best use: Hiking in deep snow.

Pros: Snug fit, top-notch protection, 3-layer GORE-TEX waterproof fabric, super durable nylon (420D), replaceable instep straps.

Cons: None.

These gaiters also provide excellent protection using 3-layer GORE-TEX fabric. The 420D nylon below the ankles is durable. These gaiters are a good versatile option for hiking.

Check price at REI | Outdoor Research

Leg Gaiters Buyer’s Guide and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Okay, we have presented our top picks for gaiters. Read on to learn more about gaiters and how to choose the best gaiters for your hiking, backpacking, and trail running adventures.

What are gaiters?

Gaiters are a layer of fabric put over your winter hiking boots and hiking pants to protect your legs and feet from the elements.

They include a strap under the boot and some adhesive such as velcro to keep the gaiter on while hiking.

Gaiters are often made from waterproof or water-resistant material to keep you dry. They are most commonly made with nylon with some weather-resistant coating.

The difference between water-resistant and waterproof gaiters is that water-resistant gaiters will only repel small amounts of water. Water-resistant gaiters are best used for drier trail conditions.

Waterproof gaiters would be recommended for snowy and wet trail conditions. Waterproof gaiters do tend to be more expensive and happen to be paired with more durable material.

Are gaiters effective?

Hiking gaiters can be incredibly effective at keeping your feet dry and comfortable. My experience is mostly using gaiters while hiking in deep snow.

Last Spring, while hiking in the snow, I wore my gaiters and hiking shoes. My hiking buddy wore hiking boots with no gaiters. Not wearing gaiters resulted in wet socks and feet due to snow getting into the boots. Because I had gaiters on, the snow barely made it into my hiking shoes. My feet were warm, dry, and comfortable.

So, yes, gaiters can be super effective!

When to use gaiters?

Gaiters are great for snow hiking and muddy and wet trails.

They can also be a good idea for hiking off-trail, where one might be hiking through branches and vegetation that comes up past the ankles. Gaiters are great at protecting the skin from abrasion.

Another time to use gaiters is when wearing microspikes or crampons. Gaiters are made with more durable material than hiking pants are made of. It is very easy to rip up hiking pants while hiking with micro-spikes or crampons. Gaiters can protect you from ripping your pants and accidentally cutting your legs.

Gaiters can even be used to protect from biting insects while hiking in the summer.

What kind of gaiters should I buy?

Purchasing gaiters is relatively simple. The best way to categorize gaiters is into different styles. These different styles are meant for different trail conditions.

Low-cut gaiters

Low-cut gaiters are great for trail running and drier conditions.

If you enjoy trail running as well as drier hiking trail conditions, pick these!

These are the lightest gaiters and will sacrifice some durability.

Mid-calf gaiters

These are great for all-around gaiters.

Mid-calf gaiters are best for hiking in spring and fall when the trails are muddy and wet.

Look for durability and waterproofness in mid-calf gaiters.

Knee height gaiters

Mid-knee gaiters are best for potentially very wet conditions such as winter hiking. These gaiters will protect your legs from deep snow.

Durability and waterproofing are very important considerations for these gaiters. Knee-height gaiters are heavier and more expensive, but they will be worth the weight!

These are the best gaiters for snow.

How to wear gaiters

To put on your hiking gaiters, first, adjust the buckle on the bottom of the gaiter. This is the size adjustment for the hiking boot. It should fit tightly on the bottom of the boot.

When putting them on, first take the bottom of the gaiter with the buckle and secure it to the bottom of your boot. On the lower cut gaiters, this could also be an elastic band. Just make sure to adjust the bottom of the gaiter first

Next, adjust the tab at the top of the gaiter. This can be a pull tab, velcro, or adjusted by an elastic band. Just make sure the gaiter is on there nice and tight!

Sizing tips for hiking gaiters

Sizing for gaiters is quite simple; it will be under a range for your boot size.

It is recommended that you try on the gaiters before using them outside.

Like socks, sometimes the size ranges are not perfect!

Gaiters should fit snuggly over your boot and not fall off while hiking.

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