Snow, water, dirt and pebbles have a way of sneaking into even the most waterproof of boots. To prevent this, put on some gaiters. Gaiters cover the vulnerable tops of your footwear to fully protect your feet from the elements.
Gaiter shopping is not complicated. This article gives you the basics.
The right pair of gaiters depends on the kinds of trips you have planned and the conditions you expect. The main types:
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Gaiter height depends on how much protection you need.
Entry system: Gaiters are usually opened and secured by front rip-and-stick fasteners (VELCRO® brand or similar), although a few models feature a sturdy zippered entry. Older models tended to be rear entry, which offered less convenient on/off access.
Top closures: Basic gaiters are typically cinched with toggles and elasticized drawcords; some models are a bit fancier and feature a dedicated top strap with cam buckle.
Instep straps: These secure the lower edge of your gaiters around your boots' insteps. Basic gaiters come with simple lace straps. Premium gaiters feature beefier leather/synthetic straps for extra durability.
Lace hooks: Offered on some styles, these let you attach your boot laces to your gaiters for added security.
Much like with outerwear, fabrics help define the level of gaiter performance you're going to get. Most gaiters feature a lower section that is abrasion-resistant to fend off scrapes and an upper section that is waterproof or highly water-resistant. Here's a breakdown of the most common fabric players:
Get a snug fit: Most gaiter styles come in sizes, which are aligned with a range of boot sizes. When you try on gaiters, adjust the straps to make sure the fit is snug. Your goal is to achieve the best possible seal around your boots.
Wear low gaiters under your rain pants: This creates the most waterproof seal.
By Steve Tischler
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Last updated: 11/11/2013
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