9 Best Gaiters for Hiking

We tested the best gaiters for hiking for 2024 and this is what we found.

Updated on January 17th, 2024
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Gaiters are worn to block debris, shield shins, channel runoff, and insulate. Depending on trail conditions they can be overkill or a godsend. 

We tested all the recommended gaiters for hiking and this is what we found. Read on to see which model is best for you and get some buying advice.

Best Gaiters for Hiking

 The best gaiters for hiking are:

Model Weight Height Attachment Material PRICE Score
1. Dirty Girl Gaiters 1.5 oz Ankle Velcro & hook Spandex $20 9/10
2. Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters 2.1 oz Mid Undershoe strap, shoelace hook Nylon and spandex $39 8/10
3. Salomon Trail Running Gaiters 4.9 oz Ankle Velcro Polyester $30 8/10
4. REI Co-op Backpacker Low 6.5 oz Mid Hook & loop closure Nylon $44.95 8/10
5. Rab Latok Extreme Gaiters 12 oz High Hook & loop closure 70D Gore-Tex® Pro $90 8/10
6. Kathoola RENAGaiter - Mid 3.7-4.1 oz Mid Instep strap w/ side zipper Nylon and polyurethane $59.95 8/10
7. Rab Trek Gaiter 7.2 oz High Hook & loop closure 70D 2L Ripstop Nylon $55 8/10
8. Black Diamond Apex 8.1 oz High Hook & loop closure Three-layer Gore-Tex $89.95 7/10
9. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters 10.2 oz High Instep Strap, Hook & loop closure 3-layer Gore-Tex nylon $89 7/10

Best Overall Leg Gaiters for Hiking:


Price: $90

See on REI
rab latok extreme gaiter


✅ Waterproof

✅ Comfortable fit


❌ Cost

❌ Weight


  • Weight: 12 ounces (0.75 lbs)
  • Height: High
  • Attachment: Hook and loop closure
  • Material: 70D Gore-Tex® Pro

The Rab Latok Extreme gaiters offer superior protection without the bulk. We were surprised to find that the eVent outer layer and Watergate back panel of the Latok Extremes offer a rare combination of excellent breathability and exceptional 70D Gore-Tex waterproofing.

We also liked that these gaiters slip on easily and have many points of adjustment to keep them comfortably snug on your legs. And they fit over lower-volume hiking boots well. Our biggest drawbacks are the Rab Latok Extreme weight and price. They are the heaviest and most expensive gaiters on our list. But in the right conditions, they are worth it, making them our best overall leg gaiters.

Best Overall Mid Gaiters for Hiking:


Price: $39

See on Outdoor Research See on Amazon
Ferrosi Thru Gaiters By Outdoor Research


✅ Lightweight

✅ Comfortable


❌ Durability

❌ Fit hiking shoes only


  • Weight: 2.1 ounces (0.13 lbs)
  • Height: Mid
  • Attachment: Undershoe strap and shoelace hook
  • Material: Nylon and spandex

The Ferrosi Thru gaiters offer a mid-height gaiter at an impressively light 2.1 ounces. We like the 10 inches of protection for your legs and a DWR finish to keep you dry. We found the mix of nylon and spandex fabrics allows for stretching with movement, making them a comfortable option.

The top cinch and under-shoe strap perform well to hold the gaiters up. However, the under-shoe strap means they fit best with hiking shoes with a slight arch. As with many ultralight products, we found durability to be an issue. Despite that, these are our best overall mid-gaiters for hiking.

Best Overall Ankle Gaiters for Hiking:


Price: $20

See on Summit Hut
dirty girl gaiter


✅ Ultralight

✅ Price

✅ Comfortable


❌ Not waterproof

❌ Durability


  • Weight: 1.5 ounces (0.09 lbs)
  • Height: Ankle
  • Attachment: Velcro and hook
  • Material: Spandex

A thru-hiking favorite and at 1.5 ounces per pair, these ultralight gaiters won’t add much weight or space to your load. We love that they are also the least expensive gaiter on our list. We found the stretchy lycra spandex fabric to be super comfortable. The fabric is not water-repellent, we like these gaiters for keeping out sand, dirt, and debris.

They attach with a hook over your shoe rack in the front and a self-adhesive velcro patch on the back. We don’t like that over time the velcro’s adhesive can weaken. We recommend carrying a couple of backup pieces. All of Dirty Girl’s flamboyant designs are low gaiters reaching to mid-ankle. We vote these our best ankle gaiters.

Most Durable & Protective Gaiters:


Price: $89

See on Outdoor Research See on REI
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters


✅ Ultra-durable

✅ Extreme protection


❌ Heavy

❌ Expensive


  • Weight: 10.2 ounces (0.64 lbs)
  • Height: High
  • Attachment: Instep Strap, Hook and loop closure
  • Material: 3-layer Gore-Tex nylon

Outdoor Research’s Crocodile Gaiters are designed for some of the toughest backcountry terrains. Made to fit over hiking boots, we love taking these leg gaiters through the thickest thorns and sharpest rocks out there. A heavy-duty triple-layer Gore-tex fabric makes these gaiters highly insulated, with enough waterproofing to trek through deep snow without soaking through.

We did find them to be uncomfortable in warmer conditions. The instep strap is sturdy and able to withstand heavy crampon abuse. As you might imagine, we found all this protection comes at a price, both in cost and extra weight.

The Other Noteworthy Models

Salomon Trail Running Gaiters

Price: $30

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salomon trail running gaiter


✅ Easy on/off

✅ Durable instep strap

✅ Ankle support


❌ Require re-adjustment while wearing


  • Weight: 2.1 ounces (0.13 lbs)
  • Height: Ankle
  • Attachment: Hook and loop closure
  • Material: Polyester

Salomon’s Trail Running Gaiters have an easy-to-use, single velcro strap on the front and a thicker-than-average instep strap for additional security and durability. We love that the velcro allows you to put the gaiters on without taking off your shoes, a rarity for low gaiters.

Though thicker than most, we didn’t find any irritation or chafing on the ankle. The fabric is also more water-resistant than other competitors. The full strap-and-wrap design provides a bit of extra support and can act akin to an ankle brace. With only one attachment point on your shoe (the underfoot strap) we found these gaiters often require re-adjustment while wearing.

REI Co-op Backpacker Low

Price: $44.95

See on REI
rei co-op backpacker low


✅ Good all-around gaiter

✅ Durable


❌ Heavy mid-gaiter


  • Weight: 6.5 ounces (0.41 lbs)
  • Height: Mid
  • Attachment: Hook and loop closure
  • Material: Nylon

Don’t let the “low” name deceive you, these are actually mid-height gaiters. Square in the middle of the pack for most performance categories, we like the REI Low gaiters as a well-rounded model for those wanting one do-it-all pair.

The nylon fabric is waterproof and thicker at the ankles to offer extra protection. The velcro closure runs the length of the gaiter for easy on and off. At 6.5 ounces they are the heaviest mid-height gaiters on our list. But the affordable price point makes these a solid buy.

Kathoola RENAGaiter - Mid

Price: $59.95

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Kathoola RENAGaiter - Mid


✅ Easy on/off

✅ Lightweight

✅ Durable

✅ Replaceable underfoot strap


❌ Expensive mid-gaiter


  • Weight: 3.7 ounces (0.23 lbs) (S/M) | 4.1 ounces (0.26 lbs) (L/XL)
  • Height: Mid
  • Attachment: Underfoot strap and side zipper
  • Material: Nylon and polyurethane

The RENAGaiter features a breathable nylon construction with a DWR finish to keep water out. A major plus to these gaiters is the side zippers. We like that you can put the gaiters on and off without removing your shoes. Kahtoola focused on making the underfoot strap extra durable with rock guard protection and a 1,000-mile warranty.

What we love the most is that the strap is easily replaceable. No need to dispose of the gaiter if the strap breaks. Like other underfoot straps, it doesn’t perform as well with flat-soled shoes. Take care to zipper the zips fully or else the gaiters can slide down during use.

Rab Trek Gaiter

Price: $55

See on REI
rab trek gaiter


✅ Lightweight

✅ Price


❌ Durability

❌ Best in moderate off-trail conditions


  • Weight: 7.2 ounces (0.45 lbs)
  • Height: High
  • Attachment: Hook and loop closure
  • Material: 70D 2L Ripstop Nylon

The Rab Trek gaiter is the most affordably priced and lightest leg gaiter on our list. The DWR-treated nylon fabric keeps the elements out to a reasonable extent. The zippered sides add extra protection to snow out, even if the velcro fails.

We found durability to be the biggest drawback to the Rab Trek. For that reason, we think these gaiters are best suited for moderate off-trail conditions. If you need something more robust, the Rab Extreme gaiters are worth the extra cost and weight penalty.

Black Diamond Apex

Price: $89.95

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black diamond apex


✅ Great cold weather option

✅ Waterproof

✅ Durable


❌ Comfort


  • Weight: 8.1 ounces (0.51 lbs)
  • Height: High
  • Attachment: Hook and loop closure
  • Material: Three-layer Gore-Tex

If you want a high-performance gaiter for cold weather the Apex GTX is for you. We like that the thick, ultra-durable, three-layer Gore-Tex provides insulation from snow, ice, and abrasions from rocks. They are waterproof, even providing protection during stream crossings. However, we found the thick fabric to be stiff, making them less comfortable than more breathable models.

They can also be fiddly to put on, but they stay securely in place once they are. They are the second most expensive gaiters on our list. Although they are on the heavier side, in tough winter conditions they can’t be beaten.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing


Gaiters range widely in price. Simple low gaiters can be as low as $20, while rugged leg gaiters can reach $90+. Premium gaiters are made of durable materials that offer high degrees of protection and waterproofing while still being comfortable and breathable.

Gaiters that provide the greatest value:

Most Affordable Low Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters

Most Affordable Mid Gaiters: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters

Most Affordable Leg Gaiters: Rab Trek Gaiter

Premium Gaiters (most expensive):



The thickness of the gaiter material is the biggest factor in weight. Simple, thin spandex and nylon models weigh the least. Rugged, GORE-Tex waterproof options weigh the most. Gaiter height also affects the price. Low gaiters weigh the least and leg gaiters weigh the most.

The Lightest Low Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters

The Lightest Mid Gaiters: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters

The Lightest Leg Gaiters: Rab Trek Gaiter

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters with strap and hook attachment


Comfort is a mix of materials, seal, and breathability. Spandex is the most comfortable material while stiffer nylon can rub and chafe. A snug fit is important to keep the gaiter secure to prevent unnecessary rubbing. Like a raincoat, your gaiters must offer breathability to keep your legs cool and sweat-free. They should also seal around your shoe to prevent rocks and debris from getting in. We’ll cover comfort in more detail below.

The most comfortable Low Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters

The most comfortable Mid Gaiters: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters

The most comfortable Leg Gaiters: Rab Latok Extreme Gaiters

hiker walking with gaiters

Other Things to Consider


high, mid, low gaiters

High Gaiters (left): Best for extreme and rough conditions - bushwhacking off trail, snow post-holing, etc.

  • Shin height, sometimes up to the knee. Usually designed to be worn over boots rather than shoes.
  • Heavy and often waterproof.
  • Hardshell and rugged to protect against snow, ice, rock or heavy bush.

Mid Gaiters (middle): Best all-in-one gaiters. Offer basic protection in rough, wet conditions while still being flexible and breathable.    

  • Shin height. Can be worn over both trail running shoes or heavier hiking boots.
  • Mid-weight with a balance of waterproofing and breathability.
  • Flexible material gives protection against rocks and snow.

Low Gaiters (right): Best for most backpacking and trail running - sandy, muddy or debris-heavy trail.

  • Ankle height, typically under a foot tall.
  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Keep out trail debris without inhibiting movement.
hiker showing off gaiters


You want them to slip on and off easily. You might want to take your shoes off and wade across the creek, have a blister in between your toes, or just want to let your feet breathe at lunch. Whatever the case, you need to have easy access to your feet. This is why the ease of entry is so important.

rab gaiters when worn in snow

Most high gaiters are “stepped into” like a leg cast. Make sure the heel strap is in place on your boot… and then zip (or velcro) it up. I vote front entry (instead of rear) because you can actually see what you are looking at.

instep strap
REI Co-op Backpacker Low's instep strap

Most low gaiters utilize a stretchy material (kind of like the old school book covers) that you slip your foot into before you put on your shoes. Think of it like a skirt… for your ankle.

RENAgaiter's nylon material
Kathoola RENAGaiter - Mid features a breathable nylon construction


Strap and Hook: Beyond getting them on, you want to make sure they are secure.

Again, keep it fast and easy. Most gaiters secure themselves to your shoe via some sort of hook attachment on your laces and under the bottom of the shoe via some sort of strap. Some low gaiters do not have the under-the-heel strap at all and require you to tape a piece of velcro on the back of your heel.

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Just like placing your boot into the stirrup of a horse saddle, the instep strap of gaiters wraps around the bottom of your shoe or boot to keep the lower end in place. Some models use simple laces or bungees. Some use more durable synthetics or leather for instep straps. I vote for light, thin and strong laces. You don’t want anything thick that will make consistent and direct contact with the ground.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters is a waterproof snake gaiters


The materials of your gaiters affect the overall weight, as well as the amount of insulation, breathability, and waterproofing they provide. Materials play a big role in the level of comfort and performance you’ll get out of them.

how to wear gaiters for hiking
  • Nylon: Rugged, abrasion-resistant, and used for high gaiters (we'll explain in a sec). Thickness and weight can vary drastically. Typically, the top portion of mountaineering-style high gaiters is a waterproof or water-resistant material. The bottom is tougher - designed to shield more frequent ice, rock, and brush abrasion.
  • Spandex: Yes, the same glam material from 80’s workout videos. Spandex is super stretchy and flexible... and lightweight. Not going to provide a lot of protection, but enough to keep out trail debris.
gaiters in snow


If you’re planning on encountering snow, wet conditions, or river crossings waterproofing is key. Nylon fabrics offer a minimal level of waterproofing. Best for short hikes, damp undergrowth, or light rain. Gore-Tex, an industry-leading waterproof membrane, is best for extended rains, river crossings, and snow travel.

REI Co-op Backpacker Low top closure
REI Co-op Backpacker Low with top closure


The most robust gaiters can be thick enough to protect against snake bites. These large, armor-like, gaiters only make sense when hiking in areas with thick undergrowth where snakes might be hiding. On well-traveled trails, snakes can be avoided by keeping an eye, and an ear, out.

3 hikers wearing gaiters


Some gaiters come with insect repellent pre-applied. Insect Shield® and permethrin are common repellents used. Use gaiters treated with insect repellent in areas with high tick and mosquito activity. If your gaiters don’t come with insect protection you can apply it at home. Read our how-to guide for more info.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters nylon and spandex mix
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters is made up of both nylon and spandex


Top closures, a strap or toggle on the upper part of the gaiter, are an important feature for cold weather and wet hiking. A dedicated top closure ensures the gaiters remain snugly in place to keep out water, snow, and ice.

hiker "meditating" with gaiters


All gaiters must be breathable to prevent rubbing and chafing from sweaty feet or legs. A lightweight fabric like spandex is the most breathable and our pick for warm weather hiking. In colder or wet conditions, thicker Gore-Tex material is waterproof while still providing breathability.

hiker putting on dirty girl gaiters


How to wear gaiters for hiking?

To wear gaiters for hiking, each pair of gaiters will vary slightly on how to wear. In general, these are the steps to put on gaiters.

salomon trail running gaiters
Salomon Trail Running Gaiters' full strap-and-wrap design
  1. Step into the gaiter with the strap buckle facing the outside of your foot. This minimizes the chance of kicking the buckle with your other foot while hiking.
  2. Ensure the bottom strap sits underneath the arch of your foot.
  3. Adjust internal strapping, if applicable.
  4. Close the velcro or zipper running the length of your gaiter.
  5. Tighten the top closures to hold the gaiters on your legs.
  6. Adjust any other snaps, zippers, or buckles your gaiters may have.
  7. Hike on!
hiker posing with gaiters

How to make gaiters for hiking?

You can make your own gaiters with stretch nylon or polyester material, velcro, and a couple of hooks.

Kathoola RENAGaiter - Mid
  • Step 1: Make the pattern. Generally, gaiters are one size fits all, but tweak to your size if needed.
  • Step 2: Cut the fabric.
  • Step 3: Hem and sew the edges to avoid fraying.
  • Step 4: Reinforce the tips by adding another piece of fabric. Most of the strain on the gaiters is on this point. Make sure to sew solidly.
  • Step 5: Attach the hooks and velcro.

A full guide can be found here.

📸 Some photos in this post were taken by Dana Felthauser

Justin Sprecher photo

About Justin Sprecher

Justin is a thru-hiker and writer with a passion for wild backcountry. He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and clocked up 1,000s of miles on long-distance trails around the world.

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