Gaiters are a common item worn by runners in most of the multistage and ultra distance trail races. We’ve reviewed the top gaiters and the information you need to choose the best set for you. I never leave home without my running gaiter especially on those long beach or sandy runs. They are now a permanent feature for my longer runs.
If you spoke to a trail runner a couple of years ago and asked what their views are about running with Gaiters. She would have replied – running with what? Running gaiters have started to take off in the trail running scene during most recent years. Read on to learn what the fuss is about.
Our Top Pick
Let me tell you about some off the added benefits of running/ hiking with Gaiters. There are different designs, types, and sizes available. The design will is dictated by your type of application and needs.
Some areas you need to consider before you deciding which running gaiter to buy:
- Design (Dry or Wet running or hiking conditions)
- Terrain (Rocky, sandy, or soft fine debris)
- Climate (Tropics, snow, or cold conditions)
- Types of designs (Options)
- Protection (Snakes)
- Comfort (Critical part)
Best Design for a Running Gaiter
The material from which the gaiter is designed plays a critical part in keeping your feet dry in wet conditions. It also aids in keeping sand, small stones, or debris away from your feet. Any debris lodged within your shoe cavity while you run, or hike would cause a great amount of irritation and either lead to some serious blisters or damage to your feet.
Before deciding on any gaiter ensure you are aware of the area or terrain you are planning to run or hike in. Will it be covered in snow or sand? The required application is a great deciding factor for the type of ankle gaiter you might need.
Trail running gaiters tend to be shorter in design and are made from lighter materials. This allows for easier movement and flexibility while you are out running. There are a wide variety of trail running gators currently available. Hiking gaiters tend to be bigger and bulkier.
Choosing a Running Gaiter based on Terrain
The type of terrain will yet again dictate the type of trail gaiter you decide on. Especially if you are planning to run in soft sandy sections. Then the gaiter would be longer in design and it would require full covering of the shoe. This would ensure that when the shoe pushes down that no amount of sand filters through the shoe mesh. A tighter fit around the angle ankle design would also be necessary and this is where size matters.
As some running gaiters do come in different sizes and fit different sizes of ankles. You must keep in mind that in warm conditions and long days out on a trail that there might be some ankle swelling. You will have to allow for a snug fit but still allow for proper blood circulation.
Choosing Gaiters based on Climate
Even on wet, snowy, or muddy sections the gators would need to be designed from a material that would repel moisture and not become waterlogged. Nothing is worse than running with your feet sloshing around in bags of moisture. Wet feet yet again lead to blisters. To help with blister prevention check out our running socks for blister prevention article.
A great option would be Altra’s trail running gaiters they are minimalist in design and ideal for wet and dry conditions.
Types of Running Gaiter Designs
As we have mentioned already that there are different designs of Gaiters available online. If you are concerned about the material and and design being too bulky, and you are only looking for something light and easy adaptable for your current trail running shoe setup. You might want to consider Dirty Girl gaiters.
They are ideal for any type of trail shoe and they even fit mid ankle hiking shoes. Here the key lies in the minimalist design. Like the Minimalists say “Less if more”
If you trail run in a region where snakes are your biggest fear you need to consider longer cut gators. Snake gators extend higher up the ankle to just below the knee.
Multiple tests have been performed with some brands of Gaiters on some serious venomous snakes by the African Snake bite institute and found that light weight snake gators did supply sufficient protection against these critters. This proves that a Gaiter will not only protect you but also keep dirt out of your shoes on those long hikes.
Most important, you’ll have the piece of mind that you’ll make it home in one piece.
Trail Running Gaiter Comfort and Fit
Comfort is key at the end of the day. You will be spending long hours on your feet outdoors and you want to feel that your ankles and feet are always protected. Comfort and protection would ensure that you will return to the trails.
You need to consider the elements summarized above, then decide how much you are willing to spend on your pair of gaiters.