I’ve talked about making the transition to trail runners. Now let me talk about the accessory that has made my shoes even better—gaiters. Most people think of gaiters as a tool for mountaineering or bushwhacking, but they are useful for trail hiking as well. If you wear hightop boots, then you probably don’t have problems with debris getting into your shoes. But if you’ve made the transition to trail runners, all it takes is a section of scrambling down a dirty, rocky path to understand the need for gaiters.
I bought a pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters online after I realized that I had taken my shoes off three times on a relatively short hike to shake out flora and pebbles. I’ve never had to take my shoes off during a hike since I started wearing them. They weigh just over an ounce, so there’s no weight penalty. They’re not waterproof, but that’s not really an issue. All shoes get wet—even so-called waterproof shoes. The idea with trail runners is that you’d rather have a shoe that dries quickly than a shoe that dries slowly. These gaiters dry very fast.
I ordered a large pair and they came with velcro tape that I attached to the back my of shoes. A hook attaches to your laces in the front and the velcro keeps the gaiters from riding up your heel. I’ve yet to have any problem with the velcro or the coverage. Some people have complained that the velcro has to be glued on. That wasn’t my finding, but I guess it depends on the surface you’re adhering it to. The synthetic fabric stays a couple of inches above my shoe and is tight enough to be effective without being restrictive.
I’ve worn these in all kinds of conditions—hot, cold, wet, dry, sandy, etc. Honestly, I rarely wash them. When I get home from day hikes, I slide them into my trail runners until the next time I need them. They’re made of spandex, so the dirt mostly falls off. Occasionally, I’ll run them through the wash and pull them out to air dry along with my merino wool shirts. The bright red color comes right back.
Like I’ve said before:
My standard footwear starts with a pair of Darn Tough 1/4 Merino Wool Socks. These have a lifetime warranty, so they’re worth the hefty price tag. I don’t bother with sock liners regardless of the temperature. Merino wool naturally wicks. Then I wear my Grassbows with a pair of gaiters on top. This has been the perfect combination for me and I highly recommend it.
At $25, I think these are a great purchase for anyone who has made the transition to trail runners. In case you’re wondering, I bought the dirty red bandana pattern—a reference to Kris Kristofferson’s Me & Bobby McGee.
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