Last Updated on 27/08/2023
In this guide to the best gaiters for hiking, we share ten different leg gaiters for hiking that help to keep your feet dry and debris out of your shoes. You will learn which are the most waterproof hiking gaiters, which are the most durable, and a whole bunch of lightweight options.
Three brands I think produce some of the best hiking gaiters in the world are Rab, Black Diamond, and Outdoor Research. There are many others, too, but I think that you can’t go wrong with these brands for hiking. And no, I am not being paid to say that. I use them, and I stand by them.
Gaiters are one of the best ways to keep your feet dry and stones out of your footwear beyond wearing waterproof hiking boots. But how do you know what you need? Read this guide to find out.
10 Best Hiking Gaiters
Rab Latok GoreTex Pro Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 343 g / 12 oz
- HEIGHT: Full Height
- MATERIAL: Recycled 70D GORE-TEX Pro, 300D nylon reinforcements with polyurethane coating
- HARDWEAR: Zipless hook and loop velcro front closure, TPU underfoot strap
The Rab Latok Gaiters are made from the most waterproof and breathable material available, GoreTex Pro. They are the best gaiters for hiking in wet weather and long grass because they provide the most rain protection. Almost identical to the Rab Muztag GTX gaiters, which are a little bit bigger than the Latoks to allow for chunky hiking boots.
Goretex Pro is the pinnacle of waterproof membranes if you are looking for the most waterproof gaiters for hiking. It uses a triple-layer membrane to block out 100% of water getting through but still remains breathable even when worn over your hiking pants. Even though they are full length, the way they are cut and their internal rubberized grips ensure they never slip down your leg and always stay comfortably in position.
You get reinforcements around the lower section, which gives them incredible durability only where you need it so that you don’t scuff your ankles with your boots. To close them up, there is a full-length strip of velcro with a single button at the top which is sufficient for any kind of hiking trail. The bootstrap is adjustable and can be replaced, but it is very tough, and so it will last a long time before it needs replacing.
WHAT WE LIKE: Waterproofing, breathability, comfort, grip, fits larger hiking boots, and replaceable bootstrap
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Prefer zip to velcro, heavy-duty, better for cold weather
VERDICT: The Rab Latok GoreTex Pro Gaiters provide the most waterproofing of any gaiter, and they always perform in harsh weather. Even though the lower section is reinforced and very durable, the uppers are only as tough as a Goretex jacket, but that allows them to be more breathable. If you need a high-cut gaiter to keep your feet and lower legs dry when hiking, then these or the Rab Muztag are what I would recommend (depending on the type of footwear you have).VIEW ON MOOSEJAW
Black Diamond Cirque Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 164 g / 5.8 oz
- HEIGHT: Mid Height
- MATERIAL: Welded BD dry hard-shell upper, Welded, double-layer 600d abrasion guard
- HARDWEAR: Quick release upper cinch, Replaceable/removable nylon cord heel strap, Lace hook, Press stud fastener, Velcro closure
The Black Diamond Cirque Gaiters are the most versatile gaiters for hiking and are the perfect middle ground to a full height and low cut gaiter. The height is perfect for me whether I am wearing shoes, boots, shorts, or pants; they always keep my footwear and lower pant legs dry as well as keeping them free of any rocks. They are totally waterproof and breathable enough that they don’t make you sweat.
The nylon boot strap underneath is not the strongest, and they wear out pretty quickly on shallow boot grip, but they are the easiest thing in the world to replace. Simply cut a piece of paracord and replace it for pennies instead of having to buy a new strap and sew it on. All the hardware is well thought out and durable. Like the quick-release upper cinch, storm flap at the top, and stainless steel boot clip, which would take some effort to damage.
WHAT WE LIKE: Replaceable nylon instep, perfect height, durable, the hardware is very robust and functional
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: The quick-release cinch at the top is kind of overkill, not the most breathable
VERDICT: The Black Diamond Cirque Gaiters are ideal for day hikes through wet grass, multi-day treks up mountains, or backpacking trips where the ground gets muddy. Mid-height gaiters are my favorite, so I am a little biased, but these are ideal for keeping boots dry without completely covering your lower legs.VIEW ON BLACK DIAMOND
Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 139 g / 4.9 oz
- HEIGHT: 15 – 18.5 inches
- MATERIAL: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5L 100% Nylon 30D Ripstop Upper, 100%, Nylon 420D Packcloth PU Coating Reinforcements
- HARDWEAR: Replaceable Hypalon Instep Strap, Reinforced Boot Lace Hooks, Hook/Loop Front Closure, Elastic Across Back Heel, Drawcord Cinch at Top Hem
The Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters are the best lightweight gaiters for hiking, weighing under 5 ounces and being full height. They are made using a 2.5-layer Pertex membrane which is known for being ultralightweight, breathable, and waterproof. When your legs are in danger of overheating, these are my favorite high-cut gaiters for hiking.
Because they are so lightweight, they are also very comfortable and don’t make you sweat as thicker gaiters might. The sacrifice you make for such light and breathable material is in their durability. Don’t get me wrong, they are tough. It’s just that the fabric is only 30D thick on the uppers, which is more than twice as thin as the Rab Latoks above. If you want a more durable Outdoor Research Gaiter, then check out the Crocodiles, which are thicker and more heavy-duty.
WHAT WE LIKE: Ultralightweight and comfortable for a tall hiking gaiter, breathable, packable, and replaceable bootstrap
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Uppers can be noisy when rubbing against the other leg, and not the best for thick brush
VERDICT: The Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters are perfect for lightweight hikers in warmer weather or for keeping in a daypack in case you encounter boggy trails. These feel more athletic than other full-calf gaiters and are a pleasure to hike in. If you are hiking on established trails and don’t have to push through brambles and brush, these are the hiking gaiters I would recommendVIEW ON REI
REI Co-op Flash Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 79 g / 2.8 oz
- HEIGHT: 7.8 in / 20 cm
- MATERIAL: 88% nylon/12% spandex with 3-layer waterproof membrane
- HARDWEAR: Hook-and-loop/snap on-off construction, Cinch top for adjustable calf fit, Front lace hook, Replaceable nylon instep
The REI Co-op Flash Gaiters are the best mid-height gaiters for hiking trails. They are waterproof, very breathable, stretchy, and feel like an extension of your pants (as in you hardly notice them). The material is soft and stretchy, which feels comfortable whether you are in shorts or pants, and allows you to move your foot in any direction unhindered.
Think of these hiking gaiters as a waterproof softshell for your ankles. They are mid-height, so work with boots or shoes, and don’t make your legs overheat. The hardware all works as it should, and although the underfoot straps are thin, you get a spare pair with the gaiters, and they are super easy to replace with any kind of cordage.
WHAT WE LIKE: Soft and stretchy fabric, waterproof and breathable, snug fit with few gaps, good price
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: The bootstrap attachment points seem weak, but time will tell, no ankle reinforcements
VERDICT: The REI Co-op Flash Gaiters are great for all kinds of hiking and are super comfortable. Because the material is stretchy, it ensures you get a very close fit around the bottom which is what you want if you ever step in a puddle or bog. Really lightweight and packable, so great for backpackers who want to do the odd hiking trail with regular sneakers.VIEW ON REI
Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 251 g / 8.9 oz
- HEIGHT: Full Height
- MATERIAL: Two-layer GORE-TEX upper and Ballistic nylon lower
- HARDWEAR: Drawstring with cord lock, upper closure Hook-and-loop, front closure with snap, Nickel-plated instep-adjustment buckle, High-density neoprene-coated nylon instep strap
The Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters have been around for over a decade now and remain one of the best hiking gaiters for mountaineering. The uppers are made from 100% waterproof Goretex and are reinforced with ballistic nylon around the ankles. Designed to withstand snow, rain, mud, and abrasions, you can wear these anywhere you like, from forest trails to mountain peaks.
The fit is comfortable and somewhat adjustable with the upper toggle, but they stay in place on their own thanks to the grip on the inside and the way they are shaped. They have an incredibly durable understrap which, unfortunately, is only replaceable with a sewing machine. The material is fairly thick but has plenty of flex in it, so they don’t feel tight as you take wide strides.
WHAT WE LIKE: Waterproofing, breathability, comfort, fit, and durability
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Prefer zip to velcro, non-replaceable bootstrap
VERDICT: The Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters are remarkably waterproof and comfortable on long hikes. I slightly prefer them over the Black Diamond Apex Gaiters, which have a triple-layer Goretex upper and extremely durable lower section for use with crampons. These gaiters are a sound choice for the person who loves hiking all year round.VIEW ON BLACK DIAMOND
Altra Trail Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 1.3 oz / 37 g
- HEIGHT: Low Cut
- MATERIAL: 18% spandex / 82% polyester
- HARDWEAR: Front boot hook, Rear velcro attachment
The Altra Trail Gaiters are not waterproof. Instead, they are designed to keep dirt and debris out of your shoes. Trail runners especially hate getting grit in their shoes as stopping will affect their time, and carrying on could cause a blister. These low-cut trail gaiters solve that problem better than any other so that you never have to stop to shake a stone out of your shoe.
Even though they are not waterproof, they do help to divert water away from your shoe as it runs down your leg. These gaiters work especially well with shorts and only block off a small area to minimize any overheating on your legs. Durability is way better than you might think for such a thin and stretchy fabric, but they will scuff on rocks if you aren’t careful.
They fit over your foot like a sock and then attach to your shoes with a hook at the front and velcro at the back. You get a small patch of velcro to stick on your shoes to make this work, or if you have a pair of Altra trail running shoes, then they often already have a patch on them.
WHAT WE LIKE: Very stretchy and comfortable, easy to use, very effective, lightweight, ideal for hot weather
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Not waterproof, only suitable for low-cut shoes, having to put a velcro patch on your shoes is annoying, no instep, no adjustments
VERDICT: The Altra Trail Gaiters are a favorite among trail runners and some long-distance hikers. They are especially good for hot weather when dry dirt and grit easily get kicked up and into your shoes. Not good for boots or rain, but the best solution for protecting your shoes or sneakers from grit and stones getting in.VIEW ON REI
Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 4.8 oz / 136 g
- HEIGHT: 8 – 9.7 inches
- MATERIAL: 100% nylon upper, 420D packcloth reinforcement
- HARDWEAR: Durable Hypalon Instep Strap, Reinforced Boot Lace Hooks, Hook/Loop Front Closure, Buckle Top Closure, Elastic Bottom and Top Edge
The Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters are the best low hiking gaiters that work with boots and shoes. If you don’t want a full-height gaiter but still want the protection at the bottom of your pants when hiking, then these are a good compromise. The benefit of these over the Altra Trail Gaiters is that they are waterproof and much more protective.
The durable instep is made from the same Hypalon strapping; however, on these, it is not so easily replaceable. You would need sewing skills to replace the strap on these, which is always a downside for me. These are the perfect height for me, and they do an 8/10 job of protecting your pants when hiking through overgrown trails.
WHAT WE LIKE: Durable, compact size, comfortable, nice height for hiking, elasticated cuffs
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Non-replaceable instep strap, Not as waterproof as others; we would prefer if they were Goretex
VERDICT: The Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters are perfect for hiking in the rain, snow, loose scree, or sand. If you don’t need a full-height gaiter but still want the protection of waterproofing, then these are a great choice for trail running shoes or hiking boots.VIEW ON OUTDOOR RESEARCH
Fjallraven Singi Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 390 g / 13.75 oz
- HEIGHT: full height
- MATERIAL: G 1000 original and G 1000 heavy duty 65% Polyester /35% Cotton
- HARDWEAR: Detachable Hypalon bootstrap with buckle, YKK Zippered front opening with Velcro placket, Boot hook, Adjustable toggle cinch at top
The Fjallraven Singi Gaiters are the most durable hiking gaiters because they are made from the notoriously tough G-1000 material. Not only are they built to last, but they can be made incredibly waterproof using some Greenland Wax. If I am ever hiking through thick brush and brambles or on trails where the grass comes up to your knees on either side of the path, I love to have these with me for the ultimate protection.
I often tell people in my camping group that these are the best hiking gaiters for bushcraft because you don’t have to worry about melting them by getting too close to a fire as you do with other gaiters. The full-length YKK zip is as good as they get with very little friction, and then over that is a wide velcro storm flap to make them incredibly secure.
A big benefit of having such rugged gaiters is that it enables me to wear shorts or lightweight hiking pants even on rough trails because I know my lower legs will be protected. The bootstrap is made from indestructible Hypalon, which could be replaced, but it is not a straightforward switcheroo.
WHAT WE LIKE: Super tough and durable, waxable cotton can be made waterproof and maintained, highest quality hardware, look amazing, feel amazing, and perform incredibly well in untamed terrain
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Heavy, breathability is reduced the more wax you apply, expensive
VERDICT: If I had to choose one set of gaiters for hiking to last me 10 years or longer, the Fjallraven Singi Gaiters are what I would pick. They are ideal for walking through thick brush, keeping your legs and boots dry, and protecting your lower legs from getting scratched up. If you like to hike in shorts, then keeping a pair of these in your backpack means you will be prepared for anything, including brambles, nettle patches, thorn bushes, and poison ivy.
Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Mid GTX
- WEIGHT: 198 g / 7 oz
- HEIGHT: Mid height
- MATERIAL: Three-layer GORE-TEX upper
- HARDWEAR: Replaceable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) instep with 1000-mile warranty, YKK AquaGuard zipper, adjustable toggle cinch
The Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Mid GTX Gaiter is one of the four gaiters that Kahtoola offers, and this is their mid-length option. They are made from triple-layer Goretex material, which is breathable and 100% waterproof, and have an Aquaguard YKK zip closure to keep any rain out there. If you know what a Goretex jacket feels like, that should give you an idea of how durable these are – tough for most things, but you wouldn’t want to catch them on barbed wire.
Even though the step in bootstrap is replaceable and very tough, I don’t like the fact that it has to be a special replacement bought only from Kahtoola. I prefer to be able to fix them with a bit of cord just in case they break in the middle of nowhere. The good thing is that they come with a 1000-mile guarantee, but that doesn’t help until you can order a replacement and wait for delivery before you can fix your gaiter bootstrap.
WHAT WE LIKE: I love the waterproofing, and the length is just right for my hiking boots (currently the Meindl Meran), YKK AquaGuard zip is one of my favorite zips
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Fixed adjustments on bootstrap, replaceable bootstrap must be purchased from Kahtoola, not a fan of the off-center zip
VERDICT: The Kahtoola LEVAgaiter Mid GTX Gaiter is great value and well made to do what gaiters are supposed to. They will keep your feet dry and the bottom of your hiking pants clean without becoming a burden on long trails. If you do end up getting a pair of these, I would get 2-4 replacement bootstraps at the same time just that in the future, you have them, and you can always pack a spare on thru-hikes.VIEW ON REI
SITKA Gear Stormfront GTX Hunting Leg Gaiters
- WEIGHT: 227 g / 8 oz
- HEIGHT: Full Height
- MATERIAL: Three-layer GORE-TEX upper
- HARDWEAR: Ladder lock strap system, Cam Lock Buckle Closure, Hypalon bootstrap
The SITKA Gear Stormfront GTX Leg Gaiters are designed for hunting (as you might have guessed from the camo) but are just as well suited for hiking. The reason I love these gaiters for hiking is that they tick all the boxes, as well as an extra box designed for hunters but appealing to hikers – quiet fabric. SITKA always pay close attention to how noisy their fabric is so as not to compromise your position when hunting game with good hearing.
They are 100% waterproof and breathable with the Goretex guarantee and double reinforced on the ankle. The lower section of the gaiters (black panel) is a reinforced 500D Cordura material that will stand up to the most demanding trails. Then the ankles are triple-reinforced with a glossy and abrasion-resistant finish to increase durability and reduce friction.
WHAT WE LIKE: Waterproof, Durable, Adjustable bootstrap, Quiet, Triple-Reinforced on the ankles
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: Only available in camo colors, the most expensive hiking gaiters in this guide
VERDICT: The SITKA Gear Stormfront GTX Hunting Leg Gaiters are amazing but expensive. The attention to detail, quality materials, and above-average performance might justify the price for some. However, they are still going to appeal to hunters more than hikers for the most part. If you like camo and want to use them for hiking, then go ahead, you won’t regret it.
Guide to The Best Hiking Gaiters
To create this guide to the most waterproof, lightweight, and durable hiking gaiters, we had to review a lot of rubbish. There are literally thousands of cheap gaiters for hiking that all do a fine job but won’t last very long. Serious hikers want gear that stands the test of time and isn’t a complete waste of money and so here are the things we looked for to compile this list.
The material your leg gaiters for hiking are made out of is as important as it is when buying a waterproof jacket. Breathable membranes like Goretex, eVent, Pertex, and others offer the most waterproofing and are, in my opinion, the best suited to most hikers. Fjallraven makes a really good cotton blend gaiter, but you need to apply lots of wax to make it waterproof.
If you don’t care about paying a premium for brand names, then some qualities to seek out are waterproofing, breathability, lightweight, durability, flexibility, and comfort. You can get a sense of all of these by handling a pair of gaiters and testing the fabric in your hands. Learn more about the different gaiter materials’ pros and cons further down the page.
Gaiters will typically come in three heights, and it is personal preference and needs that will determine how tall your gaiters should be for hiking. Here are the three heights of leg gaiters:
Full-height gaiters cover most of your lower leg up to just below your knee. They offer the most protection and are considered the standard size but the downside is that they are most prone to overheating your legs and feet.
Medium-height leg gaiters are my favorite, not too high or too low. They work with hiking boots or trail shoes and provide all the protection you need to keep your socks and lower pant legs dry. What I like is that they don’t make your legs so sweaty, and because they aren’t so tall, you can open the top a little to let hot air escape without them falling down.
Low-cut gaiters are designed specifically for low-cut shoes or sneakers. They prevent any dirt and grit from getting inside your shoes on gravel trails as well as provide additional waterproofing in case you step in a puddle. My biased thoughts are that if you need to wear gaiters with your shoes, why not just wear boots?
Even the thickest pair of gaiters don’t weigh that much, but it is something to consider. Lightweight backpackers and hikers pay attention to every gram, so there are options out there, like the Outdoor Research Helium Gaiters. The lighter you go, the less durable they will be. So if you need a gaiter that won’t rip, then a heavier weight is a good signal. Low and mid-gaiters are almost always lighter than full-height gaiters.
Different brands of gaiter makers approach the closure issue differently. Velcro is the most common, followed by zips, or a combination of Velcro and hooks or zips. Velcro is easiest but can lose its performance over time, and if it gets saturated becomes heavy and sometimes unusable. Zips are reliable but more faffy to put on and will often leak a bit of moisture through. A zip with a velcro storm flap works best for me.
Being able to tighten your gaters at the top and adjust the stirrups at the bottom can make all the difference in the word to having a good fit. Some use ratchets, others use quick-release buckles, but I find the simple elasticated toggle to be best. It is important to be able to tighten the boot strap at the bottom so that it sits snugly against the sole of your boots and doesn’t get damaged.
Unless you are looking for snake gaiters to prevent snake bites, then waterproofing should be one of your top priorities when looking for a pair of hiking gaiters. As mentioned before, a good breathable membrane like Goretex will serve you well but it is also important to get a good fit so the bottom of the gaiters sits snugly against your footwear.
One of the biggest problems with waterproof gaiters is that they can be so good at keeping water out that they trap too much heat in, and you start to get sweaty legs. When your feet sweat, which they do a lot inside a hiking boot, most of that heat and perspiration will escape out of the top f your footwear. When you wear a gaiter, it traps this heat and can be an issue if you are wearing them all day.
Breathable material is the first thing to look for, but sweating in gaiters is inevitable no matter what you wear; just accept it. The best solution I have found is to regularly vent your legs by opening the top cinch or front zip as often as possible.
Are Gaiters Worth It?
If you are on the fence about buying a pair of hiking gaiters, then you should check out our full guide on whether gaiters are worth it for hiking. The short story is that, yes, they are in a number of situations. But also, you don’t need them all the time. The decision then becomes whether they are necessary or not.
Disadvantages of Gaiters When Hiking?
The disadvantages of gaiters often go untalked about, but there are definitely a few I can think of. The main issue I have found is that gaiters can trap heat from your feet and cause a build of sweat on your legs. If you don’t have a well-fitting pair of gaiters, they can get uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time. And the most annoying one is that hardware can break, like zips, hooks, and bootstraps wear out.
Velcro Vs. Zipper for Hiking Gaiters?
The benefits of velcro are that it is easy to open and close, it’s lightweight, and although it may degrade over time, it can’t break like a zip can. The downsides of velcro are that it can become heavy when wet, get covered in sticky buds and grass seeds, and weakens over time.
The benefits of zippers are that they are reliable once closed and won’t come undone, you can open them a little at the top so that your legs can breathe, and they won’t become sodden. The downsides of zips are that they can break and, if they do, are hard fixes in the field. Zips also weigh more than velcro (when dry) and are less comfortable on cold days worn against bare skin.
Overall I prefer YKK waterproof zips, but I am ok with velcro too.
Full-Height Gaiters Vs. Low-Cut Gaiters and Mid-Height Gaiters
To make things as simple as possible, this is why I would choose each height of leg gaiter for hiking:
- Full-height gaiter if it is very wet, cold weather, or if the trail is boggy or overgrown.
- Mid-height gaiter for warmer weather hiking – my Go-To
- Low-Cut gaiters for low-cut boots, trail running shoes, and sneakers
Most of the year, I wear mid-hight gaiters with my boots, but for trail running, I would wear a low-cut non, waterproof gaiter. In winter, bad weather, and unbeaten trails, I wear a tall gaiter for extra protection and because perspiration isn’t as much of a concern. In fact, a tall gaiter helps to insulate your lower legs when it’s really cold.
We hope this guide to the best gaiters for hiking has helped you to the point of knowing what you need now. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading.