The Best Lightweight Gaiters | Perfect for hiking, trail running and hill walking
Today we are looking at gaiters, specifically lightweightgaiters. These simple, yet effective additions to your kit are a must for the serious hiker, trail runner or backpacker among you.
There is nothing more uncomfortable than a boot or shoe full of dirt and pebbles when you are hiking.
Most of the time you will keep walking and say to yourself every hundred meters or so ‘I must stop for ten seconds and empty my shoe’ but you don’t.
This gets even worse if you are on a competitive run and, stopping unless you absolutely have to is not an option…
If you have ever stood on a plug or piece of lego you can feel my pain.
I have hiked for years in every terrain imaginable and one thing that I sort of swear by is a set of gaiters.
For something so simple they make the world of difference if you are into hiking, walking in the bush or just rambling out on a trail.
So what are gaiters and why should you even consider buying some.
Gaiters are elasticated covers for over the tops of your boots. They come in various lengths and are made out of pretty much every material on the market. Often water-resistant gaiters shield you from getting dirt and bits of gravel into your shoes or boots when hiking about.
I spent years working in Australia on construction sites and while in Western Australia, in particular, I wore lightweight gaiters all the time. The ground there was mostly sand based and it usually took about ten seconds to get a boot full of the stuff when running about the site. A Kiwi gave me a spare set of his one day and it was a game changer. I could have filled a swimming pool with the amount of sand that ended up in my boots on a daily basis, but not anymore…
Yeah right – you may think, but to be honest, they really are an awesome addition to your kit bag and because they are lightweight they don’t add to the load in any way at all. Another great use for gaiters is to keep nasty pests off your lower legs. Often called anti-tick gaiters or snake bite gaiters they are great for protecting you when you are walking or hiking through dense bush. I would, however, opt for the heavier material gore-tex or leather style ones in this scenario.
You won’t win any fashion awards wearing them but its worth the sacrifice for the comfort factor and your feet will love you for it.
Types of Gaiters – Depends on you activities planned…
The right set of gaiters really depends on what you are planning to do activity wise and the conditions you expect to encounter while out there.
The main types of gaiters are:
They can also protect you against light rain. More for day to daylight use but a great addition to any pack.
These Saloman Low Trail Gaiters are ideal for the trail runner amongst us
They have the added advantage of protecting you lets from cuts and abrasions from rock outcrops or thorny brush. Much better at keeping out water and the elements because they are normally made of heavier duty material.
The Outdoor Research Men’s Crocodile Gaiter are as tough as nails. Not much has changed in their design over the years – for a very good reason – they are unbeatable…
These are for when you need added protection from the elements. You are going to get extra features like insulated layers to keep you warm, they are waterproof but breathable so your feet don’t melt, and they will be ultra comfortable. The biggest thing with a quality pair of gaiters is the comfort. You should not even know you are wearing them.
What are gaiters made of:
Most of the gaiters you see online, especially the lightweight ones are made from nylon that has a waterproof coating of some description on it. These are perfect for the day hiker and are perfect for keeping your shoes or trail runners free from stones and grit.
The heavier duty gaiters can with be made from layers of nylon that keep them breathable or they may be made from something like gore-tex.
The features for a set of gaiters depends on the style.
You can get sort boot cover type gaiters or you can go for the long calf-length gaiters to keep out snow and other debris in harsher conditions.
Most gaiters will have some sort of a fixing on the front to attach them to you paces or boot eyes. They also come with an under bootstrap to tie them down and keep them tight against the top of your boot.
What to look for when buying a pair of gaiters:
What gaiters should you buy anyway? Here we review some of the best on the market and break them down into different style to hopefully suit your needs.
Best lightweight gaiters
First, we took a look at the top three lightweight gaiters first because we like to keep things well, light when we travel.
Outdoor Research Sparkplug Gaiters
First up are the Outdoor Research Sparkplug Gaiters
- 86% Nylon/14% Spandex
- Breathable, lightweight
- Movement-mirroring stretch
- Anti-slip silicone pads
- Hook & loop patches at heel for secure attachment
- Elastic top and bottom edges
Avg. Weight (oz./g): 1.2oz / 34g (L/XL)
These gaiters are ideal for trail running or hiking. They are made from water-resistant fabric and are great for keeping grit and gravel out of your runners when you are hard at it.
Next up we take a look at the Rab Hunza Stretch Mid Gaiter.
These lightweight gaiters are ideal for trail running and cross country hiking where you are going to be on loose gravel and dirt tracks.
Nothing is going to get past these bad boys.
- Material: [membrane/laminate] 3L Stretch Watergate, [face fabric] 69% nylon, 21% PU, 10% spandex, DWR coating
- Closure: front zipper
- Attachment: underfoot bungee
- Height: ankle
- Weight: 3.5 oz
Coated with DWR coating these laminated breathable membrane gaiters keep your feet protected from morning dew, moderate rain and soggy trails. They have a front zipper for easy setup and an underfoot bungee and a front mounted lace hook They have a top ridge silicone gripper to stop them sliding down onto your ankle when you are running.
What to Pack on a Day Hike – Hiking 101
It’s your first time and you’re beginning to panic. You have no idea what to do, what to bring or what to wear. You’ve heard it hurts and that it isn’t easy, so what do you need to take on your first ever hiking trip?
They say hiking is not for the faint-hearted, however, it doesn’t have to involve constant scaling of high terrain. When hiking, you’ll choose your path related to your hiking experience and of course your fitness level. First time hikers often make one mistake – they take the wrong things hiking, which of course will affect the outcome. Hiking is fun, so be prepared and read on to find out what things you need to pack for a day hike.
Of course what you pack on a hike is weather dependent and you may have to adjust your equipment depending on the weather and season, but wet weather gear and sun cream aside, there are also essential items for hiking.
If you’re on a day hike, you won’t have to travel with too many items, so buying an expensive 75 litre ultra backpack for camping is unnecessary. Any backpack that has padded areas around the shoulders is sufficient.
If you decide later on that you absolutely love hiking and wish to go on a 6-day hike then you can invest more and buy a professional backpack for camping and hiking.
Backpacks with outside holders for drink bottles would be the best bet as it’s much easier to access your water while hiking without having to stop and unzip your bag constantly.
We recommend this handy lightweight daypack as it would be perfect for your needs.
Mobile phone – In case of emergency
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned hiker or not, one of the most important items you can take with you when you go hiking is your mobile phone. Mobile phones have saved many people’s lives while they’ve been out and about in unfamiliar territory, so don’t leave home without it.
These days your phones can multitask. They’re used to call people, but if you download apps for hiking, you’ll also have a compass, a route mapper, a distance tracker and so on all in one device.
Orientation – Ensure you remain on track
This is not something you pull out halfway through your hike because you find yourself suddenly lost. Study it prior to your hike to ensure you know the way and terrain.
If you’re interested in learning more about the area in terms of geography, history and wildlife, you can also take a hiking guide book with you or better still photocopy the pages you need to ensure your hiking backpack isn’t too heavy.
If you’re heading out into rugged terrain that isn’t signposted, it’s also a good idea to carry a compass with you, but for this to be useful, you need to know how to use a compass.
Water – Stay hydrated
One of the most important things you need to pack when you go hiking is water or enough liquid to remain hydrated. Take enough water with you that you can access at all times, more so in the hot summer months. Some people sweat more than others, but regardless of this sweating causes fluid and electrolyte loss and this is accelerated 3-fold when hiking uphill.
Water is naturally the best thing to take hiking, but specially formulated sports drink work just as well. Avoid any kind of drink that’s going to dehydrate you like caffeinated drinks, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
Hikes can often take longer than expected, which is why it’s advised to take more liquids than you’ll need because you can never be too sure.
Fuel – Snacks to keep you going
Snacks are necessary. Naturally throughout a normal day when you’re not hiking, you’ll feel your energy levels drop and this is even more evident when hiking. When deciding which snacks to take on a hiking trip, you need to consider the amount of energy they’ll give you. Your body can be compared to a car – without fuel, you’re not going anywhere!
High energy snacks that are ideal for a hike include dried fruit, muesli bars, trail mix, beef jerky, chocolate, and sweets. Not only do you have to consider how much energy these snacks provide, you also have to think about the weight, which is why it’s advised to go for dried fruits as opposed to fresh fruit.
Socks – Protect your feet
It may sound silly, but extra socks when hiking are a must. Good hiking socks are essential. These provide comfort to your feet and help prevent blisters. But you never know what’s going to happen. If your feet get wet from the rain or you step in a large puddle or creek, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of discomfort and blisters if you don’t take a spare pair of socks when hiking.
A Swiss Army Knife is a multi-purpose knife designed for many uses – you just never know when you’ll need some kind of tool whether it is a knife, a can opener, a file or something else. A multi-purpose knife is a hiking and camping staple, so don’t leave home without it.
Hiking boots – Your boots are made for walking
It doesn’t matter if you’re a serious hiker or a novice; a decent pair of hiking boots is a must. Hiking boots are designed for one thing – hiking. Without a good pair of boots for walking in the mountains, your hiking time will be limited. Good hiking boots are waterproof, have good grip and also ankle support.
If it’s your first time hiking, make sure you wear them in properly otherwise you’ll end up with blisters and other nasty sores on your feet from the rubbing. Our advice here is to invest in a decent pair of boots when you are starting out and your feet will love you for it.
For our favourite Mens hiking boots go here
For our favourite Women’s hiking boots go here
Hat – Protect your head
If you’re hiking in the summertime, a hat is an absolute must. No matter where you are in the world the sun is dangerous. Too much sun exposure will cause headaches, dizziness, and in extreme cases sunstroke. Usually, any kind of cap or sunhat will suffice while hiking, but if you’re hiking in an area that’s known to have a lot of sun it’s a good idea to invest in a floppy hat with a big brim. A floppy hat will not only keep your face and head protected from the sun, it will also protect areas of your body that are more susceptible to sunburn like your ears and the back of your neck.
Sunglasses – Enjoy the views while wearing your shades
Just like your head, your eyes also need protecting from the glare of the sun. Sunglasses for hiking are essential in all seasons. Wear a comfortable pair of polarized sunglasses with UV protection and if you’ve got more than one pair, take the cheaper ones in case they are dropped.
Sun Cream – Rain or shine
Even if the sun isn’t visible, it’s still possible to get burnt, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. You may be fooled into thinking that because there’s a cool breeze in the air you don’t need sun cream when hiking, but you’re mistaken. Opt for a cream with a high SPF such as SPF30. It’s likely you’ll be sweating a lot when hiking, so buy waterproof sun cream that will stick despite the streams of sweat running down your body.
Don’t just pack sun cream in your hiking bag, put it on before you leave and reapply every few hours, making sure you cover your ears, the back of your neck and cheeks properly.
Insect Repellant – Don’t let the bugs win
Grassy and green areas are known for having many different kinds of bugs and there’s nothing worse than finishing a hike successfully and discovering you’ve been attacked by hundreds of hungry insects.
Jacket – Don’t let it rain on your parade
No matter what the season is it’s always a good idea to pack a lightweight waterproof jacket when hiking. Lightweight mountain jackets that are 100% waterproof aren’t heavy and take up very little space in your hiking backpack. These jackets will keep you dry, warm to a certain extent and also protect you from the wind.
First Aid Kit – Anything can happen out there
Another important item for a hiking trip is a small well-equipped first aid kit. Things happen and without tempting fate, you should always have a first aid kit when hiking. You can buy a readymade first aid kit or you can make your own, but there are a few essential items you should have in it such as plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream, scissors, disinfectant, aspirin, and also moleskin just in case you get a blister when walking.
Hiking is great fun and a full-day hike can make for an excellent day out, but if you’re not prepared then it could be a different story. Take all the essential items for hiking and try and pack your backpack as light as possible without forgetting anything, and this way you’ll be prepared for any situation you face and you’re also more likely to enjoy your hike.