The Best Lightweight Gaiters | Perfect for hiking, trail running and hill walking

outdoor research mens crocodile gaiter

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:

Trail gaiters

saloman low trail gaitersLightweight, breathable gaiters that offer basic protection against gravel and grit getting into your boots.

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

Alpine gaiters

alpine gaitersTougher and designed for more heavy duty hiking or mountaineering. Great with a set of snowshoes or if you are cross-country skiing.

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…

Expedition gaiters

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.

Gaiter Features:

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

lightweight gaitersFirst 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.


rab hunza gaiterRab Hunza Stretch Mid Gaiter

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.