Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best men’s gaiters

Anyone who spends time outdoors on trails and other rugged terrain knows how hard it is to keep water and dirt out of their boots. Even waterproof footwear isn't immune, so you can wind up with cold, wet, uncomfortable feet even with expensive hiking boots

Men’s gaiters can help solve that problem. They are a fabric shield that sits on top of your boots or shoes to cover the gap between your footwear and pants. Gaiters vary in height, so some styles only cover up to the ankle, while others span up to your calf. Because they’re made of durable, waterproof materials, they can keep water, dirt, sand, pebbles, twigs, and other debris from the trail out of your shoes. That means your feet stay clean and dry no matter how long you’re out hiking.

It’s a good idea to choose gaiters that feature replaceable straps or cords. That way, if a component wears down, you can replace it without having to buy a whole new pair of gaiters. 

Key considerations

Men’s gaiter types

Men’s gaiters come in a few different types based on the activities they’re best suited for. 

  • Hiking gaiters are designed to keep light rain, pebbles, sand and other debris out of your boots on hikes. They work well in mild weather, though you can find some that are fully waterproof against rain and snow. Their lightweight, breathable design lets them work well for short trips and multi-day hiking excursions. 
  • Mountaineering gaiters offer greater protection, so they work well for harsh weather and longer excursions. Some styles even feature additional insulation to keep you comfortable in heavy rain and snow. While the fabric used is waterproof, it’s still breathable enough to be comfortable. These gaiters not only work well for mountaineering but snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice climbing. 
  • Trail-running gaiters are usually the most lightweight style, designed to keep debris out of your shoes when hiking or walking on trails. However, they typically aren’t waterproof, so they aren’t the best option for rain or snow. 

You don’t necessarily have to choose your gaiters based on the activity you’ll use them for. The three types share some similarities, so you can use one type for other activities. For example, you can wear trail-running gaiters when hiking. It’s best to choose your gaiters based on the weather and ground conditions to ensure you have the protection you need. 

Gaiters aren’t just for hiking, mountaineering, or trail running either. You can wear them for any activity where your feet might get wet or debris might get in your shoes. 

Men’s gaiter heights

Depending on how much protection you need, men’s gaiters are available in several heights.

  • Ankle gaiters are the shortest option, and the most common. They cover just up to the ankle to protect the area between the top of your shoes and the bottom of your pants and keep out dirt and debris. They are the most lightweight option, so they work well for hiking and trail running in summer and other dry, mild weather.
  • Mid-calf gaiters are about 8 to 12 inches high, so they hit somewhere between your ankle and knee. They offer more protection than ankle gaiters, so they’re well-suited for rainy hikes and other conditions that aren’t too extreme. 
  • Full-length gaiters are usually 15 to 18 high, so they reach the knees. They provide the most protection for your legs and feet and work well in extreme conditions, such as heavy rain or deeper snow.  

Men’s gaiter sizing

Gaiters must fit properly, or they won’t keep water and debris out of your shoes or boots. You’ll also be uncomfortable when you’re out on the trails. 

Most gaiter manufacturers use sizing that corresponds to standard shoe sizes, though, so it’s pretty easy to find the right option. For example, small gaiters may fit men’s shoe sizes 5 to 7, medium gaiters can fit sizes 6 to 9, large gaiters are designed for sizes 8 to 11, and extra-large gaiters can fit shoe sizes 10 to 13. 

Did You Know?
Gaiters aren’t just for wet or snowy excursions. They also come in handy for dry, sandy hiking trips when you want to keep sand and other debris out of your boots. 

Men’s gaiter features


Men’s gaiters are made from synthetic fabric that can stand up to water and resist tearing. Most use polyester or nylon, treated with a water-resistant coating to provide top-notch protection in rain and snow. Polyester gaiters are typically higher-quality and offer greater protection in extreme weather conditions than nylon models.

Men’s mountaineering and snowsport gaiters are especially waterproof, though the material is still breathable to ensure your comfort. The outer shell of your gaiters should be soft and stretchy, though, so it’s flexible enough to move with you for better comfort and protection. 

Fastening style

Many budget-friendly men’s gaiters fasten in the front with Velcro or hook-and-loop fasteners. That makes them quick and easy to put on and take off. However, Velcro closures aren’t the most secure option. That’s why many high-end gaiters feature zipper fasteners, with some styles offering waterproof zippers for the most protection and security. 

Pull cord

The top closure on your gaiters is key to keeping out moisture and debris and holding them in place. Many gaiters feature an elasticized drawstring with a toggle that lets you cinch the closure as tightly as you’d like. Others feature a strap at the top with a buckle that lets you adjust the fit. 

Lace hooks

Some men’s gaiters let you attach the laces on your footwear to your gaiters. That helps secure them and keep them in place, so they’re more comfortable and provide better protection. 

Elasticized ankle

For an even better fit, you can find some men’s gaiters with elastic ankles. That lets the gaiters fit more snugly at the bottom to keep water, dirt, and debris out of your boots. 

Stirrup/instep straps

Entry-level men’s gaiters typically have simple lace straps at the instep of your footwear designed to go around the bottom of your shoes. Higher-end gaiters can feature faux leather, nylon, or rubber stirrup straps, which are more durable and hold up better to regular use. In addition, most instep straps can be adjusted so you get the fit just right. 

Insect repellent

Some men’s gaiters are coated with insect repellent. It can help keep bugs like mosquitoes, ticks, and other pests from biting when you’re traveling in areas known to have large insect populations.

If you’re not sure what height gaiters to buy, mid-calf styles are your best bet. They provide a good deal of coverage, but they’re still lightweight and won’t slow you down on the trails. 


Accessories for gaiter wearers

Hiking poles

Hiking poles can make it much easier to travel on uneven or snowy terrain.

Hiking socks

Hiking socks can keep you comfortable and prevent injuries out on the trails. We love Feideer’s Men’s Hiking Walking Socks because they’re made of a comfortable cotton-polyester-spandex blend and feature a mesh design for effective ventilation. 

Hiking backpack:

A comfortable hiking backpack makes it easy to carry all of your essentials out on the trails. The Sports Scout 3400 from Teton Sports is a favorite because it features highly durable construction and offers a rainfly to help keep the bag dry in wet conditions.

Staff Tip 
In addition to keeping rain, snow, dirt, and debris out of your boots, gaiters can protect your legs and feet from insects, poison ivy, thorns — even snakes.


Most men’s gaiters cost between $7 and $100, but prices vary based on the type, height, and other features. 

Inexpensive: The most affordable men’s gaiters are usually trail-running gaiters or ankle-height gaiters in another type. They’re generally pretty basic models with Velcro closures and few special features. These gaiters typically cost between $7 and $20.

Mid-range: Mid-range men’s gaiters are typically hiking or mountaineering gaiters made of less-durable nylon. They come in a variety of heights and are usually fully waterproof. Some may also have special features like lace hooks. These gaiters generally cost between $20 and $49.

Expensive: The most expensive men’s gaiters are generally hiking or mountaineering gaiters made of durable polyester. They are typically mid-calf to full-length styles and are completely waterproof. Most have special features such as lace hooks or an insect-repellent coating. These gaiters generally cost between $49 and $100.


  • Check for gaps. When you try on men’s gaiters, check that there aren’t any loose areas or gaps around your footwear where moisture or debris might get in. However, your gaiters shouldn’t be too tight, or they may affect your circulation and make it difficult to walk. 
  • Scrutinize them. Before each use, examine your gaiters to ensure that the fasteners, instep straps, pull cord, and other components are all in good condition. If any of the elements are worn or damaged, the gaiters won’t provide effective protection. 
  • Keep them clean. After you wear your gaiters, wipe away any obvious dirt or debris. Cleanse the exterior surface with warm water, so they’re ready to use the next time you need them. 
  • Waterproof them. To keep your gaiters in the best condition, it helps to treat them with a waterproofing spray periodically. That ensures that they’ll continue offering protection in heavier rain and snow. 


Even if you don’t expect wet conditions, bring your gaiters along in your backpack on multi-day hiking trips. Then, if the weather changes or you find you’re winding up with rocks or dirt in your shoes, you can throw them on to be more comfortable.


Q. What activities should I wear men’s gaiters for?

A. Gaiters come in handy for trail running, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, ice climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other snow sports. You can also wear gaiters for hunting. 

Q. How do I put on my gaiters?

A. It can be a little tricky to figure out how to put a pair of gaiters on if you’re never worn them before.

  • Open them completely along the front, and place them over your shoes and pants, making sure that the instep strap fits snugly around your foot with the adjustment mechanism on the outside. 
  • Adjust the straps so they fit snugly along the bottom of your shoes. If your gaiters have lace hooks, connect them to your boots as far down as you can. 
  • Secure the front closures, and adjust the drawstring at the top to keep them firmly in place. 

Q. What’s the best way to wear gaiters in the rain?

A. In heavy rain, it often helps to put men’s gaiters on beneath your rain pants. That prevents the rain from running over your pants and under the gaiters and lets you keep the rain out of your footwear. 

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