The Best Trail Running Gaiters Reviewed
Searching For Running Gaiters? Take a look at the top rated gaiters of 2017, Pros & Cons and what to be aware of before buying them in a store!
Trail running gaiters are a pretty essential piece of equipment if you regularly fun off-road or in dusty, dirty and rocky terrain. There’s nothing more distracting and disruptive than sandy toes or stones in your shoes – and trail running gaiters are a very simple and fuss-free way of avoiding this potential problem. Gaiters can also help to avoid sore feet and blisters and, in spite of being wrapped around your ankles, should still keep your feet cool in hot weather.
It’s worth noting here that you can indeed buy basic, cheaper gaiters which aren’t specifically created for trail running. Many runners buy these as a cheaper option, but they don’t really do the trick – if you want something to assist you specifically with your off-road running, it’s best to buy gaiters which are created for this purpose. Cheaper non-specific options don’t provide adequate protection, they can be very warm uncomfortable and they don’t look good.
That said, in this article, let’s take a look at the best trail-running gaiters on the market.
1. Salomon Trail Running Low
These gaiters are very comfy while still doing the job well. Though waterproof, they only ride low on the ankle, so they’re not going to keep you dry if you’re regularly running through puddles or in particularly boggy or watery terrain.
They’re very smart and subtle, and look particularly good when worn with darker shoes. This is about as good as it gets in terms of discreet and small gaiters.
They are around an average price. Though there are slightly cheaper options on the market, these are pretty good value. You can certainly do worse than investing in these – there are lots of options on the market which cost more and don’t do the job as effectively.
- They do all of the basic stuff well, with little need for readjustment. This means that your runs aren’t disrupted, which is the last thing you want when you’re all hot, sweaty and motivated.
- They’re a simple Velcro design, so they’re very easy to put on, keep on and keep clean.
- They look good, with a nice sleek design.
- They are durable and sturdy, and provide a little bit of added security for your feet. These are therefore a good option for serious and regular runners, like many of Salomon’s products.
- Because these are low gaiters, they’re maybe not suitable for anyone who regularly runs in lots of water, whether through puddles, on the beachfront or elsewhere.
2. Salomon Trail S-Lab
These are very comfortable and very easy to use, despite the fact that they are high gaiters. Although they ride high, they don’t provide any discomfort or overheating. The simple design means that they provide a pleasant run without any complications of disruptions.
They’re a really nice red and black design, and merge subtly with the shoe. Again, this is a good choice for anyone who wants something with as simple and discreet design.
They are slightly more expensive than other gaiters, which is due to their height. They ride higher than most other alternatives, which justifies the price if you’re looking for something of this style. Though a little pricey, they’re a good product.
- They’re very easy to use – with one strap, you can put them on, go on your run and forget that you’re using them.
- They are a very aesthetic product, and look tidy and smart.
- They’re very good in dry, rocky, dusty weather – and absolutely keep out all debris and dirt.
- They provide more support than most other gaiters, so if you’re looking to secure your ankles, these will do exactly that.
- These are not really not ideal for extremely wet conditions. This is the only real negative here, so if this issue is not a concern to you, these are probably the best gaiters.
3. Inov-8 Debris Gaiters 32
These gaiters are very comfy and keep you very warm. They’re nice and thick and provide plenty of cosiness. They keep out all those annoying bits of debris and rock, which ensures a pleasant and comfortable run.
They’re plain black, and hence subtle. But despite their strength, they do look a little floppy and flimsy. This means that they’re not particularly fashionable, which might be of significance to some.
This is perhaps the best option in terms of price. They are the cheapest on this list, and do the job as well as any other. That said, they aren’t as reliable, so if you’re one of the unlucky ones, this could be one of those pesky examples of false economy.
- They keep out everything from dust to stones very well, and do so better than more expensive models.
- They’re slightly cheaper than other options on the market, which is good for bargain hunters.
- They are more waterproof than most other gaiters, so they’re great if you’re a fan of wet terrain or running in water and mud. Good waterproofing can be hard to find with trail-running gaiters, but you can find that here.
- Their appearance isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not terrible – it’s simply basic and no-frills.
- Some weren't crazy about the retention cord underneath
4. Dirty Girl
These spandex gaiters are very comfy, but they don’t keep you warm in cold conditions – and wet runs are still going to leave you with wet legs here. So if you looking for a little more comfort or you’re trying to stay dry, you might want to look elsewhere. On the plus side, the spandex design is very lightweight, so if you’re seeking flexibility, this might be helpful.
If you’re in the market for something flashy and fanciful, you’re in the right place. All of the designs are garish and bold, so whether or not you like these will depend on your taste. But if design is a priority for you, and if you’re looking to make a statement, you’ll probably be able to find something you like with a range this wide.
These are slightly less than mid-range, owing largely to their aesthetic. They aren’t the best-performing gaiters, so the price doesn’t reflect the quality. Rather, it reflects a gap in the market – and these are the only mainstream gaiters which offer something fashionable.
- Fashion fiends, these are the gaiters for you. If you want to stay fashionable while exercising, this is your best option.
- They’re easy to use, though not quite as simple as other gaiters.
- They do the simple stuff well, and will indeed keep dirt and stones out of your shoes.
- These keep debris out, but aren't waterproof
- A bit expensive
5. Rab Scree
The main flaw here is comfort. They can be slightly tight and unpleasant if you have larger ankles. This is only an issue for a small portion of users, but it is of significance.
These are plain and come in a nice grey colour. Though they don’t have the subtlety or sleekness of other options, they look pretty good.
These are a little on the steeper side, though they’re not a great deal more expensive than other options.
- They keep you cool and offer good breathability, which is especially useful for longer or hotter runs – and for those who are prone to getting hot feet.
- They’re easy to use and to put on, though not quite as easy to use as other alternatives.
- Intended more for debris protection, rather than waterproofing
- They are a little more pricey than some of the other options on this list.
A Little More Guidance When Selecting Gaiters
Whether you are an experienced trail runner or if you’re just getting started, a trail running gaiter will become your new best friend. Before making your selection, we have complied a brief list of considerations to take into account. This type of specialized trail running equipment should not be selected off the cuff and they are manufactured for specific purposes and uses. Before you head out to the great outdoors, let’s make sure that you are matched with just the right one to suit your needs.
As you may have read from our waterproof running shoes buying guide, water, dirt and debris always manage to find a way into your shoe no matter what. The number one way that is unwanted travel companions make their way in is through the top of your footwear. To add a much needed layer of protection, manufacturers develop gaiters of different shapes and sizes. Our buying guide is specific to trail running gaiters, it’s very important to remember that hiking and snow related gaiters are typically constructed with much thicker fabric, come up a lot higher up on the leg and are really about maximum protection. In contrast, trail running gaiters focus on breathability and range of motion; therefore they are constructed from stretchable material that minimizes heat and water retention.
The first thing to consider when making your selection is what type of environment will you be running in. If you are dealing with a standard dry trail then you’re going to want option that is lightweight and extremely breathable, preferably with a “one strap application” so that it is easy on and easy off. This way you can get the maximum amount of protection from rocks, pebbles, and all forms of dust without having too much weight added to your feet. However, if you know that you are going to be coming across water and mud on your trail then you will definitely want to select a gaiter that features waterproof material. You will find that the right waterproof gaiter when utilized with a solid waterproof running shoe will keep your feet nice and dry when you were dealing with Mother Nature.
When evaluating what the seasoned trail runners had to say about utilizing gaiters, we have found that there are some pros and cons that should be considered. First and foremost, they offer you an extra layer of protection from moisture and debris that is simply not comparable to not using them. If you know that dust and pebbles are going to be an issue then the decision is really a no-brainer. Better to use a gaiter than to have skin irritation or blisters.
Secondly, they are a rather inexpensive piece of equipment that protects a very expensive piece of equipment, your shoes. Think of buying an expensive racecar and not protecting it from a sand storm because you didn’t buy a twenty dollar dust cover. Furthermore, no matter which one you choose to go with, they are all pretty lightweight and will not add too much weight to your feet.
The two biggest complaints against using them is that they can be difficult to put on and off until you really get the hang of it. If you think this might be an issue for you, our buying guide contains a very simple one action gaiter that works great. The other complaint is that it’s an additional piece of equipment to keep track of (aka, lose). Depending on how long your runs are and if you carry a pack or not, keep in mind that you may want to remove them once you don’t need them.
Overall, trail runners agree that the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to using gaiters and some consider them to be an essential piece of equipment and won’t hit the trail without them.
We hope that we’ve provided you with important information to consider when selecting your gaiter, and again want to emphasis just how important they can be. Testers found that when dealing with messy and debris filled trails, they can make all the difference in the world. Additionally, we have also included some frequently asked questions that trail runners have regarding using gaiters.
Q: I run using rain pants in the city, no trails at all. My shoes and socks still get wet. Are gaiters a possible solution?
A: They are a definite solution. It’s a good point to make that these can be used for running in the rain. They will keep your feet and socks nice and dry while protecting the investment you made in your running shoes. Pro tip: go for a low gaiter and wear them under your rain pants, not over. This will create a better waterproof seal.
Q: What’s the best fabric to consider when selecting a waterproof gaiter?
A: Gore-Tex is still the name to be trusted in waterproofing that also gives great breathability. That being said, gaiters with water repellent sprayed on also work well, but must be cleaned more often.
Q: What type of maintenance is required when owning a pair of gaiters?
A: Not a whole lot, make sure you air dry them over night and keep them free of any dust and debris that can negatively affect the breathability of the fabric.
Q: Can I use my trail gaiters when I go hiking in the woods?
A: Most people wouldn’t. In the woods you will be dealing with high weeds and brush. Hiking gaiters are taller and thinker to give you the protection that you need. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to run in hiking gaiters.
Q: My trail shoes have an integrated gaiter, so I don’t really need them.
A: Think again. Having a separate gaiter is an additional layer of protection that acts as a first line of defense. This means that you won’t have to dry out your shoes as much and if you have two days of back to back trail running, you’re going to either need another pair of trail running shoes, or wet and uncomfortable feet.