A question often asked in our store is: What about gaiters, do I really need them? I was pondering this last December while hiking along Tasmania’s South Coast Track. The weather was mild and fine but had been wet the week before we arrived. Did we need gaiters? Well, look at the picture below.

South Coast Track bog

There you go. Question answered. I could finish this blog right now!

Oh okay, perhaps not everyone hikes in South West Tasmania where hazards such as man eating bogs, flooded boardwalks and big fat tiger snakes are common, but my Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters accompany me on virtually every hike I go on. Quite simply, I do not feel ready to hike unless I have them on.

Gaiters obviously protect from mud, water, snow and snakes. In the drier bushwalking areas amongst the eucalypt forests they stop all manner of sticks, twigs, bark and sand from getting into your boots and socks. And in even drier areas they keep out the prickles and burrs that seem to be everywhere. I habitually hike in shorts across most terrains and climates and so they protect my lower legs from getting scratched by the vegetation as I pass by. They are also essential for backcountry ski touring or snowshoeing to keep the snow from your boots and thus keep your feet dry. I have even found that well fitted gaiters keep the water out of your boots when crossing smaller calf depth streams—providing you do so quickly.

My first gaiters were coated nylon affairs. They served their function well, but my legs felt like they were trapped in sweatbox. My next pair were made of canvas. These are extremely tough and actually breath quite well, but they are relatively heavy and stiff. My companions for the last twenty years or so have been the Outdoor Research Goretex Crocodile gaiters. Always red. Don’t ask me why. They are wonderfully comfortable to wear due to the breathable goretex, and OR invented the convenient front opening Velcro closure that has been copied by many other brands. It seems so obvious now, but I can still remember the days of battling with rear zippers clogged with mud.

My gaiters have accompanied me around the world and to many wonderful places.

Hiking Norway

Hiking in Rondane National Park Norway

Goretex fabric is not as tough as canvas but I am only on my second pair of Crocodiles in 20 years. For the dedicated bush basher I am sure canvas is better. Bogong sells all types of gaiters from lightweight stretchy ones ideal for trail runners that only seal the shoes from sand and dirt, to special expedition gaiters designed to fit over mountaineering boots. You can see our full range of gaiters here.

See also:

  • Hiking Gear - My 5 favourites