How to Put on Gaiters

Gaiters close the gap between your pants and your hiking boots. They are great for winter outings and spring hikes because they keep snow out of your boots and pants, keep your hiking crampons from snagging on your pants, and provide a little extra warmth on a cold day.

Gaiters also come in handy when hiking through scree; they keep tiny particles of grit from creeping down into your boots or even into your socks. They don't often come with instructions, though – so if you're confused about how to get them on properly, read on.

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Find the Hook, Strap, or Reinforced Patch

gaiter lace hooks
The lace hooks for a Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano gaiter (left) and an older Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiter (right). Lisa Maloney

Most gaiters will have some sort of hook that latches onto your boot or shoelaces to hold the bottom of the gaiter in place. Find that hook and you've found the bottom front of the gaiter.

As a general rule, a mid-length hook that faces out is easiest to use. You can just slide it under the laces of your boot and let it catch as far down as it's able. If your boots don't lace all the way to the toe, though, some hooks may be too long for them. It all varies from brand to brand.

If for some reason your gaiters don't have a hook, check out the strap that dangles like a "U" from one end of the gaiter. That's the bottom of the gaiter, and the buckle of the strap goes on the outside of your foot.

If your gaiters don't have straps either, look for reinforced patches. These are almost always located along the inside edge of each shin and/or instep.

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Putting Gaiters On

Lisa Maloney

Before you put your gaiters on, make sure you have the right gaiter on the right foot. Remember, the buckle on the underfoot strap will be on the outside of each foot.

Now, wrap the gaiter around your ankle and lower leg. Then seal the hook-and-loop closure all the way up and down your leg. If you have zip-close gaiters, it's the same general idea. Simply wrap and zip.

Next, snag the lace hook as far down in your bootlaces as it'll go.

Tighten the calf closures at the top of the gaiter so they're snug. This keeps snow, mud, or sand from sneaking in the top of the gaiter. But don't make them so tight that they impede your circulation. 

Finally, slide the bottom strap under the middle of your boot and thread it through the buckle on the opposite side of the gaiter. Tighten the strap as far as it'll go.

It's just that simple. Once the gaiters are on, check for any gapping where the gaiter meets your boots.

Sometimes this is just a quirk of a specific gaiter brand and how it fits with your boots; but usually, you can solve it by snugging the underfoot strap down a little tighter and moving the lace hook down a notch.

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