I was in an outdoor gear store the other day and I saw a lady looking at gaiters. She gingerly took them off the rack and surveyed them. As she looked at the loops, the Velcro and the other constituent parts of the gaiters, you could see from the expression on her face that she was a little confused.
Pictured above are the Outdoor Research Men's Crocodile Gaiters. Click on the image to learn more.
My guess was that she was a bit of a newbie to the whole hiking thing and she had been instructed to get Gaiters. No problem there. However, she probably didn’t really know what gaiters are and decided the best way to approach the problem was to go to the shop.
My hunch seemed to be confirmed as after looking at the gaiters for a time, she then scanned the shop quickly, looking either for a sales assistant or to see who may be looking her way. There was no sales assistant and I was too far away for her to notice my observation.
She sat down on a stool and took one of the gaiters from the packet and started to put it on. I noticed immediately that she was pointing the gaiter opening towards the front of her leg i.e. she was trying to put it on backwards. She got it on in some form but she could tell something wasn’t right as she stood up to look at the gaiter on her leg. You can of course just tell when something isn’t on right!
As if on cue a sales assistant appeared and sensing she wasn’t in the ball park with her first attempt, she removed the gaiter and got his attention and proceeded to ask him for help. The question of course being, how do I put this damn thing on!?
It was funny as I actually recall being unsure myself way back in the day when I first bought gaiters. Unlike the lady in the shop, I didn’t attempt to try them on in the store, I just bought them and brought them to a hike. I remember when I went to put them on, I too wasn’t 100% sure how to put them on. I gingerly asked the guy leading the hike and he was of course very helpful and explained the process.
With all that in mind, I thought a post explaining how to put gaiters on would be useful for folks who are new to hiking, or just new to gaiters 🙂 . Below I walk through the steps on how to put them on properly. If you’re totally new to gaiters, check out this post to learn more about what gaiters are.
I don’t intend this to be a buying guide for gaiters, I’ll do that separately and link to it from here. However, it is worth pointing out that you should of course get the right size of gaiter. They usually come in a small / medium / large bracket although a one size fits all option can be available too. Overall, it’s not too hard to find the right ones for your size.
The Main Parts of a Gaiter
Gaiters, broadly speaking, have two key parts, the gaiter itself, highlighted in the photo by the green box below, and the instep strap, highlighted by the blue box in the image below.
The top of the gaiter will have some kind of tightening feature, usually a button and a cord or a Velcro strap running horizontally along the top, highlighted below.
Next, if we look at the instep strap, you can see in the photo below that they are adjustable using Velcro straps. Any good gaiter will have some way of enabling you to adjust the size of the instep strap to fit your boots.
It may not be Velcro, some utilize a buckle for the strap. Either way, you need to be able to adjust the instep strap on the gaiter to your boots. When you’ve done this once, in most cases you shouldn’t’ need to adjust it again unless the strap slips somewhat i.e. your hiking boots remain the same size so once adjusted to fit once, you should be good to go.
Putting the Gaiter on
Open the gaiter out fully and take it behind your lower leg as shown in the photo below. The instep strap loop points downwards as it will wrap around the instep (between the heal and the toe end) of your boot.
Assuming you’ve already adjusted the instep strap to fit your foot, bring the gaiter snug against the back of your leg and start to wrap it round to the front. One side of the Velcro part of the gaiter, the bit you stick the other side too, should run down the front center of your leg. You then bring the other side of the gaiter over and secure the Velcro strap down the front of your leg.
It’s worth pointing out that not every gaiter will have a Velcro make-up like this but most do. I always have the Velcro part to be stuck too, wrapping round the leg from the outside in. I’m not really sure if that matters that much when putting them on but that’s what I do. Whatever feels comfortable is the broad guideline on that front I feel.
As you’re doing the adjustment listed above, also be sure that the instep loop is sitting snug between the heel and the front part of your hiking boots. One side of your gaiter, at the front, will have a little hook on it, this is used to attach to the tied laces of your boots (see the two metal dots on the gaiter in the picture above). This too should be adjusted to fit snugly on your laces while you adjust the final position of the Velcro.
Next up, some gaiters will have a button at the top of the gaiter. Once the Velcro is closed and comfortable, if there is a button, fix it in place as illustrated in the picture below.
Once you have the gaiter on, adjust and tighten the gaiter at the top till comfortable. There will usually be a strap or cord of some kind at the top as illustrated in the picture below.
Finally, make any other required adjustments to the instep strap or the lace hook. And that is that! You should now have a gaiter secured tightly but comfortable around the bottom of your leg. Simply repeat the process for the other gaiter on the other leg and you’re good to go!
So I hope you found this short post on how to put gaiters on useful. This may seem very obvious to many but just like the woman in the shop that I mentioned at the start, it can be confusing to people who are totally new to hiking and have never heard of a gaiter never mind have ever worn one!
It’s easy to put one on if you know how but it can be a bit of a funny one if you’ve never done it before. If you’re still unsure, ask in any outdoor store or ask any experienced hiker, they’ll be able to tell you what to do.
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