Are you looking for some good running gaiters that look good and feel good? They can be hard to find, right? Running gaiters are quite simple, a little bit of material to wrap around the top of your shoe to keep extra rocks from finding their way in.
Are they necessary? Well, no, not really. But in the strictest sense, neither are running shoes. Can they make your run more comfortable? Absolutely they can. But how much they help you can be a function of how good a pair you track down.
You might be able to find a cheap set at an everything warehouse, but hunting down a more upscale pair may be worth the hunt. So, let’s go on a hunt to track down the best trail running gaiters.
In this article, we are going to show you all that you should know about running gaiters, and then give you some to review at the end, so you can make an informed purchase. Are you ready to run? Let’s go!
Our Top Picks
|Mountain Hardwear Scree||3 oz||Black||Nylon||High visibility, reflective||Check price on Amazon|
|Outdoor Research Sparkplug||13.6 oz||Rio, lemongrass, black||Nylon, spandex||Breathes well, light||Check price on Amazon|
|Salomon Low Trail||27.2 oz||Red, black||Nylon||Sole strap, external closures||Check price on Amazon|
|Inov-8 Debris||4 oz||Black||Polyamide, elastane||Waterproof, moisture wick||Check price on Amazon|
|Salomon High Trail||32 oz||Black||Synthetic||Elastic protection, reflective||Check price on Amazon|
|Outdoor Research Stamina Belt||13.6 oz||Pewter, hydro||Polyamide, elastane||Waterproof, reflective||Check price on Amazon|
Features to Consider Before Buying
There are many important features on running gaiters. They should have the right height and protection, among other factors. Read on to get fully informed.
The first and simplest thing that you’ll need to consider is how tall of a gaiter do you want. The shorter will end up being a touch lighter and may run a little bit less. The taller ones may end up providing more protection. Also, a thing about comfort, while a taller model may keep more out, will it make you sweat more?
Will it require you to wear taller socks than you prefer? Then again, if the trail is having more stuff like loose rocks and is less well maintained and has more twigs and shrubs nearby a taller gaiter might be the right way to go.
As an added benefit a pair of gaiters will provide some level of protection while running along the trail. So, if you find yourself with a load of scrapes from low branches or other items along the trail, this could be an answer to your problems. Of course, different gaiters will have different levels of protection.
Some will be made to mostly keep rocks out of your shoes and wearing them on a dense trail could leave them ripped up. On the other hand, a heavy-duty pair could be overkill and cause your feet to overheat depending on what the trail conditions are.
One of the biggest questions when you get a pair of gaiters is just how are you going to get these on your shoes and how will they stay there. Most will have a strap that goes around the shoe to hold it down and a wrap around the ankle. While this is the usual method, it is not the only one out there.
There are a variety of strapless models available out there. Some work with different hooking systems, some need special shoes that are gaiter compatible and some gaiters are made for a specific shoe. Be sure to do your research on if your gaiter will work with your preferred running shoe before you pull the trigger on a purchase.
While any piece of material over your shoes can provide some level of weather resistance, even if that is a very small level, some gaiters are built to be worn while you enjoy the rain, snow, mud, sleet or other weather conditions. Take a moment to consider, do you normally go out in those types of conditions?
Are your shoes weather resistant? Do you wish that they were? Some runners will don a set of gaiters solely for the added boost of weather resistance so their outings in the rain are that much more enjoyable.
Other Tips to Remember
It is best to wear a sock that rises above the top of the gaiter
While the sock may wick water down, having the gaiter close around the fabric of the sock is more comfortable than it rubbing against your skin all run long.
Consider color and its affect where you will run
Some areas of the country color of gaiter can just be an ascetic choice.
However, if you live around a desert, or will be running in one, those dark color running gaiters may just end up adding more heat to your foot than you really want to deal with. In a cold climate, though any extra warm might be a welcome bonus.
Waterproof gaiters might not always be the best choice
Many waterproof materials do a fantastic job keeping rain and moisture out, but what we may fail to consider is that the barrier could work both ways. Your waterproof gaiters may just end up trapping sweat and any other moisture that are in your shoe in, and no one wants to run with swamp foot.
Think about the shoe, your gaiter and the terrain
If your gaiter has a strap that runs under the bottom of your shoe, what do you think will happen after you put some mileage on it? Consider what your local terrain may do with it.
Sure, a few miles in a forest might not shred it on the first trip out, but what if you are running in the desert or across mostly rocky terrain.
Top Product Reviews
Now we have come to the fun part! You can now review several types of trail running gaiters and choose the pair that is right for you! Happy running!
Price: Approx. $40
Weight: 3 oz
Specific features: Fits hiking boots & trail running shoes, grommet hole for under the arch boot attachment.
Best use: Trail runs, hiking, bike rides
Description: The Mountain Hardwear Scree Gaiter is a strong choice and it comes from a well-known outdoors company.
Mountain Hardware is a name that is rather known for making products that are meant to be taken out into the wild and actually used, and that will survive. This is a fine selection of a multi-functional running gaiter.
While it is lightweight enough to be used on your trail runs, it is also designed to fit with ease on a hiking boot and be worn while out on the trail hiking as well.
One note to consider with these is that some reviews found them to run a touch on the smaller side, so you may want to consider moving to the next step up in size if you are concerned about these being too tight on your running shoes.
These gaiters are extremely light weight and the Lycra stretch material will help to ensure that you get a good fit and can get them on in no time.
- 25 inches tall
- Reflective print
- Not enough elastic
- May need to order a size up
Related: Having a running belt can help you stay hands free as you run. The Running Belt is a great addition to your gear, goes for under $20 and has a reflective waist and will fit your cell phone too!
Price: Approx. $30
Weight: 13.6 oz
Specific features: Breathable material to keep your foot drier, hook & loop patches at heel for secure attachment, elastic top and bottom edges.
Best use: Trail running, training
Description: The Outdoor Research Sparkplug Gaiters are built with the minimalist in mind. These are stripped down to the bare essentials, a water resistant breathable fabric and a single hook attachment that works with most of the running shoes on the market.
This by no means implies that this set of gaiters is simple. Many reviewers have commented that they forgot that they were wearing them while out on their runs. This set of gaiters does what it needs to and does it so well that you can forget it is even there, isn’t that something more of our gear should be striving towards?
Some reviewers have mentioned that the attachment system leaves a little to be desired. Since it does not have the strap under the shoe it relies on the hook and loop fasteners that will be attached to the heel of your shoe to keep this gaiter on.
This does however get around the issue of terrain and your shoes, tearing the under the shoe strap to shreds while you run.
- 3 colors to choose from
- Breathes well
- Anti-slip pads
- Slides up
- Velcro may not stay attached
- Material can rip
Related: If running hurts your toes, you can buy the Squad Goods Silicone Toe Cap Protector which are under $15 and protect your toes while you enjoy the trail! They protect against the loss of nails, corns and rubbing and with the gaters, are great additional footwear gear.
Price: Approx. $30
Weight: 27.2 oz
Specific features: Reflective material to help you stay seen, external side closures, quick removal to be out of them right after your run.
Best use: Trail running, training, night time running
Description: The Salomon Low Trail Gaiters are just what the name makes you think of. A low-cut gaiter that has been designed to go with a low-cut running shoe and keep things, other than your shoe and sock, out.
They tend to stay in place so you don’t need to worry about these gaiters riding up your leg and having to readjust them every mile or so.
Also, many reviewers report them to be surprisingly comfortable. If you are looking for a simple, no nonsense running gaiter, this may just be the one to go with. While they are waterproof, since they are not that tall, these gaiters are more looking to keep your feet dry in the rain, not so much running through puddles or snow drifts.
However many reviewers have commented on these doing an excellent job at keeping mud and rocks out of their shoes on very muddy courses.
- Stole strap connects
- External closures on the sides
- Runs big
- Slides around
Related: Be sure to have some good running socks. The Running Socks keep your feet dry and cool, plus they come in a 1, 3, or 6 pack of many colors!
Price: Approx. $20
Weight: 4 oz
Specific features: Waterproof material, wicks fabric away from your body, under heel rubber fastening point paired with front lace hook.
Best use: Trail running, hiking, running in the rain
Description: The Inov-8 Debris Gaiter is a simplified design that is aiming to keep your feet dry. The fastener system goes under the heel of your shoe and attaches to the laces at the front to keep it secure and to keep various debris out of your shoes so it doesn’t bother your feet.
These are a one size fits all solution, making them a great gift idea, since you don’t have to know the exact size that a person’s feet are, to be sure that you are getting them a pair of gaiter that will work for them.
And they are not just for running, but are also designed to work with hiking boots and other shoes to let them get lots of use. Overall, those who have purchased these do enjoy using them as they are light in weight, comfortable and do a great job at keeping moisture away and debris out.
- Made of polyamide and elastane
- DWR treated
- Hard to put on
- Run big
- Do not fit very tight
Related: Since these gaiters aren’t reflective at night, you need to make sure that others can see you when you are running or hiking. The Reflective Running Vest is reflective and adjustable, and it includes a pocket. It is adjustable and under $15.
Price: $30 – $50
Weight: 32 oz
Specific features: Elastic jersey fabric, ankle bone protection, Reflective logo for increased visibility
Best use: Night runs, trail runs
Description: If you loved everything about the low-cut Salomon gaiters, but wished they were a little taller than the Salomon High Trail Gaiters are just the thing for you. They have taken the low option and added more height.
But it wasn’t enough to just throw more material at the situation, they decided that they needed to make sure that it made sense. They have included ankle bone and intrusion protection into their high trail gaiters to give you that extra level of protection for your run.
The one issue that came up with a number of reviewers is that due to the layout of the Velcro to support the ankle bone protection, it can be a little difficult to align the closure. But if you like the sound of this pair of gaiters, you should check them out.
You will like these gaiters because they are versatile and affordable. They also protect the ankle, which is something that is usually an overlooked feature.
- Reflective material
- Under $50
- Strong synthetic materials
- Only comes in black
- Wear out easily
- Ride up without hook
Related: Have a good pair of running pants so you don’t feel restricted as you are on the trail. The DRSKIN Compression Pants are under $20, keep you cool and dry, and come in a ton of colors.
Price: $30 – $40
Weight: 13.6 oz
Specific features: Waterproof but breathable materials, reflective print to aid in visibility, hook and loop patches at heel for highly secure attachment.
Best use: Trail running, hiking, night runs
Description: The Outdoor Research Stamina Gaiters Belt are a great lightweight choice for any running outing. While they have a waterproof material, the gaiter remains breathable to ensure that your shoes can vent out any sweat and keep your feet very comfortable while you are running.
The attachment system has hook and look patches that you can attach to the heel of your favorite running shoe, but also sports grommets, so if you feel more comfortable with a strap under your foot you can have the option.
The top opening has a pull cord cinch that lets you tighten down to ensure a snug fit while running that can easily be released when you get off the trail but haven’t had a chance to pull off your gaiters yet.
They are a good lightweight option. The biggest complaint that reviews have brought up, about this set, is that the grommets don’t seem to always be the best option as some have ripped out of the gaiter in use. But since it is a redundant feature you could still use the gaiter even with a grommet failure.
- 2 attractive colors
- Made of strong polyester
- Water resistant
- Can rip or tear
- Feels tight at some points
- Velcro does not stay attached
Related: Now that you found a solution for protecting your feet and ankles from the elements, it is time to think about the rest of your body parts, for example the eyes. Protect your eyes as you hit the trail. The Torege Polarized Sports Sunglasses have interchangeable lenses, are for men and women, and can be used for any outdoor activity.
There you have it, 5 outstanding picks for what is the best running gaiter. Now most options will want you to pick a size based on a range of shoe sizes. This normally isn’t a problem, unless you are looking to share a pair with someone who has a vastly different size foot than you.
But they aren’t overly expensive for the amount of protection and the added benefits that they bring you. Remember, before you pick the set that you want to wear on your trail runs, you will want to spend some time thinking about what you expect out of a pair of gaiters, where you plan to use them and the shoes that you will be using them with.
Then, as you evaluate each choice presented here, consider the height, attachment system, waterproofing and the extra protection that each gaiter will bring.
You’ll know what you want in each of those areas. Don’t forget the color can be an important consideration depending on where you will be running. Some options will have color choices while others will only give you the one option.
But not it is your turn, which is your favorite of our options, we’d love to hear in the comments below. And if this was helpful to you in picking out a set of gaiters or if you know someone else that is in the market, please share this article out with them.