Trail Running Gaiters

A look at trail running gaiters.

By on April 11, 2011 | Comments

For more of our current favorite running gaiters, take a look at our best running gaiters guide.

Trail Running Gaiters

I’m here to talk trail running gaiters. (No, I’m not going to talk about speedy bipedal reptiles.) In case you don’t know, gaiters are pieces of fabric that span from at least the outside of a shoe’s ankle collar to one’s lower leg. Their purpose? To keep debris from entering the top of your shoe and, therefore, reducing the chance of blistering or other discomfort.

Mountain Hardwear Seta Gaiter

An example of a trail running gaiter, the Mountain Hardwear Seta Gaiter.

In a typical trail running configuration, the gaiter is a removable accessory that covers a good portion a shoe’s upper and doesn’t extend far above one’s ankle. For general trail running, gaiters tend to be constructed with thin, breathable, stretchable material that doesn’t impede movement and minimizes heat or water gain. However, at least two trail running shoes – the La Sportiva Crossover and Saucony Razor (iRF review) – go so far as to incorporate a gaiter into the shoe itself. Over the years, many trail shoes have included attachment points, whether brand-specific or generic, specifically for gaiters.

This trail running configuration and set of traits is quite different from hiking or snow-sports gaiters which tend to be made of much thicker fabric, come much higher up the leg, and are aimed at maximum protection (whether from brush or snow) rather than breathability and range of motion.

I mention these non-trail running versions so you don’t accidentally pick up a pair at your local outdoor retailer and go for a run in them when a variety of great trail running-specific gaiters have popped up in the past few years. Over the next few days, iRunFar’s Travis Liles will take an in-depth look at three gaiters:

Call for Comments
When and where do you wear gaiters? If you never where gaiters, why not?


Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.