Gaiters provide extra protection for the lower legs. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Gaiters provide extra protection for the lower legs. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

We view gaiters as an optional piece of kit for general hillwalking.

They provide extra protection against rain, mud and water for the lower leg, preventing rain dripping into the boot, stones entering there, and also helping keep the upper part of the boot drier.

They also provide some extra warmth and wind protection for the leg, though the flipside of that is that you will also get some build-up of moisture inside the gaiter.

In snow, they’re much more of a necessity, providing a much needed barrier against the white stuff getting inside the boot and also helping prevent wayward crampon spikes damaging those expensive trousers or salopettes.

All the gaiters in our test have much tougher fabric than trousers or waterproof overtrousers, and should provide good protection in these conditions, particularly in their lower sections.

They all have under-boot straps to keep them in place, along with a lace hook to retain the front of the gaiter where it should be, covering the boot.

We rated them for comfort, breathability and how easy they were to put on and adjust. Here are our views of five waterproof gaiters.

Berghaus GTX Gaiter

Berghaus GTX Gaiter

Berghaus GTX Gaiter
Price: £50
Colour: black
Weight: 242g/pair
Country of manufacture: China

These full-length gaiters come in two sizes: regular and long.

They use three-layer Gore-Tex to keep the wet out and are constructed using panels of different material. The top sections are tough, rip-stop fabric while the rear, calf section is a slightly stretchy material.

The bottom panels are thicker, tough fabric and the very bottom panels have an extra layer. This gives the GTX gaiters a very robust feel, though the thickness of the materials does inhibit breathability a little.

Fastening is via a tough hook-and-loop (Velcro) strip down the full front length of the gaiter. There is a press-stud fastener offset slightly at the top and a drawcord adjuster with buried spring-button toggle that makes getting a snug fit round the top of the calf very easy.

The under-boot strap is wide and tough-feeling, and is adjusted via hook-and-loop strips on either side of the bottom panel. This needs to be done before finally closing the gaiter. The GTX has a metal lace hook to finally secure it in place over the boot.

Closure is done via a broad hook-and-loop strip that goes the full length of the gaiter. There’s no zip, so it’s a little tricky getting the right positioning, but once done, it feels very secure.

Everything about the Berghaus GTX gaiter says toughness, and it is also comfortable in use, the slight stretchy panel helping it hug the lower leg while not restricting movement. The gaiters also have reflective trim logos. Well designed and robust.

Comfort 32/40
Breathability 14/20
Ease of use 15/20
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 76/100

Keela Gaiter

Keela Gaiter

Keela Gaiter
Price: £29.95
Colour: black
Weight: 246g/pair
Country of manufacture: not stated

These traditional-design gaiters have a zip front with a hook-and-loop storm flap fastening.

The top part of the Keela Gaiter uses Innovation 5 waterproof fabric, while the lower section around the ankle also has a tough reinforced fabric overlay. There is an elasticated band at the top of the reinforced section and also at the bottom of it, to help keep the gaiter in place.

There are press-stud fasteners at both the top and bottom of the front opening, and a metal lace hook. The under-boot strap is broad webbing, adjusted via two plastic buckles.

There’s a drawcord adjuster with spring toggle on the top hem of the gaiter, which is also reinforced.

In use, the Keela gaiters felt a little loose around the leg, though they did stay in place. Putting them on was easy, thanks to the zip and storm-flap fastening, and breathability was good. The under-boot strap was a little difficult to adjust and left a length of spare strap after tightening, which it’s important to tuck out of the way to avoid a tripping hazard.

Comfort 28/40
Breathability 15/20
Ease of use 16/20
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 74/100

Montane Alpine Pro Gaiter

Montane Alpine Pro Gaiter

Montane Alpine Pro Gaiter
Price: £40
Colour: black
Weight: 130g/pair
Country of manufacture: China

The Montane gaiters differ from all the others in the test, being a shorter, mid-length designed specifically with climbing in mind, though our testing was done on walking and scrambling routes.

The Alpine Pro uses Gore-Tex Pro fabric in 70D form with extra reinforcement at the ankle level.

The gaiters come in small, medium or large size.

The hook-and-loop fastening is offset slightly to the outside of the gaiter, which allows easier flexing. There’s a top press-stud fastener which incorporates a cowl covering the top of the fastening strip. The top hem of the gaiter has a shockcord adjuster which was positive in use and easy to slacken while wearing gloves, thanks to the nicely designed spring toggle.

There’s a small elasticated section at the rear of the bottom hem of the gaiter. The under-boot strap is a narrow, TPU-coated webbing strap with buckle adjustment. Excess strap is held neatly and safely out of the way thanks to a slotted arrangement that leads it into the inside of the gaiter.

The Alpine Pro is shaped to accommodate the boot then narrows above this for the lower calf section. Despite this, the gaiter had a slight tendency to concertina downwards at the very top unless the shockcord was tightened substantially. This didn’t, however, affect performance of the gaiter.

As a shorter gaiter, the Montane model tips the scales at about half the weight of many of the others. The Alpine Pro was comfortable in use, apart from the niggly tendency to slide down a little and, covering less of the lower leg, build-up of moisture was lessened too. The Gore-Tex Pro fabric breathed well.

Comfort 30/40
Breathability 16/20
Ease of use 15/20
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 76/100

Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiter

Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiter

Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiter
Price: £55
Colour: red/black
Weight: 130g/pair
Country of manufacture: China

The Crocodiles are full-length gaiters that use three-layer Gore-Tex. They come in sizes S-XXL and, unusually for this test, are a combination of red and black fabric.

The top 70D section breathes well while the lower panel around the ankle is tough reinforced material, wide enough to take a plastic mountaineering boot.

Closure is via a full length hook-and-loop strip which feels very robust. A small additional hook-and-loop tab covers the top of the metal lace hook anchor.

There’s a label advising that, to prevent snow entering the bottom of the gaiter, the closure should be made first, then the under-boot strap tightened to ensure a good fit. The strap is tough BioThane webbing, with a conventional buckle adjustment. Excess strap is held neatly in a small sleeve on the outside of the gaiter.

Top hem adjustment is, unusually, via a webbing strap which fastens via a plastic buckle closure which worked well but was a little difficult to adjust while wearing gloves.

Everything about the Crocodile says robustness, and the Outdoor Research gaiters should give years’ good service. The OR model was comfortable in use and breathability was good.

Comfort 34/40
Breathability 15/20
Ease of use 15/20
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 79/100

Trekmates Cairngorm GTX Gaiter

Trekmates Cairngorm GTX Gaiter

Trekmates Cairngorm GTX Gaiter
Price: £30
Colour: black
Weight: 130g/pair
Country of manufacture: China

Our Cairngorm Gaiters were black, but they are also available in green and navy blue. They come in two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

The Trekmates gaiters use three-layer Gore-Tex fabric, with reinforcement at the ankle level. They are full length, but a little shorter than some in the test. Fastening is via a zip and a fairly narrow hook-and-loop flap. There are press-stud fasteners at the top and bottom of this.

The ankle cuff is partly elasticated with a shorter elasticated section at the heel area on the bottom seam of the gaiter. A twin drawcord at the top of the gaiter provides adjustment, and is held by a spring toggle which was fairly easy to adjust while wearing gloves.

The plastic under-boot strap has a sliding buckle at each side which is fiddly to adjust and is probably best done mainly while off the leg, with final small adjustments while wearing the gaiters. In our test, there was quite an unused excess length of strap. A label advises the user to cut the strap to length for safety reasons, so there is reduced risk of tripping.

The Cairngorm Gaiters have a metal lace hook.

The material of the Trekmates gaiters was not as thick as some, and breathability was good. The Cairngorms were comfortable in use and stayed in place, though the drawcords at the top leave quite a lot of excess length when tightened and needed tucking in to stop them flapping against the back of the calf.

The Trekmates Cairngorm Gaiter offers good breathability for general use at a competitive price.

Comfort 28/40
Breathability 16/20
Ease of use 15/20
Quality 7/10
Value for money 8/10
Total score: 74/100

The gaiters are at home on muddy moorland too. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The gaiters are at home on muddy moorland too. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Top performer in the test was the Outdoor Research Crocodile, with a reassuringly solid and robust feel, and good breathability. The Crocs will perform well both in the snow of the mountains or the mud of the moors and are built to last.

Close behind were the Berghaus GTX and the Montane Alpine Pro, two very different models. The Berghaus gaiters again felt very durable and gave good protection while the Montane ones offer an alternative to full length gaiters. While designed for mountaineering, the Alpine Pro gaiters also performed well in muddy conditions and are by far the lightest – and shortest – in our test.

For those on a tight budget wanting an all-round pair of gaiters, both the Trekmates and the Keela models provided good value, with the former offering surprisingly good breathability and the latter a slightly better ease of use.

  • All the gaiters in our test were supplied by the brands.

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