Trail running can be a great way to unwind. It’s a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and recharge in the outdoors. However, being out on the trail means contending with dirt and gravel. It’s therefore essential to ensure that this debris doesn’t disrupt your run by making its way into your sneakers.
That’s where gaiters come in. They cover the opening of your trail shoes, keeping out the sand and gravel. Starting with our best option, the Salomon Low Trail Gaiters, this is our list of the best trail running gaiters.
How to Pick the Best Trail Running Gaiters
One of the main functions of a gaiter is to keep small objects such as rocks and dirt out of your shoes. Various types of gaiters are available for different activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, and trail running. When choosing the best trail running gaiters, these are some key factors to look out for.
When it comes to buying the best trail running gaiters, the first thing that you should consider is their height. Over-the-ankle gaiters are ideal for the course as they keep objects out of the way while maintaining the freedom to run. They are also lightweight.
Most gaiters come with a hook and loop patch that connects to the shoe’s heel. Before making a purchase, it’s essential to ensure that your shoe has the appropriate patch to attach to the gaiter. It also helps to make sure that the gaiters are a good fit. Most running shops will allow you to take them out on a run trial to see if they are comfortable.
Try out some different positions like squats and leg extensions to see if there is any chafing.
Good trail running gaiters should come with these standard features:
One thing that you might want to consider is water resistance. Unlike hikers, trail runners are usually reluctant to get into the habit of wearing waterproof gaiters as they find them unnecessary. However, they make a great choice if you’re running on a trail where you need to cross a body of water.
You might also want to consider the trail conditions when picking gaiters. Most runners will be dealing with a muddy or sandy, rocky terrain. For those on a dry trail, waterproofing might not be necessary.
While most gaiters can handle a bit of moisture, they may not necessarily be waterproof. Some trail running gaiters come with a durable water repellent treatment that can provide adequate protection against light rain.
However, if you’re looking for something more water-resistant, you might have to sacrifice breathability.
Most gaiters come with either a hook and loop patch or an instep strap. You should probably choose the instep strap gaiter if you don’t have a hook and loop patch on your shoes.
When closing the gaiters, make sure they tighten around the shoe properly. It’s also essential to ensure that the height of the cap is not much higher than your running socks, as this may result in chafing. Gaiters with zipper closures may not be ideal, as the zip can cause irritation.
Instep straps are used to secure the lower portion of your gaiters to the bottom of your shoe. They should be made from durable material and withstand the rugged nature of the trail.
Hook and Loop Patch
Unlike instep straps, the hook and loop patch is used to secure the lower portion of your gaiters to the bottom of your shoe. Before buying this type of gaiter, ensure that your shoe has the necessary hook and loop capabilities.
Some gaiters come with additional features, such as lace hooks, which allow you to hook up the lower portion of the gaiters to the shoe’s laces. Lace hooks offer more security, ensuring that your gaiters stay in place.
One of the most essential features of a good trail running gaiter is its elastic and adjustable strap. A good strap ensures it fits the shoe properly and is therefore comfortable. With an adjustable strap, you’re essentially molding the gaiter to the shape of your foot.
A well-fitted gaiter will prevent chafing and discomfort. As helpful as gaiters are, it’s essential to ensure that you have the right pair of running shoes, mainly since not all athletic shoes serve the same function.
Best Trail Running Gaiters
We’ve carefully reviewed trail running gaiters, and these are our top picks. These products will keep your shoe debris-free, ensure a comfortable run, and pair well with these great trail runners.
1. Best Overall Trail Running Gaiters| Salomon Low Trail Running Gaiters
These trail shoe gaiters are made from nylon and are ideal for use on any surface. They’re durable and can be used in various conditions, such as snow or grassy terrain. The Salomon ankle gaiters are sleek, stylish, and adequately protect your shoes. They have a low-profile design that keeps debris out.
In addition, the gaiter’s styling makes it feel like part of your shoe and won’t irritate the skin as you move.
Unlike other gaiters, these Salomons don’t have a lace hook. Instead, they use a large rubber underfoot strap and a Velcro patch. The thick strap keeps the shoe securely on your foot. It also has a reflective feature to help you see in all kinds of light conditions. If you prefer running at night, you should consider getting the Salmon Low gaiters.
Unfortunately, these gaiters aren’t waterproof, so if you’re planning on running an ultramarathon or other event that typically has a water crossing, the Salomon low gaiter might not be suitable. However, they will protect your shoe from light rain.
2. Best Grip Trail Running Gaiters | Ultimate Direction FK Gaiters
The Ultimate Direction FK gaiter is an adjustable option ideal for most shoes. The gaiter comes in three different sizes to fit your sneaker well. In addition, it features a flexible construction that allows it to stretch over the foot while preventing zipper chafing.
A lace hook helps keep the front of the shoe in place and provides better protection from debris. Its adjustable under-foot strap features a Hypalon rubber material that you can easily adjust. In addition, the strap has a plastic snap that keeps it from opening accidentally.
The strap should fit easily between the shoe’s lugs, but exposure to the elements can cause it to wear out over time. Luckily, it’s replaceable, which is something that you won’t get in many gaiters.
The Ultimate Direction gaiter is made from durable, stretchy material that will last longer and provide a comfortable fit.
3. Best Value-for-Money Trail Running Gaiters | Altra Trail Gaiters
These Altra Trail gaiters are sleek, easy to use, and ideal for running in warm weather. In addition, their strapless design allows you to change your shoes without removing them. This comes in handy, especially if you want to change your socks if they get wet during a river cross. Running in wet socks can be a real issue.
The Altra Trails have a hook-and-loop design that allows them to securely attach to your running shoes, keeping them in place throughout your run. The fabric is stretchy, which makes it incredibly comfortable to wear. It’s also breathable, which works well in warmer climates.
The gaiter upper is abrasion-resistant, and it provides additional protection from debris and the elements.
These gaiters offer excellent protection while being affordably priced. If you are looking for the right balance between price and functionality, you should consider the Altra Trail gaiters.
4. Best Low-Riding Trail Running Gaiters | Kahtoola INSTAgaiter Low
The INSTAgaiter Low from Kahtoola is a low-profile gaiter that you can use for all seasons. It features a durable and lightweight construction and protects against water and debris. This product is also comfortable and comes with asymmetrical zippers that prevent it from rubbing against your ankle.
In addition, the Kahtoola has a compact design that you can fold away easily after use.
The drawcord around the ankle makes this gaiter ideal for any shoe brand. It also provides a good seal that prevents objects from getting inside your sneaker. You can use INSTAgaiter’s adjustable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) instep strap to fit your shoe better.
The strap is rounded and not flat, which works better with different types of outsoles. A lace hook helps keep the fit snug and comfortable.
The gaiter’s nylon fabric is durable and breathable. It doesn’t tear easily, which means you can use the gaiter for a long time without worrying about it wearing out. In addition, INSTAgaiter features a DWR (durable water-repellant) finish that’s tough enough to keep your feet warm and dry even in wet conditions.
Even with its waterproof capabilities, it’s still breathable enough to keep you comfortable while you run.
5. Best Lightweight Trail Running Gaiters | Montane via Trail Gaiters
These trail gaiters are ideal for runners looking for something simple and lightweight. They feature a pull-on design and a durable elastic strap. In addition, the softshell material used for these shoes is stretchy, making them ideal for running.
There is also a reinforced patch on the inner ankle to provide additional support.
These trail gaiters are ideal for running in the mountains or the desert, as their close fit easily keeps out unwanted debris. They also feature a slightly higher ankle to provide additional protection.
Since they are made from a lightweight material, they may not be ideal for use on long winter runs. However, they are an excellent choice for warmer temperatures.
6. Best Versatile Trail Running Gaiters | Outdoor Research Ferrosi Thru Gaiters
These are great for trail runners and thru-hikers who want to keep their feet warm, dry, and protected from debris. The Ferrosi gaiters will keep your feet warm and dry even when there’s light rain and puddles on the ground. These gaiters’ lightweight and durable fabric make them ideal for use in any weather condition.
They also feature a slightly stretched design for a more comfortable fit.
The materials used to make this product are breathable and have a built-in moisture management system that will keep things cool and dry even in wet conditions. Their abrasion resistance is one factor that makes these gaiters versatile enough to be worn on different trails.
The mid-calf length of this product is ideal for running with both short and long pants. Its drawcord closure will keep you comfortable while also protecting your feet. The shoelace clip is also an easy-to-use feature that can be attached to the front of the shoe for added protection.
The gaiter’s replaceable strap is an added advantage, as it means you can use the product for longer.
7. Best Trail Running Gaiters for Snow and Ice | Kahtoola Connect Gaiter Mid
Some people may find running in winter challenging, but there are ways to do it safely and comfortably. This hardcore gaiter connects directly to Kahtoola’s snow and ice spikes. The clips with the Kahtoola’s gaiter are placed around the foot to provide a solid fit. You will, however, need to buy the spikes separately.
The Kahtoola’s spike system makes this a must-have for snow runners and removes the need for an underfoot strap. Its non-slip surface also helps extend the gaiter’s lifespan.
The Kahtoola’s gaiter is made from a durable polyester and nylon blend. Its water-repellent finish will keep your feet warm and dry even when running in snow and ice. The Kahtoola zipper is also water-repellent and ensures an easy, snug fit.
Its closure prevents debris from getting in, while an elastic drawcord keeps the gaiter firmly in place.
The Kahtoola’s gaiter is robust and can keep snow, ice, and wind from getting into your shoe. It’s an excellent choice for people who already have the Kahtoola traction spikes.
8. Best Above-the-Ankle Trail Running Gaiters | Salomon Trail Gaiters High
These high-quality gaiters from Salomon are ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities. They have an above-the-ankle length and are pretty durable. As a result, they provide excellent protection against cold and bruising while also being comfortable to wear. These gaiters also feature extra padding in the ankle area for added security.
The product has Velcro attachments over the ankles, which can be used to fit different foot sizes. They also wrap nicely around the foot, which should keep the gaiter in place even on rocky terrain. Its underfoot strap is flat and firm, but unfortunately, it isn’t replaceable. That means you will have to buy another gaiter once it breaks.
The reflective detailing on this product helps keep your feet visible in all lighting conditions and comes in various colors and sizes.
9. Best Stylish Trail Running Gaiters | Dirty Girl Gaiters
The Dirty Girl Gaiters are the most stylish gaiters on the market for trail runners. They come in various colors and styles to help you look great on your runs. They also come in multiple sizes to ensure a proper fit.
These gaiters come with a hook on the front and a Velcro on the heel. They can be attached to your shoelaces or a built-in loop. If your shoes don’t have a built-in trap on the heel, you’ll need to add a Velcro tab to the back of your shoe using the self-adhesive tab provided. Unfortunately, this attachment system doesn’t last very long on muddy mountain trails.
However, if you’re looking for something more colorful and stylish for your runs, the Dirty Girl Gaiters are perfect.
A Little Extra Protection
Gaiters are great at keeping sand, dirt, and gravel out of your shoes. Getting the proper trail gaiters doesn’t have to be challenging, but there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing a suitable pair.
You will need to think about the product material and whether you need it to be waterproof. Another important consideration is if the attachment is compatible with your shoe.
We hope this showcase of the best trail running gaiters on the market has helped you decide. Check out the Salomon Low Trail Running Gaiters, which happens to be our No. 1 pick.