Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gaiters for Trail Runners

Some folks may not know what gaiters are. Old-timers might call them "spats." Gaiters are fabric "wraps" for the end of your legs that help keep the crud out of your shoes on trail runs. Crud can cause friction. Friction causes blisters. Gaiters are not meant to keep water out of your shoes during water crossings, but they will keep the "occasional splash" out, though. (Don't jump to the conclusion that GoreTex shoes with GoreTex gaiters will keep water out during stream crossings...BECAUSE THEY WON'T).

I rarely use gaiters. I only use them for severely sandy courses like the Javelina Jundred, or mountain courses with a lot of "scree." But when I do use them, I use the lightest weight, most stretchy, and most breathable type obtainable, with the least seams to rub on your legs and ankles. That type of gaiter tends to keep your feet drier, because they trap less sweat (or wet) underneath the gaiter and in your shoes and socks.

There are more than one type of ways to attach gaiters. Most of the commercially available gaiters use under the bottom of the shoe strap type. The straps on these tend to wear out after only 20 miles or so on our local rocky trails. For strap-type gaiters, I replace the nylon cord (that comes stock with the gaiters) with stainless steel multi-filament wire and "swage" some special fittings onto the ends of the wire, attaching them to the gaiter's grommets at the same time. This is a pain in the butt, but it works.

But there are light, inexpensive and STRAP-LESS gaiters that I would rather recommend, instead:

Dirty Girl Gaiters http://dirtygirlgaiters.com/
Gaiters By JoeTrailMan http://www.joetrailman.com/

Other pertinent gaiter information:

In the Kansas City area, Garry Gribble's Running Sports is now carrying OR-brand nylon-fabric gaiters.

Here's what some other ultrarunners say about gaiters: http://www.ultrunr.com/gaiters.html

Happy trails,
Bad Ben


Blogger shliknik said...

I needed some of those on the Blue Springs race. Too many little rocks kept getting in my shoes!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Shane"Crash"Jones said...

I still wish I woulda got some pink Dirtygirls instead uv CAMO.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said...


Don't worry, your Camo is just as sexy.

Bad Ben

9:13 PM  
Blogger bluerunner said...

Very Good Article.
Down here in Texas I have been using the JoeTrailman gaiters. They do NOT have the undersole strap. Very ingenious.
I run 50K trail runs and train on crushed granite when I can.
Check out BluePlanetRun.org
They are 2/3's thru an around the world relay. 1 month to go! Running relay teams with each person doing 10 mile legs on a 24/7's basis. They are going thru Nevada now and will be in Kansas City in next couple of weeks.
The object is to bring awareness to the global problem of clean wter availability. If you think a little sand or gravel in your shoes is a problem, read their blog.
For clean water everywhere,
Richard (alias BlueRunner)

7:19 PM  

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