You are no stranger to getting stuff in your shoes. And by stuff, I mean dirt, sand, rocks, snow, mud… you’re a trail runner – you’re pretty hardcore. But even the most hardcore trail runner should keep themselves protected from potential hazards. If you’re running trails, you may need more than just the protection a trail shoe alone can offer, depending on the conditions. If you’re running on a hard packed, “easy” trail, you may not require a trail running gaiter but if you plan on running through the woods or off trail on, difficult terrain, a gaiter may certainly be beneficial. You see, gaiters serve two purposes. They keep “stuff” out of your shoes, and they provide protection from scrapes and abrasions caused by trail debris, branches or rocks.
Attachment – Many trail running gaiters feature a strap that fits around the trail shoe’s outsole, but some gaiters are straples. Strapless gaiters connect to your shoe in different ways, with hooks or fastening loops, so for these types of gaiters you need a gaiter-compatible shoe. Not all gaiters fit any trail shoe. Altra gaiters are made specifically for Altra running shoes. Inov-8 Race Ultra Gaiters are designed to fit the Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 and 290 shoes. And if you run in something with a larger profile (I’m looking at you, Hokas*), you’ll have to consider a gaiter like the Salomon Trail Gaiter High. (*Not including the Stinson ATR.)
Weather resistance – If you plan to run in the snow, or in wet, muddy conditions, you’ll want to get a gaiter that provides you with some weather resistance. Gaiters with weather resistance include the: Inov-8 Debris Gaiters 32, Inov-8 Race Ultra Gaiters, Gore X-Running Shoe Gaiter
Height – The higher the gaiter, the more protected your lower leg/ankle will be. You’ll want a higher gaiter when you’re running “off trail” or in a particularly treacherous area. The Salomon Trail Gaiters Low picture on the left provides a more minimal profile, while the Salomon Trail Gaiters High on the right offers more protection.
Abrasion resistance – All gaiters will feature some degree of abrasion resistance, providing high durability to prevent your gaiter from tearing should it catch on an obstacle along the trail. The Inov-8 Debris Gaiter has the lowest level of abrasion resistance that we carry, as the material is softer and more sock-like than the others. Since it does not provide as durable protection as the others, it is best for simply keeping debris out.