Save Your Feet With Gaiters
For many years I have worked at aid stations and the finish line at ultramarathons and adventure races,
providing foot care help to runners. What I found was pretty basic; athletes fell into two categories-those who
wore gaiter and those who did not. But the contrast was impressive, in general the athletes who wore gaiters had
better feet that those without. Athletes who do extreme sports cannot ignore this fact.
As I worked on feet, I saw that grit, dirt, and trail debris had damaged the majority without gaiters. Hot spots
and blisters were difficult to patch because feet were covered with caked dirt that was difficult to get off. Socks
looked and felt like they had been rolled in a dirt pile-with every part of its weave carrying blister causing
abrasive dirt. Those with gaiters still had dirty feet, but more from the dirt powder that dirt itself. This
affirmed what I have long been vocal about-the easiest way to protect your feet is to wear gaiters.
One problem we will always have is the way shoes are made. Shoes are made to be breathable with mesh in the
shoe's forefoot and sides. The trade-off is that the mesh allows sand, dirt and debris into the shoe. Gaiters help,
but cannot completely resolve this problem. Some shoes are made without so much mesh and you should use this
criteria when shoe shopping.
Gaiters have proven themselves as functional trail running gear that all dedicated extreme athletes should have
in their equipment bag. Forming a barrier around the leg and the top of the shoe, gaiters keep rocks, dust, and
water-borne grit from getting into socks or between the socks and shoe. Gaiters can mean the difference between
finishing a race with feet in good shape or feet plagued with hot spots and blisters.
There are several sources of ready-made gaiters. Many are made out of
Supplex nylon while others use heavier packcloth. Most gaiters close on the side or in the front with Velcro. There
are variations on how the gaiters are held down on the shoe-some use a strap under the shoe's arch while others
attach to the laces and back of the shoe.
Dirty Girl Gaiters - Colorful gaiters without the strap - for men and women
ZombieRunner.com - in the Gaiters section
JoeTrailman Gaiters - Solid color gaiters without a strap
RaceReady Trail Gaiters - Gaiters with a strap under the shoe's arch