Best Gaiters for 14ers | Five Great Options
During the winter and spring in Colorado, the mountains can see seven feet or more of snowfall in a single storm! Significant amounts of snow are the norm on most fourteeners into June every year. Anyone who has ever hiked through snow knows how quickly your socks and feet become cold and wet. Gaiters can help protect your feet by keeping the snow outside of your boots. They’re a great piece of gear – but with many options on the market, it can be overwhelming picking one. In this blog I’m sharing five of the best gaiters for 14ers to make your choice a little bit easier.
What are Gaiters? What Do They Do?
If you’ve never used gaiters before, they’re essentially a square piece of tough fabric, which wraps around your leg over your boot. Most gaiters include hooks or straps to tighten them over boot, as well as a strap to tighten it above your calf. When worn correctly, they help prevent both snow and rocks and other debris from entering your boot or shoe. This helps keep your socks and toes warm and dry, rather than cold, wet and potentially frostbitten. I recommend a pair of gaiters anytime you plan to hike through significant snow.
What Makes These the Best Gaiters for 14ers?
Not all gaiters work well for 14ers. Cheaper options include many types of low gaiters. These can work okay for gravel and mud, but don’t usually stand up to repeated exposure to snow like on a 14er. You also need a pair that is water resistant, or ideally water proof. This prevents them from getting waterlogged themselves through your hike. Finally, these gaiters are all relatively easy to put on and keep on, with strong velcro and multiple straps to help keep them secure on tough 14er hikes and climbs.
The Best Gaiters for 14ers
These five options are just a few of the best gaiters for 14ers. However, they’re all more affordable than some of the professionally-oriented models, and are more than adequate for any of the Colorado 14ers, whether you aim to hike them in the cold winter or snowy spring. Let’s review each of these five gaiter options in turn.
Outdoor Research is one of the top makers of gaiters, creating three of the five best gaiters for 14ers on this list. The Crocodile Gaiters are the most robust and the most expensive on the list as well. They’re very durable, with tough fabric that makes them the heaviest pair on this list. They’re tough and well-constructed, and highly breathable thanks to their GORE-TEX waterproofing. These are great for anything from day trips to full mountaineering expeditions.
REI Co-op makes a great pair of mountaineering gaiters at a lower price than Outdoor Research. They’re also slightly lighter in weight to shave off a bit of weight, while still employing top of the line GORE-TEX waterproofing which is highly breathable and very durable. They’ll do a fantastic job keeping you dry and are one of the best gaiters for 14ers, especially if you are on a budget but don’t want to compromise on quality. These are your gaiters.
The Verglas gaiters are the most affordable pair of gaiters on my list, around 20% cheaper than others on this list. They’re also slightly lighter than the more expensive REI and Crocodile gaiters. Their one downside is their lack of GORE-TEX waterproofing. They use a Pertex Shield which isn’t as good for long-term durability and general weather-proofing. However it will still get the job done and keep your feet dry during a day or weekend out in the mountains. I wouldn’t use this for longer mountaineering expeditions however, where the waterproofing could become an issue.
The LEVAgaiter isn’t easy to say out loud, but they’re a great mid-calf length gaiter if that’s more your style. They’re still GORE-TEX waterproofed, but are only 13.5 inches tall, compared to the first three gaiters on the list, which are all 16-17 inches top to bottom. This makes Kahtoola’s gaiters significantly ligher than nearly all the other options on this list, while still providing significant protection from snow and fantastic breathability and durability.
Many hikers, especially trail runners, need a pair of gaiters low enough to avoid getting in the way of their movement, but still protecting from snow and mud. This last of the best gaiters for 14ers is ideal for mid to late spring, when mud becomes a bigger issue than deep snow drifts. In this case, you can get by with low gaiters like these to save some weight and maintain grater movement. However, in extremely snowy conditions, these won’t cut it – they’re only among the best gaiters for 14ers in spring and summer.
How to Wear Your Gaiters Correctly
Having one of the best gaiters for 14ers isn’t enough. Gaiters need to be worn properly or they won’t work, and you’ll still end up with cold, wet feet. Ensure that you hook the front of the gaiters tightly to your shoe’s lacings, and that you keep the strap underneath your heel tight as well. The velcro must be tightly sealed as well, with no kinks of openings. Lastly, ensure you tighten the top of the gaiters, especially tall pairs, to keep it holding up while you hike. Wearing your gaiters correctly will make them far more effective, keeping your feet and toes warm and dry on your 14er adventure.
The Best Gaiters for 14ers: Now You Know!
Gaiters are a very helpful piece of gear for the Colorado fourteeners if you plan to climb them in snowy conditions. There are dozens of gaiters on the market, which can make choosing a pair difficult, especially if you’ve never owned a pair before. Any of the five options I shared today are more than enough for the Colorado mountains. I hope my recommended best gaiters for 14ers helps you make a decision and helps you keep your toes safe and dry on your next 14er climb!