The second, irregular installment of long term gear reviews I promised (threatened?) - focusing on the small, the good value, the unsung and the brilliant. This time, it's trail shoe gaiters - specifically, the best ones, made by US based Dirty Girl.
Outside of winter, when I wear boots, I don't bother with full on gaiters. They are way too hot, and if you are using trail runners to hike in, then keeping riverwater off your legs and out of your footwear makes no sense. You will never, ever keep all the water out of your shoes anyway - give it up. Operating a 'wet shoe system' means faster river and burn crossings, and less chance of blisters in damp leather boots. But gaiters are useful for trail shoes, because they keep most of the grit, heather and mud from entering the footwear through that big hole in the top that your foot goes in - trail runners are low cut after all. You don't need a full on, up to the knee effort for this - a short ankle gaiter will do just fine.
The Dirty Girls are made from stretchy, breathable spandex that is lightweight and dries quickly (unless it's a Scottish summer, when humidity stays at 100% for 4 months), is tough enough to withstand the mountains and come in a huge variety of thoroughly un-British, immodest and eye watering colour (or should that be color?) schemes. The ones above are one of the most discrete (clearly upstaged by the trousers in this case, anyway). Cosmetics aside, the key thing here is the design of the fixing.
The weak point of most gaiters is the strap that runs under the foot. I've had lots of lightweight gaiters that used bungee cord to hold the gaiter onto the shoe, which would get trashed after one traverse of a bouldery hill. Mmm, some rocks are sharp - who knew? For longer than a weekend trip this meant the gaiter would become unserviceable, plus I got through metres of bungee cord.
The fastening on the Dirty Girls is two-fold - one in the usual place, at the lace end on the top of the shoe (pictured above), and one at the back (pictured below). Rather than run cord or a strap under the shoe, the gaiters come supplied with some very, very adhesive velcro. Slap this on the back of your 'runners and away you go.
The only possible disadvantage to trailshoe gaiters I can think of is that you need to remove your shoe to remove the gaiter, but that's true of all mini gaiters, not just this design.
Having tried the rest, these are the best. You'll just have to try and be less British about your sartorial choices. Who knows, if enough of you buy them, they might even start doing them in FTSE 100 tweed or something. For ages they weren't available in the UK, but now they are - maybe a little pricey, but I've had mine for about 4 years and they are only just starting to fray a little now.
(no disclaimer needed - bought with my own wonga)