I have some low gaiters that I use all the time. I hike mainly AR & TN area, so dirt, ticks, rocks, and general grime are what I like to keep out. They come up just above my ankles. Anything higher and I'd get too hot. I haven't had them on in the pouring rain, but I don't expect them to be useful then anyway -- I wear New Balance Trail shoes, so the water would come right through the mesh in them anyway. My favorite benefit of gaitors is that they keep my socks and the inside of my shoes clean(er). I hate putting funky socks on to sleep in. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to be...it's just walking.
I like short form-fitting ones like the REI Mistral Gaiter with low-cut trail runners, to prevent grit and pebbles and small furry critters and the like from getting into my shoes.
In areas where the trail tends to be brushy, or if I'm going to hike off-trail, I like a non-waterproof, breathable gaiter like the OR Rocky Mountain High for brush protection since I really dislike hiking in long pants.
Loc: San Diego, CA
That's the main reason I were them in the summer, to keep my socks cleaner. Not that imporant for a day hike, but try doing the JMT without them and your feet will be sooooo dirty at the end of the day.
Light, simple, cheap. And best of all.....no strap under the bottom of the shoe to wear out. They work great. If the colors are too wild for you this guy makes essentially the same thing in subdued colors.
I chose the skull pattern myself <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
For snow or bushwhacking I use something heavier.
Edit: I just discovered that dirtygirl now actually makes gaiters in plain colors but still not black. Just scroll to the bottom of the pattern page.
Loc: Central Texas
I hike in low shoes and shorts almost exclusively. Simple, stretchy, low gaiters keep my laces from snagging, socks clean, junk out of the shoes, ankles protected from scratchy brush.
I put Velcro on the backs of my shoes to match patches on the gaiters - which eliminates a cord or strap underneath. OR and REI have Spandura gaiters with Velcro closed fronts. Dirty Girl has simpler, lighter Spandex ones. The latter are extremely durable - they just slip on like socks and pull down over the shoes - no other opening. DIY gaiters of the same design made of bargain table scrap have lasted long past an AT thru-hike. Much better than OR which cratered half way thru another thru-hike.
I wear them almost every time I am walking (except of course in town). I have a number of sets. The ones from China that you get very cheaply work as well (mostly)as good ones, but they are fragile and often do not last an entire summer. I give the cheap ones a coat of waterproofing just above the ankle. I am broke however and you might be happier buying a higher end set that is more durable. The only time I do not wear them is when it is guaranteed to be dry everywhere and I also do not need lower leg protection. In the Northeast, that is almost never.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For those of us who hike in trail runners, low gaiters (a "gator," BTW, is a large, toothy reptile) are a great idea to keep trash out of the shoes and to keep mosquitoes from biting through the socks. My first backpack in trail runners, I left the gaiters in my pack, and I was trying to resist scratching my ankles for over a week afterwards!
Edited by OregonMouse (11/26/1601:18 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey