On Friday I took a nice hike up Goat Mountain in the Scotchman Peaks. While my outing was well worth it, my feet didn’t appreciate the early season conditions. At about 5,000 feet I encountered the snow line. Hiking across the snow and glissading back down, I frequently had to clean snow out of my boots as it became wedged between the tongue of my boots and my ankles. Despite my vigorous efforts to stave off the inevitable, my feet became soaking wet. This was by no fault of my boots, just my own neglectfulness.
If only I had just brought my gaiters along with me. Gaiters wrap around the top of your boots and your ankles, preventing snow and other debris from getting lodged in your boots. I regularly use them for skiing, snowshoeing, and early season hiking, but they can also be helpful in snow-free conditions by keeping seeds, debris, twigs, grass, and other announces from getting stuck in your boots or socks. Gaiters can also help keep seeds and stickers from becoming stuck to your legs. Moreover, gaiters can keep your legs from getting scratched on brushy trails.
Gaiters may not be on the list of essential hiking gear, but they’re pretty darn close in my opinion. Even if you don’t end up wearing them, it’s worth bringing along a pair just in case.
Brad Smith is a member of the Idaho Trails Association and serves on the Board of Directors.